GitHub Dark Mode is too Dark | Hacker News

 2 years ago
source link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25400139
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GitHub Dark Mode is too Dark
> GitHub, do better. Give us the dark mode experience we deserve.

Does anyone else find this to be unnecessarily abrasive? It's a really harsh note to end the post on when describing a product that many people use for free. It seems to imply that Github has some sort of moral failing for their color choices and additionally that the author is entitled to command them to change their work.

Edit: I doubt the author intended it as such. The tone is just unfortunate.

I don't know if this was the intention either, but when I see articles like this, I just think we as programmers are such divas sometimes.
That style of writing is extremely popular online and on Twitter. People love snark and entitlement when they agree with it
Maybe we should celebrate being divas!

Now I'm imagining Lady Gaga's "Fashion" in my head but the lyrics are about coding.

I was listening to Darknet Diaries yesterday and just found out Nerdcore music is a thing.
"when describing a product that many people use for free." There are no free services. Github is a product, the free features are there to onboard paying customers for their commercial repos.

However, yes, that kind of language over a dark theme is ridiculous and not persuading.

Maybe it's just my observation, but I find it quite interesting that only finds such tone-policing comments as yours when the author is a woman. Daily, I see much more abrasive blogs on HN: instead of lampooning them for asking GitHub to be better, they are not rarely lauded for their "brutal honesty" while often straight-up insulting the blog's target.

This is not meant to criticize you, OP, personally. Rather, I just want to point out a structural double standard.

-1 from me. I was put off from the beginning when she said the UI “sucked” or similar, didn’t know the author was a woman at that point. Believe me or don’t but that’s my story & I’m sticking to it.

+1000 to the author for raising specific accessibility concerns and contrasting (no pun intended) the colour palates with those of other sites. The old “dark gray on light gray; tiny text” style (see: daring fireball of days past) drives me nuts.

I think the author makes fantastic points and it’s unfortunate that the somewhat mean spirited language distracts from those points, leading to this discussion rather than a more substantive one about accessibility. Not the end of the world either way.

I do agree with your point overall but I find it so peculiar that the GP's tone-policing comment was the top one when I posted because, as you point out, her substantive point is so fantastic.
I honestly didn't notice the author's gender until you pointed it out, which led me to check the name. I simply read the article and agreed with most of the points, then came here to see the comments. In fact, I never attach a gender identity to authors or commenters unless something they say nudges me to check their name or username, or unless it's an author I'm familiar with.

Having said that, I think it's a safe bet to assume that one doesn't "only" find such tone policing comments when the author is a woman, because one almost always finds such tone-policing comments on hacker news whenever there's an opportunity to complain about tone.

Yes, you might not have seen her gender beforehand. But countless others have. I'm not saying GP went "oh a woman, better tone-police her". Rather, the gender of the author entered into our (mine as well) subconsciousness and combined there with implicit assumptions about gender roles and the 'proper' behavior of women. Any behavior that then doesn't fit the stereotype of diplomatic, kind, etc., elicits a stronger emotional reaction in us and makes us more like to write or upvote such a comment.

It is not that HN doesn't already have a "baseline obsession" with tone or that male authors never fall victim to this. But rather, one can observe a trend where such tone-policing comments are more likely to occur and get upvoted if the author is a woman. And on the flip-side, comments commending a harsher, "more" honest or rant-y tone are more likely to occur when the post was written by a male author.

I believe your argument is sensible, especially in society at large. What you lack is evidence that the kind of behavior you're describing happens on HN.

I don't know if it does or not but without evidence this is just conjecture from all sides.

If there's one thing I've learned in my time on HN it's that people here tend to be unaffected by subconscious bias, unlike normal people..
You are reading even more into the gender of the post than OP, and are policing how OP should think, and assuming that he is biased because he is male.

Consider that you may yourself be sexist.

HN is always criticizing the tone of any TFA regardless of gender. I’ve noticed it even more since seeing your exact accusation before.

You present no evidence either. I think comments like yours actually want their accusation to be true because it gives you some sort of power and moral clout.

TFA is written like a tweet. It’s indeed obnoxious. It should be somewhat of a red flag that you felt the need to bring up gender. It’s also a lazy accusation. Though the accusation is very trendy these days.

Sort of a backfire effect here. I didn't realize it was written by a woman until you mentioned it.
There should be an equivalent of Godwin's Law for gender.
No. On the other hand, why is it that some people seem to have become overly sensitive? I wish most people were as direct about their thoughts as they used to be.

Yes, GH is free, but being free does not mean they are above criticism.

This is not about criticism. This is about some moral grandstanding where none is appropriate.

EDIT: The contrast ratio of the author's website (background vs. main copy font color) is ca. 12.29, i.e. almost exactly that of GH dark mode (12.26) and which they claim is too low. So go figure.

Too entitled, particularly when things like Dark Reader[1] exist... You can just customize your own palette. My entire internet is in dark mode...

[1] https://darkreader.org/

Given this is the top voted comment, any other sentence that people find abrasive?

I reread the article a few times and i dont see that at all. It isn't even ranting. She put out some criticism, with some evidence and possible theory. And "hope", Github could change its mind. I quote

This is still a beta feature so I have hope.

This isn't GitHub! Do Better! with double exclamation market. Simply a call to action for something ( hopefully ) better. The we deserve part is a figure of speech.

I support the tone: freedom of expression. It could be harsh but certainly isn’t abusive.
What does freedom of expression have to do with anything? Freedom of expression != all opinions are correct and equally valid
Opinions can't be incorrect or invalid. That's why they're opinions.
Did I say something about the opinion being correct or valid?
No, but your reference to freedom of expression just scans a little oddly here because no one is claiming this person should be deplatformed or something.
Have you ever been on hacker news before?
Most people I know who uses GitHub daily are premium users. People who use GitHub for free are probably not going to be bothered by the dark mode.
I thought browsers used to let users change the default CSS. If sites had respected that people wouldn't be asking them for themes.
Lots of people now say “do better” as some kind of moral high ground grandstanding. It’s really pathetic.
Responding to tone : Criticizes the tone of the writing without addressing the substance of the argument.
Love it, calling out moral posturing while doing the same thing yourself.

It's Microsoft running a for-profit project on a freemium model not an act of charity. Criticizing how sloppy the choice of color palette was and suggesting one of the most valuable companies in the world should be able to do better has only become the natural thing to do. Time and time again we've been shown the only way to enact the most minor and least controversial changes is to make a bunch of noise in blog posts and call out the behemoths for their shortcomings.

And hell, if we extrapolate from this (shitty) line of thinking, maybe Microsoft was saying "Haha plebs if you want a dark mode that functions better you should stop being poor and only buy OLED monitors."

> the secondary text color fails AAA standards

Minor nitpick: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are precisely that - guidelines. You should follow them until you have a good reason not to. And contrast ratios arent everything.

This article https://www.bounteous.com/insights/2019/03/22/orange-you-acc... is a good example of how the "most accessible" colour pairing, by the "mathematical proof", is the least accessible and preferred by users.

The WCAG also define the contrast ratio in terms of sRGB, which is not a perceptually-uniform color space. This makes the WCAG contrast ratios somewhat meaningless in terms of human visual perception. It's accessibility by edict, not science.

There's a rather lengthy discussion of this on the WCAG issue tracker [1].

[1] https://github.com/w3c/wcag/issues/695

The issue creator also points out "It is a concern for me because this W3C document is considered authoritative, and has made its way into government regulations." Pretty interesting thread.
hah, awesome, I know exactly what issue this is without clicking through - Myndex is wrong on this, shockingly, but unfortunately my lips have to be sealed, for now.

Look into the correspondence between the space Myndex uses, the space contrast ratio is measured in, and then again at the W3C docs: TL;DR Myndex's approach doesn't account for reflectance off the screen

Yes, WCAG are guidelines, but they are not just suggestions in a lot of cases.

WCAG has been adopted as the standard for a variety of regulatory purposes. For example, with Section 508/504, the US Access Board requires procurements to be compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA. Germany’s BIVT is harmonized with WCAG 2.1 AA, California requires state entities and procurements comply with WCAG 2.0 AA, etc.

At least in the US, the main sphere where WCAG has not been specified as the regulatory standard is with Title III places of public accommodation.

However, Federal Courts have repeatedly upheld that places of public accommodation must make their websites accessible, they just won’t say how to accomplish that (nor is it their job to).

In the case of GitHub, I can tell you with 100% certainty it has been provided to, at least, the Federal government as part of a procurement, is subject to Section 508 statutory requirements, and WCAG 2.0 AA is the required standard.

This is to say, it might not be a good idea to arbitrarily decide that color contrast sufficiency is just a suggestion.

You are most correct.

The European Union requires its member states to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA on _all_ public websites. Every branch of government, every agency.

Yes! Definitely agree -- I just wanted an easy way to quantify what I was seeing and contrast ratios are simple enough to understand and discuss
I’m curious if that article takes into account color calibration? Also, a sample size of 20 is relatively low to make a conclusion.

Anyways, I do think this is an important point: the math of contrast ratios is a model that’s intended to reflect what’s going on with people’s vision; if a large-scale study of people indicates that the white/orange button is easier to read, the math is just wrong: we have to be careful not to force reality into our models, otherwise the modes lose their utility.

The "math" is fine. I'm sure, while it's not perfect, it's suitable in most circumstances. My point remains though is that WCAG are guidelines, not mandates.

The goal always to produce software that is accessable and usable by people, not to satisify a mathematical constraint. WCAG and 'constrast ratios' are a means to that end, but they're not the end goal itself.

If the math produces the wrong conclusion in some cases, it’s worth trying to figure out if the model can be improved.

Anyways, we’re not really disagreeing as far as I can tell.

Ok but if a law says that a government agency or industry must follow WCAG, I guess that turns them into mandates.
> I’m curious if that article takes into account color calibration?

It doesn't really matter because most displays aren't color-calibrated.

Sorry, I’m not sure I’m using the right term: what I’m wondering if the math is adjusted for the color space correctly.
Of course they're guidelines, I'm not sure what alternative there is. WCAG mandates that the browser won't render unless it passes?
Also great article! Got the chance to read it and I actually ended up linking it in my post

> While contrast ratios aren’t [everything](linked it here), they are a simple way to quantify the difference between two colors.

I love that article! Thanks for sharing it!
The cookies popup on that site is a thing of beauty.
I hadn't realized that dark mode came out for Github, so I went and enabled it, and wow, even as a fan of "darker" dark modes (rather than the medium gray that so many apps and sites seem to prefer), I can see what OP meant! The main issue for me is that the text colors are all fairly dark as well; I'm sure that my tastes are too gaudy for most people, but I find higher contrast much easier to read, and on the off-chance that anyone else is like me and prefers much brighter text, I threw this CSS together:

``` .link-gray-dark, .news li blockquote, .link-gray, .text-gray, .text-gray-light, .UnderlineNav-item, .blob-code-inner { color: white !important; }

/* code comments are a dark gray by default, so I made them something brighter */ .pl-c { color: orange !important; } ```

As a bonus, if you also can't stand the sidebar on the right of the main page, you can hide it and reclaim the space for more useful content with this:

``` [aria-label="Explore"] { display: none !important; } ```

Hi, newbie to programming/web in general here - how do I use this CSS to change the colours in GitHub? Is there a section within GitHub I can paste this in?
I don't know if github has an option for custom css but you can surely use a browser extension such as Stylus ([1], [2]) to change any website you want.

[1] for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/styl-us/

[2] for Chromium based browsers: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stylus/clngdbkpkpe...

I predict that dark mode, like the open office, is a hyped up fad that will eventually be proven to be largely detrimental.

Except in the cases of saving battery on OLED displays or viewing a screen in very low ambient light environments, dark mode is the wrong answer to a problem of an overbright display.

If content on a screen seems too bright, the solution is the turn down the display brightness. This is a choice you can make as your circumstance dictates. Dark mode is a nice option for a few cases, but it should not be forced upon anyone.

There are two cases where dark mode is a really bad thing:

1. You're presenting your content via a projector in a room full of people (and a room full of people will have some ambient light, because safety rules generally prohibit trapping a lot of people in pitch darkness). No matter how many lumens the projector can put out, they will not make your low contrast content as visible as light mode would have been. Most often, the ambient light of the room will completely wash out the low contrast projected image.

2. You're making a screen recording of your content to demo or educate others (Youtube, etc.). The low contrast, colorful text will not compress as accurately as light mode, so the resulting text will be blurrier than if it were in light mode. So it will be harder to read compared to light mode content. Plus, if your viewer happens to be in a bright room or outside, your content will be unreadable. You've just wasted your good effort by limiting your audience.

Edited typos :(

Dark mode is not a fad, it's simply a good option to have in the valid cases you describe[1], and has been available in many products for decades.

The reasons we're seeing more of it are that developers are switching their bad hard-coded UIs to more flexible systems which allow it, and now that even MacOS/iOS supports it, there's an expectation for more and more apps to conform.

[1]: another valid case is apps with a strong emphasis on graphics: Photoshop, YouTube, Instagram, etc. A dark UI mitigates visual interference with the content.

In my experience, developers have been choosing dark mode for their editors for many decades. That doesn't feel like a fad to me.

Edit: but to be fair, I agree dark mode can be bad in some contexts like the examples you gave.

> 2. You're making a screen recording of your content to demo or educate others (Youtube, etc.).

I very much prefer using light themes but I also record screencasts (400+ of them at this point).

Every time I run a poll asking folks if they prefer light or dark there's been a majority requesting dark mode in the recordings.

Personally I find the colorization of most dark themes having more contrast between the colors. A lot of light themes will make certain keywords dark colors which kind of looks the same on compressed video. I'm not sold on that being the reason most folks prefer dark themes, but I'm also not convinced light mode is better for video recorded content. I think with the right themes, maybe both are equal.

I've gone as far as writing a shell script to easily toggle dark and light mode for my terminal, tmux, Vim theme, FZF and other tools: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/live-coding-a-shell-script-to...

All I end up doing is running `toggle-dark-mode` to seamlessly switch between the 2.

I can assure you that if you produce dark mode content, people will not be able to view it if they are sitting outside in typical daylight.

I know this because I have tried, with three different modern laptops (two MBPs and an XPS) which have the best brightness available for laptops. If I hit dark mode content, it just has to wait until I'm indoors. But usually I'm looking for something because I need it at that moment. If I can't view on potential illustrated video, I will try the next one I can view.

People taking the time to produce content often do care about attracting and keeping viewers/subscribers, and this is a case where an accessibility issue will reduce the number of viewers.

I highly appreciate the effort people put into sharing their knowledge, but I find it really disappointing when I can tell that their effort is wasted on some potential viewers. I may be weird (no, I am, but that's not necessarily a negative), but I know I'm not the only person with this opinion.

I wonder if some of the videos you've watched had darker themes with poor contrast ratios or maybe the font size was too small? Font size makes a huge difference in the end. It's as important as contrast ratios.

I have a $300 13" Chromebook with a 1080p IPS display and I spot check some of my videos on it. I'm able to read the text outside. Although I try to position myself to not directly have the sun glaring on the screen. That would be an issue to read anything, video or not.

I'm always for improving accessibility. If it's not too much trouble would you mind skimming one of my videos to see what it's like on your main device? Here's a video on creating a GPG key pair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vVIpIvboSg

Your video is fine. I can't try it in bright sunlight unfortunately because we don't have a sun in the winter in the Netherlands :/.

Your video appears to be all in the terminal, and most text is white on dark background. Plus the font is bigger.

Contrast this (pun not intended) with an example of a colorful code video (not an ide, but representative of what you see in a lot coding videos https://youtu.be/zC7TcrRi46Q (not to pick on the producer of this video... just grabbed an example). This example is unreadable in bright ambient light, and there are many videos with about the same colors and fonts. These are the ones I'm talking about.

Thanks. Yeah good call on the lack of color in that one. Here's a better example https://youtu.be/44pNDuRO77g?t=269 , it's straight to a point where I'm in a vimrc file with about the smallest text I ever use on video. I'm guessing the comments would be pretty hard to read in a high sun light area, that's my only complaint with the One theme -- the contrast on them is a bit low.

In the video you linked I see what you mean. I haven't tested it outside but just eyeballing some of the screenshots in the presentation the blue function names are likely impossible to read, the dark orange / red module names could be borderline too since it's kind of dark text on a dark background, and even the green atoms are a bit similar to the background in terms of darkness. I'm not sure what color theme that is but personally I wouldn't use it.

I try to stick with One and Gruvbox. Both have pretty decent contrast ratios for both light and dark variants. I have 1920x1080 screenshot side by side comparisons of both with dark vs light in my dotfiles at https://github.com/nickjj/dotfiles.

Meh. I like it. Particularly when working at night. Simply turning down the brightness often doesn't cut it.
Yeah. The only time I really want a dark mode is if the room I'm in is dark.

If it isn't, I usually just don't care or actually prefer white for some things like writing mails.

As long as it's a choice, then great! But if it is forced upon you, then it can definitely be a problem.
I haven't generally seen that the trend in introducing dark mode has involved forcing it on users.
With most apps I've seen, it is indeed a choice. It's not a choice when someone records their dark mode screen/app and shares that content. There's a lot of very valuable tech education on youtube (people demonstrating frameworks, languages, etc.); when the kind people making those videos are using dark mode, some of their viewers are out of luck. That, and the conference talk projector example, are cases where it is not a choice.

So I'm encouraging people to consider their audience. If there is no audience, then one has only oneself to consider :).

Different people have different eyes. I have strong visual noise and floaters, and having choices for colorscheme helps me select the one which reduces these visual distractions.
There are benefits to dark UI for dim environments. The fad that I too am sure will pass is using a jarring UI for the environment just because it is cool.

There are fundamental differences when designing for bright/day vs dim/night that benefits humans. In-car GPS was a specialised UI that paid attention to this earlier than our computers. The night UI maximised clarity in a low-light environment without being distracting. The day UI met the daylight with similar clarity. Never jarring.

Triggering a system-wide change across devices when the sun dips below the horizon is a nice start. The fact that it trickles even as far as webpage and VS Code theme is just awesome stuff.

Speaking to your detrimental cases, maybe the auto-change could be based on ambient light level rather than sunset time. It is certainly possible. Excluding the Nordics, the better solution is likely to move humans closer to natural light. Dim the room or build for natural light, rather than our screens able to be brighter to meet an artificial environment.

> Except in the cases of saving battery on OLED displays or viewing a screen in very low ambient light environments, dark mode is the wrong answer to a problem of an overbright display.

Both OLED and browsing in random low light environments often happen in the context of mobile devices. We do more and more on our phones. Because of that I wouldn’t treat OLED and low light as an edge case.

> The low contrast, colorful text will not compress as accurately as light mode

Kind of off topic, but I've always wondered why this is an issue. If I invert the colors, will those parts of the image suddenly compress just fine? Is it something to do with human perception of dark colors (like how many compression algorithms use more detail in various characteristics we're more sensitive to, such as brightness, as opposed to color)? That wouldn't make sense to me, as it seems to be a pretty obvious visual flaw.

This dark mode topic came up in the past, and I commented similarly. One (typically knowledgeable) HN reader replied to my comment with an explanation about this. I would have to really dig to find it though...

I'm not sure, but I suspect that in general, dark mode syntax highlighted (highlit?) text is on average lower contrast than syntax highlighted light mode text. That could affect compression behaviors, perhaps.

Dark mode is easier on the eyes. Think about it: your monitor is not a piece of paper, no matter how hard you try to make it one. Staring at a white background while you read is like staring at a light bulb (don't believe me? Try turning off the lights next time you use a word processor). Would you stare at a light bulb for hours at a time? Not if you want to keep your vision.
The most compelling argument for dark mode, is simply the fact that so many people seem to love it and choose it
> I predict that dark mode, like the open office, is a hyped up fad that will eventually be proven to be largely detrimental.

Bold statement. I insist on dark mode everywhere and love it. Besides what compelling reason is there to give the user fewer UI knobs? We all have our own preferences.

Apparently I did not write my post clearly, because I did not think I ever said it should be outlawed. Options are great. I did suggest that people consider their mode choice if they have an audience.
Dark mode is useful because its always usable regardless of screen brightness. Who wants to be chaining their brightness all day? Also for high contrast, white text on black is always readable while the reverse is not true, limiting the contrast.

And the points you mention are not a problem with dark mode but with low contrast. These can be fixed by increasing contrast.

I like it for the most part but some apps take it such an extreme that I can't even tell where the window edges are when they are overlapping each other and buttons are indistinguishable from the window background color. The skin I am using on JRiver Media Center is that way and the other choices aren't really much better.
There is literally nothing wrong with dark mode. It is a _choice_ which makes your analogy invalid. You can not choose to have or not have an open office as an employee, and no picking a new place of work is not the same thing.

What you're saying is akin to saying: "You like dark mode? Well you're wrong its bad for you." No thanks, not interested in your opinion.

And I "literally" provided two examples of where it's a bad choice.

If you are the only person viewing your screen, then by all means use whatever color scheme you like. I never said it was bad for you. I just illustrated when it is bad for some people.

Title: "Here's the mathematical proof".

Article: "While there is no mathematical proof [...]"

Can we stop with the clickbait titles?

You don't arrive at a mathematical proof just by saying the words mathematical proof.

> Title: "Here's the mathematical proof".

I don't see that. Was it edited in the last ten minutes?

[EDIT: Oh, maybe you're paraphrasing. It does say "proof" but not "mathematical proof" near the title.]

Hi, yes I edited the title of this HN post! It used to be "GitHub Dark Mode is too Dark. Here's the mathematical proof" but I understand how that can be misleading (and is inconsistent with the post title). Definitely my bad
Very nice article. Thanks for writing it.
I really dislike the trend of pushing dark mode as a default on everything. There's at least some evidence that reading retention is higher with dark characters on a light background, and I think the preference for dark mode often comes from people sitting in badly lit environments, or having their monitor turned up to bright.
There's a trend of following your device's dark/light preference, but I personally haven't seen many site pushing dark-by-default.
The unfortunate trend is people producing otherwise useful educational Youtube content (particularly developers) in dark mode. They surely don't realize they are losing some portion of their audience due to any of a few reasons (not the least of which is the audience who actually works outside sometimes!)
I've seen this more and more, but I wish sites would provide a way to switch themes. For example, the Ghost blog default theme follows your device preference, but AFAIK there's no way to toggle to light mode, which is quite annoying considering how common it is.
Yea, that's frustrating. I'm a bit surprised browsers don't have built in exceptions for this.
It's good for phones that have OLED/AMOLED screens, since it saves quite a lot of battery life. It's also good if reading in bed (with the lights off).

On a desktop though I prefer to use blue-filters at night, and nothing during the day.

However for those sensitive to light I assume dark mode is a lifesaver.

It depends. I’m very light sensitive and can’t stop squinting even on cloudy day outside, but common light on dark makes my eyes get tired in minutes on any screen quality. Light scheme, night mode and brightness zero+ is what I’m using in bed.

On subj, I wish such sites to publish their colorscheme css that would be easy to modify and drop into stylebot (iirc that extension name). It’s often a couple of colors and a background that have to be adjusted besides defaults to look good enough. We’re all different.

Here's a tip - whether in light mode or dark mode, you can turn your screen brightness down.
If I read HN at night my screen brightness turned to the lowest is still too bright so I add an additional screen dimmer and use Dark Reader
On iOS there’s an option to “reduce white point”. This way you can get reallly low brightness and low contrast on your phone. I’m using it often during night. I suggest to add a accessibility shortcut to the triple click home to toggle it
..and conversely I hate the trend of pushing black text on a white background. I have severe photosensitivity, and even in a brightly lit room with a monitor set to 75% brightness large patches of white background hurt my eyes to the point of building a migraine.
What service is dark mode the default on?
Some ms windows docs turned dark recently, afair. Can’t remember which, but it often turns up when troubleshooting their fantastically clear 8001fcd8 etc error codes.
of the software I've just used today, VsCode, Discord, Spotify, Facebook since the redesign.
Facebook and VS Code are probably using dark mode because you have set your system and browser theme to dark
VSCode dark is default. You can switch to light modes if you wish, but it starts out dark. At least in that app you have choices. Fortunately most modern editors and IDEs give you options.
Terminals and text editors have had dark themes as default for decades. This isn't a new trend. Spotify also has never had a light theme since launch (10+ years). Facebook (and 99% of other software released today) goes by whatever your browser/OS preference is.
As far as I can remember Spotify has always had a dark colour scheme hasn't it?
> reading retention is higher

I would be shocked if that's replicable.

It's not the default what are you even talking about?
> There's at least some evidence that reading retention is higher with dark characters on a light background

Genuinely interested to know where you have seen this.

My theory is people use them because they look cooler.
I'm okay with it as long as it's customizable. What I dislike is when apps or sites don't give you the choice.

I like my operating system UI/chrome to be dark, but my documents (including Web pages) to be dark on white. This is becoming increasingly difficult to do, although you can force Firefox into reporting light mode to every page if you have to.

Blasting white light into your eyes from every pixel that isn't information is totally backwards and stupid. Light up that which represents something, not the background.

Can you imagine what life on Earth would be like if the cosmic background radiation was the brightest thing around?

> Can you imagine what life on Earth would be like if the cosmic background radiation was the brightest thing around?

We'd probably be dead. This also has nothing to do with dark mode.

Light isn't bad for you, which seems to be the premise of your argument.
Eye, Wikipedia: "Eyes detect light and convert it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons."

When your eyes detect light, they have to do work. Electricity and chemicals are expended and recycled to pass the information on to your brain. The less light your eyes receive, the less work they have to do.

Similarily, the screen blasting the light with LEDs consumes more energy the brighter the light is. White is literally the most expensive color to both produce and process.

Additionally, excess light at times of the day when the Sun don't shine messes up our evolutionary psycho-biology, causing issues with sleep.

So yes, light is literally bad for you, in this context. Natural sunlight is different because your skin needs it to produce essential vitamins.

>...excess light at times of the day when the Sun don't shine messes up our evolutionary psycho-biology, causing issues with sleep.

That is folk wisdom in the IT field. At best, it is blue light, but there aren't enough long term studies to conclusively say this. BMJ Open Ophthalmology published a study in 2018 that said blue light could be a factor in eye tiredness, but it also stated dry eyes due to lack of blinking for long periods a more serious cause of eye strain. It also noted very small fonts, low contrast, and medical conditions like uncorrected astigmatism and presbyopia as factors.


Human eyes don't have good night vision, we see best in daylight.

Black text on a white background is best, since the color properties and light are best suited for the human eye. That’s because white reflects every wavelength in the color spectrum. Because of the reflection, our irises don’t need to open as wide to absorb the white light. That leaves our irises in a neutral position and allows us to see with better clarity. This is especially true when white light is contrasted against black, which absorbs wavelengths instead of reflecting them.

Light text on a dark background makes the eye work harder and open wider, since it needs to absorb more light. When this happens, the light letters can bleed into the dark background and cause halation, which makes the text blurry. Our eyes focus better when the iris is narrow.

Additionally, most people are born with some form of astigmatism, a misshaped cornea that blurs vision. For people that have the worst forms of astigmatism, light text on dark backgrounds aggravates the condition. When looking at a light display, the iris closes more, decreasing the effect of the deformed cornea. When using a dark display the iris opens to receive more light and the deformation of the cornea makes halation worse.

On the flip side, dark mode helps with floaters, tiny fibers or spots that appear in a person's vision. These are caused by changes to the fluid in the eye which cause shadows to be cast on the retina. Floaters distort vision in light mode. This condition tends to increase with age.

Also, people with light sensitivity might be better served by a dark background.

Both light and dark mode should be offered for accessibility reasons.

> The less light your eyes receive, the less work they have to do.

Or, the less light you receive, the more work they have to do focusing.

> LEDs consumes more energy the brighter the light is

The opposite is true of LCD screens. But that isn't relevant.

>excess light at times of the day when the Sun don't shine messes up our evolutionary psycho-biology

What about not enough light at times of the day when the sun should be shining? The light from any monitor is insignifcant compared to that from the sun anyway.

Lack of light is thought to be a cause of myopia, or in other words, light is literally good for you.

Perhaps staring into a light for a long time is more problematic? I certainly find it more draining on my eyes to use light UIs for extended periods.
Can your eyes tell any difference between diffuse and emitted light? If the background on your monitor is roughly the same brightness as the white painted wall behind it, what's the difference to your eyes?
I'll guess that your screen brightness is set too high.
Personally I love the Guthub dark mode settings. I really like the background to be near total black, and they got a nice balance from my perspective of what I find really enjoyable.

I say kudos to GitHub. I wonder how much they may have gleaned from telemetry with VSCode and user settings there. That’s a wealth of information for this type of decision.

I completely agree, and it’s one of my favorite dark modes ever. In my editors, I also use #000 backgrounds. I think this is the sort of “can’t please everyone” type situation which warrants even more options. If there are accessibility concerns, they should absolutely add a more accessible option with better contrast (and it should probably be the default if so - I really do wonder if it’s actually inaccessible). IIRC, more color options are on the roadmap? Perhaps I misremember.
FWIW, I'm red-green colour blind (quite badly), and often prefer more contrast to see colour delineations clearly - and I think GitHub's new dark mode is perfect.
I’m with you. I honestly don’t understand this vehement opposition. I guarantee you if something like the Dark Reader extension applied this same exact theme nobody would think twice about it.
It's a shame user stylesheets never took off. It'd be nice if we didn't just have prefers-color-scheme but also a set of standard css variables for colors we could set and get a consistent dark/light mode on websites. I know designers would hate that, but from a pragmatic viewpoint I really like the idea.
Why not use an extension? I think most HTML content and well labelled with classes even if that is not a public information.
Yeah that's a more realistic approach. Probably are extensions that do this already.
My bad for having a potentially misleading/clickbaity title that was inconsistent with the post title!!! It used to be "GitHub Dark Mode is too Dark. Here's the mathematical proof"
It didn't take me long to disable GitHub dark mode. It is not made for quick reading. They should talk to the people who did dark mode for VS Code. After all it's all MS.
I agree, but from an entirely different point of view. Tell me I'm doing my eyes in if you will, but I find dark mode to be easy on the eyes, especially when - but not exclusively because - I can't always control how poorly lit my environment is. Dark mode, however, is also a curse, because when the contrast is too high I find that I get this "negative space effect" where in my vision the letters on screen go really dim and I get a series of fuzzy white lines appearing between the lines, making it almost impossible to read any text without immediately losing my place and skipping to the line of text above or below.

The trend towards AMOLED dark mode has made life hard for me, especially when using websites or phones (looking at you, Android 10 and above) that I can't really customise the way I can the rest of my computer. Give me Gruvbox's #ebdbb2 on #282828 any day of the week, I want to get off the AMOLED #ffffff on #000000 train.

If only there existed some sort of collection of settings regarding the user's personal preferences for fonts and colors that could be set an an OS level and respected by all programs. Alas, it is impossible for computers to do this... unless you count the 90s, when computers did this.
I love dark mode on websites and software, but after about two days of using it on Github I had to revert back to light mode. I was developing a headache trying to read their 14px gray text. There's also too many gray lines everywhere. It works with a white background with black lines, but with a dark background it feels really messy.
Let me switch instantly between light mode during the day, and dark mode at night, using one simple toggle, or following changes in browser settings. Then the issues with how dark or how light become nearly moot.
It does follow system settings, if you’re using a browser that supports it. It works on Edge but not Chrome on my MacBook.
Chrome definitely supports the relevant media query so GitHub must be doing something unusual for it not to work there.
Yeah, Chrome doesn't seem to do it with any site for me. I wasn't sure if it was a Chrome thing or just my machine.
Hmmmmmm. Wonder why Github has bugs with the world's most popular browser, but doesn't have bugs with a (very similar) browser made by their owners ./s

(It's mostly a bug, or a setting in Chrome to not ask websites to use dark mode.)

If you use VS Code, Sundial extension does this.
Counterpoint: preferences are subjective. How about an article about how github uses the wrong colors in their syntax highlighting? According to color theory, a method is blue, not purple.
When are we getting dark mode for Hacker News ?
The Dark Reader browser extension works very well with many sites, including Hacker News.
That's a workaround.

Implementing prefers-color-scheme is the correct thing to do, and I daresay it wouldn't damage the admirable minimalism of the site to do so.

I like dark mode on Github with the notable exception of the diff view, and unfortunately that's the thing I use in the web UI most often. In light mode additions are green and deletes are red - they're obviously different. In dark mode additions are dark greenish grey and deletes are dark reddish grey - they're really similar. That, for me, means I've lost a huge amount of information. It's bad enough to keep me in light mode.
Did anyone else notice that Facebook’s color scheme is more...complex? Both Spotify and Youtube use colors whose R, G and B values are identical. But Facebook’s colors are much sneakier. Am I wrong to suspect something sinister here? I find myself somewhat attracted to the Facebook colors, as though I need to stare at them longer to figure them out. Do they optimize for this kind of thing (like their infamous shade of blue)?
Just chiming in to say that I noticed this too. I don't know if it's "sinister", but it's definitely my favorite palette of the ones presented.
When it comes to color schemes, personal preference comes into play. I actually prefer the GitHub dark mode color scheme to other dark modes. And I've been using dark mode forever: http://triosdevelopers.com/jason.eckert/stuff/darkmode.jpeg
The problem with most dark-modes is too much contract between the background (very close to black) and the text (very close to white).

In reality, the best dark mode is when you hit the perfect balance between a dark and a light shade of gray that's clearly and easily readable but doesn't seem like you've focus lights pointing at you wherever there's text on a dark page.

This article really gets off on the wrong foot by stating at the outset that GitHub's new feature "actually sucks." I would have been much more incentivized to read carefully all the way through if the author hadn't come across as seeming so self-righteous.
Yeah, IMO the new dark mode is also way too blue; even with Redshift on it seems weirdly blue.
If only we had some way for the user agent itself to apply a different stylesheet…
Exactly. The idea that a web page should choose the font, font size, and colours is backwards. The user should be the one to choose these values. I want every page to use my favourite reading font in a size that is comfortable to me, in colours that I find easy to read. No web designer knows better than I when it comes to my own vision.
Thankfully Firefox has the "Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of your selections above" setting which you can uncheck so that Firefox always uses your preferred fonts. All pages can do is choose between serif, sans-serif, and monospace. And you can set a minimum font size, so that text is never too small no matter what the page does.
Yes, I use it! I am the only person I know that does.
I guess that makes two of us! It's nice to know that I'm not the only sane man!
This analysis seems predicated on a weird idea, like contrast is the main factor for readability. A simple example is flipping the background and foreground text. You don’t end up with the same readability.
So this is news again?

Next week on HN: GitHub Light Mode is too Light.

Remember, you read it here first!

> However, for some reason the lighter one is just easier for me to parse at a cursory glance

I have the opposite reaction. I wonder what kind of computer/monitor the author is using.

I found that lighter colors (whites/greys/very light pastels) display way better on an Apple-made monitor while darker colors look much better on Thinkpads/Acer/Asus/etc. monitors.

I got into quite a few back-and-forths with designers that only design on Macs because the colors look _way_ different on other devices.

This tip seems to be meant for people who didn't even realise they could use dark blues and grays instead of black.

There's nothing wrong with designers who understand the concept still choosing to go for a 100% black.

It's a little bit too dark, but overall just fine. Author's blog is also fine, although for me it's annoying when dark mode is default. I have global userstyle in Stylus which inverts color brightness on webpages (except images), so most of normal websites (like HN) are white-on-black for me. So please keep your website styles default black-on-white, and optionally add a setting for dark mode.
The brightness of the site should be under user-agent control somehow anyway.

There are extensions (e.g. dark reader) that try to generically make websites dark using graphics filter and CSS tricks. This approach mostly works, but fails pretty badly in some cases. It'd be nice if this client side color adjustment were standardized and website makers testes their sites with it. This way, each person could make sites as dark as he wanted.

GitHub’s dark mode is actually one of my favorite implementations. I hope they’ll keep this original theme as an option if they move to something else.
Same here. Used the Stylus dark mode for a year and I like the official one much better.
I find most dark modes to be way doo dark. In my experience only a few apps, such as Superhuman, Notion, Linear, Tweetbot, Things 3 actually nail it. I especially hate the two options provided by Twitter: either OLED-focused pitch black or that weird blue light. Haven't you all were raving on how blue light is dangerous and were blocking it?
There is a chrome dark mode extension. It can make any site dark mode. It does a mega job at GitHub slack and a myriad of other sites. I find companies giving only one dark mode counter intuitive.

With that extension I can set the exact darkness, contrast and other knobs. Every site adheres to that. That’s exactly what I want from dark mode. Uniformity across the web.

"Here's the mathematical proof"

Read the blogpost

I was deceived! :P

But on a serious note, it took two seconds for me to turn back on light mode. No thank you, GitHub.

Nah, it's fine. The standards are just arbitrary thresholds, and 6.15 is pretty close to the arbitrary threshold of the AAA 7.
Weird. I am red-green color blind, and I can't even tell the difference between the red and green diff for dark mode.
I really love the new dark mode. I’ve been using Github since it’s earliest it days and it only took me a few days to get accustomed to. I’m sure they’ll add an intermediate mode at some point but you can’t just increment a value and boom it’s done - these are crafted by hand if they are done well.
I think it looks great... plus its opt in.
AFAIK people who like dark mode prefer AMOLED black mode. So, I disagree. If I want dark mode on, I want it as dark as possible. I don't want a shitty washed out dark grey color. So I think Github is fine. There are more interesting things to complain about.
I am working on dozens of website themes right now and I am stymied as far as dark mode colors, accessibility, etc. I hate dark mode myself so this is enervating. Can someone point me to a good article describing dark mode best practices?
@mods: I think the current article title is "GitHub Dark Mode is too Dark."
My first impression of the dark mode was, how beautiful it was, and how much better it was than the dark mode userscript I was using. Different opinions! I hope they don't "do better".
On this iPhone 12 the foreground colours on GitHub dark mode seem to have very high contrast. Maybe GitHub are expecting screens to get brighter over the next few years and are planning ahead to reduce glare.
I couldn't do dark mode. The issue/PR labels do not contrast well enough with the dark background and these are a huge part of our daily process.

Everything else looked really nice though.

I think, from looking at the swatches, it looks like github grays don't have enough warmth (don't have enough red). Otherwise the darkness levels are fine.
Comparing to Twitter and StackOverflow, I had the same initial raction. For now I disabled dark mode on GH, hope it evolves into a less dark variation.
As a big user of dark mode everywhere I concur. Not enough contrast between the colors and the base black is too black
I think twitter hit the sweet spot in dark mode palette, there is no harm in trying it I hope they do haha
Would be nice if the article included examples of what they're talking about. I'm on a phone. :(
> GitHub, do better. Give us the dark mode experience we deserve.

Or... give us the option to set our own colours.

Satisfying the contrast ratio and being aesthetically appealing result in limited choices
It's still in beta so hopefully feedbacks would be taken into consideration :)
The contrast ratios used in the article are the worst case ones, for 20/80 vision, the average uncorrected vision of people 80+. They're well over 3.0/4.5, which W3C recommends as defaults, and is for people with uncorrected vision of 20/40 or more
This article is how I learned github had a dark mode, I like it.
everyone's making a deal about "dark mode" just use the darkreader chrome extension and control the brightness on any page.
It could be black, for all I care.

But I want high contrast.

Maybe it's the language barrier on my side, but this sounds like prime n-gate material.
TLDR; the author has a certain dark mode preference and is making it known to the world.

Dark is dark. Personally, I’ll take any shade of dark over any shade of light.

The real question is... when will HN get dark mode? :)

I don't have any issues with it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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