Clojure developers are the happiest developers

A new analysis of Reddit comments shows which language’s developers seem to be the happiest - and which are the most foul-mouthed

Picture of a highway sign for Happy, TexasImage credit: flickr/Calsidyrose (license)
There must be a lot of Clojure developers in Happy, Texas

Last week I had some bad news for Clojure developers: based on an analysis of recent tech job listings, programmers who specialize in that language tended to get paid less and were in much less demand than those who work in languages like Java, JavaScript and C#. Today, though, I’ve got better news for you Clojure experts: based on a new analysis of Reddit comments, you seem to be happier than developers who work in other languages. 

Tobias Hermann, a developer in Germany, recently collected comments made in response to posts to subreddits for a number of programming languages. Altogether, the dataset consisted of roughly 300,000 comments from about 40,000 posts made from August 2013 through July of 2014. He then analyzed the use of certain words in the comments by language. For example, Hermann created an interactive infographic showing the rate at which developers commenting on a post about one language mentioned another language (e.g., How much do Java developers talk about Python?). 

He also looked at the type of words used most commonly by developers of different languages and came up with some interesting findings. Here are the ones that caught my eye:

  • C and C++ developers talk about hardware the most - Comments made to posts in the C subreddit used the word “hardware” far more than comments to other subreddits. C++ and Lisp were about tied for a distant second, followed by Objective C and Rust.

  • PHP developers curse the most - When Hermann scanned the comments for common curse words, developers used them in PHP subreddit comments the most - by far - followed by JavaScipt, Java, Ruby and Python. Mathematica developers seemed to use curse words the least.

  • Clojure developers are the happiest - When Hermann looked at the use of words indicating happiness (e.g., “awesome,” “cool,” “fun”), comments made to posts in the Clojure subreddit came out on top. Lisp developers were a close second (not surprising, since Clojure is dialect of that language) followed by Scala, Ruby and JavaScript. At the other end of the spectrum, developers commenting on posts to the PHP, Java, Matlab, SQL and Visual Basic subreddits used “happy” words the least.

So, apparently, while Clojure and Lisp developers aren’t in high demand, they seem like a glass-half-full type of group, at least.

Since Herman made his data available via GitHub for anybody to play with (as well as his code), I decided to use it to revisit a study I did last year. Using GitHub Archive data, I tried to get a sense of which languages frustrated developers the most by scanning code comments for instances of “WTF”. Back then, I found that C++ seemed to generate the most frustration, followed by Lua, Scala, C# and JavaScript. Luckily, “WTF” was one of the strings that Hermann looked for in Reddit comments. Based on his data, here were the languages which generated the most “WTF” mentions in subreddit comments:

  • 5. Ruby

  • 4. Clojure

  • 3. PHP

  • 2. JavaScript

  • 1. Delphi

So, maybe Clojure developers aren’t always so happy.

Anyway, this analysis, obivously, doesn’t really prove that Clojure developers are the happiest or that PHP developers are the grumpiest. All the same, I find it interesting and maybe there is a bit of truth in there somewhere. Take it with a grain of salt and draw your own conclusions.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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