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It appears that today Stack Exchange has changed the appearance of the MathOverflow front page. It now looks more similar to Stack Overflow. The most noticeable change is that the counts of answers, votes, and views to the left of each question has been condensed. I don't know how long Stack Overflow has looked similar to this.

It's especially unfortunate because just last week we introduced changes to make viewing reputation on the site become opt-in. These changes appear to be completely broken by today's changes. I'm disappointed that nobody at Stack Exchange thought to mention these imminent changes to us as we seek to implement the reputation opt-in feature.

The last time I noticed such a large change in the appearance, there had been months of announcements on the network-wide meta leading up to the changes, but I can't find anything similar this time.

Question 1: Were these changes announced at all before they went live?

Question 2: What is the scope of the changes? I've noticed two things:

  1. The numbers next to a question display differently, as mentioned above.

  2. The script which hides reputation is broken.

Are there other changes I'm missing?

Question 3: Are there more changes on the horizon?

Question 4: What is the context of these changes? Is this a continuation of the "new site themes" evolution?

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    $\begingroup$ It seems that highlighting of "watched tags" has broken. $\endgroup$ Jan 24 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthewDaws Good catch. Apparently particular bugs are to be reported on the post summary meta question. It appears somebody else has noticed this too. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 24 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you ask this here rather than first doing initial research on Meta.SE? Isn't initial research required before asking a question? $\endgroup$ Jan 24 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @NikeDattani it's certainly useful for users of MO that it's recorded and discussed here. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Jan 24 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ @NikeDattani As I indicated in the question, I wasn't able to find this information on Meta.SE. I didn't know that the correct keyword to search was "post summary". FWIW, besides searching a few possible terms, I also scrolled broadly through the front page of Meta.SE, but again I didn't know what terms I was looking for. I also looked at the headlines on "featured on meta", but somehow I concluded that "post summary" was unlikely to be related to this. Sure, it was not the best-executed prior research, but it was prior research. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ Just to clarify - the "front page" in this post refers to this page: mathoverflow.net right? Not to mathoverflow.net/questions. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: the mathoverflow.net/questions formatting looks much better than the mathoverflow.net formatting to me! $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @YCor My impression is that "watched" appears if it includes one of your watched tags? $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion ah, wow I hadn't even realized. So, well, they replaced an efficient way to visualize things with a poor inefficient one. The worst is that one could imagine we could be able to customize these things. But they preferred the vandalism option... too bad. Now, let's get used to it... $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Jan 25 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ The colored background seems to be back... $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Jan 25 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ With the new format it seems to default to active questions and I don't even see how to find new questions. But my bookmark to the mathoverflow.net/questions seems to overcome this for now $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ "I'm disappointed that nobody at Stack Exchange thought to mention these imminent changes" that is a false and negative statement about SE. "I wasn't able to find this information on Meta.SE" doesn't mean you spent adequate time looking for it, I usually ask in the TavernOnMeta chat room if I can't find something on Meta.SE. Since this was a network-wide change, and you would have noticed that when searching Meta.SE, why did you ask on a site-Meta rather than on Meta.SE? Also "New post summary designs on site home pages..." was clearly featured on Meta, not just "post summary". $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ @YCor It's true that having a discussion here is useful, but that could still have happened if the question was something like "what do people think about these new changes to the front page?". I think one ought to make sure they are correct before saying something like "nobody at Stack Exchange thought to mention these imminent changes". That's just my opinion. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ @NikeDattani The statement you quoted is indeed a negative statement about Stack Exchange, but it is not false. I am referring to the fact that in the course of writing the code to hide reputation, there was specific back and forth with the Stack Exchange developers. In the course of those discussions, there was no mention of these imminent changes. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @NikeDattani Thanks for the advice. I agree that this post was written hastily. Your willingness to defend the honor of SE is admirable, but nobody has suggested any kind of "sinister intentions" in any of the posts or comments here. In fact I think if you reread posts and comments, you'll find that most of the language is quite matter-of-fact. There's certainly no reason one can't express frustration, disappointment, other emotions regarding SE on this or any other SE site. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 22:41

4 Answers 4

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I find the new site basically unusable, and don’t expect to continue much participation here if it stays in its current form.

Tim requested more details. The main point is that I can't skim the main page because the data is in unpredictable places and too small to read without concentrating. Every time my eye tries to move it gets stuck reading words like "votes" and "views" over and over again, while getting drawn away from the question titles. I end up just looking at how many answers each question has without knowing what question I'm looking at.

2nd Update: Yay! It's so much better now. It will still take some getting used to, but fixing the highlighting for followed tabs and putting the votes on top goes a long way to making it usable again.

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    $\begingroup$ Echoing the sentiment that these changes have made the site much less usable for me. It's possible that it'll just take some adjustment time and then I'll be fine with it, but at the moment I'm not sure. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ It might be helpful to be a bit more specific about what's not working well. After all, so far as I can tell there were no functional changes at all -- only cosmetic changes to how certain information is presented. I too find the changes jarring, but we've heard this song before -- eventually we generally get used to things. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion: for me I think the most difficult thing to get used to is that the number of votes of the question is not more prominently displayed. I believe my brain is used to using the number of votes as a quick way of determining whether the question is: new or old; popular/interesting or bad/not worth my time; etc. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, it seems we're not alone in not liking this. The announcement on meta has a net -331 downvotes currently :). There's some spirited discussion over there of the drawbacks! $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion: and it looks like one of the top specific complaints is the same as what I mentioned-- the scores of the questions are not visible enough. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion, with SE's "we hear you, and it turns out we know better about everything" attitude, hundreds of downvotes on major-change announcements is just par for the course for them. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Jan 25 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ As usual, they're touting various "streamlining"-type benefits, and maybe they have a point -- in order to make these tweaks in response to feedback so quickly, it must have been pretty technically simple. If the norm is going to continue to be to introduce changes system-wide with minimal beta-testing, then I suppose it's at least a good thing if this sort of "tweak rapidly in response to feedback" is also part of the norm. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Jan 25 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ Now we just need to get the font on the numbers changed to a readable size and we'd be in business. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 21:42
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  1. Yup, it's called changes to the post summary and it's currently in the Bulletin (i.e. it's "Featured on Meta"). Apparently my searching skills are quite subpar :).

It's a change that happened network-wide today, so the reason it looks like Stack Overflow looks is that StackOverflow also changed today (it was hard to tell this directly because apparently when the wayback machine indexes the front page of StackOverflow, it doesn't actually see the front page with all the questions, but just some banner.)

  1. That seems to be mostly it (on the surface).

  2. Unclear

  3. It's a different initiative than the site themes, so far as I can tell, but with a similar goal of unifying the infrastructure for the network, with a particular eye toward mobile viewing.

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  • $\begingroup$ As of today (Feb 7), I find the mobile viewing especially bad. I’m not motivated to scan questions surrounded by so much other stuff in so many other colors. $\endgroup$
    – Matt F.
    Feb 7 at 10:11
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Sorry this is not an answer exactly, but: did the frontpage change for everyone else again?

To me it now looks like this:

enter image description here

It is much "bluer" now.

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At the moment, I can see two versions of the homepage on my phone, perhaps because my phone cached some formatting data — I am not sure which is current.

Version A: enter image description here

Version B: enter image description here

Version A is full of different colors: black vote counts, grey answer counts, green answer counts for accepted answers, red view counts for hot questions, random colors for avatars, all vs questions in blue. With so much surrounding the question titles, I am not motivated to browse the questions.

I much prefer version B, with white space above the question text!

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    $\begingroup$ Version B is the accursed "mobile view" which is being phased out, as it is hard to maintain properly (and was always very terrible). You can also "disable responsiveness" to get something that looks a bit more like the page you'd see on a desktop computer. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Feb 7 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ Where would I disable responsiveness — is that an stackoverflow setting, a browser setting, or a device setting? $\endgroup$
    – Matt F.
    Feb 7 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ On the very bottom of the page you'll have "full site" and "disable responsiveness". It's an SO setting that is client side. Of course, your browser should also have a "Desktop mode", just in case you want to use that, but I generally wouldn't recommend that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Feb 7 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ I seem to no longer have version B, which is too bad because I really don't like version A. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 at 23:19

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