Stack Overflow Developer Survey Ranks WordPress as the 3rd Most Dreaded Technology


Stack Overflow has released the results of its 2015 developer survey, which covers a wide range of topics including preferred programming languages, education, compensation, and even caffeine consumption. The 45-question survey ran for just two weeks in February and the site was able to collect results from more than 26,000 participants.

Obviously, Stack Overflow survey respondents do not represent a perfect cross section of all developers worldwide, and the overview clearly states the results are skewed by selection bias and language bias, among other biases. However, the site does reach a massive audience of developers, with 32 million visits per month, 25 million of which are return visitors.

The vast majority of respondents were male (92.1%) who describe their profession as “Full-stack web developer” (32.4%), the largest section, followed by student (13.6%), back-end web developer (10.1%), and mobile developer (9.1%).

WordPress was highlighted as one of the most dreaded technologies of those surveyed, trailing Visual Basic and Salesforce. The term “most dreaded” was used to indicate the “% of devs who are developing with the language or tech but have not expressed interest in continuing to do so.”


Given that Stack Overflow generally attracts English-speaking, full-stack developers who enjoy its gamified question and answer format, it’s not surprising that you would find WordPress listed among the most dreaded technologies.

There are many things that are done “the WordPress way,” which prevent developers from quickly jumping in when they are new to the platform. WordPress’ unwavering commitment to backwards compatibility is also a major turn off for many developers. However, WordPress usage stats, currently at 23.7& of all websites, continue to climb higher due to the project’s deep commitment to its users.

Useful Bits for Employers and Job Hunters

The Stack Overflow survey may be heavily skewed towards a specific range of developers with similar backgrounds, but the results contain quite a bit of useful information for employers looking to hire developers and for individuals in search of a job.

For example, the results revealed that “50% of developers say working remote is at least somewhat important.” The overview advises employers to strongly consider offering the ability to work remotely. “Note to companies trying to hire: if your job listing doesn’t include remote, you could be cutting your possible applicant pool in half.”

Stack Overflow is also able to interpret that data in interesting ways based on users’ experience points on the site. They found that those with the most experience points said that being able to work remotely was non-negotiable.

Based on 16,522 responses, the results indicate that the average developer spends 7+ hours per week coding on the side. “70% of respondents reported that they spend 2 or more hours per week programming either as a hobby or working on open source software. 20% of respondents spend more than 10 hours programming away from work.”


If you’re a developer hunting for a job and you’re not spending your free time contributing to open source projects or building your own software, your resume and experience may not be as attractive as others who are active on projects outside of work.

The survey also provides a comprehensive breakdown of compensation by technology, purchasing power, remote status, and Stack Overflow reputation.


Compensation by purchasing power indicates that Ukraine is the top place for developers to live and work, followed by South Africa, USA, Australia, and Russia. If you’re thinking about relocating, these results might give you more factors to consider.

For more information on employment status, job satisfaction, and developers’ preferred text editor, IDE, and source control, check out the full survey results on


39 responses to “Stack Overflow Developer Survey Ranks WordPress as the 3rd Most Dreaded Technology”

  1. Speaking as a developer who loves WordPress, the platform has two major issues:

    1. once installed, a WordPress site really, really wants to remain on the same domain. Any attempt to move it usually just ends in tears. Whereas with PmWiki or DokuWiki (and yes, both are used in CMS capacity often enough), you just zip the files and move them. And like it or not, sites need to move all the time for all kinds of reasons.
    2. WordPress is *fragile*. There’s no way to make a useful WP site without at least a handful of plugins. Most need a dozen or two. And all too often I’ve been called to investigate a WP site that has mysteriously stopped working. Sometimes I can identify the plugin to blame and deactivate it. Sometimes… I just can’t, or it’s *vital to the site*. Just recently I’ve seen an essential plugin with excellent reputation break a site after an upgrade to the latest version (the same version works fine on a new WP installation that hasn’t been through multiple upgrades). Core WordPress may be rock-solid, but that simply misses the point…

    That said, I know at least a developer who hates WordPress because he refuses to think the WordPress way and wants the platform to adapt instead. And that’s like wanting a saw to be an axe, then complaining it doesn’t work well…

    • Speaking to a few of these points:

      1. WP is not that hard to move. I do it all the time between a local development URL (generally to some staging server (generally or, and finally to It’s not hard to move a WP site. Yes, you need to run a search-replace on the database, but that’s relatively trivial now with tools like WP-CLI and WP Migrate DB Pro.

      2. Yes and no. WP is like any tool, it’s fragile in the wrong hands. Hand off a WP site to a client who doesn’t know anything about web development, and they might make a mess of things. Or don’t upgrade anything for a year then try to do it all at once. I’m actually impressed how *most* sites I’ve upgraded after being neglected for months to a year or more still upgrade relatively painlessly. But if you are installing any old plugin without actually testing it out, then yeah, you very well may have some headaches.

      IMO it all comes back to how easy WP is to use and get started with. Any web application you could call fragile in the wrong hands. The issue with WP is it’s *too* easy to install plugins. You could take a rock-solidly built PHP application and hand it off to a client, and if they don’t manage it correctly, it could also start to break down and become *fragile* really quickly.

      • And what does it say that WordPress needs special tools to handle moving to a different domain — a fairly common event online? How about the fact that WordPress users dread upgrades and postpone them for as long as they can?

        • Postponing updates is true for any software, it is not WordPress only thing. In the realm of CMS, have you tried to upgrade Joomla to new major version, total nightmare, and no way to be completed on the first try. WordPress upgrade problems are in 99% of the cases related to old and outdated plugins that are not kept compatible with new WordPress versions. Unfortunatly, anyone can develop plugin for WordPress and is resposnible for low quality of free plugins there. It is nice to have 37.000 plugins there, but 35.000 of them are not good or are very, very outdated.

          But, I do agree that WordPress domain transfer is not always easy, and I don’t like the search/replace solution too. WordPress shouldn’t keep URL’s in database anyway, all URL’s used in posts should be made relative by WordPress and all transfer problems would be gone.


      • “It’s not hard to move a WP site.”
        Me: not really. even the most experienced ones find it not that easy to move wordpress. search and replace is good if you know what you are doing. as for WP Migrate DB Pro. well Pro… if the tool is behind a paywall then its not actually native solution or a solution that core has provided. Nothing against plugin developers as i find WP Migrate DB Pro pretty good but like i said its not native to core but thats just my opinion

        • “search and replace is good if you know what you are doing.” Really? WordPress is easy to use. I don’t know why more technical things like moving WordPress to another domain, are expected to be as easy as using the WYSIWYG editor. WordPress is still a web application, if you want to do anything more than blogging or content management, you should either have some technical know-how or be willing to read and learn.

          And WP Migrate DB non-pro is free and still allows you to save out a database with a search and replace already done for you. It’s about as easy as it gets. The Pro version allows you to push and pull databases without dealing with importing a database with PHPMyAdmin or the CLI.

    • >> 2. WordPress is *fragile*. <<

      I don't know of many products and services that can handle such a wide range of 3rd party products as well as WordPress. (Can you imagine looking askance at Mercedes when car owners add on products not produced by Mercedes that then break the car?)

      When even one bad line of code can mean the difference in almost any application, I don't find it surprising at all that a plugin (that has to be rolled out to so many different hosting environments and setups; and created by such a diverse set of developers) could create a serious problem.

      That's why a testing environment is considered best practice and why, when amateurs ignore that, developers have to remind them. (Or get paid the big bucks to help them clean up their mess! Kudos to you for your work; I hope they know to appreciate you!)

  2. I’ve never had to move my site yet but I m hoping that when that day comes I’ll be able to do so without such headache. As far as updating, I’ve never had a plugin just “break” after updating but have had a couple that I shouldn’t have tried to install lock me out of my site or somehow break my site. I do kinda wish that the wordpress site would only show me the plugins that were already tried and tested with the theme I am using. So many seem to be theme dependent and are just a waste of time…I’d like the ability to filter those out and have the ability to share what works and what don’t with the rest of the WordPress users Would save a lot of time

  3. Very nice overview! Many, many years ago I had to choose CMS for my small website. And, I started with Joomla. I needed to make a simple widget element. And, it took me 3 days to learn and write small piece of code to do it. I tried WordPress then, and I made same component in under 2 hours! I had no previous experience with either Joomla or WordPress. And, since that day I only worked with WordPress, and all my business is WordPress based, and I never looked back.

    Sure, there are things that should be better made in WordPress, but that is true for any system. WordPress is under preasure because it is so widely used, but part of the success of WP is the tradeoff between code complexity and usability of that code and ability for developers to have coding freedom. WordPress premium plugins and themes markets regulate themselves, but I would like to see more regulations with and strict rules on accepting plugins and themes there along with massive removal of old and baddly coded plugins and themes.


    • I really have not explored others plugins new or old in as far as the code goes. I’d imagine I will find “Hmms” and “Neato’s”.

      I dont prescribe to traditions. See. When I started coding there were no standards. I was writing Z80 Assembler on TRS-80 Radio Shack computers running TRSDOS and CP/M.

      While computer languages have become far more complex the actual CPU’s have not really moved along at similar pace in as far as the microcode. So I have kept my “assembly language” skills in tact albeit basically seldom having to use them.

      I worked for Atari, Sierra Online, Electronic Arts, Thorn EMI to name a few, mainly long hours all nighters banging out video game code. Back in those days (daze) no standards. Standard was, “Make it work!”. LOL.

      I worked with Jack Purdum who was CEO of Que Books on one of the first “C” compilers for “anyone”. That was a learning experience. Again, no standards.

      When the Web came to be, still… no standards. I aided in the coding of Haggle Online the worlds second Auction site (AuctionWeb (now eBay)) being the first. No standards. Make it work.

      From there to Onsale inc. to help code out the Onsale Auction’s marketplace (a site for third party business .vs. the main site which were Onsale core consignment auctions). #2 site on the Internet in its day (Onsale) behind eBay.

      No standards. Make it work.

      I wake up one day, go to login. Nothing. Make a call. Entire codebase sold to Yahoo. Becomes the core of Yahoo auctions. NICE! No standards (or decorum!!!!).

      Was said I will be compensated. Still waiting, Been what? 18 years? “All smells that smells well”.

      I did some work with Mike Abrash well known as one of the finest “code optimizers” in history. Standards sit as a roadblock in most cases towards performance.

      Performance now is a commodity. You must have at least a Core i5 with this and that to run this video game. From a consumer point of view, “You must code essential performance based code in assembler and I can then run your game on a Pentium 4”

      All this stuff is “no wine before its time” as it keeps the dough cookin’


      I love stack overflow, I use it all the time. But me thinks that their survey is rather skewed… up.

    • Stack overflow is a coder’s site pretty much. Hence the name.

      I agree with you (I seem to never agree with things).

      It’d be more appropriate to say, “WP coding .vs. Jooml’r coding .vs. Drupal coding, .vs. e107 coding .vs. Magnolia CMS .vs. dotCMS coding .vs. DotNetNuke coding etc.

      That covers all flavors.

      Magnolia is SWEET if you never tried it (java), DNN is also pretty remarkable (.NET based).

      Whomever created the survey is apparently not a programmer as they just spilt objects into the fray that ought not be there but instead encapsulated where they should be.

      Not thats an “OOP”s :)

      • DNN remarkable? Well, in its horribleness, problems with upgrades, lack of support etc. Yes, I’ve tried. The support I got from them was bad. They just went “dunno, try something” when there was a problem several people were having. Trying to upgrade the system almost always caused pains (minor versions), and it’s slow. And quite bad to use.

        I’ve never touched WordPress, so can’t compare these two. But in absolute terms I can say I’ll never touch DNN ever again, and don’t think anyone else should either, before it actually works better and there’s some kind of support available. I actually would’ve thought it’s version 0.7 at the time (about a year ago) based on the problems.

        Also do note that the most dreaded and loved are based on the people who use them. I dread PHP, but I don’t use it. So I wouldn’t have had any effect on those. I use Swift and I dread it, so I would’ve had an effect on the likedness.

        So it’s not like n% of all who responded want Swift and m% dread WP. Just the ones who use them. Which in Swift’s case is not that many.

        • Its been quite sometime since I played with DNN. It was sorta radically different even back then. It’s been quite a while since I messed with it

          Your points are well taken. Thanks for your honesty. I dont tend “dread” any platform of language. There are simply those I can write more code with and have it be less prone to issues be they faster, slower etc. and I dont like reinventing the wheel.

          I think WordPress ended up on the list as I noted, two reasons. One when “on top” someone always wants kick something down and two developers that do try and learn WordPress its rather different in its structure than they would be accustomed to in say C#.

          Remarkably (or not), as was pointed out and actually shown to me last night. WordPress with some of it more popular plugins gets fatter and slower than Joomla when considering same function. So, its all peanuts & Beer so to speak.

  4. A major problem with wordpress is the lack of quality control with plugins. We have 37k plugins but most of them either don’t work or have not been updated in so long that it shouldn’t even be there. All the old and broken plugins should be moved to an archive where they can still be downloaded and used but they are aware from the main repository

    • I agree and disagree. There should be some sort of solution that if a Plugin hasn’t been updated for 2+ years it should be moved to some sort of archive but on the other-hand I also think it’s up to the user to do some sort of research on the plugins they install on their website. You wouldn’t install a plugin 2+ years old or a plugin that has poor reviews. Just like computer software, you wouldn’t just install things willy-nilly.

  5. Soo…. Rick.

    We can all tell that you hate WordPress and you hate PHP. You think it garbage.

    If this is the case, then why on earth are you getting into the WordPress market? If you can make more money doing C# or Java, why are you forcing yourself into PHP? I’m just confused by your obvious loathe for the language, platform, and development style, and your insistence on using WordPress and PHP.

    Some insight might be helpful.

    • Well I had a somewhat lengthy reply to this but apparently its hit the chopping block LOL.

      But I will be brief.

      We have a enterprise project in C#. We need a CMS in support of it. Joomla wont cut it.

      WP might and as a side benefit WP has a sizeable market in which we can peddle things.

        • Its all good. He asked why I am working with WordPress in as far as coding goes. Thats a long discussion. I do tend write long responses. The complex can seldom be said in 4 or 5 sentences or less. Thats just useless jibe.

          Funny sorta. One of the BIG blowouts I had with Andrew Eddie and Joomla core developers was about “writing”. Countless developers asking for a at least respectable explanation of functions/interfaces etc etc. I’d already been deep in going through their code which is good code in terms of the scripting language PHP is. When I piped up in the forums there in agreement about them documenting their work (hence me not spending countless hours plodding through it) if they want 3P’s writing components etc. I almost instantly got an email from the Big Guy. “Rick, how would you like to document Joomla?” What!?

          I said, “No, thanks for the opportunity but I really think that the developers should be documenting their code as they write it and updating their wiki’s or documentation as thats basic software engineering as taught at a high school level”.

          Poof. Me’s on the crap list. LOL.

  6. Good article, Sarah!
    I can see why they’d think that. The audience there is pretty much hardcore geeks. If you throw one of those folks a big WordPress site when they’ve never used it before, you bet they’ll holler! It’s too big and confusing, yet not nearly as hardcore as Ruby, Python, or [insert other language or platform here]. And there’s a sizeable contingent for whom all PHP sucks. :-)

    I’m a super WordPress fan, but I have my own list of minor complaints. But no total deal-breakers, and once you’ve built something large with a big following, un-ringing all those bells isn’t feasible. I also have used a lot of CMS systems, so I have a basis of comparison beyond “the little voices that tell me my WP is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world!”

    To me it’s definitely useful to have outside viewpoints. It can be disturbing to see criticism, but it’s also very useful to be informed before people start eating your lunch.

    Cheers, Dave

  7. I must say the Salesforce deserves to be on top of the list, I lose plenty of sleep because of it.

    I do agree with Milan between using other CMS that WordPress is a lot better with upgrades and usability of the code.

    Without the some of the challenges WordPress wouldn’t be what it is today.

  8. Its literally fantastic that these open source projects, WP, Joomla, OpenCart etc. have these communities of developers and designers and they can make money or a living by doing so.

    There however does exist a sort of inherent responsibility in doing so as people are trusting what is coded and they use be safe to do just that.

    The Survey at Stack Overflow is what it is, a skewed view. If they want ask Cms .vs. Cms which is best or what one programmers like working with best that makes sense.

    From most programmers point of view who are mufti-faceted, that is to say know many programming languages WordPress code is linear. 95% of all software written today is Object Oriented. What is object oriented and linear mean?

    Linear code does not encapsulate functionality. For example lets take Cars. To describe a car we have Manufacturer, year, model and say miles.

    We could store lots of cars in an array:

    $cars=array(“Car1″=>Array(“Manf”=>”Mazda”,”Year”=>”1922″,”Model”=>”The Toad”,”Miles”=>”70,000) More arrays of cars in here);

    on and on… A database might fill in that structure.

    With Object Oriented code the object in modeled after the real world data, a car.

    Class Car {
    var $manf;
    var $year;
    var $model;
    var $miles;
    lots of functions down here to operate on car data

    To create a new car object, $ourCar=new Car();

    If we all of a sudden need to put in more data, like engine size we simply add supporting code to the object. OOP (as its called) affords better maintainability, extensibility (extendable) and better code quality.

    For example. We could call our Car class a vehicle class instead. Then a Car class, Truck Class, SUV class. Motorcycle Class could “inherit” it. So now we have a “Parent class” vehicles where all the commonality of a vehicle can be stored and have functional code for those commonalities and the children classes (Cars, Trucks etc) inherit all its traits. The child classes take care of the specifics that describe them. For example, cars may have sunroofs, where as motorcycles surely do not.

    Object Oriented Programming is how 95% of all code is now written.

    In PHP (the language that powers WordPress) Object Oriented code comes at a price. It uses more memory in significant fashion, its slower as well.

    This is because PHP internally uses Arrays ALOT and as such the mapping of data in/out has a price.

    Thats the VERY simple of it. (VERY).

    For experienced programmers that have multiple computer languages under their belts anything not OOP (Object Oriented Programming) stinks like poop to them (Poop! vs Oop! LOL)

    But they dont necessarily understand WHY some application would NOT use OOP.

    Programming contrary to common conception is not hard to learn. Programmers are not magical guru’s. I can (and have) teach ANYONE without mental disabilities to program. I have done it in continuing education for local schools. I can do it in blog posts. The problem with most programmers who try to teach others whom its really “greek” to is the programmers do not put things in human terms the student can readily grasp.

    This is the same in fact in how a computer actually works be it your desktop, cellphone or game system. I’ve done that as well in continuing ed. Its not hard at all. When I had to learn marketing, THAT is hard.

    Anyways… I am sorta out of context on the post.

    The reason WordPress will not get a good rating at Stack Overflow is because the majority of Stack Overflow users are used to commercial standards. I’d imagine 90% of the voters who slammed it did so for other reasons. Aka: When your on top everyone wants to see it fall.

    • “We asked respondents what programming languages and technologies they’ve developed with over the past year and what languages and technologies they want to develop with.”

      So it’s not like everyone just came to bash it. It’s people who use it, or at least tried it, who don’t like it.

      I’m not saying there aren’t people who just said it’s dreadful without trying, but I’m sure they aren’t the majority.

      And not saying the survey isn’t skewed. They always are. But the people “explaining” why WP is so dreaded could at least read the survey.

  9. Does make ya wonder does’nt it? LOL.

    For a site like Stack Overflow which I love, I use it quite frequently when stuck or I just look at some of my code and go “this doesnt feel right” to have a few of the survey areas just be so “off target” also surprises me.

    It also seems like they removed it upon further review. Probably WordPressians yippin’ at em’.

    I honestly never understood the “mines best no mines best” mindsets. Drove me NUTS with Apple back in the McMacInMcTosh early days. I did alot of work with and for Megamax who authored a C compiler for the Mac and Atari ST series of computers. I, David Small and some others just messin’ about wanted to see of we could get Mac OS working on the ST and we did. David wanted sell it, got all sorts of “oh my’s”.

    But back then I had to use both Mac’s and the Atari’s, my brother Mac’s and Amiga’s. We did entertainment (game) development. The Mac was never a target for our wares as it just didnt have the umph to play what we coded. But all over the place was “MAC IS BEST!”. All I ever heard!

    Usually truth being truth… “The Best Is Yet To Come!”… Wouldnt that make people more thoughful?


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