Wednesday, July 29, 2009

StackOverflow Experiment

I've been an active member of for a little over a month now. I've gotten some great help from the community on a variety of problems, both work related and personal. This gave me an idea to run a little experiment, piggy-backing off of the SO community.

The goal of this experiment is to determine if certain computer languages are used primarily at work, while others are used primarily for freetime/personal projects. Basically, I want to validate the stereotype that languages like C++ and Java are used in corporate settings while programmers tend to choose languages like Python or Ruby for their own projects.

I am attempting to measure this based on the assumption that most work-related projects are worked on during the week from around 9AM-5PM, and that freetime projects are worked on during evenings and on weekends. I created a script that will assess the number of questions asked on a topic at various times throughout the day and week.

My hypothesis is that the number of questions asked per hour on languages like Ruby and Python will be higher on evenings and weekends than during the work week, while the number of questions asked per hour on C++ and Java type languages will be highest during the work week.

I am going to define the work-week as 6am to 8pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. I feel that this time range is broad enough to capture work times across the United States, but not too broad to include much evening time for the East Coast. I also realize that the total activity on SO can vary throughout the day, so I am measuring the number of total questions asked as well to act as a control.

I also acknowledge that the number of questions asked on a topic is not the very best measure of a topic's activity. However, people do usually ask questions about what they're currently working on. I might post statistics for both questions asked and page views.

I'll have the results in a day or so, whenever I get the time to make the pretty charts.

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