It seems that the most common complaint about the new design is that the site looks very similar to other sites. (Especially Mathematics was mentioned a few times, probably because there are many people who visit both MathOverflow and Mathematics relatively often. This was discussed mainly here: How can we visually differentiate MathOverflow from MathStackExchange within the constraints of the new design themes?)

From what I gathered so far, there are some options how to customize the look of the site, but it might take quite a long time before this happens. (Based on the comments from the CMs we are probably talking weeks or months.) It seems that at the moment the process is in the stage of collecting feedback.

One option is to make a few some simple changes now - ideally something that would at least help to distinguish the two sites a bit. (It would be probably best to leave the choice up to the Stack Exchange DAG team.1 Of course, they probably will take into consideration also the suggestion mentioned so far in meta.) And then - at some later point - a more thorough design change would come, taking into account the feedback from MO community collected here on meta.2

This could possibly help to satisfy those users who do not like the fact that the two sites look too similar. Some posts on meta suggest that at least some of the users are already becoming a bit impatient.3

TL:DR; What do you think about the possibility of making a few minor changes now - just to distinguish MathOverflow from Mathematics. With the understanding that this is only a temporary solution and a nicer design will come later.

1As far as I can tell, the DAG Team is most likely responsible for the final version of the site design. Or at least they seem to be the people who are dealing with the responsive design quite a lot.

2If you want you can look a brief discussion about this I had with Catija in chat. It was mentioned there that there is some stuff which can be mentioned relatively quickly. It starts at this message. (And there are also a few more discussions about the new design in chat - looking at the starred messages can give you a brief idea what was mentioned and of course you can browse a bit through the transcript from the recent days. Unless I missed something, the recent discussion of this topic in the MathOverflow chatroom started from December 13.)

3I will admit that it is difficult to judge to which extent the MO users are not satisfied with the new look - since we only hear from the users who came to discuss on meta. Probably most of the users that are perfectly fine with the new design did not bother to come to meta to express this.

  • $\begingroup$ Of course, this "temporary fix" is probably unnecessary if the suggestion to use the code submitted by the moderators goes through - I suppose that this is also an option which can be done relatively quickly. But so far we haven't heard any reaction of the moderators to that proposal. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 18 '18 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ The problem is, the DAG team doesn't care about us anymore. Stack Exchange now is trying to monetize on selling their platform, and all our communities are not a priority anymore. From this chat transcript, it seems clear to me that (1) SE now thinks that creating all these minor sites and sub-communities was a mistake, as they do not bring money in (2) Catija and Jon Ericsson are first-level "customer support" people, and there is no sign that they have escalated the matter to a technical person to make more changes for us. $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Dec 19 '18 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni You're completely mis-interpreting what I said there. In fact, you're outright wrong. We're realizing that the non-SO sites are quite important to the network and actually can be a source of income. We've started running curated ads on a variety of sites - some of them even asked to have these ads, from what I understand, and we've partnered with a couple of companies to sponsor new beta sites and help them grow. We're absolutely invested in the network. That's my entire job - to interact with the non-SO sites... and Jon is part of the DAG team. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Dec 19 '18 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ I understand that this is frustrating to you but what I said in chat is correct... you need to be somewhat patient with us. We have 170+ sites that need to be looked after and only a handful of devs/designers. Part of why we did the site unification is because we have 100+ beta sites that are literally identical other than their site name and having the site design be unified means they can actually get custom site design/elements that they otherwise never would have gotten. I have spent a lot of time here over the last week and I'll continue to be here to help you all. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Dec 19 '18 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ I'd prefer not to be a source of income. I believe MO opted out of ads (at least: looking at a bunch of question on the site not logged in with ad blocking disabled I don't see any - see also a side comment here meta.mathoverflow.net/search?q=no-ads). $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Dec 19 '18 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts Yes, there is a clause about adds in the agreement linked in François G. Dorais' answer. "Stack Exchange shall not run advertisements ... without specific and advance written consent of the MathOverflow." $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 19 '18 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts As far as I'm aware, that won't change. And that's not going to impact our engagement with a site. I don't even know which sites have ads and which don't... and I use an adblocker, so I wouldn't see them to know on-site. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Dec 19 '18 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Catija thanks, and also thanks for dealing with us sometimes curmudgeonly mathematicians. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Dec 20 '18 at 1:01

I think this is a good idea, and that the minor temporary change should be changing the background color to some shade of orange that matches part of our logo (as was suggested by Martin on another thread).

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    $\begingroup$ (If it's possible and it looks good, I'd also be happy with a left-to-right fade that matches all the colors of the logo.) $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Dec 20 '18 at 23:47

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