Programming Prompts Lead ChatGPT Uses; Overall OpenAI Traffic Down (New Report)

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A report released last week by SparkToro and Datos found that OpenAI traffic has declined almost 30% since May.

Using Datos’ 20 million, “opt-in, anonymized” devices for its deep-dive, SparkToro’s research sought to find out how ChatGPT users are utilizing the generative-text service in an attempt to explain the overall 29.15% decline, proffering “a variety of theories that explain this without suggesting that generative AI interest or use is actually declining.”

Its first theory — that regular use is growing but that first-time use could be trailing off — was discounted after looking more closely at groups of devices with 3-10 visits per month and groups of devices with 11+ visits per month, both of which also saw declines since this spring. 

The second theory — that school breaks and summer vacations might explain a drop in use for education purposes — ultimately sparked a larger look at what people are using ChatGPT for. After looking at thousands of recent real-user prompts provided by Datos, SparkToro said the “results are fascinating.”

(Source: SparkToro)

“Programming is the largest use-case, with 29.14% of all prompt series falling into this use-case,” writes SparkToro’s Rand Fishkin of the evaluated months of May and June. “It’s also the clearest/least ambiguous. I hand-checked 100+ of each prompt series (an arduous, but fascinating task) to confirm the classifier’s accuracy, and programming help (with writing specific bits of code, formatting code, catching errors in code, and more) was present in every one ChatGPT marked as such. As others have often pointed out, the tool excels at programming-related tasks. Little wonder it’s such a popular use-case.”

Education was the second-highest use-case at 23.3% during those two months, but as Fishkin points out, it’s not limited to primary or secondary education.

“Personal knowledge or interest pursuits and professional knowledge for work purposes are both included here as well,” Fishkin writes. “Same with content creation — some is clearly personal (D&D dungeon masters needing riddles or quests for their adventures was a recurring favorite in the dataset) while others are professional (“write me a 500 word blog post about detroit plumbing problems” — presumably a content marketer tired of writing their own material).”

Ultimately, in looking solely at months after the decline began and not considering use-case numbers from before the decline, SparkToro can’t cleanly address its “education” theory for why overall OpenAI traffic might be declining. And while SparkToro doesn’t present any further theory alternatives, it does provide a helpful breakdown of the common words used in recent prompts.

(Source: SparkToro)

“Write” topped the list at 35.41%, followed by “Create” (21.62%) and “List” (20.0%).



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