Programmers who use spaces to indent aren’t just better. They’re richer, too.

Programmers who use spaces to indent aren’t just better. They’re richer, too.

When it comes to indentation, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way, of course, is with spaces. Those who use tabs aren’t just doing it wrong, but they’re also cheating themselves out of a decent wedge of cash.

At least, that’s the case according to Stack Overflow’s 2017 Developer Survey, which found that the median developer who uses spaces over tabs earns roughly £13,000 ($16,500) more.

Stack Overflow surveyed almost 26,000 developers. 40.7 percent of those surveyed said they use tabs, while 41.8 percent used spaces.

The rest use a combination of both, which sounds plausible, given that style guides differ wildly. If you write PEP-8 standard Python for your day job, you’ll use spaces. If you hack Go on the evening, you’ll be using tabs whether you want to or not (thanks to go fmt).

Interestingly, the median spaces-using dev earns $59,140 per year, while those who cling to tabs earn $43,750. As Stack Overflow’s David Robinson points out, this isn’t conclusive, and there’s no obvious reason as to why.

Robinson initially hypothesized that it might have something to do with country of origin, suggesting that it might have something to do with the fact that those in low-wage countries preferring tabs. But a closer examination of the data shows that isn’t really the case. It’s constant pretty much everywhere you go.

You can read Stack Overflow’s write-up here. It’s pretty damn hilarious, but I doubt it’ll change anything. The good-natured feud between Space and Tabs adherents is so old and notorious, it was even satirized in an episode of Silicon Valley.

But either way, I’m just glad I’ve got another reason to look down on those tabs-using schmucks.

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