Programmer pay and indent-style: tab-using coders earn less than space-using coders

David Robinson used the data from the 28,657 people who self-selected to take the Stack Overflow survey to investigate the relationship between programmer pay and the conventions of using either tabs or spaces to mark indents, and found a persistent, significant correlation between using spaces and bringing home higher pay.

As another hypothesis, we know that different types of developers often use different indentation (e.g. with DevOps developers more likely to use spaces and mobile developers more likely to use tabs), often because they use different editors and languages. The Developer Survey asked both about what programming languages each respondent uses (Python, Javascript, etc) and what “type” of developer they are (web developer, embedded developer, etc).

Did we see the same tabs/spaces gap within each of these groups?

Yes, the effect existed within every subgroup of developers. (This gave a similar result even when filtering for developers only in a specific country, or for ones with a specific range of experience). Note that respondents could select multiple languages, so each of these groups are overlapping to some degree.

I did several other visual examinations of possible confounding factors (such as level of education or company size), and found basically the same results: spaces beat tabs within every group. Now that the raw data is available, I encourage other statisticians to check other confounders themselves.

Developers Who Use Spaces Make More Money Than Those Who Use Tabs [David Robinson/Stack Overflow]

(via JWZ)