MathOverflow isn't some experiment in website design.

I knew where everything was and what colour it was meant to be.

The tabs are now small and harder to click on. The colours are different shades of white.

I don't know where people got the idea that MathOverflow was just another StackExchange site? I was under the impression that StackExchange simply hosted the site.

I could go on a bit more but it wouldn't change much. All I can say is that I can't be the only one who is displeased with the new design.

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    $\begingroup$ I also hate the new design. But I'm curious about what perceived problems it's intended to solve. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ I don't like the new design either, but I find your post a bit too confrontational. By the way, the "hosting" SE provides does include site theming, so calling it "hosting" is a bit misleading. It's more like SE provides the software platform, while MO provides the content. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ “[…] StackExchange simply hosted the site… But now it seems it is getting its grubby little fingers into the sites workings.” I’m not a fan of the redesign, but this sort of rude and inaccurate characterisation doesn’t put our case well. It’s not like the landlord coming in and redecorating your home, more like that the café where we all hang out has decided to redecorate. So it’s worthwhile to point out that we find the new setup ugly and impractical, and we think they’re making a mistake that’ll alienate clientele, but it’s not like they’re overstepping their rights or anything. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 9:30
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    $\begingroup$ I liked the old design better, mainly for the reason described here, but I'm sure we'll get used to the new design; let's put our energy on more content-based issues. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ Unpopular opinion warning: as someone who uses multiple sites in the StackExchange multiverse, I appreciate design unification $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ @DominicvanderZypen As someone who uses multiple sites, I don't like it at all. Many visual cues that differentiate them are now gone, as well as many nice details and personalizations (e.g., {tagname} on tex.se and /tagname on unix.se). They all feel more vanilla now, like the beta sites. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine I understand your point of view. I am simply stating mine. I am not being diplomatic, just telling SE how I feel using their new design. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DominicvanderZypen As someone that uses more than one site, I liked being able to distinguish at a glance in which site I was. Right now I need to quickly take a look at the title bar to make sure I'm on the right site... Honesty they were already pretty similar before. I understand the need to simplify the code base, but this is really, really generic $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2018 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's reasonable to say that you don't have to be diplomatic when expressing your opinion of a site re-design in general; but possibly if you're using that site itself, it and its contents provided to you for your use for free, to express your opinions, then it is well to consider whether special efforts at diplomacy are called for. (I also hate the re-design! But, roughly as @CarloBeenakker says, soon enough I will get used to it, just in time to hate the next one.) $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Dec 10, 2018 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ If there was some hidden problem with the old design that is solved now, I can leave with it. The changes are far less drastic than it was when the AoPS site got redesigned (that was a real something, so I hardly visit it anymore nowadays) and MO still works without glitches. But changes for the sake of changes always strike me as counterproductive. If something works fine, my vote would be like in that funny story about a programmer responding to the question why the Sun always rises in the East: "Always in the East? Very good, just don't touch or change anything now..." $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Dec 11, 2018 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ @fedja, it sounds from the maintainers' posts like everything was working fine for us, but not for them. As much as I don't like the change, or what I perceive as the (usual) lack of communication surrounding it and heavy-handedness in imposing it, I think that it is not just change for change's sake. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Dec 11, 2018 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry but I find such radical stance inefficient, and also imprecise. Too many small things have been changed, it looks strange if somebody finds all these changes equally intolerable. You sound more like you want to stick to things you are used to with such stance. Why not be more specific? Why not try to explain why is this or that new feature inconvenient in the long run, not from the point of view of being used to it? There are some such features in my opinion. Not many, but... $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2018 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ There's a long discussion of related issues here: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/28842/… $\endgroup$
    – bubba
    Dec 20, 2018 at 7:11

1 Answer 1


I sympathize with you. Apparently, StackExchange has recognized from the start that the new themes were going to lead to a sense of "missing identity" on various sites. Personally, I would have preferred they give us a longer beta-testing period so that we could address these problems before they went live, because a sense of "missing identity" is a big problem for community-based site.

But StackExchange apparently has strong internal reasons for going with this new system -- there were too many site-specific features and it was becoming unmanageable for them to maintain the site. Things are not going back to the way they were.

The silver lining is that we do have customization options available to us, and we have the power to ask for more even if they're not currently available. I think it's well within our power to rectify the situation with some creative thinking. I've opened another meta question to discuss some of these options. I'd encourage you to join me in channeling your frustration into contributing to the conversation on that thread or to ask your own meta questions to discuss these options. MO is too important to me to see the conversation end in despair like this.

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    $\begingroup$ Worth adding: there's also a discussion focused on the background and over here you can find out about individually modifying the look of the site in your browser. Personally, I found the look to be worlds better after I started running Denis Nardin's CSS code to get back the old color scheme on the front page. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ Also worth adding: over here Federico Poloni points out that MO's agreement with SE allows our moderators to implement certain changes on our own. So if SE is not responsive enough to our needs, we can always take that route. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Dec 18, 2018 at 17:55

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