In the past weeks I've been frequently complaining that I can't find groups to do 5-man dungeons, not even pickup groups, and that when I'm searching for other players with the Looking For More tool of the LFG window I never find more than one person for any given dungeon. In response I usually get a range of comments from "same here" to "LFG is working great". It is obvious that the ease of finding a group differs from server to server, and even from Alliance to Horde. So how can one measure server activity to quickly estimate how easy it will be to find a group?
In the past I've been using addons like CensusPlus, who with a series of /who commands just count anyone online. Unfortunately those only work well if you use them at prime time. But by chance I found an interesting way to measure general server activity overall, and you can use that any time of the day: Auctioneer. I haven't been unsing that addon very long, and I just use basic functions, I'm not playing the market. But several times per week I run a scan of the auction house, because without the scan you don't have enough price data. Having done that often enough, I know that on my main server, where I have my three level 70 characters, on the Horde side there are always between 7,000 and 8,000 auctions up in the AH. But as I mentioned I recently started a gnome rogue on a different server. And when I was running an Auctioneer scan there, I found over 18,000 auctions. The number of auctions must be proportional to the number of active players, it would be hard to explain why on one server there would be significantly more auctions per player than on another.
So if you use Auctioneer, I'd be interested to hear what number of auctions come us as total auctions scanned when you use it. Are there servers with even less activity than my Horde server? Or even more activity than my Alliance server?