The Study: Analyzing Subreddits for Positive or Negative sentiment

Last week, I came across this excellent, semi-hilarious informal study by Tobias Hermann, aka Dobiasd, which digs into 20+ programming languages and reviews the conversations, comments and sentiments from their respective subreddit feeds (WARNING: this may be NSFW due to profanity recorded by users). Regardless, I loved what I saw, and wanted to reach out to Tobias to ask him if he’d like a little coverage on the Typesafe blog, and why he ran this fascinating experiment. Responding humbly and with a good degree of perceivable curiosity, Tobias wrote me back:  

I do not really remember what encouraged me to do this study. But perhaps it had to do with the fact that at the time of writing I was having a lot of fun learning Elm and Haskell and thus some frustration when using C++ for my usual tasks. ;-)


In his study, which Tobias points out is “not hard science”, he takes a look at four categories:

  • Mutual mentions, compared with TIOBE programming language value
  • Cursing
  • Happiness
  • Word usage - abstract, category, pure, theory, and hardware

As the main contributors and commercial supporters of the Scala programming language, we’re obviously interested in where Scala appeared and how it compares to some others. Let’s find out!

Mutual mentions - "Scala and Java" ranks highest

Let’s take a look at mentions of “Scala" that include other programming languages. Visually speaking, “Java” gets the most mutual mentions, followed by Haskell, Python and Clojure.  

Interestingly, he also compared it to the TIOBE language ranking index, which has at times come under scrutiny for their research methodology of using Google/Bing/etc index rankings as opposed to Redmonk’s seemingly more “on the pulse” approach of comparing Github repositories with Stackoverflow activity.

We can see that Scala is talked about by engineers nearly 100x more than the relative TIOBE index ranking would lead you to believe. WAT?! Haskell users, at over 140x, also appears to have a right to question how they appear in the index.

Positive and Negative sentiment measured by cursing and happiness (hey, could be NSFW!)

Regarding happiness and relative anger (cursing), functional programming languages like Scala, Lisp, Clojure and Haskell are high in the happiness quotient. Yet, are they really used?

@TheOTown @typesafe Because nobody uses them for work!!!

— František Hartman (@frant_hartm) July 10, 2015 which I felt compelled to answer (yes, we are very proud to have recorded the success stories from 45 happy Typesafe subscribers and Scala users):

.@frant_hartm @typesafe I see that maybe with Clojure and Lisp, but what about these 45 companies using #Scala?

— Oliver White (@TheOTown) July 10, 2015

“Interesting”, “Cool” and “Awesome” appear to take up the bulk of Scala’s positive sentiment on subreddit. Notably, Ruby and JavaScript also have high positive sentiment, but considering how they are also at the top of the list for cursing, it kind of cancels itself out:

Scala appears on the lower half of the spectrum (number 10 of 22), with what appears to be about 1.15% cursing for 98.85% non-cursing. The most cursed of all–PHP, JavaScript and Java–appear to account for as much cursing as the first 6 of the less-cursed languages combined, which isn’t surprising considering the orders of magnitude greater adoption.

Word usage

Followed by Haskell, Scala is #2 on the list of overall word usage of the following terms: abstract, category, pure, theory

The words “Abstract” and “Pure” appear higher than the other two, and in terms of usage along with the word “hardware”, Scala is fairly low on the list at #6.

I’m not terribly sure what this means, and the author himself appears to just breeze by it with a mere 65 words. If you have a better idea of what this means, leave your comments below please!

So there you have it. Even based on this admittedly "non-scientific" approach, Scala appears to be the only production-proven programming language to make engineers happy and alleviate their need to curse than more broadly-adopted langagues like Java, PHP and JavaScript. Again, here is the original content. Tobias, thanks for your contribution to the programming world––you are one awesome geek!

Side Note for Decision Makers:

If your organization is looking to build and deploy commercial applications using Scala–and/or Java, Akka, Play or Apache Spark–I suggest you have a quick chat with someone at Typesafe! If you like, you can email me personally at oliver(@), or ask for a Typesafe representative to get in touch here:






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