This question was originally asked on Quora. The original response was sent to over two million Quora users. This article expands upon the answer.
Using Google trends as the sole measure of public interest is a flawed approach. Google trends only measures what people search for on Google. Remember, search engines aren’t actually a source of technical knowledge — they’re a conduit to the knowledge. Search, click, and be directed to the actual source of information.
A slightly more appropriate measure of public interest is the Tiobe index. It is a more accurate measure of which programming languages companies are actually using, not just searching for.
For the most part, all programming languages have seen a decrease in Google searches. The one exception is C++, which has been a fundamental part of software development prior to the existence of Google or GitHub. There are still many C++ resources on the web which aren’t a part of GitHub, giving people a greater need for a “conduit to C++ information”.
Python also increased a little bit. Take a mental note of that for later.
Is there a sign here?
Additionally, Google isn’t the only search engine. Bing has been around for several years, not to mention it is the default in Microsoft Edge/Windows. Search engines like Baidu and Yandex also take away from some of Google’s international audience. The point: there are many detractors from any individual search source, so these trend lines cannot be relied upon to determine global interest in a subject. It is very hard to determine this without a complete data set from all providers, which nobody has.
In this author’s opinion, these trends are more indicative that Google offers less value than niche-specific platforms, at least for programming communities.
I believe in this so strongly that I’ve started my own efforts to build a new tech community around documentation (Metadoc). I’m betting the global tech community will continue shifting to platforms more finely tuned for specific purposes, like learning how to code.
People may not be searching for programming language names as often as they are using related terms to understand tech concepts. To illustrate, here’s a Google trend chart for some conceptual terms that are related to programming, but aren’t language-specific:
The upward trend suggests people are searching to learn about tech concepts, but using niche-specific sites as reference material. In other words, Google is good for “what is ___ and why should I use it”, while niche platforms focus on “how do I use ___”.
Remember how Python searches increased a little bit? It coincides with the trend line for “data science”. Python is well known for having several solid data science libraries written in the language. It makes one wonder if searches for “python” were associated with the rise in popularity of “data science”.
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Original Quora answer: https://qr.ae/pNlOxq