[MUD-Dev] Some survey results...

Andrew Wilson andrew at aaaaaaaa.demon.co.uk
Sun Nov 18 00:05:10 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


a while back someone detailed a quick survey they'd made of the
popularity of muds out there.  I couldn't find the email in the
archive, so either I'm imagining it all or it's just a paragraph in
a bigger post.  No matter...

I wrote a little survey widget to visit every mud I could find and
look for information detailing the number of currently connected

There are about 2000 muds out there, mentioned in various mud-lists
and of these, about 450 make useful information available.  Some
provide a message like '20 users connected' on their welcome page,
others have a 'WHO' command that lists the users online, and which
can be counted.

I've been running the survey a few times a day for the past month or
so.  And here are some results, offered for sake of further

This table shows the AVERAGE number (over 2 weeks of samples) of
connected players online at the top 15 most populated sites which
provided some useful information.  The length of the '***' bar is
useful as a visual indication of the relative sizes of the

    325  ********************************  tapestries.fur.com 2069
    257  *************************  muck.furry.com 8888
    174  *****************  lambda.moo.mud.org 8888
    152  ***************  discworld.imaginary.com 4242
    106  **********  achaea.com 23
     75  *******     spr.ctrl-c.liu.se 23
     68  ******      shangrilamush.com 9999
     48  ****        resort.org 2323
     46  ****        treyvan.com 4999
     46  ****        mush.elendor.net 1892
     41  ****        mud.lysator.liu.se 2000
     40  ****        merentha.com 10000
     39  ***         pern.mccr.org 4201
     36  ***         aetolia.com 23
     32  ***         btech.betterbox.net 3065

Here are some trivial observations on the table relating to the
nature of the muds surveyed.
    o    Two of the top 10 muds out there are run by Achaea LLC.
    o    3 of the top 20 are in Linko:pings University in Sweden.
    o    The top 2 and a 3rd also in the top 10 are Furrys.
    o    2 of the top 10 are based on book-series.
    o    Pern and LOTR muds are *not* in the top 10.
    o    5 or more of the top 10 have multiple ports, including port 23
    o    The site that most closely matched LambdaMOO for size and variation
         in size during the day is Discworld.
    o    Discworld is based on an extensive back-story from the Terry
         Pratchett novels and has its own extensive website.
    o    LambdaMOO is not based on a book and has no externally available
         back-story, nor does it have its own website.
    o    Discworld and LambdaMOO are both around 10 years old.

The survey methodology itself can impose its own bias.  Some
educational muds have peaks of visitors in the 50s but are quiet or
even deserted for the rest of the day.  If the survey visits while a
lesson or seminar is online then the site appears busy, otherwise it
barely registers.  If sites are prone to rapid and wide fluctuations
in numbers of users connected then that characteristic is not well
represented here.

The 2 Furry sites both display a wide variation is users connected,
running from between 50 and 500 all in the same day.  This suggests
a very different user-profile to other less populated sites, but the
simple average taken obscures this observation.

Not all sites provide useful information to the survey.  Roughly 3/4
of the sites visited provide no useable information, and so don't
form part of the table.  I'm assuming therefore that for every site,
of a given size, that has been recorded there'll be another 3
similar sites out there that aren't showing up.  I'm sure you can
all name a few sites, not in this table, which have large numbers of

The choice of what is and is not a mud, for the sake of the survey,
is biased against sites with novel architectures.  A place like
HabboHotel (about 500+ users) or Furcadia (1000+ nowadays?) don't
appear because I don't know how to contact their servers and extract
this information; to be honest I didn't try very hard...

This survey is primarily one of single-server architecture sites
which have chosen to be publicised in the available mud-lists and
which also display user information in their welcome-screens.  Many
popular sites are based on mud servers which don't provide this
information 'out of the box'.  And since these unhelpful ( ;) )
sites are typically of the same few genres, (hack and slash, say)
it's likely that the table above under-represents those genres

So, is this interesting?  Do the observations make sense, and are
there other interesting observations people can make about this


andrew at awns.com
Cell: 07889 61 61 44                 Voice/Fax: +44 (0) 1865 513 091  
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