From reading the trade press, you’d think every marketer was falling over themselves to get on Second Life, thinking the site’s popularity is exploding. But over at Valleywag, Clay Shirky parses the claimed numbers of “residents” and “logins” and finds huge discrepancies. He also suggests that reporters have simply parroted Linden Labs’ inflated numbers without question in their gushing profiles of Second Life.
This is the state of business reporting in an age when even the pros want to roll with the cool blogger kids. Got a paragraph that contains only two numbers, and they don’t match? No problem! Post it anyway, and on to the next thing.
The prize bit of PReporting so far, though, has to be Elizabeth Corcoran’s piece for Forbes called A Walk on the Virtual Side, where she claimed that Second Life had recently passed “a million unique customers.”
This is three lies in four words. There isn’t one million of anything human inhabiting Second Life. There is no one-to-one correlation between Residents and users. And whatever Residents does measure, it has nothing to do with paying customers. The number of paid accounts is in the tens of thousands, not the millions.