As I mentioned in an earlier post, I just started the Networked Life course taught by Michael Kearns from the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. Part of the coursework has been about “heavy tail distribution,” a phenomenon typical in a large-scale network (like Facebook). To summarize, a heavy tail distribution (see image below for an example) means there is a clustering of vertices (users or in the case of Facebook, friends) with a very low number of connections but a long tail of vertices (users) who have a lot of contacts. Thus, in the case of Facebook (or any other typical network) the large majority of users have only a few Friends but there is a long tail of people who have a lot of friends (say over 1,000). These latter people are called “Connectors” in network theory. What is particularly interesting is that this structure, which again is typical of large-scale networks, is effectively the inverse of a traditional bell shape distribution, which would show a few users at the low end, a peak (the top of the bell) and then quickly trail off. The heavy tail is typical of all social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
What I find interesting is that you find a similar curve in virtually all free-to-play social games when it comes to users’ monetization tendencies. Continue reading “The heavy tail of monetization”