And surprise, surprise, everyone loves machine learning

Stack Overflow: Kotlin, R and TypeScript among least disliked programming languages

Gabriela Motroc

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RebelLabs’ Developer Productivity Report 2017 showed that Kotlin is the most beloved programming language and they’re not wrong — as it turns out, Stack Overflow measured programming languages’ popularity and reached the same conclusion. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane first. RebelLabs’ Developer Productivity Report 2017 was published over a month ago and, according to their results,  the lesser used languages get the most love. Case in point: Kotlin, which made its debut at one percent in terms of language preference had the highest satisfaction score of 9.1, which happens to be the highest score across the entire report, not just the programming languages question. Impressive!

Source: RebelLabs Developer Productivity Report 2017 — Results

Least disliked programming languages: A lot of love for Kotlin

Now back to the data gathered by Stack Overflow. David Robinson explained that there are many ways to measure a programming language’s popularity. One way to do it is with the help of Developer Story. When you create a Developer Story, you can add tags you would like to work with or would not like to work with.

In order to measure how polarizing tags are, Stack Overflow looked at “what fraction of the time it appears in someone’s Disliked tags compared to how often it appears in either someone’s Liked or Disliked tags.” Only languages with over 2,000 mentions on Developer Stories have been included. 


As you can see, people dislike Perl, Delphi, and VBA, as well as PHP, Objective-C, Coffeescript, and Ruby. According to David, “the least disliked tags tend to be fast-growing ones.”

Generally, there is a relationship between a tag’s growth and how often it’s disliked. Almost everything disliked by more than 3% of stories mentioning it is shrinking in Stack Overflow traffic (except for the quite polarizing VBA, which is steady or slightly growing). And the least-disliked tags— R, Rust, Typescript and Kotlin— are all among the fast-growing tags (Typescript and Kotlin growing so quickly they had to be truncated in the plot).

The exception proves the rule though and in our case, this seems to be Clojure. David explained that “almost nobody expresses dislike for it, but it’s still among the most rapidly shrinking (based on question visits, it only started shrinking in the last year or so).” 

SEE ALSO: Python’s growth comes from the enormous expansion of data science and machine learning [Interview with David Robinson]

However, there could be a few explanations for the data, including the fact that “people feel comfortable expressing their dislike publicly if they sense that the language is already shrinking in popularity. It’s also conceivable that developers often use this field to note technologies they used to work with, but no longer do. This would lead to a natural progression of “replaced” technologies ending up in the Disliked field.”

Universally liked tags

There’s also a list of technologies that are almost never disliked (the list only includes technologies that were mentioned at least 10.000 times).



The machine learning tag was liked by 23 thousand people and was quite rarely disliked. R also made the list and jQuery is as popular as ever on Stack Overflow.

If you want to find out more about certain rivalries or see which are the most disliked technologies overall, check out David’s blog post.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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