What does Github's top ten languages list tell us about its userbase?

Earlier I saw a post on HN about the top ten languages on GitHub, and what struck me was how different the list is to Tiobe's top ten languages. My immediate question is who exactly uses GitHub?

This question was on a lot of lips earlier this week when rumours leaked out about Github raising a venture round. As a fan of both Github's philosophy and product, I hope it isn't true because for a company as proud of their bootstrapped status as they are, this trip to the Venture Capitalists looks like a sign of trouble.

TIOBE's most popular languages

  1. C
  2. Java
  3. C++
  4. Objective-C
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. Visual Basic
  8. Python
  9. Perl
  10. Javascript

Github's most popular languages

  1. Javascript
  2. Ruby
  3. Python
  4. Shell
  5. Java
  6. PHP
  7. C
  8. Perl
  9. C++
  10. CoffeeScript

Looking at Github's list it seems clear that Githubbers are best classified as web developers. I imagine C made the list because of its use in open source projects for whom Github is the new Sourceforge, but with a minor web language like CoffeeScript amongst its ten most popular, Github is undoubtedly the home of the "Web crowd".

Very notable is the absence of Visual Basic and C# from GitHub's list. Visual Basic is not the language of the hackers, entrepreneurs and open source coders for whom Github is the star around which we orbit, it is a language of enterprise and cubicles, a world in which decentralised source control is dangerously close to communism, where SVN and Perforce still reign supreme.

Unfortunately for Github it is the code drones that have the money, not the Rails hipsters. The TIOBE index is extracted from job advertisements, and it reflects what programmers are paid money to code in. Consequently it is a list of languages in which there is money available for hosting.

If I had to guess at the motives behind Github's VC round it would be that their 1.6 million users are cheapskates, they are hosting open source projects, personal projects, and early stage startups, all renowned for a reluctance to spend money. This VC money is reserved for their push into Perforce's mundane, but lucrative, stomping ground of enterprise source code management.

Posted on 25 May 2012

Based on a work at http://slidetocode.com/blog

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