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Stack Overflow should provide users the option of using a dark site design/theme. Why is this feature missing? The major IDEs are already a letdown regarding dark color schemes.

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Well, but this is not an IDE..what kind of comparison is that? Also,websites that lets you change the whole theme are not so common –  Damien Pirsy Nov 8 '11 at 16:32
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Every April 1st you can hope for it. –  Benoit Nov 8 '11 at 16:32
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@Benoit - No, April 1st will have the hot dog theme applied to the whole site. Seriously, though, if you feel strongly about it, then create your own CSS rule set and apply it with Stylebot or something similar. –  Kevin Vermeer Nov 8 '11 at 16:39
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For what it's worth, Physics SE launched with a dark theme (it was supposed to evoke a chalkboard). It was such a problem that they went back to Sketchy, and have remained there for over half a year. –  Pops Nov 8 '11 at 16:44
    
@PopularDemand They were clearly confused -- I loved the Physics theme –  Michael Mrozek Nov 8 '11 at 18:22
    
@MichaelMrozek smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2406#comic –  Pops Nov 8 '11 at 18:28
    
@MichaelMrozek: I liked that theme for itself too. I liked it a lot. But it really was straining my eyes to flip between that scheme and otherwise dark-on-light web-sites and and my day-to-day computing environment (also dark-on-light). –  dmckee Nov 8 '11 at 18:49
    
i am not asking for a mandatory dark theme, just for the option. And the IDE example is valid because i use stackoverflow almost everyday while programming - i also use my ide everyday while programming –  mrt181 Nov 9 '11 at 10:06
    
@mrt181 I think there is a greasemonkey script around somewhere to skin Stack Exchange sites. –  dmckee Nov 10 '11 at 2:02

4 Answers 4

up vote 22 down vote accepted

I think this is a great suggestion. ProjectEuler.net has implemented this effectively, naming it Lights On / Off.


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If you're using Gnu/Linux and have compiz installed, you can always invert the colors of your active window (look for "Negative" in the CompizConfig Settings Manager).

Without compiz there is an alternative solution via xcalib -invert -alter.

Or you can use stylish which is avaiable for Firefox and Chrome and look into userstyles.

It's how I circumvent this strange so-white-I-bleach-your-eyes-out-background-dogma that's cursing the interwebs.

But anyhow: Yeah, a supported dark theme would rock.

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I see a couple problems with doing this.

First, there currently is no way to change to any different theme on a per-user basis. So that's something that would have to be implemented. I don't think it would be all that difficult, really, but still that's an non-trivial amount of work.

Second, the themes would have to be populated. Who will create these themes? Will they be user submitted? If so who would approve them? Would there be safety potential concerns? (I'm not a front end guy, so I don't know, could someone put 'bad things' in a css?) If it's internal would this the next intern's project or something?

Third, the themes would have to be maintained. When there's a formatting problem, we'll have to ask "What browser, what SE build, oh and what theme?" It's another piece of the puzzle that would just complicate things.

Now, who doesn't like the idea of customization? I think it's great when there's multiple themes. Stack Overflow has so much orange I feel like it's Halloween all year round!! But honestly, I think the costs far far FAR outweigh be benefits we would receive from a feature like this.

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Good answer, and a longer version of the objections you are raising can be found (on a different topic) here: steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2009/04/…. Conclusion of that long blog post: "Shit is NOT easy. Remember that. Shit is NOT easy. If you think it's easy, then you are being naïve. You are being a future VP. Don't be that way" –  VonC Nov 9 '11 at 8:38
    
Why should I as user care it it is easy or not. My users also do not care if a task is easy or difficult. They just give me more time if something is difficult. –  mrt181 Nov 9 '11 at 10:02
    
Don't get me wrong: the developers that work on the Stack Engine are not afraid of difficult work. They're just unlikely to take on a project with this much work involved for such a small net gain. –  corsiKa Nov 9 '11 at 14:03

It's possible to have alternate CSS themes for sites — it's even common to have alternate themes designed specifically to support printing — and browsers often (always? I dunno) have an built-in mechanism for selecting between the themes at the user's request. I certainly remember using this with Firefox on a number of sites, but haven't tried for a while to be honest. However, that doesn't mean that it is necessarily a wise thing to do. In particular, the alternate theme would need to be developed and maintained; surely that developer effort would be better spent elsewhere?

If you really want your own style, force your own stylesheet that overrides key things like colors (you probably want to leave the layout the same though). I'm sure that's possible, and it puts the cost of maintenance squarely on those who really care (i.e., you).

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