Programmers Get Better with Age

This kind of data is hard to come by, but thanks to almighty Stackoverflow ands their wise decision (thanks Joel), to make this data publicly available we can mine this data to our collective benefit.

With a simple bash script to download the data, a small Java program to extract the stats and Google Docs to make the graphs, I was able to produce some interesting stats.

I pulled in data of about 70.000 developers whose Stackoverflow reputation is over 100. On average 53% of them have their age listed in their profiles. So the sample was 37.400 users.


First interesting statistic is how users are distributed by age. On the graph we can see a textbook example of a bell distribution curve. I knew that with age coders tend to switch careers, but I was surprised to see the size of the drop. After the peak age of 27, number of developers halves every 6 to 7 years.

Second stat that I find most interesting is how Stackoverflow reputation relates to age. There is a near-linear increasing trend: the older the developers are the higher their SO reputation is.


Senior developers ask less questions and provide more answers. A 40-year old coder provides about 100 answers, roughly double the answers of his half younger colleague.

From this graph we see that quality of posts does not significantly change with age. Number of upvotes varies about 10% across all ages. So, senior coders earn their higher reputation by providing more answers, not by having answers of (significantly) higher quality.


An ingenious conclusion arrived at by mining data on Stack Overflow finds that developers answer more questions as they get older and contribute more to the community.

Folksonomies: programming computer science seniority

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Programming language (0.772122): dbpedia | freebase
Answer (0.684101): dbpedia | freebase

 It's official: developers get better with age. And scarcer.
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Knego, Peter (06/13/2011), It's official: developers get better with age. And scarcer., Peter's Blog: About Coding and Stuff, Retrieved on 2011-08-28
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: programming wisdom coding experience age retirement