Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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FURRY PLATEAU?

Furry_detail
With Relee Bayskelf, in "Furry Like Me"

How many furry Residents are there in Second Life now?  Last October, veteran community leader Michi Lumin gave me an estimate of 15,000-20,000, based on the count of furry avatar outfits purchased by the world's main vendors in anthromorphic identity.  That was when the total active user base of SL was roughly 150,000-200,000-- defined as Residents who logged into SL weekly, three months after account creation-- meaning some 10% of the community donned the fur with pride.  Now that the total active population is around half a million, has the furry citizenry expanded commensurately? Curious, I put that question to Michi recently.

"Individual statistics would have it doubled," says Michi, "but I don't believe that's true."  Instead, she believes the current total is anywhere from 28-35,000-- about 6% of the total Second Life populace.

Michi_detail "Luskwood has around 20,000 individual customers as it stands," Michi (left) goes on.  (Luskwood is SL's oldest furry realm, in which Michi is an officer.)  "Looking at avatar sales data (this doesn't count furries who build their own avatars or stick with freebies) that number is around 28-30,000. Taking last year's baseline and applying the growth rates we've seen puts it around 28,000 as well.  I'd put some wiggle room in there because really, the only sample data we've got is avatar sales and growth from that. But if you look at the 'overlap' between customers of the top three avatar makers, it hits that number. If you apply the growth rates seen in the last year of avatar sales, it hits that number. If you apply SL's growth rate, it would be higher than that, but I don't trust that, since I do think that while 'furry population growth' hasn't plateaued, it has slowed...

"In any case, I think 28,000-30,000 would be a conservative estimate, 30,000-35,000 would be 'plausible'. I'm sure there's more math that could be done, but on some level it's a bit hard to define absolutely if someone is even a furry or not. It means different things to different people, of course. But I feel pretty confident about that range."

Taco_detail But why the proportional dropoff?  Whether it's a slowdown or an outright plateau, my guess it reflects a wider, more diffuse new user base. Disproportionately computer savvy and creative, the furry population were among the vanguard of early adopters who stormed the world in its first three years, pointing a paw forward into a new medium. 

Or perhaps the 28-35K number reflects the absolute upper limit of furries on the Internet in general, who've already tried SL and moved on-- or stayed to put down roots. (Or a Taco, as the case may be.)

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rikomatic

The other question is if you include Nekos in that figure or not. Which I know is the subject of some debate. In my view, they are close enough kin to be mostly semantic in difference.

Seven Shikami

I wouldn't count "nekos" in there. The majority of them, at least from what I've seen, are hardly furry; they're just people wearing ear and tail accessories and using mewing emotes a little too often. If they had an actual feline face and body fur then we'd be talking furry.

Harle Armistice

It really only makes sense to me. Furs have been using online services to congregate for a long time, from Mushes to Furcadia and other venues. When Second Life came along, it was an obvious place to 'adopt' into the mass furry online culture. So a disproportionate number of furs in general, as an internet culture, ended up migrating there. It's very likely that a good 75-85% of the furry fandom has an account with Second Life, perhaps more.

So while Second Life is constantly drawing new accounts from all kinds of cultures, online and offline, furs in general were already here in pretty solid ranks right from the get-go. The only way that the furry community in Second Life will grow is if the furry community in general grows.

And that said, I think Second Life has done wonders at expanding the furry community's numbers. I've met so many people who would never have gotten into the fandom if not for meeting furs on Second Life.

Patchouli Woollahra

Haven't you heard, Hamlet? Taco is dead.

Soft

Incidentally, the percentage of furry Lindens is not too dissimilar!

http://www.frontierlinden.com/index.php?view=117

The number of furry avatar vendors is getting quite a bit larger, though. Just looking at a percentage from Lusk then and now misses a potential loss of market share.

Michi Lumin

Actually, Soft, this isn't only counting Lusk. The last thing I want to do is go disseminating info that isn't my business to give out, so while there's more reasoning behind these numbers, Luskwood's numbers are the ones I can publically talk about.

Either way it's never going to be an exact science: There are likely furries who don't have an avatar, non-furries who do have an avatar, those inbetween who may somewhat consider themselves a furry and under other circumstances not.

Interestingly enough, I -don't- think there's a "plateau" as much as a "clot".

Visiting conventions, tehre are still a lot of furs who either don't know about SL, are afraid / reluctant to try it, have misconceptions of it or have hardware issues that keep them from joining.

All that being said, I'm completely conservative with my estimates. Another way to figure it would be looking at unique visitors to furry areas over time, but that -also- doesn't guarantee that someone is "furry".

We are, after all, talking about a metagenre here. And I don't think a plateau is going to happen. In SL, there's always folks who want to try something new, or are willing to open their mind.

Some folks on SL who aren't a furry today, may be next year.

Relee Baysklef

It's a sad fact that the Taco sim has been gone now for, gosh, has it been a year already? At least six months.

Noplace in SL exists that I'm aware of that is anything like that happy, colourful place. The loss of Taco was one of the greatest I've known in the time I've been using SL, but sadly it was not worth the trouble to its owners.

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