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Posted: Apr 28th 2008 11:15AM (Unverified) said

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Great article! I wish Lindens would admit to the fact that 1/5 of all their users online are actually bots! Hence, do away with popularity as a ranking item. Newbies are very easily fouled by these tricks...and it really makes Second Life look very bad to new users (and old) in the long run. And makes legit advertisers/business people almost surely to quit SL and move to a be fair playing field. Newbies already have enough problems learning SL (as an earlier Massively article pointed to badly designed Orientation Islands) not to have to learn that 1/5 of the avatars around are actually bots! Thanks...for the good reporting! Keep up the great work!

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 1:16PM (Unverified) said

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Yeah, what he said.

So what about it, M.?

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 1:36PM (Unverified) said

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It might be fun to have a 'bot. I looked into the A.L.I.C.E. experience and found that trying it would be above my IQ and leisure budget. It was facinating enough, though, I could understand why someone might do it. A friend used many 'bots in her store for demonstrating products. Greeter 'bots I've met have been helpful and entertaining.

These examples aside, my general experience is that 'bots have been semi-amusing annoyances. While greeting visitors to the Isle of Lesbos I noticed a large number of avies with the last name Frog pop in in Ruth avies or the male counterpart then pop out without any interactions. Eventually some showed up with shirts marked MV or Mission Viejo and the girls eventually showed up in custom outfits for Mission Viejo. Many soon had groups in their profiles.

My first visit that sim showed 'bots simply appearing and disappearing. A subsequent visit showed most walking around and talking. Some folks and I hung out and tried to carry on conversations (Hen Frog was very verbos) and others tried to attack the 'bots.

Then they stopped coming. And the Mission Viejo sim was sold. A bit before that, though, a friend called me to her property and I found a stack of the MV 'bots stuck in a null zone between Ban Lines (should that be trademarked?). Eventually we pushed them onto land where they could be ejected but they just came right back. Of course, we had some fun "bowling for avies" to move them around with our avies though we were concerned about reaching the sim occupancy limit and that would hurt the businesses there. Good thing we were able to eject/ban and the world was all shiny and fresh again for a time.

Just a few days ago the pattern started afresh: avies with odd names and rudimentary countenance show up, stand about fewer than 30 seconds, then leave. I haven't started formal tracking yet, but it seems to be about a half-dozen different names. None stay long enough to stop being gray with the brown Ruth hair so I can't identify clothing.

Many useful 'bots show up at the Isle, like LL's™ Tester series and it is fun to knock around the land 'bots, but during busy times it can be a nuisance. The sim can reach capacity and the immobility of the 'bots means that others have to land on bodies when they arrive. And since rendering avatars creates lag (at least on the viewer side), 'bots can diminish the experience for others.

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 1:57PM (Unverified) said

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Jeff Linden told New World Notes three months ago that bots 'represent a very small percentage of the overall number':
http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2008/01/world-of-the-un.html

Should we count in idle users too?
How may we exactly tell bots from campers and idle users?


(thanks Tateru, great article :)

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 2:58PM (Unverified) said

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thanks for the article - and linden SHOULD think about ways to deal with the bot-count.
during last year's hype linden communicated over and over: we have 8 / 10 / 12 million users. it was the first thing everyone saw on the website and logging in. no wonder the media took this STUPID number when they wrote about SL - and no wonder they got smacked afterwards for it ("12millions? where is everyone???!).
no we thought the number of concurrent avatars would be a good indicator about SL's growth - just to learn (and i believe that too) that 20 per cent are non-human!
PLEASE could you try and follow that numbers back through the last 12months or so? maybe we REALLY DIDNT HAVE ANY GROWTH IN USERS - this would be very interesting!!!
greetings from the bus, nuschi of 2ndtravel

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 3:07PM (Unverified) said

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Bots are generally users' ways of adding features that they feel the system is missing (the ability to script an avatar, add people to groups without human intervention, and so on).

While not all of the 10K are necessarily bots (some are die-hards and campers, certainly) - the number indicates that there's a lot of (often poorly implemented) functionality being added by users, and what they're adding and how many seem to need/want that functionality is definitely something that could stand examination.

What people go through the time and effort to actually accomplish is often quite different from what they say they want.

Posted: Apr 28th 2008 3:20PM (Unverified) said

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Coolness.

I use a bot.
That's it. One bot.
He manages my groups for me. a bit of a complicated systems, but through scripting, whenever someone leases land from me, my bot automatically invites them to the appropriate group - and allows them to invite another 5 people.

When their lease expires - all those members are ejected from the group. It saves the hair-pulling, I tell you. It also has the capability to model clothing - but I don't make clothing, so I just keep him tucked away in my workbox. But yes, that's it - just one.

So there's a legitimate use for a bot.
And, since I personally really want to stay on the up-and-up - that' s all I run.

Just one little old bot.
and i agree - I wish Linden Lab would remove traffic with regard to search result ranking.

Posted: May 1st 2008 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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Thanks for pointing out at least one seemingly good reason for a bit, ari. I suspect I wouldn't run into your bot at 700m in an alarmed room with 35 other bots.
I'm not a stats person, save one class at college. However, couldn't one do a random sampling of sims, and attempt to count the # of bots/vr. real avatars? I suspect figuring out idle campers and bots may be difficult, but it may raise some interesting results.
I do a lot of greendot hunting. I find the 'room full of bots' often, but the greendot profile looks too pointy. I think bot owners now try to spread them around so the dot profile looks more natural. At any rate, the vast majority of people I meet when greendot hunting are idle campers/bots.
-s
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Posted: Apr 28th 2008 3:55PM (Unverified) said

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Great article ! I don't like the idea of bots. While I see that in "some" cases they can be helpfull, people are going overboard with it. The case of the camping chair paying good amount of money to their own bots is a great exemple. I have seem plenty of these around the grid in the last 3 months. And islands with bots seating around... when I see this, I just TP somewhere else. I don't need "illusion" that the place is popular.

Posted: Apr 29th 2008 4:58AM (Unverified) said

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I had a run-in not all that long ago with a woman who was using the landing spot of my store to spawn her landbots (all six or seven of them.) I even have a photo of them appearing on the same spot and getting stuck inside of each other. Hilariously, when I asked her nicely what the deal was, she threatened to ban me from all of her sims. Then people wonder why the rest of us who do our own work (or hire someone to do it for us) dislike the idea of bots.

Sine Wave is doing some cool stuff with bots, but other than them, everything else I've seen looks like a shady deal.

Posted: Apr 29th 2008 5:16AM Joystiq Login Bugs SUCK said

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"Assuming roughly 500 of those are still active users who are still willing to hold on without being able to send or receive IMs, teleport or cross simulator boundaries, or access objects or inventory"

I would be one of them. When those times come around I invariably head down to a peaceful area of my region and lie on a raft watching my dolphins jump.

Either that or meditate.

Posted: Apr 29th 2008 1:54PM (Unverified) said

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I was talking with my buddy about stuff that the new CEO could do to clean up SL and we felt that the #1 thing would be to eliminate traffic rankings and institute some other methodology for determining popularity.

SL is too big. Most of it is empty space and empty people, bots or campers. There needs to be some way of concentrating the good stuff that makes you have fun while minimizing the bad.

Posted: Apr 29th 2008 7:33PM (Unverified) said

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A brilliantly written article .... and how about the best news of the day? Look at the Second Life Blog pages for Monday.
At Last Linden Labs are listening to its residents/users and are doing away with that ridiculous "Popular Places" Search list. So, the majority of bot owners are going to have to rethink how they are going to become popular for real.
There are many positive uses for bots - for sure, they are not all bad. Half a dozen in skin malls are OK, one per person for testing scripts on maybe, but the sheer numbers that I find every single day in SL has made me realise that perhaps 10,000 is a low estimate of just how big the problem of bots has become.
Maybe once Linden Lab does get organised and bring in "Showcase" in place of "Popular Places", we shall see the general condition of the grid improve (we can only hope), and the bad feeling that is growing against bot owners will also subside.

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