How reliable is the StackOverflow Developer Survey?

Something struck me very odd as I read this year’s (2018) StackOverflow Developer Survey. I noticed that in the “Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Languages” category, 6 of last year’s 25 surveyed languages disappeared and 6 new ones were introduced. The following 6 vanished:

  • Smalltalk
  • Elixir
  • C
  • Dart
  • Common Lisp
  • Groovy

The following 6 replaced them:

  • Kotlin
  • Bash/Shell
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Hack
  • OCaml

The remaining 19 languages for the most part retained last year’s positions, more or less. (C++ was the standout exception.)

This strikes me as very weird. What happened in one year to cause such a dramatic change in the line-up? Can anyone believe that HTML and CSS are “Most Loved” languages? How about Bash/Shell???

And who’s heard of the Hack language?! I doubt that anyone outside of Facebook uses Hack.

Did people suddenly no longer care for C language this year? And what about Smalltalk and Elixir, both of which placed at the top of Slant.co’s list of languages for the question, “What are the best (productivity-enhancing, well-designed, and concise, rather than just popular or time-tested) programming languages?

I’m wondering if StackOverflow asked their question in a way that specifically excluded certain languages and included others. How can I trust their survey?

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