I’ve been complaining about bad reporting of Second Life population for some time now. David Kirkpatrick at Fortune has finally gotten some signal out of Linden Labs. Kirkpatrick’s report is here, in the comments. (CNN.com comments don’t have permalinks, so scroll down.)

Here are the numbers Philip Rosedale of Linden gave him. These are, I presume, as of Jan 3:


  • 1,525,670 unique people have logged into SL at least once (so now we know: Residents is seeing something a bit over 50% inflation over users.)
  • Of that number, 252,284 people have logged in more than 30 days after their account creation date.
  • Monthly growth in that figure, calculated as the change between last September and last October, was 23%.Those of us who wanted the conversation to be grounded in real numbers owe Kirkpatrick our thanks for helping us get there.These numbers should have two good effects. First, now that Linden has reported, and Kirkpatrick has published, the real figures, maybe we’ll see the press shift to reporting users and active users, instead of Residents.

    Second, we’re no longer going to be asked to stomach absurd claims of size and growth. The ‘2.3 million user/77% growth in two months’ figures would have meant 70 million Second Life users this time next year. 250 thousand and 23% growth will mean 3 million in a year’s time, a healthy number, but not hyperbolic growth.

    We can start asking more sophisticated questions now, like the use pattern of active users, or the change in monthly growth rates, or whether the Residents-users inflation rate is stable, but those questions are for later. Right now, we’ve got enough real numbers to think about for a while.


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