At the moment, the physics SE has a new design that is white on black. This was chosen by a non physicist without any voting by the members and against the strenuous complaints from the vast majority of those who bothered to examine the mock-up in meta. Since then, a meta post on the subject with the title "Can we please change the design [back] to black-on-white?" has been voted +34-3. This is already the most positive vote ever on meta.physics and has the second most + votes of any question, including the main physics site, despite being less than one week old.

Complaints about the white on black design have reached the point that "Is anybody there from the SE team?" which was asked only yesterday, already has +13-1 votes and is in fifth place for the most positive voted meta.physics question. There is little evidence of support for the new scheme. In addition, there is evidence of sabotage by a respected user of the site, probably over this issue.

At this point, reading the comments on physics meta should make it clear that the users at physics wish to change the design back to black on white. I will not enumerate the numerous reasons for desiring the change but instead note that the only reason I've so far seen in favor of not having a black on white design is that "different stack exchanges must have different themes". This seems to be in the way of physics having a simple and easy to use theme.

So how different do those themes have to be? At physics we wish to use black on white like the mathematicians use. Why can't we slightly tweak that design and begin from there?

As stack exchange expands into more and more areas, the effort of making themes that are "distinct" will become more and more difficult. Keeping the designs fully orthogonal will result in readability problems.

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    "This was chosen by a non physicist without any voting by the members." Your sentiment is all well and good, but please stay with the truth. meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/304/… meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/447/… – balpha Mar 2 '11 at 2:50
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    I don't think that this is the result of some mandate to have different looks and feels, it's the result of members saying they wanted a "blackboard" style. Chalk up another user requirement that sounded really cool at the time, but when you actually see it live... – Aarobot Mar 2 '11 at 3:16
  • All the "black"boards I have seen in my years of college are either blue or green. And even then every single one had a sheet of white over them, the diffusion makes them lighter on the eyes. Anyone who thinks jet-black background is cool... is weird. or spends too much time in virtual darkrooms or dungeons, unlighted alien spaceships etc – RichardTheKiwi Mar 2 '11 at 6:00
  • @balpha you're right, instead of "without any voting by the members", I should have written "without any voting by the members and with numerous complaints about the mock-up". I'll edit my question accordingly. But this is off topic to the question. – Carl Brannen Mar 2 '11 at 6:16

I don't even believe in having a requirement per-se to have all sites look significantly different. Maths and Physics are so close that you could shade one as jet-black and the other as two shades of black away, and it would still make sense.

Power to the people (physicists)!

It does beg the question though, why did 34 people vote up black-on-white? The fear is that once (if) it is reversed, we will be seeing the question from anti-Carl again on this matter.


I had read it wrong. I thought the change was initiated by 34 users and another 13 are asking for a reversal.

I propose that the people who design the themes for these sites personally use them, at least for two weeks - SE could detect them (QA/design team) and serve all SE sites in that theme. I would like to see an SE employee actually sit through 2 weeks of meta.se using that theme without vomiting. I've been there reading a few questions and it is sickening. I can understand the dark theme if used by gamers who are used to low-lighting screens. But not physics.

At least that's how the Fx team (been using Fx4 beta for months) and Windows 7 team, among others, personally experience what they serve to others.

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    BegTheQuestion.info – random Mar 2 '11 at 1:36
  • aka cyberwiki To get an idea on why physics is universally done in black on white would be off topic to the question I asked. But if you're interested, you can read the answers, comments, etc. Suffice it to say that physics is always published black on white, and I'm sure, like many other people, I've cursed publications that reversed the colors as it makes them harder to read. – Carl Brannen Mar 2 '11 at 1:44
  • @Carl - apologies I read it the wrong way around – RichardTheKiwi Mar 2 '11 at 1:51
  • aka cyberwiki Oh, I'll edit the question to make it more clear. – Carl Brannen Mar 2 '11 at 3:17

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