I've read in the meta the discussion on why it's not a good idea to Change 'TAB' keyboard press functionality when typing a question so that it insert spaces instead of changing focus. The main concern is not to change the way textarea's have worked for a long time.

I totally agree with that, just like i think that pressing Enter should bring you to a new line inside a textarea, but facebook, for example, gives you an opportunity to override this default behaviour if you feel that pressing Enter should send the message instead. So why don't do something like this withe the Tab? We could have an option just like in facebook which

  • appears only to registered users (no need to confuse casual users, a textarea is a textarea and should behave in a standard way)
  • is disabled by default (the standard way behaviour is preserved)
  • if is checked, it insert a tab instead of moving focus

Do you still think that this would be a bad idea?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I have created a user script for this: Better handling of indentation and the TAB key when editing posts

As is the usual answer to "make it a user setting": We're very careful about preferences, because anything that most people don't use should usually not complicate the UI. User scripts have somewhat established themselves as an alternative for this; in addition, they're a good way to solicit feedback on the usefulness of a feature. It wouldn't be unprecedented for user script functionality (created by us or others) to eventually turn into core functionality.

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While I love the script, please don't mess with the default browser tab navigation functionality unless users explicitly request it (eg. by installing a script). Messing with accessibility is a bad thing. –  cdeszaq Mar 23 '12 at 17:00
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@cdeszaq Absolutely agreed. The tab key will never by default do anything other than what the user expects from a browser. –  balpha Mar 23 '12 at 17:02
    
@balpha this is a perfect way to accomodate the needs of the users! :) –  Nicola Peluchetti Mar 26 '12 at 16:49
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