If you suddenly see a metal robot with a suspicious resemblance to Bender from Futurama, it's probably not a camping bot-- just an automated census taker, quietly gathering names, and compiling them into a database. The bot is an alt account of Adz Childs, proprietor of SLNameWatch, a site which does exactly that. Reading his list of top surnames in Second Life suggests all kinds of social analysis. Why is Allen far and away the most popular, currently with 154,317 active users holding that last name? How about the name Oh, a distant second with 96,164, or Beck at third with 95,952? (A high degree of Asia-philes and fans of the surreal Scientologist popstar?) The high number of Residents named GossipGirl (83,841) confirms the popularity of the themed area promoting the popular TV show, while the excess of Writers (70,205) implies a strong presence of creative types.
To gather these names, Childs' bot logs into Second Life, does a surname search, collecting 101 names every few seconds, then dumps these to the SLNameWatch server. (A more detailed technical explanation after the break.) Through this process, he tells me, "I can verify that the [number of]registered users number on Second Life's economic stats page is accurate, at least within 96%... I know because I have counted nearly every one of them!" Through this process, Adz Childs also has a plausible explanation for the number of strange first names you may have noticed recently, with numbers and odd use of capital letters. I assumed people were just recreating their AIM/MSN Instant Message names, but Childs has another theory: