Some online communities show a number for Who's Online that seems to represents any member who may actually be at their computer and surfing the web - not necessarily logged into the community. When one clicks on the link (the number they are using for members who are online) it is then revealed that only a tenth of the number represented to be online are actually logged into the community site.

Even though this seems a bit dishonest, I can see the benefits of this as I am sure the vast majority of visitors (and even members) looking at the Who's Online Number just assume that is the number of members currently active in the community - giving the impression that the community is extremely vibrant which may attract more members etc.

When sites that are competing for the same audience as me are doing this one feels slightly disadvantaged.

What are your thoughts on this? Any idea how this is done?

UBB user since 1998