Stack Overflow provides good tools in the question editor, like "Links" and "Styling".

Another thing that for me would be nice is a color selector. Although an HTML editor is available, a direct click on tool would be good, and users can select different colors, as for marking errors in their program with red, and more important data with blue.

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    @CATboardBETA adding a bounty isn't going to see this reconsidered. Write a new post explaining why this should be reconsidered and the reasons that have changed in the meantime to make this succesfull today. – Luuklag Feb 10 at 7:37

enter image description here

No, seriously. Having colors would enable people to abuse them. Of course, we also have a possibility for people to abuse headlines or subscripts, but colors can be very distracting if not used correctly.

In order to highlight stuff, we already have boldface and emphasized text. If you can't make clear what the error is, for example, you probably need to rewrite a bit.

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    I don't know. Some bad posters will bold everything, but that doesn't happen very often. It's not like people act like SO is myspace. – MPelletier Dec 9 '11 at 13:37
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    But it is essentially useless. There I agree. – MPelletier Dec 9 '11 at 13:38
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    I am asking a question where I have to post a terminal output for a certain issue, and this output is coloured. Even if it's not a must, it would be nice to be able to render the colouring in my question. – Elouan Keryell-Even Apr 8 '15 at 13:53
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    I wanted anti-emphasis though; to grey my text to make it more of a side note. – theonlygusti Jul 6 '15 at 16:58
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    @theonlygusti I fear that's only going to make it harder to read. Like in normal writing, you could simply make it a footnote. – slhck Jul 6 '15 at 19:40
  • @slhck The point is to make it harder to read, and it's more of a header-style message. But yes, I agree completely with your answer about all other colors. – theonlygusti Jul 6 '15 at 20:13
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    I wanted to make a Warning: label yellow or red .. but ok – dylnmc Oct 23 '17 at 20:16
  • Well, I imagine this could be used on philosophy and puzzle. Maybe somewhere else too. – rus9384 Aug 4 '18 at 10:48

I don't see any value such a feature would give except for adding complexity and the potential for rather horrific looking questions.


I would like to give an example of a question where colours are used.

enter image description here

I think if used cautiously, colours can help to underline the content of a text very effectively. Of course, the opposite can happen as well; but to me the risk should not be too big.

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    Much agreed. Sad that we can't appeal this? – user238652 Nov 4 '13 at 6:53
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    Nope, nope. Colors do not add any value here. You can as well use Pro: and Contra:. If you saturate your text with bolded and emphasized text, then you would need colors too. But in that case, you should probably reformat your text anyway, instead of adding more formatting. – Olli Feb 19 '14 at 14:08
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    @Olli: Bolding it doesn't even resemble the same effect. The green is clearly meant to draw the eye towards "positive" items, while the red is clearly meant for "negative" items. The eye is already drawn towards the words-as-headings by the giant whitespace around them, making the bold style largely unnecessary. Color-coding, on the other hand, can be immensely useful in reading comprehension. Hence why, for a very relevant example, code editors often have color-coding. And is the issue that bold and italic styles are already very overloaded in semantic meaning. Adding color eases this burden. – MichaelS Aug 27 '19 at 5:39

This would be particularly useful in providing answers where color is important, without having to opt for screenshots.

An obvious example is making error text clear from normal output; most systems will show console errors in red-on-black to distinguish them from the regular output in white-on-black.

The only argument against seems to be fear of misuse. Any feature can be abused; that's not a reason not to implement something. Just ensure that guidelines on when it's acceptable to use are made clear in the guidelines. The SO community are very good at self-policing, so users will likely quickly learn what's appropriate & fall in with the guidelines.


as for marking errors in their program with red

In that case, it wouldn't be possible to write code that is formatted as code, and contemporary mark a line with a specific color.
Apart that use case, I don't think there are use cases where colors make the post clearer. What is more important in a post is its content, not the color used for the text, or the background.

  • This is excellent and should be promoted much more! Highlighting one char / word in code is totally useful, but also extremely rarely seen. Seems like nobody knows about this feature. – Sliq Oct 2 '14 at 14:18
  • thanks; this is what I was looking for.. – dylnmc Oct 23 '17 at 20:23

1) It's already possible to put colors by abusing MathJax for the stacks that support it.


Example rendering

red warning

2) A really motivated user could also upload an image of colored text anyway -- just like they could post a unicorn riding a rainbow, if they think the post looks somehow better that way.

Because it's possible to do it by hackish ways, I personally think that it would be fine to allow it natively. Apart from spam posts, we don't see many pictures of unicorns or any abusive content. We don't even see many posts ENTIRELY WRITTEN IN BOLD AND ALL CAPS. So I think we should just trust the users for colors as well.

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    Doesn't work for me, but thanks. I find this thread and that this feature was declined, unbelievable. There is huge communication clarity value in being able to drive readers to certain text within the context of a larger blob of text via color. – Doug Smythies Apr 26 '20 at 15:34
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    I think they actually made this impossible, since your post. Too bad, it was my go-to work around :\ – Rax Adaam Nov 11 '20 at 17:52
  • @RaxAdaam works fine AFAICT—on the stacks with MathJax. Just be sure to un-escape the dollars (not sure why this post has these extra backslashes). – Ruslan Apr 15 at 16:16
  • @Ruslan I'm primarily a Code Golf user. The backslashes are required on that stack. – Arnauld Apr 15 at 16:22

Our brains have millions of years of evolutionary adaptation to visual (i.e. colour) processing, whereas symbolic processing is a relatively late addition to our daily life...

That point aside, I just wanted to add that a judicious use of colour can call out an especially relevant point in an otherwise long / detailed post: this allows posters to provide all the relevant details, while also allowing other users to quickly navigate the post, without overlooking important details.

Bold and italics can do this as well, but only up to a certain point. Eventually (because everything is the same colour), bold type competes with headers (and italics do not make text "jump out" in the same way; not to mention they can be very hard to read).

As for the "people will abuse it" argument. The community already has guidelines for how to post a question (which has far more potential for being misused than colour IMO), and we have community members with the ability to edit posts and manage content. Surely allowing one or two colours is something this community can handle, no?

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    I didn't come here to look at a christmas tree, black and white suffices. Not to mention the accesability issues that come with colours and colourblindness. – Luuklag Nov 11 '20 at 22:56
  • @Luuklag -- while you're entitled to your opinion, what you have written here it is not really a response to the points made in my post; rather, it seems you have down-voted my answer simply because you disagree with the proposed feature, which is hardly productive. There's a pretty big difference between "looking at a Christmas tree" and "including a line of red text" (unless one has a particularly tame tree). And it's not as though accessibility issues begin with the inclusion of colour, but like all the other barriers, this one, too, can be addressed. – Rax Adaam Nov 12 '20 at 1:21
  • This answer is extremely ableist. You haven't even considered accessibility. Colours are simply not the right tool for any of these jobs. The markdown provided allows us to signal semantics in the post (the resultant formatting is effectively a side effect!) - and colour is not semantics. Period. End of story. – Asteroids With Wings Nov 12 '20 at 12:08
  • @AsteroidsWithWings I'm not sure how this answer is "extremely ableist", as pointed out in my previous comment, there are ways of addressing issues introduced for colourblind individuals (e.g. choice of colour, use of texture, development of accessibility overlays that achieve equivalent results etc). And yes, Markdown was designed to signal semantics; however, there is no rule that the site need be limited to Markdown. Indeed, we already include other options, like TeX and HTML, that go beyond what Markdown can do, to facilitate communication. – Rax Adaam Nov 12 '20 at 17:02
  • I've already explained how it is. We're not just talking colourblindness here. What about screenreaders?? But if you have edits pending please apply them to the answer. Thanks. – Asteroids With Wings Nov 12 '20 at 17:08
  • @AsteroidsWithWings I don't see an explanation of how, I see a label ("This answer is extremely ableist"), and an accusation ("You haven't even considered accessibility."). Then an assertion of opinion ("... not the right tool for any of these jobs") and a fact ("markdown ... signal[s] semantics ... colour is not semantics"). I place great value on creating an inclusive community, but I think we should look at extending functionality for all, instead of limiting it. If you just don't like colour, that's fair, but my finding value in it doesn't make me, ipso facto ableist. – Rax Adaam Nov 12 '20 at 17:30
  • @RaxAdaam We'll agree to disagree then. – Asteroids With Wings Nov 12 '20 at 17:39

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