Since Stack Overflow now has a large programmer population and a high degree of activity, it would likely be a good place for a language use index such as the TIOBE Programming Community Index. While this could be done via screen scraping the Tags page, or though the periodic database dumps, it seems that it would be a bit easier to be developed by someone with direct database access.

Additionally, a site such as Stack Overflow might be able to provide a more accurate picture of language since it reflects active issues by developers in an developer environment.

Update: One small update to this is that this wouldn't necessarily have be a real-time listing, it could also be a monthly listing like the TIOBE index which would also serve to smooth out any "bumps" in the actual use. Also, a couple responders have noted that there would be a skew towards .NET languages; however, this skewing may or may not be such a bad thing as it could also reflect the languages that are being used more in professional environments.

Update Two: Also, another thing to note as it might not be clear enough, but I'm not really referring to an industry wide standard index based upon the Stack Overflow data but rather an index that is more specific to Stack Overflow. Maybe a language/tag use trending chart is a better phrase to use?

5 Answers 5


I think that that should be done on the monthly data dumps as I can't see the benefit in having a real-time index. The variation in numbers of questions posted will give a very noisy picture. There may also be artificial peaks at the weekend (say) as people work on their pet projects at home, which could well be in the more obscure languages.

I agree with the other answers on the initial .NET bias of the site.


I think that given it's still (relatively) young age, StackOverflow is not a great indicator of the popularity of languages due to it's very large .NET-centric audience which is what the core audience consisted of when it went live.

Java and other languages like Ruby and Python and PHP are definitely very well represented in terms of questions and answers, but I think to use the site as a guage on the actual popularity of the languages may be a bit off.

  • 2
    I disagree. 10 months is still a relatively short time period in my opinion, even for the meteoric rise of the website. The primary userbase is .NET-centric, therefore most of the people they refer to the site will likely be .NET-centric, so on and so forth.
    – TheTXI
    Jul 6, 2009 at 13:29
  • The .NET audience has been creating .NET questions and answers. The only way that other people will find the site is by searching Google and hitting a .NET question, until the other languages creep in. I think it will take a while before we can expect to see a balance on SO. Jul 6, 2009 at 18:15

I would like to note that Perl has a low score on Tiobe, because the places where most Perl users ask questions, are not indexed by Tiobe.


I don't know if the results would be statistically sound. For example, I think most of Joel's (and perhaps Jeff's) audience on their own blogs are .NET developers, which skewed the original population (and therefore the oldest questions are heavily weighted in favor of .NET). Now that SO is public, this is lessened, at least a little, but any results still probably wouldn't be statistically valid.


It would be interesting as far as the SO community goes, but it would have no real comparison to a "real" index until the community grows beyond it's strong .NET user base.

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