This is a older post but, since this seems to have current significance as I seem have those around me asking the same thing, I mentor many businesses, and run my own, and in touch with a very large number of residents in SL.
So i thought id give my view and In my opinion the short answer is:
SL wants traffic bots.
I know that’s contradictory to what the bot policy says... but hear me out... I have good reason to to say this.
Here are some of my observances:
1. Linden Labs / Second Life seem to only address usage of BOTs that are interfering with other residents. In Example, if bots are usign to much resources on a mainland sim, and is causing problems with others on the mainland sim, or bots spamming messages.
2. it used to be that traffic played a part in the default search returns. Now this is no longer true as others have pointed out. However, I have had a Linden tell me that since it is not part of the default search order, traffic is no longer important.
3. I've Rarely if ever in recent history seen Linden Labs / Second Life take actions against those running bots private sims for using them solely increasing traffic numbers. What i think is sl belives that the owner of the sim is the only one impacted by the resource usage usage and that since traffic is now unimportant metric, it is not considered a problem.
4. What i have expereinced in SL is that for buisnesses, visitors do search by traffic to find places to socialize or to shop etc and not the defualt search.
5. What I have observed is that the lack of enforcement has FORCED the use of bots by many who would wish not to, just to keep a business running in SL. If you want to be competitive, in many business types, you MUST run bots to boost your traffic to even compete. This has GREATLY increased the need and the use of bots and an escalation of there usage from perhaps 1-2 bots on a parcel to 10-40 bots on a given parcel.
6. I've observed the number of people logged into second life (concurrent logins) declining since roughly 2009. During this same time period it appears to me the number of traffic bots increasing significantly. This would be to Linden LABs / Second Life's advantage in reporting concurrent logins, as all those traffic bots count as real people. Id think this could be a deterant to SL wanting to remove any significant nubmer of bots from SL
7. Second Life, in their bot policy states, "Linden Lab routinely looks at search results, and will treat use of bots to gain an unfair search advantage as an abuse issue. You do not need to file an abuse report for violations" However, I've not heard of once instance since search was changed where this has been enforced, Certainly not within recent history, and I am literately in touch with 10's of Thousands of residents in sl! Perhaps they don't consider it an unfair advantage since it is not part of the default search order.
8. Second Life provides no facility for you to report bots. There is no category for it under abuse reports. People who contact Second Life support about this are given inconsistent answers on reporting ranging from, you do not need to report, to file a report, to filing it under various categories, even being told that a report for each bot found needs to be reported separately, which frankly no one has time to do.
So there is enough there that one can easily belvie sl actualy wants traffic bots.
Some final thoughts:
I am sure you all have seen the results of this. You look for a popular place, yu find one with good traffic, you show up and either its empty or, its full of avatars that do not respond to anyone, or worse respond with some kind of AI replies. This is not only frustrating, but frankly it turns people off to SL and just makes it harder to keep people in SL, and less likely to have a in world business.
Do I blame bots on the decline of SL? I think it is part of the mix, I do belive there are multiple reasons SL user-ship is declining including economic reasons, and policy changes, etc...
SL was about Community, Socializing, A sense of adventure, and creativity, and even a chance at virtual business opportunity. This is what make SL great, and attracted many. I don't see the current status of traffic bots in SL to be supportive of that and in fact, does the opposite. Not to mention going aganst every fiber of what one mgiht consider fiar play. Where did the soul of sl go one might ask.
Bots are like a drug that makes you feel and look good while it slowly ruins your health or a cancer slowly eating sl from the inside. ….