Which is a better option?

Knowing that your co-workers code sucks (which makes you work more and gives you headaches) but makes more money than you or is ignorance bliss?


Ignorance is bliss.

You need to do due diligence to make sure you're earning what you're worth, but I wouldn't focus on individuals too much--it's not healthy.

If you find out and try to use it in a performance review, you'll possibly come off as annoying (and a possessor of knowledge you probably shouldn't have). Since that isn't likely to help you, you'll be left with a bad attitude and a grudge.

12 accepted

I consider the information to be meaningless. Maybe it's the country I live in, but there is no correlation between how much people earn, what position they hold, and how much they actually contribute. If I were to start taking things at 'face value', then it would turn out that many leads/PMs are grossly overpaid, whereas those students that got hired would most likely be grossly underpaid.

Knowing my co-workers salaries does also tend to affect one psychologically. Here are some traps I fall into:

  • If I work with underpaid people, I start feeling sorry for them
  • If I work with people who earn the same as me, I start worrying about whether there is parity or not
  • If I work with people who earn lots more than me, I start thinking about how much better (worse) they are than me at their jobs, whether I can (or want to be) like them, and so on

Trying to look for 'pay objectivity' is IMO pointless and a waste of time. I'd rather write good code.


If you want a pay rise, then knowing is definitely good - you'll actually have facts in your next pay review.

Obviously, you need to use that knowledge wisely - insensitively talking about other people's salaries isn?t' a good idea.

I love coding and do code for free at home, but I go to work everyday to get paid first and foremost. I'd advise people to maximise what they get back.

There are exceptions, such as people working in charities?


I once found out my line-manager was earning (4 x mySalary) + car benefits. Didn't make me any happier.

Programming is generally a well paid job compared to the rest of the career sphere: unless you've dubious personal values or you're being screwed by your employer money isn't a motivator, it can only be an anti-motivator. The work matters more.


Another general site (that's growing) that you can use to find averages of salaries is - www.glassdoor.com - it's starting to gain some traction and you can see averages, etc.


I prefer not to know.

If the person makes more than I do and I know it and they screw up a lot, I'm going to have a hard time keeping a good attitude. Even if the person is better than me most of the time, if their pay is quite a bit higher, I find myself getting more easily upset with errors or stupid code.

The alternative is that they are better paid and basically a "rockstar" or more poorly paid and worse than you. Either of those is pretty inconsequential.

As for knowing what to ask for in salary negotiations, there are plenty of surveys, etc about that kind of thing out there. Additionally, many programmers are willing to discuss salary history with you from some of their previous jobs, so if you can find a good community you can get a good sense of your worth. You should always be trying to get that figure in a salary negotiation anyway, regardless of others' pay.


I never understood this aspect of American culture. Why should your pay be kept secret? I think it's a trick invented by employers, so they wouldn't have to pay the fair people so much, if they accidentally discover a "cheater" who was able to negotiate higher pay.

Wanting fair conditions (also called envy by other, usually envious, people) is normal trait of most humans, as psychology shows. And it is a good one; there is a reason why we evolved that way.

Anyway, in my workplace, I don't ask other people about it, because I know it's expected to be a secret. On the other hand, if someone asked me, I would tell them, and ask them back (you can learn a lot about people depending if they will tell you or not afterwards). And I did so several times. In fact, I learned about discrimination of some people, but that's how it is apparently, and I am not going do anything about it, given that most people don't understand what's wrong with this.


Ignorance. Although after receiving a "catch up" raise from an old boss, after thanking him....I did make some comment about "I'm happy with my salary as long as I know it is fairly determined.....well, and as long as I'm making more than 'Johnny'" (name changed). Johnny was abysmally bad....


As the owner of a small software house and an employer, I think of this as confidential information. Where possible, I like to pay good people good money to do a good job. Put another way, I try to pay people based on the value that they provide to me. Some would argue that this is unfair, that people should be paid based on experience, qualification, and time served. But if someone isn't providing value, whay reward them?


I know about how much my coworkers make and it makes me want to strive to become better at my job to earn as much as they do.


I live and work in Norway, where all salary information (income earned & tax paid) is available and searchable online. I think it has advantages and disadvantages: there is much more equality between the sexes, and you always know what your manager is earning. The downside is that there is absolutely no privacy, in addition to those already mentioned in other replies.


I prefer not knowing. If you know, then you'll start comparing yourself with this person.


When our manager got new furniture in, he gave me his old 2 drawer cabinet. It still contained his 20+ person team files in it - including billing & salary information.

It was a great morning read for everyone since there were so many of us jammed into an office.


I'd say that any inside information about how your company negotiates and how much they're willing to pay others is invaluable to you. The problem is that knowing makes it tempting to use that knowledge as leverage in your next review which is likely to backfire. I'd say the best of both worlds is to know as much as you can and use that information to determine your negotiation strategy, but don't ever come out and say "but Johnson is making more and he sucks!"


I know what a few of them earn, and have in the past. As long as I think I'm being paid fairly, I dont care much. That said, I'm usually (always) at the top end of my pay "bracket", or someone makes up a new bracket for me (current and previous job), so I'd say I'm a little biased.

I've been scared a few times about how LITTLE some of my co-workers are paid, just because it's the "accepted amount" for that job. HTML/CSS jockeys come to mind. No less skill than C# developers, but paid maybe 20K/year less :(

I do think openness is a good, required thing tho.

Have a read of Mavrick! by Ricardo Semler. It's a great book on pretty much this topic (Well, thats one of the topics - everyone decides their OWN salary, but ALL salaries are public....). I've not tried his other book (7 day weekend) but I would think it's good - he's a good writer (and, it appears, a better CEO)