182

Each Stack Exchange site should provide users the option of using a dark mode design/theme.

Why is this feature missing?

The major IDEs are already a letdown regarding dark color schemes.

  • 23
    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
  • 14
    Every April 1st you can hope for it. – Benoit Nov 8 '11 at 16:32
  • 7
    @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
  • 9
    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
  • 1
    @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 --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 8 '11 at 18:49
  • 1
    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 --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 10 '11 at 2:02
  • 1
    There's a user-made solution for this posted on this very site. – Wildcard Oct 3 '16 at 21:43
  • 2
    With modern technology (oled) black themes let us contribute more (due to longer battery life). – user1133275 Dec 1 '18 at 23:37
  • 3
    Shouldn’t this be status-planned since Updates to the Stack Overflow blog seems to suggest that dark mode is currently being implemented into the Stacks design system? – user289905 Feb 22 at 16:13
  • 1
    @Benoit "Every April 1st you can hope for it." Close! March 30th! XD – pkamb Mar 30 at 19:46

14 Answers 14

68

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


enter image description here


enter image description here


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  • 20
    How is this the accepted answer? it does not solve the problem at all. – rafaelcastrocouto Mar 31 '19 at 14:13
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    @rafael Votes etc. on Meta sites do not mean the same thing as regular SE sites. Votes on the question are not is this a good question but do I agree with the proposal; and an Accept may be given even if it is not a solution but simply an idea or position that the OP agrees with. The SE developer status- tags represent official positions on Meta questions. – Mr.Wizard Mar 31 '19 at 16:50
  • Github discussion can be found here – wada Sep 24 '19 at 20:03
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    @Mr.Wizard Irrelevant; rafael was talking about the fact that the answer has been accepted. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 8 at 17:20
20

Came here after I asked the same question seven months earlier, when there is still no dark mode, and the question was marked as duplicate.

I just want to add that an official dark theme is not a subjective preference about font size, layout or a gimmick. All programmers would understand that the eye health problem which associates with inevitable long term staring of the bright white screen when you are reading or programming every day.

That is why more and more programmers would choose a dark IDE. Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, and more sites are adding official dark theme support. It's not some gimmick or fashion trend. It's a everyday health issue.

Fortunately, there is an ongoing GitHub discussion here

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  • 5
    It is more of an accessibility issue, and should be treated as such. – George_E Oct 8 '19 at 18:31
  • 3
    true, an accessibility issue for 7 years – wada Oct 9 '19 at 3:33
18

I also support a dark theme. Until then, you have these options:

  • you can use stylish which is available for Firefox and Chrome and look into userstyles
  • 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.

It's how I circumvent white-background-dogma that's cursing the Internet.

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17

Currently, Dark Mode is available as a beta test on Stack Overflow only. More details can be found in this Meta Stack Overflow question. At the moment, it isn't clear if and how/when it will be rolled out to other sites in the network:

Future releases

At this point, the focus of Dark Mode is on Stack Overflow and we’ll eventually bring it to MSO. While the retheming we did across the network two years ago makes updating our LESS easier, creating dark versions of all of our sites, particularly the custom-designed ones, is going to be a huge challenge we’re not able to contemplate at this time. The artwork on some of those sites simply can’t be made dark because we don’t have access to the original art files and, to be honest, some of the themes will always be better as-is.

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  • 4
    this is good to know. sadly, though, it make me reeeeally annoyed, because if the network sites aren't going to implement it, then I may as well go back to DISABLING it on stackoverflow since the Stylish plugin with "Stackoverflow Dark" was working fine across the board. userstyles.org/styles/35345/stackoverflow-dark – pestophagous Mar 30 at 23:58
  • "The artwork on some of those sites simply can’t be made dark because we don’t have access to the original art files". Third parties themes' apps and websites don't have too! "The themes will always be better as-is". I don't agree with that if enough effort is put for this feature. That's underestimating your skills! It doesn't have to be made for all sites at once. You did it well on StackOverflow, you could then do it on math.stackexchange.com, just an example, and see how it goes! Looking for percentage of users using the dark and the light theme for instance. – JKHA May 17 at 2:22
11

I've been using a popular1 Chrome extension called Dark Reader (also available for Firefox and Safari).

It works pretty well right out of the box for most sites, in my experience, but you can adjust brightness, contrast, sepia, grayscale, etc as desired. It further allows you to preserve settings and enable/disable behavior on a per-site basis.

Here's a sample of what meta.SE looks like, given my configuration:

Dark Reader meta.SE sample

1 At the time of this writing, the Dark Reader Chrome extension has nearly 1.9 million users and is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars, based on ~5,500 reviews.

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10

Currently the "dark mode" option is added to the Stacks (Stack Overflow design site).

I hope, in near future it may implement into all the Stack Exchange sites too.

GIF from Stacks:

enter image description here


Update on February 06, 2020:

The "dark mode" option is added to Stack Overflow Blog too.

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  • This made me curious, so I inspected the website when turning on dark mode and it looks like a theme-dark class gets applied to the <body> tag. I tried manually adding the theme-dark class using inspector on stack overflow and voila, dark mode. I'll leave it to someone else to create a userscript/style. – Kodos Johnson Mar 20 at 4:11
  • Also, it looks like the theme-system class is used to match your OS setting. – Kodos Johnson Mar 20 at 4:19
9

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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  • 4
    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
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    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
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    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
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    "small net gain" is simply one the most requested things on the site. you guys talk as if creating a dark theme is harder than rocket science. – rafaelcastrocouto Mar 31 '19 at 14:12
  • For starters, things are a little different than they were in 2011, but I still think it makes sense even today. It's hardly even close to the most requested features. Sort meta by votes, this question (the canonical question for it) ranks as #250 with less than 100 votes over eight and a half years. It's just not worth the time. If the April Fool's joke has a CSS issue, literally no one cares. If the real site has a CSS issue, well that's a bigger deal. – corsiKa Mar 31 '19 at 16:16
4

For anyone using Google Chrome, there is now an experimental setting in the latest version of Chrome (78.0.3904.70) which forces dark mode on websites even if they don't have a dark mode.

The instructions to enable this feature can be found here: https://www.techradar.com/news/chrome-78-arrives-on-all-platforms-with-forced-dark-mode

This is an experimental option at the moment, so you will find no reference to it in the Settings menu; instead you'll have to enable the relevant flag within Chrome. Just pay a visit to chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and choose an option.

You can opt for simply Enabled, or you can experiment with different method of dark mode implementation such as RGB-based color inversion, or CIELAB-based inversion. You may need to spend a little time with each to see which one works best for you.

Unfortunately this setting affects all websites and there doesn't appear to be a way to only target specific websites (i.e. SE). Also this is an experimental feature so it may be pulled at some point. But it seems like a good option while it's there.

Here is how this site looks like with the setting enabled:

MSE with Google Chrome dark mode

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3

Came here and realised that this still isn't a thing! You can use Stylish to either create your own dark theme or there are a number of dark themes available (I don't think they're that great but I prefer a slightly broken dark theme to the current white theme).

Would definitely prefer it to be officially supported, but this is a workaround if you're desperate!

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2

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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2

You can also use Stylus. It is available for chrome but also available for firefox and opera. I'm not sure about other browsers.

Screenshot:

enter image description here

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0

Objective things

Note that IDE is not a webserver, IDE supports customization of colors initially.

Some time ago I've made a custom CSS for SO site for use with Stylish/Stylus plugin (not dark, but you can find dark themes). So I know that the SO's CSS is (or was at that time) really complex and that makes things hard. (It's main CSS file is ~5000 lines (400kb file), i.e. 10 times bigger than a CSS should be).
Specifically with a dark theme, it would be hard to adjust all corners of this site, there are many images and colored backgrounds. Too many elements would require manual adjustment.

If speak about feature requests towards themes, I'd wish first that the CSS reduces it's complexity radically. This would allow easy customization via plugins and solve the issue once for all and for everybody.

Subjective things & opinions

Some people want a dark theme, some people want e.g. better fonts, layout, ans so on. "Dark theme" does not mean anything specific, there can be many different dark themes, why you think the one you like would be better than some other "dark theme"?

And finally, I just think all these dark themes is just a gimmick (or exceptionally a technical requirement e.g. for improving battery life or working in dark environment). Moreover as someone who understands things from UX and readability issues, I'd just recommend to always stay with black text on light background when you have textual content. In other words, making dark theme for an informational site is initially a bad idea. It might be ok for Youtube or online cinema interface, but not for text-centric media.

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  • 5
    It's not useful to classify other people's desire for an objectively more healthy interface as "a gimmick", and it's disingenuous to say that there is any confusion over what a "dark theme" means. Considerable scientific research, starting with radar displays before computers were commonplace, shows that staring into a white light for extended periods of time causes eye fatigue. Your recommendation, while certainly popular, is scientifically unfounded. The only environment where white backgrounds are preferable is under florescent tube lights, which is a common but unhealthy computer setup. – Medievalist Oct 24 '19 at 17:11
  • @Medievalist Well, I specifically mentioned "text". Dunno about radars and such, I beleive similar rule applies - in the darkness use negative polarity, in the light - use positive polarity. Ideally adjust bg color to match the environment. Just how my vision works at least and since you mention, afair scientific research proves more or less well that it is so by the majority of human creatures. – Mikhail V Nov 7 '19 at 21:40
  • Just consider you have a lot of work and have to read a lot of texts late at night. Tell me that you would prefer to read them on a big white screen instead of a black screen with your tired eyes. You don't even need scientific research for that. – wada Jan 20 at 1:28
  • @wada how does that contradict with the answer and my last comment? I'd just turn some lights on if I need to read a lot of text. – Mikhail V Jan 20 at 20:50
-2

it's finally here in stack overflow, https://stackoverflow.com/users/preferences/ you can change it from the preferences

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-3

What if we just make a browser extension so we can turn on/off “light” mode with a switch on the search bar? That would be simple enough just to hold us off until the update the site/app gets the options to switch to light/dark.

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