It is clear that most of the people providing content on this site don't like the current design and would like it changed to a black on white default. It would be nice to know that something is being done about this, even if it might take some time to implement. How about it @Jeff Atwood and co.? How about a response?

  • $\begingroup$ This was the response to me on another question about this:@Gordon, work on a userscript is in progress. Feedback is appreciated. – Rebecca Chernoff Go to the question "Can we please change to black and white" $\endgroup$ – Gordon Mar 1 '11 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff ---this is their userscript link I can't get it to work, but that may just be unfamiliarity with userscripts. $\endgroup$ – Gordon Mar 1 '11 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ I also can't handle much more of this black background. $\endgroup$ – Gordon Mar 1 '11 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Gordon: do you have Greasemonkey installed in your browser? $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ it doesn't do any harm to help Gordon figure out how to use the user script while we try to get the design changed. $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ There was a bug in the Userscript today which was fixed. It can run in all desktop browsers aside from IE as far as I know. By the way, there is a site for asking things like "How do I install a userscript?" ... $\endgroup$ – Moshe Mar 2 '11 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ superuser.com/questions/252046/how-do-i-install-a-userscript $\endgroup$ – Moshe Mar 2 '11 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @David--no, I didn't have Greasemonkey installed. Thanks for the consideration and following response. $\endgroup$ – Gordon Mar 2 '11 at 1:54

Their response is to make a userscript, which I think is very unsatisfactory, because not all browsers (mobiles) support userscripts. And in many browsers userscripts do not take effect immediately, so there will be a few seconds flash where the site is black each time the page loads.

Besides it seems pretty clear that most users dislike the black background and they will not even change it. this along with the two other physics sites on their out of area 51 means this site is likely to die. The thing I dislike about stackoverflow is the authoritarian control under the guise that they want to build communities.

There will not be a banner on the main site linking to a poll on the meta site because they dont like polls and there has never been any publicity for meta sites.

It's either like it or use the userscript no other way.

Another point to add, is that when people first visit this site they will be greeted with an unreadable site. Userscripts can't be installed on public computers (or computers that aren't yours; eg at work/schools). The userscript has only been published on meta physics, not the main site, and the majority of users never visit meta, this means those users will be less active due to the readability.

Swallow your pride and change it. It's not hard to change a background image and a font color!

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    $\begingroup$ And a lot of users have more than one computer they use. My laptop is firefox, this machine is IE and I don't think I can run scripts on it. Surely I don't want to become sufficiently expert to run scripts on every computer I might want to use and a lot of people probably don't want me running greasemonkey on their machines. But when the majority vote is clearly against it, I don't see why it should still be around. $\endgroup$ – Carl Brannen Mar 1 '11 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ Has the site changed? It's now White background on my iPhone but the font is different and there's no logo? If it can be changes for mobiles then it can be changed for everything. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonathan: No, this is a new simplified layout for mobile browsers. It seems to be in effect on all sites. $\endgroup$ – Jan Fabry Mar 1 '11 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan I realised just after commenting its quite annoying, thankfully it hasn't infected stackoverflow yet. We ask for a White background on just physics and instead we get an ugly mobile site across all sites. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonathan: I also get it on Stack Overflow, maybe you still have the old theme in your cache? And this new mobile theme does not have to exclude a theme change for Physics, I see them as two different things. $\endgroup$ – Jan Fabry Mar 1 '11 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Fabry: Oh great, well it looks quite similar to the userscript ,that came out of this discussion. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ for mobile devices we now serve the general minimalist theme which is white background. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JeffAtwood: Ok now the multitude of other devices that don't support userscripts, public computers, computers that aren't owned by us, and we therefore have no right to install userscripts. Before you leave (I replied 5 minutes after you) please tell why you refuse to change the design? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ @jonathan I'm not refusing, it takes time to do these things. Perhaps if you had a little patience? $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ @JeffAtwood: So thats a yes? Thank you :) it would have been nice to know this earlier. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ For now: superuser.com/questions/252046/how-do-i-install-a-userscript $\endgroup$ – Moshe Mar 2 '11 at 1:43

There is a user script to switch to any Stack Exchange design here:


With some improvements, that will be the officially supported method of changing for those that prefer not to use websites with dark background designs.

Also, on mobile, we now serve a minimalistic, low bandwidth, white background theme to all mobile clients. Try it in your iPhone / Android, etc. You can also change your browser user agent to "iPhone" if you want that theme immediately.

We're still working on this, so give us some time to get it worked out.

edit: Based on extensive meta feedback, site design is withdrawn indefinitely.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer doesn't address the concerns people have been voicing. During the beta phase, I read that SE wants the overwhelming majority of a site's traffic to come from search engine hits. If most traffic is coming from search engine hits, most users are still going to see the white-on-black default site. The dominant opinion among current users is that these visitors will be less likely to find the site useful, less likely to trust it, and less likely to decide to join the community as long as they're greeted with a dark background. $\endgroup$ – Mark Eichenlaub Mar 1 '11 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ I think there may be a misunderstanding here. You have created the impression that the user script is the permanent solution to the problem, and the only fix you'd consider. Is that a correct impression, or are you considering this a temporary fix? $\endgroup$ – user566 Mar 1 '11 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ @mark this is a religious issue of dark background vs. light background that I don't think can be resolved any sooner than, say, emacs vs vim, or sunny-side-up vs sunny-side-down, or big-endian vs little-endian. Entire civilizations have been destroyed for less. That said, we are working on ways for people to express a preference. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff It's ok that you dont care about the communitys opinion on the issue. But are you really too stupid to realize that in doing so you are also killing the potential of this site? $\endgroup$ – TROLLHUNTER Mar 1 '11 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff I think people have already expressed their preference. For example, look at meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/479/… It's got 34 upvotes and three down. I don't see how there are multiple ways to interpret that, or how it can be laughed off as a joke. It's very clear already what the vast majority of users think. $\endgroup$ – Mark Eichenlaub Mar 1 '11 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff Atwood But there are people on both sides of emacs and vim. I haven't seen any people other than the SE honchos who want to keep the black background. There is no battle of preferences here. The community just doesn't like it, sorry. But sure, just throw out a userscript and tell people to deal with it - I'm sure all of this will die down once enough people have left. $\endgroup$ – spencer nelson Mar 1 '11 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ @mark the vast majority of users? 34 votes relative to 1,332 users on the site? $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ @spencer you haven't seen any people? How about meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/463/… or meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/463/… or meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/447/… $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff I'm not sure if you're being deliberately obtuse, but the 34 votes is the second most that any post on the site has. Not the second most on meta - its the most on meta - but the second most including main. But hey - this is your site, I guess, not ours. $\endgroup$ – spencer nelson Mar 1 '11 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @spencer we're thinking about it. I'm not sure your comments have been particularly constructive in this matter. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff I'm sorry if I'm coming off as abrasive. It's not that I'm being nasty just for its own sake. There's just been very little response from anyone in charge, which was getting very frustrating, and your dismissive answers above weren't really encouraging, but I definitely let myself get a little too angry about this. I'll try to tone it down. It's definitely good to hear that you are considering changes. $\endgroup$ – spencer nelson Mar 2 '11 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: and what would count as a constructive comment? We know majority of the site (at least the majority that lets itself be heard) is not content and there also exist obvious (constructive!) solution of just replacing css for goodness sake. I just don't get what else is there to talk about... $\endgroup$ – Marek Mar 2 '11 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff I Really don't see how civilisations being destroyed has anything to do with changing a background and text color. 34 votes out of 1,300 users is not much but then the 3 down votes aren't worth mentioning. And I think you'll find there 600 users of this meta site, not 1,300. Maybe there would be more votes if the meta site was allowed any publicity at all, such as a banner or notification bar on the main site. The first answer you linked to has -1 votes, the second -5, the third 0. Compared to 37 (34+ the -3) votes saying No to the black design. Is it true you want to build communities? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 2 '11 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ First of all, we have 1,322 users! Really? For the physics site? That's cool. However, these stats should be made public. As the users have already indicated we are quite grown up enough to know how to handle data ;) $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Mar 2 '11 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ There is some question about how representative a sample of 34 votes is for a population of 1,322 users. To me a sample this size seems to be more than adequate for the purposes of measuring public opinion. To make a comparison - public polling firms in the U.S. routinely use sample sizes of 700 ~ 1400 for determining the level of support for a particular policy position, candidate or political grouping. This is 0.00166% of the (roughly) 60 million adult votes in the U.S. By contrast, 34 votes corresponds to 2.5% of the current physics.SE population. Also keep in mind no election has ... $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Mar 2 '11 at 15:23

If you seek contact with the team, you have:

  1. "Contact us" link in the footer
  2. Chat -- go to the physics room and shout @RebeccaChernoff, @Jin or @RobertCartaino. With some (not so much) luck one of them will come, especially in CT working hours. Since now, one opinion about the design appeared there.
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    $\begingroup$ There is only ONE opinion there because as far as I can tell no one is saying anything interesting in the physics room. Can you not tell from what has been posted on meta than many people are profoundly unhappy with this design? $\endgroup$ – pho Mar 1 '11 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ People with diamonds always seem out of touch no matter which site your on. If it's not corrected by the end of the month I'll simply use on of the physics forums. It appears their aim is to drive people away, or just ignore it. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ It is such a stupid, short-sighted attitude from the SE folks. It would take very little time and effort to be responsive and build goodwill with the community of users, but instead they seem to take an arrogant "take it or leave it" kind of attitude. If this continues I will indeed leave it. $\endgroup$ – pho Mar 1 '11 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @JeffHarvey: I say post a question on the main site highlighting the issue, and repost if it gets closed. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan (3 comments up): keep in mind that there are two separate sets of people with diamonds: there are the site moderators, myself and mbq, and then there is the SE team, which includes Robert, Rebecca, Jin, etc. Only the latter group has the ability to change the site design. $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Also @Jeff and @Jonathan: the people with diamonds watch both the main site and meta (actually the SE people probably pay closer attention to meta), so if you're not getting the response you want on the meta site, reposting it on the main site won't help. $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky: I know but you must have more impact on the SE team than us users? You all keep pointing back to the userscript which isn't acceptable for an active website in 2011 $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky: No posting on the main site is to tell the majority of the users of this site about this discussion, seeing as only a minority of people visit meta. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan (2 comments up): no, not really. As far as the team is concerned I'm just a regular user of the site who's been entrusted with a little extra responsibility. (And I haven't been pointing people to the user script; I don't think it's a satisfactory solution either.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky: you have on this question. Fair enough well as moderator you could not close a question on the main site linking to the meta site? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Mar 1 '11 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan: I have what? Pointed people to the user script? That's certainly not the case, at least certainly not on this question. To be fair, I might have directed some people to it elsewhere, I'm not sure; but I never presented it as a permanent solution to the color problem. Also, if someone does post a question on the main site about the issue, I don't see how you could argue that it would not be appropriate to migrate it to meta. $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @jeff we have the userscript and mobile styles (try browsing the site from your phone). We're still working on this. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Mar 1 '11 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't exactly understand why there's so many downvotes here, this answers the question "Is anybody there from the SE team" as "irregularly, but if it's urgent send an email". Well, I guess many users were a bit pissed off because of the design issue being apparently ignored. Now that this is (indefinintely, i.e. 6-9 weeks) settled I hope we all can cool down a bit again... $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Mar 2 '11 at 10:06

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