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The question has come up a few times before, so I thought I'd answer here.
It was a tough call to make. There are browsers that will feed all kinds of spaces with a text area. Even Netscape can feed unnecessary spaces. After doing this for awhile, you'll find browsers that will fed all sorts of unnecessary stuff in a textarea.
I've also found that almost every single post will include at least one occurrence of a double or triple space where it isn't required. Take that times 50k messages at the moment.
When I put in the leading space stripper, I went back through old posts with a routine to strip out spaces. At the time there was 4-5k posts, and the routine reclaimed close to half of meg, just from spaces.
Also, remember there are a) people who'd exploit the feature in ways you'd never expect and b) the board also has a option for html posting that is currently turned off. Those two factors are a new degree of difficulty in dealing with text area inputs.
I am working on a upgrade to the board software. I will be exploring special exceptions for (code) and (pre).