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For instance, C# has a tag count of 435,470 and Python has a tag count of 173,494. Is it reasonable to say that C# is 2.51x more popular in the real world because of this, or are the tag counts simply a reflection of how popular these languages are specifically on stackoverflow?

http://stackoverflow.com/tags

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marked as duplicate by Cody Gray, Martijn Pieters, ЯegDwight, hims056, ChrisF Mar 23 '13 at 11:32

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You'll see that the horrible truth is that while there are many metrics on how popular languages are, they're all notoriously bad and nobody has no idea of the reality. And, almost evidently, the fact a language raises many questions doesn't mean it's more popular. –  dystroy Mar 22 '13 at 20:33
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Very likely no. The sample is biased for a number of reasons. This issue has been discussed previously in multiple ways: Why is there such a large percentage of C# questions?, Why is Stack Overflow so Microsoft-centric??, C# Interest on StackOverflow, Why are there loads of Qt but few GTK questions?, Why are there so few questions tagged "ado" and "c++"?, etc. –  Cody Gray Mar 22 '13 at 20:42

1 Answer 1

It is not so easy. You could also say

With C# you have 2.5 x more problems than with Python.

Many factors account for why a specific amount of questions are asked. Popularity is just one of them.

And consider that a language/framework/pattern/IDE might be very new when another exists for years. In that time a lot more questions will be asked about the old one. Other factors might be how complex it is, how good the documentation is and so on.

For instance I am active in the SQL area. There seem to be way more MySQL questions than Oracle questions. In most cases this is because unexperienced users or hobby programmers use the free MySQL a lot more often than Oracle and have many newby questions that flood Stack Overflow.

There are really many factors to consider making it impossible to use tags as popularity indicator.

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In either case, once a [regex] is involved you have 2x the problems. –  BinaryTox1n Mar 22 '13 at 20:24
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Or you could say that C# developers need 2.5 times more help... –  Monolo Mar 22 '13 at 20:25
    
That is a good point. The reason I'm asking this question is because I'm kind of on my own programming island. I have little contact with other programmers in real life so I'm just curious to know what is out there. –  sooprise Mar 22 '13 at 20:27

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