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Addendum note:  Please see the comments section for additional interesting observations related to this blog.

JANUARY 2013

Hypergrid Business recently produced a pretty good article about the state of VR grids in January 2013.   Link is here:

http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2013/01/top-grids-hold-steady-in-j...

One thing this blog makes evident is that region count is no longer a meter by which grid "success" can be measured.  Why?  Because many virtual grids offer no-or-low-cost regions.  They can do this because they're based on basic OpenSim software, have no development fees, no employees and very little overhead.  The downside:  they're based on pure OpenSim software and often are run out of homes or basements instead of professional server sites.  They haven't made the technical advances we've come to appreciate on Inworldz (low lag, powerful asset servers, killer scripting system, etc) and don't have the stability we've come to expect of the Inworldz grid.

A more accurate measure of popularity is now "active users"... although of course no single figure can serve to present the whole picture of grid health.  But active users is an indication of popularity.   Taking a ratio of that to number of regions gives us a better idea of overall grid health. 

To illustrate this I combined two charts and added ratios:

                             ACTIVE USERS      REGIONS     RATIO (active users per region)
    InWorldz:                 6,031             1,117          5.4  
    OSgrid:                    3,394             6,969            .5
    Avination:               1,757                563           3.12
    FrancoGrid:             1,027                526           1.95
    Island Oasis:              899                151           5.95
    3rd Rock Grid:            455                231          1.97
    Metropolis:                454              1,070            .42
    Craft World:               439                154           2.85
    AviWorlds:                 348                119             .32
    Kitely:                        274             2,995            .09

If we consider all three of these numbers we discover more of a general idea of how popular and successful the top ten grids are.  Grids are made up of people; without people they're just exhibits.  But at the same time without land, a grid isn't a grid.   So what do we gather from above?

Inworldz is without question the most popular and successful grid overall, with 6,031 active users, a large number of regions and a ratio of 5.4. 

OSgrid, the free OpenSim-based grid has the highest number of sims but almost half the users of Inworldz... resulting in a low user/sim ratio on the board.   In other words it's huge... but it's not used as much as Inworldz, which charges a fee and is six times smaller in land-size.

Island Oasis has the highest ratio, but below-average user levels and a very low number of sims (thus proving ratio alone is not a reliable measure of popularity / success).

Kitely has a large number of sims... but like OpenSim many of these are free.  They have the lowest number of active users and a low user-to-sim ratio.

TRUE RATIO

In all of the above stats what is missing is a very important figure:  Sponsored regions.  That's the number of regions the entity itself foots the bill for-- regions that are not financially supported by users or customers.  If we take these figures into account we can get a significant update on ratios.

With Inworldz for example, they currently have approximately 200 sponsored regions.  So if we remove that number from their total region count we come to 917... and a whopping ratio of 6.58.  That is the highest in the set.  Not having the sponsored regions figure on the other grids we can't make a proper ratio estimate for them. 

But even true ratio doesn't tell the story.   While popularity can be gauged by the above figures, overall success is a more difficult concept to pinpoint-- if indeed it can be pegged at all.  Because part of the definition of "success" is "what did you want to achieve in the first place?"  

A rich man who wants to give away all of his fortune to charity and manages to do so has achieved 100% success.... but now he's dead broke.   While this may give him a great deal of personal satisfaction, financially the decision would be considered a disaster.

On the other hand criminal organizations are very profitable-- but I doubt many would consider them "successful".

OSgrid is hosted on private computers in people's businesses or homes.  Since it is free it has a very large number of regions-- but only about half the active user count of Inworldz.   Inworldz on the other hand has far fewer sims but almost double the active user base-- and it is a for-profit company.  It hosts regions itself, keeps its grid online 24/7, and earns enough to pay employees. 

So which is more "successful"... OSgrid or Inworldz?   I believe that would be largely a matter of opinion, based on personal goals.   If success is based on both popularity and profitability,  Inworldz is the obvious hands-down winner.

STABILITY, FOUNDATION and PROGRESS

But in addition to these things listed above we have other issues:

Stability-- degree of lag, ability to stay online, general performance.

Foundation-- the general organization itself (is the company stable?  Is it capitalized?  Is it competent?) and the platform on which the grid is built.  Will it be able to remain online over time?

Progress-- is the grid improving or is it in a rut?

We all know Inworldz is progressing, significantly.   I'll reserve comments regarding other grids, as in truth all of them are in various stages of start-up.  It is unfair to gauge early-stage businesses based on stability and foundation, and progress can be a subjective issue.   What we can discern however is that according to these statistics, in all three areas Elf Clan's home grid is doing very well.

--o--

Views: 180

Comment by Linda Henson on January 28, 2013 at 12:37am

I've said before that I think because there are so many grids out there now people are spreading out. I think that closed grids will suffer and many will vanish because of the open grids that are free. Free is something that is hard to compete with.

So the fact that any closed/commercial grid is even in the top ten means they are successful in my opinion.

This is also determined on what your interpretation of "success" is.  If a grid is achieving the outcome that they have to meet their goal then they are a success. For instance if someone starts up a grid and their goal is to give people a free place to play and avoid drama and they end up with a tiny grid with just their friends inhabiting it but everyone is happy then they are a success.

I have no idea what OSGrid's view of success is. I used to think their goal was to have a place for the OpenSim developers to test. I think they were a success with that for many years. But I think it has outlived it's usefulness now with so many other OpenSim grids out there that can now do the same thing.

3rd Rock Grid is a success in the fact that they are doing things the way they want and planned. They  aren't growing very fast but they really have a very happy community there. They are stable and they do what they plan with full success. They reach their goals.

Kitely seems to be meeting their goals as well. Over the last year I have seen them advance at the pace that they put in place. I have seen them focus more on their grid and less on blog battles. I would call Kitely a success.

I've always seen IW as being a success. They move along at a pace that they set and accomplish their tasks in the order they set. They manage to stay out of blog battles almost all the time (the management I mean).  I believe that one of their goals is to be something that is unique and in that they are a major success.

And what one person may see as a failure another may see as a success. I know that in my mind there are grids that are failures to "me". They don't meet my needs so they are failing me. But they really only have to meet their own goals to be able to stand up and claim they are a success.

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome." Booker T. Washington

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on January 28, 2013 at 12:00pm

That's a very good comment Linda... one that could almost be a blog of itself.

Lately I've read several snit-posts (basically smear campaigns) regarding Inworldz and I admit I allowed such to put me in a position I felt I needed to defend the grid and what they're doing.   But over the past couple of days I've realized there is absolutely no need for me to do that, for at least two reasons I can think of:

1) The people who matter really don't take snit posts seriously and

2) Inworldz has already proved itself over time and will continue to do so.  Defending the obvious seems a little redundant. : )

What you say about other grids such as 3rd Rock and Kitely are true.  By some folks "measurements" they may not stack up... but by what they're trying to do and hoping to do they're doing well.  Plus, what you say about member satisfaction is so very important.  If the people using the grid are happy... who is to try to hold up a measuring stick of the vague concept called "success"?

In a recent blog on Hypergrid Business they mentioned "grids" and how there are "hundreds" of them.  The winged lizard noticed that the author considered 22 sims to be a "larger" one of the grids, and so asked a question: "What constitutes a grid?"   I think it odd to apply the term "grid" to a guy who runs a 9-region Sim on a Stick installation out of his basement.   Elf Clan has almost 50 regions and as such, we're apparently larger than the vast majority of OS "grids" out there... so at what point does someone go from being a hobbyist installation to a full-bore "grid"?  Is the term "grid" being applied to the same thing... or is it a somewhat generic all-encompassing term that applies even to home-computer installations that may be here today and gone tomorrow? 

I personally tend to consider a "grid" as being either a registered commercial company such as Inworldz, Avination, Second Life etc, or a freebie installation that is large enough to catch some notice.   If that grid accepts donations (such as OSgrid) they should probably be registered officially as a non-profit entity for purposes of tax issues, which might qualify them as an "official  grid.  It seems that for an installation to be a "grid", it should at least have some degree of legal registration and recognition... but apparently many of these don't.

Perhaps I'm seeing it all wrong... but to me there is a difference from someone running a hobbyist installation with which he has half a dozen friend participate as members... and an actual "true" (if that word can even be used), full-bore serious grid.  But to my knowledge no real definition of "grid" exists (maybe someone out there can help with that).

It seems I'm rambling; these are just thoughts that have stuck me lately.  Basically I agree with Linda.  I think we put far too much emphasis in this field on "success" (whatever than means), too much emphasis on "popularity" and who is "biggest"... when really all that any of us should be focusing on is having fun.

The occasional drama queen that insults a particular installation can be ignored-- as is fitting.   An occasional misquote or misrepresentation of data really is irrelevant, as things are going to prove out one way or another over time.  So I've decided to pay less attention to statistics, claims, drama and all the other stuff we see going on not only at OSgrid but elsewhere throughout the Virtual Reality field-- leave the "h8trs" to their rants-- and simply sit back and watch Inworldz and other grids grow as best they can do so.

As you say Linda, Inworldz being in the "top ten" list (much less the #1 position) proves beyond all doubt that not everyone is looking for "free".   As with real life, different people need different things, and some people are willing to pay for having exactly what they want.  At this point I don't think there is any need for any individual on any grid to feel insecure, for any reason.   Entities come, entities go.  Some hang in there for the long haul.   In the end game... "it's all small stuff" and no matter what happens, when we wake up tomorrow virtual reality is still there and the world is still spinning.  : )

Comment by Linda Henson on January 28, 2013 at 12:45pm

There problem is that you can have two regions and call it a grid. I once put 9 regions up and made them hypergrid enabled and people were calling that a grid. pfft lol

I do think grids can be big or small. But I only really consider it an actual grid if they have a webpage where you can sign up and log in as an official member of their grid.  The ones that are only accessible through hypergrid just really don't seem like grids to me. Those I call mini-grids.

I really think that when doing the stats Maria ( www.hypergridbusiness.com ) should do one article for stats for closed grids where you need an account to join and another article for the rest. There are way too many out there now to lump them all together.

I just saw a tweet today where someone was saying how Metropolis now outnumbers IW in region numbers. It doesn't make sense to me why anyone would even want to compare that. They aren't anything alike.  I am thrilled that Metropolis is doing so well because that is one of the grids that I play on. But it can only be compared to other grids that are like it and allow people to connect their regions. I'll be happy when it has more regions than OSGrid but it means nothing to me if it has more than IW.

You said: "Lately I've read several snit-posts (basically smear campaigns) regarding Inworldz...."

(I just wrote a really longgggggggggg response and then deleted it. I had to remind myself that I have a New Years resolution to stay out of drama) So instead let me just say that maybe you should just enjoy being on a grid that you love and let that grid's powers that be fight their own battles. It did me no good to fight the IW battles for so long when I was a resident there.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on January 28, 2013 at 2:06pm

Exactly Linda.  Took me a while to come to that conclusion, but you're right.  We all tend to defend that which we love... but at some point one starts to ask, "What am I defending it against?  Smear campaigns that everyone knows is a smear campaign?"  Total waste of time, that.

I so agree with you that trying to compare hosted grids with plug-in grids seems an irrational effort.  The old apples-and-oranges thing; let's compare a Ferrari with a Kia Minivan.   Your example of comparing Metropolis to Inworldz is spot-on.  

You'd think people would have learned by now; for ages they claimed OSgrid was "more popular" than Inworldz because it had some 10,000 regions and Inworldz had (at the time) about 500.  But then come to find out some 3,000 of those OSgrid regions were never used or supported-- and OSgrid had almost half the active users of Inworldz.  That's when it became obvious that sim count  alone is no longer a valid measuring factor of a grid's "size" or popularity.  

Thus far, I've seen no one come up with an algorithm to accurately measure such (my attempts totally failed and  Maria herself-- an educated mathematician-- told me the data isn't available to perform that kind of analysis).  I'd go a step further and agree with your point-- that such analysis is invalid.  We can compare grids such as say, Inworldz and Avination (if such is really necessary-- I'm not sure it is), but not plug-in grids to hosted grids.  They're two different critters.

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on January 28, 2013 at 2:17pm

Oh, follow-up.  Regarding "what is a grid?".   I've almost been tempted to write a blog on that, but then I thought... is that really an issue?  When the lizard asked that question on Hypergrid Business... he got no answers.  ;D

If I were to personally create a list by which we could discern a grid from a hobbyist installation, I'd tend to go with standard business practice (regardless of profit motive) as well as one arbitrary call:

* A grid should be a legally registered entity (in the case of the United States, with both State and Federal agencies). In other words it should have a legal name, registered to pay taxes (or as a non-profit organization), and have a tax number (in either case). 

* A grid should be operational 24/7/365 (or to the best of its ability to achieve that).

* A grid should have (as Linda states) a website and a way to join it-- either by acquiring a region or plugging in ones own regions to that grid.

The above three items met I'd say we have the legal and public-recognition requirements of a "grid".  But in addition, as a businessman, I'd set one arbitrary stipulation, based on the market:

* A grid must have at least 100 functional regions.

Mind you, that last one is completely arbitrary.  If a company (profit or non-profit) meets the first three stipulations, by all rights they at least have the front end.   I only present the final qualification because an organization without sims in operation, can't really be considered (imho) a "grid".  (A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet, but without any petals-- what then?)

That arbitrary number could be set to anything... 10, 25, 50 regions... but I thought 100 to be a significantly-large-but-not-too-large number to reasonably qualify an installation as a grid... as opposed to a hobbyist installation run off one's home computer system.

This is really all irrelevant perhaps; I'm just posting to chat.   But these do seem to me reasonable stipulations-- if one felt an uncontrollable need to set up stipulations. ;D

Comment by Linda Henson on January 28, 2013 at 5:35pm

I agree. I think we could start a petition :P

But seriously. This is going to have to be addressed at some point. I would think that just the first one would be enough to satisfy me.

* A grid should be a legally registered entity (in the case of the United States, with both State and Federal agencies). In other words it should have a legal name, registered to pay taxes (or as a non-profit organization), and have a tax number (in either case).

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on January 28, 2013 at 9:23pm

Agreed in principle.  I'd actually considered that same concept based on the idea that a legally registered business is still a business, even if it's not profitable.   But then I thought of several influencing factors.  They may be legally registered and claim to be a grid, but if they're not open 24/7 and have a website... that's kind of like a man having a business license but never opening a shop.  

Now technically of course... the state would still count him a business whether he ever opened shop or not, and that's a valid argument.  But what finally caused me to list the second two items was the question, "What are we interested in counting here, claims or actions?"  Someone may claim to be a grid and even get a business license or non-profit organization license... but if no one uses them, if they never grow... does anyone else agree with their "grid" claim?

So thinking the matter through further-- yes, I've been told I sometimes "overthink" things but looking at my friends list, I'm not alone in that trait ;D-- I considered, "Is that really all that much a possibility?"   The answer to that was a definite "yes".  In a recent article on Hypergrid Business Maria spoke of grids not on the top-ten list and mentioned "some of the larger ones"... one of which had 22 sims.  That means there are several "grids" even smaller than that.  And I couldn't help but think, "Hey, I just installed Simonnastick and I can allow my friends access.  Am I now an official grid?"  :D

So that lead me to the next three points as a matter of simple reason-- that being a grid involves more than claiming to be a grid.   Thus:

Open 24 hours

Website with signup (even if that signup is limited to a specific group)

Minimum of 100 regions.

Agreed some of that is arbitrary (especially the last one).  Well, all of it is arbitrary really... but if someone is going to be recognized as a "real" grid, it would seem more would be required than just saying "I'm a grid."  Because otherwise, my 9-sim Sticker that's open about 2 hours a month is now officially a "grid".  Welcome to Wayfinder Grid.  ;D

There are of course many kinds of grids:

* Commercial grids (I prefer that over "for profit" or the inaccurate "closed grid").

* Free grids

* Educational grids

* Business grids

* Science grids (research purposes)

... and I'm sure there are other concepts out there I'm currently unaware of.

If we're saying "Here's how many grids there are"... then perhaps all of these could be included.  But there's also room to say "Here's how many commercial grids there are" or "Here's how many free grids"... or educational or private business or whatever-- so long as there is some kind of criteria those grids must meet to be considered an actual "grid".

It's just been a point of interesting contemplation for me lately.  I find it difficult to accept that a "grid" would have 22 or fewer regions.  That just seems to me to somehow not make the cut... especially when such are counted as supposed "growth" figures in the Virtual Reality world.  

I'm sure  there are valid and debatable arguments on both sides of the issue.  If there were 100 "grids" each with 10 sims each... that's 1000 sims.   But perhaps a "grid" is more likely to influence the Metaverse if they're legally registered and have hit the 100-sim point.  That at least makes them bigger than Elf Clan... which helps me consider them to be more than just another group.  XD

Comment by Linda Henson on January 28, 2013 at 10:23pm

In reading your last response I just kept thinking "If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it...... " well, you get my point.   

I could set up a grid on my computer tonight and put 100 water regions on it and call it a grid. And in fact many grids do this. The Stats that Maria shows on her blog just don't affect me much because any of these grid owners can put out as many grid owned regions as they want. And grids like OSGrid has people hooking up and then shutting down without using the "shutdown" command and so their region shows on the map and gets counted but it's not really there. That is why their numbers go way down when they do their region cleanup. 

So maybe it should go by "active users". By this I mean users that sign up for that grid and not users that just come through the hypergrid.

You also have to think about a grid has to start out with just one sim and just one person. That's just how things work. You start out as a baby and grow up. You start out with a seed and it becomes a tree (that falls in the woods and............... lol) nm. I am tired I should go to bed and stop rambling.

Comment by eekee eebus on November 15, 2013 at 8:43pm

10 months on, I'm posting to say one of the suggested requirements can now be met with no effort by new setups. Aurora-sim includes a web server and its WebUI software ready to go.

Keeping a very small grid up 24/7 is also trivial; just leave the host machine switched on. I wonder about people who can't achieve that, but I suppose some people don't even have the circumstances to leave a laptop running in some out of the way corner of their home. If they do, suitable laptops are getting very cheap now. Here's one with windows 7, warranty, dual core with at least 2GB RAM, for $210 including shipping to New Jersey. (I picked a zip code at random.) If you have a spare hard drive and don't care about the warranty or OS, that can come down to $85, and that one has 4GB RAM. I have a Thinkpad R400 like those two. It's very bulky for a laptop, but it's a solid machine with very good components and doesn't run hot. It's good server material, it's cheap; keeping a minigrid up 24/7 is easier than ever.

All things considered, I suppose I favour the active users count for comparing grids. I could say the same as Linda about 100 water sims. For a few weeks I had 25 sims in OSGrid; 21 of them were water sims. That was on the 4GB machine which also ran my daily web browsing and viewers, but both viewers and web browsers used less memory then.

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