Michi from February 2004
So how many furries in Second Life are there, anyway? While working on a book project last month, I stumbled into an educated guess at that number, and it surprised even me. I once tried to make my own estimate by tallying up the total membership of every group with "Fur" and its many variations in the listings, but that was a doomed task, since it didn't account for overlap. I missed an obvious and much more accurate metric, but fortunately, Michi Lumin of Luskwood didn't. So when I happened to ask, she had a number right in her pocket. (Or in a fold of her dragon wings, as the case may be.)
Because the thing is, a furry avatar is not created through the default appearance interface; rather, it's a rather complex, multi-faceted costume attached on top the avatar form, as a suit not unlike the kind you'd see at a theme park-- or for that matter, at a real world furry convention. Several groups sell these full-body suits, and sales mean vendors-- and vendors mean numbers.
Luskwood is the largest vendor of furry suits, and also the oldest. And as of early this week, Michi told me, "Luskwood is at 13,019 unique customers alone... I'd put the number probably at about 14,000 now.
"We're the biggest furry vendor," she goes on, "but some others (NWS, Lost Furest) are rather large themselves; from what I've seen there's about 40% overlap (i.e. when comparing customer lists, in a cursory manner, 40% of people who are 'primarily NWS customers' also own a Luskwood avatar, and vice versa.)
"Which means, let's say we have 13,000 unique customers, and NWS has 8,000 unique customers (which I believe is right)-- maybe 3000 of NWS's customers are also part of our 13,000. So that would lead me to say that there are about 16,000 unique customers between the two of us. I believe the overlap gets higher when you put more in the mix, though."
All those calculations factored in, Michi tells me, "I'd guess the 'unique' furry population is above 15,000, below 20,000."
She chuckles. "That's certainly what we'd call an 'educated guess' though."