The SO sites display with a set width to them. Could we get the display to autosize based on the actual screen display space? Either automatically, or maybe user-configurable?
I'm not a web-programmer, so I don't know how possible this is or not.
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I'd hate this, for a number of reasons:
As suggested in this similar question, this may be a realm for user stylesheets or a greasemonkey script.
Changing the actual design from fixed to fluid presents a number of difficulties, not the least of which is, along the lines of Joel's point, the kind of uglifying stretch that big width tends to give to text content. A reading area too narrow or too wide tends to make reading more difficult and less pleasant, and I think SO has hit on a good balance. That being said, it's not impossible to make an elastic layout that approximates the current layout and still caps the width at a usable level. We have min-width, we have max-width (mostly), and we have math to figure percentages.
But I doubt that will be or will be perceived to be a trivial update. Fixed width sites have a sort of stability and ease (using percentages means stopping to figure percentages when you update/edit, and worrying about how browsers might screw it up) that is hard to rival. On the other side of things, a user-stylesheet solution has the advantage of only being concerned about one browser (typically), and one user's preferences.