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I'm writing a paper right now, and I need a quotable source for the popularity of programming languages.

One source I know is the TIOBE index, however, there are several others if you search google, and the ranking is different on every index.

Which one would you suggest to be quoteable?

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You can quote any of them - doesn't mean you should believe any of it –  Martin Beckett Jan 13 '13 at 18:33
    
I wonder for what reason you need "popularity" of a language. –  Euphoric Jan 13 '13 at 18:34
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Pick any source whch proves the point you want to make. i.e. if you are an COBOL expert: Thee are tons of studies showing that banks and other companies have quite some demand etc. but for objective facts ... good luck :) –  johannes Jan 13 '13 at 18:42
    
TIOBE does not measure the popularity (in terms of which languages people like most) of languages. Its a measure of what companies are looking for. As it counts ads for jobs and courses in those languages. It may also be very scewed because of where it looks for these counts. –  Loki Astari Jan 13 '13 at 20:09
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Determining actual popularity of any product is difficult and expensive, and therefore such analyses tend to be secret. If, say, Microsoft does an expensive industry analysis to gain strategic insights into the market, Microsoft is unlikely to share that analysis for free with all of its rivals. If you want this data, I think you're going to have to either spend the money to collect it yourself, or do what everyone else does: pick some cheap, easy to obtain metric and then make a completely unwarranted correlation between that metric and "popularity". –  Eric Lippert Jan 14 '13 at 0:42
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2 Answers 2

What is a good indicator?

If a language often pops up on google, it usually just means that many people have problems with it. Not that it is that popular.

The most programming-related questions here on SO are C#-related, this just says the same.

Also: popularity varies dramatically in different areas of development. For example: for embedded programs, C is still king. But in casual Web Development, Dynamic languages rule. For the Gaming industry C++ rocks. And so on. (of course i have no "official" papers to confirm this statements ;) )

Unfortunately, all the "ranking"-pages i've seen so far don't respect the different programming areas, and most of them rely on some google search data. Don't believe anything written there as a fact.

If you just need a page that approves any of your statements in your paper, you'll find sources for everything.

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Are you saying C# is the language people have the most problems with? I think that's not right, and that when asking a question, C# programmers are more likely to choose SO for it, isntead of some other website/mailing list/whatever. So, the popularity of C# on SO doesn't say much about the popularity of C# itself, but it also doesn't say much about how many problems people have with it. –  svick Jan 14 '13 at 1:02
    
That'S right, but i think you didn't get it right. If one uses solely StackOverflow to measure language stuff, he will get C# to whatever the popularity question is. –  Hisako Jan 14 '13 at 7:37
    
FYI: i'm a ruby evangelist. Many rubyists i know use SO as their primary "question-page". But since i know C# too, there is a single statement i would claim: With Ruby, one has usually less questions when doing the same thing (instead C#), because mostly stuff just works without hassle. –  Hisako Jan 14 '13 at 7:43
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There might be a possible duplicate question, because I remember reading something similar. Generally speaking, it depends on that you want to measure. For open source development for example, since the most popular place at this time is github, I would suggest Github Top Langages. If you want to have data say related by age then see this: Stack Overflow expected age by tag list, based on data by stack overflow. Generally there are many bodies that do measurement based on different criteria and results vary based on what you are looking for. Moreover there are many developers/companies/code bases, that never "get-to" be measured because they don't have time or do not care. An example is the Cobol domain where it's programmers generally maintain code bases they know or have been around for ages, therefore they are less prone to ask questions on a public site or generally be too visible.

A tldr answer is the one in the comments on your question:

You can quote any of them - doesn't mean you should believe any of it.

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