Chris Hawkes Chris Hawkes is a Senior Software Engineer with over 10 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies. He’s also taught more than 25,000 students on Udemy and nearly 20 million have watched his programming YouTube channel. 10 min read

Why the Tiobe Index Can't Be Trusted

Why the Tiobe Index Can't Be Trusted

For years the Tiobe Index has provided a list of programming languages by popularity.   There's just one problem, it's not accurate at all!  

Let's have a look at this month's numbers. 

Apr 2021 Apr 2020 Change Programming Language Ratings Change
1 2 change C 14.32% -2.40%
2 1 change Java 11.23% -5.49%
3 3   Python 11.03% +1.72%
4 4   C++ 7.14% +0.36%
5 5   C# 4.91% +0.16%
6 6   Visual Basic 4.55% -0.18%
7 7   JavaScript 2.44% +0.06%
8 14 change Assembly language 2.32% +1.16%
9 8 change PHP 1.84% -0.54%
10 9 change SQL 1.83% -0.34%
11 19 change Classic Visual Basic 1.54% +0.71%
12 22 change Delphi/Object Pascal 1.47% +0.77%
13 13   Ruby 1.23% -0.02%
14 12 change Go 1.22% -0.13%
15 11 change Swift 1.19% -0.32%
16 10 change R 1.12% -0.42%
17 48 change Groovy 1.04% +0.86%
18 16 change Perl 0.99% +0.03%
19 18 change MATLAB 0.99% +0.06%
20 34 change Fortran 0.91% +0.58%

How could C possibly be ahead of Java, C++ & C#?

The bottom line is this, most people do not think the Tiobe Index is relevant at all.   The TIOBE index relies on search engine hits - see http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/tpci_definition.htm for more information.    This means that you could have a language that is universally hated and written about by millions of software engineers and Tiobe will actually boost its ratings, even if programmers hate it and don't use it at all.  

The TIOBE Index isn't a good scale of what people actually use

Tiobe's rankings are nothing more than a calculation of web spam on Google.    Bad languages with lots of articles are ranked just as high as loved languages.   Languages such as C, get ranked artificially high, most likely due to a flaw in the way they are determining Google search results for the single letter C.  

So no, C is not the most widely used, loved or anything language.  It's simply a bad algorithm.