1. 29
  1. 22

    I understand a lot of these articles may be largely backlash against the surge in popularity of dark mode, but I think this misses the point. “Is dark mode such a good idea?” Letting people choose how they visit your website is a good idea. You can’t know how all of your users work, what the light is like in their residence, what their eyes are like, what hours they are on the computer. Give them a choice. I greatly appreciate things like chrome dark reader that let me easily toggle between dark and light modes, and I used to have an emacs configuration to do this with my editor themes. When it’s dark where I am and I’m on the computer, bright screens hurt my eyes. When it’s light out I am and I’m on the computer, dark screens hurt my eyes. I have sensitive eyes and a family history of eye problems. I don’t really care what someone else thinks about the trendiness or aesthetics of my choices, I just want my eyes not to hurt. Please stop opining on the subject and just provide a theme that works for both setups and an easy way to choose.

    1. 7

      From OP:

      I’m sure there are people out there who genuinely need dark mode for a specific health condition. For that reason, there will continue to be a dark mode on this site.

      1. 3

        Post author here (thanks to the person who posted this by the way). I end the post by saying that there are likely to be people who require dark mode…or just prefer it. For that reason, my site does support prefers-dark-mode and will adapt if you’re using a dark OS theme.

      2. 8

        I recently moved from cold north-europe to Thailand and while I was big dark theme advocate and used it everywhere I did a complete 180° here. It’s just so bright here and it’s so nice to work in brighter environments. I’m even waking up early at 6am to enjoy working outside in the balcony. Even so early in the morning and with modern screens it’s still very hard to clearly see and read with a dark theme. Clearly a light theme is the way to go here in Thailand.

        What I’m getting to with my anecdote is that this seems be an issue of environments. I think all of the pros/cons can flip right over when the screen is moved somewhere else. Even with my love of light solarized theme I’d probably switch right back to dark theme if I’d have to move back to cold, north-european winter.

        1. 4

          Clearly a light theme is the way to go here in Thailand.

          Conversely, due to the heat (edit:) and humidity it’s entirely possible someone in Thailand will work inside with less natural light.

          Geographic location likely has very little impact on whether a light or dark background produces less eye strain. The work area level environment has a lot of impact on it. You could be working in a cloudy city and I’d imagine that working from a balcony would still be too bright for dark mode to be “better”.

          1. 3

            What I’m getting to with my anecdote is that this seems be an issue of environments.

            This seems to be my experience as well. In winter months, I’m perfectly happy with dark themes but in the summer, especially in the morning, or when I’m working from coffee shops I just need the light mode. One other thing that seems to be a factor here is what I’m working on: for example if I have dark theme in the editor and the terminal, but no way of changing it in other windows that I also need to use (like in the browser or PDF reader) then it’s awkward to switch from dark to light and I just prefer to use light mode everywhere.

          2. 13

            No comment on aesthetics… but this post completely misses the context of the research conclusions it cites.

            Dark mode produces less eyestrain in a dark environment (one with only low-intensity ambient light and no glare), and more eyestrain in a bright environment. Also, less emitted light overall means less blue light.

            1. 3

              Direct quote from the research..

              Results showed that light mode won across all dimensions: irrespective of age [of the individual], the positive contrast polarity [light mode] was better for both visual-acuity tasks and for proofreading tasks.

              1. 4

                More relevant:

                The lack of effect of polarity in simulated daytime environments was somewhat surprising and inconsistent with a different older study by Buchner and Baumgartner, that also looked at bright vs dark ambient conditions

                That “older study” is the one I was thinking of. Also I suspect confounding factors in the ‘small type in dark mode’ findings due to most anti-aliasing implementations being biased toward light mode. But there are probably other confounds too. Without reporting methodology, p-values or even group sizes, it’s hard to know how seriously to take this one study that contradicts another study. Anyway, empirical science is rarely as conclusive as its popularizers would like us to believe.

                The other finding, right at the top of the Nielsen summary page, is relevant to the blue light thing:

                … long-term reading in light mode may be associated with myopia.

                That’s the only one that even mentions the group size: seven individual. Pretty paltry, as these things go.

                FWIW, I recommend people try out different things, and take note of their own eyestrain.

            2. 7

              In fact, this very site that you’re on right now automagically flips to dark mode if you’re that way inclined.

              no it doesn’t

              1. 1

                It does. I’ve been going through a site re-design, which I finished this morning. prefers-dark-mode was re-implemented today.

                1. 2

                  Confirmed, since 20 hours ago it has been fixed. Thanks!

              2. 4

                I’ve recently switched my website’s design to a light theme and after some getting used to, it does read more comfortably. Even trying programming with light theme again.

                1. 3

                  Hey, I was just reading your Open Source post (last one) and yes, it looks better now. I use to read your site on MiniFlux

                2. 4

                  Not for me. My eyes hurt badly when they try to read light text on a dark background, no matter what my environment is. It’s bad enough where I have to enable reader mode, or if that doesn’t work, either not read it at all or copy the text somewhere else.

                  1. 3

                    Amusingly enough I had my system configured for dark mode when I read the site and thought I rather liked it. Then I came back here, read your comment, and realized I much prefer black on white text because Lobsters doesn’t have a dark mode.

                  2. 5

                    Is it a good idea? I think the question is misplaced. It’s a preference. This is like asking “Is the colour red a good idea?”

                    I love dark view. I use it everywhere. Does that mean you have to? No. Do I think I’m improving my life because of it? Yes, but only because it makes me happy.

                    1. 5

                      You are right here, it is a preference

                      I prefer light over dark, but at night, before going to sleep dark mode is easy on the eyes.

                    2. 3

                      Unless you’re using an OLED or AMOLED screen

                      And CRT.

                      1. 1

                        Is anyone still using CRT? :-)

                        1. 2

                          Of course, CRTs have display properties that LED and LCD don’t.

                          1. 1

                            I recently heard a discussion about using CRT TVs for retro gaming…

                            1. 1

                              i have saved an crt tv for old consoles, their output really looks unpleasant on modern screens.

                        2. 3

                          In a dark room, if I use my laptop screen as a flashlight, lightmode makes a significantly brighter one.

                          If there is no power consumption difference, how is that possible? It would seem you’d be getting light for free, or that in dark mode the power is being dissipated in some other way.

                          I am more curious about the physics than skeptical of the claim.

                          1. 7

                            The LC part of the LCD doesn’t itself emit light, it just filters the light passing through it. A black pixel is one that blocks all light. Think of it less like turning off a flashlight and more putting a book in front of it.

                            1. 5

                              If the screen is OLED there is power savings, as some leds are off, but if it is IPS, then there is just a “curtain” blocking the light, so no power savings.

                              Search for Amoled vs IPS and you will understand it better.

                            2. 2

                              White makes sense as background for subtractive color mixing, where the primary colors are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. Black makes sense as a background for additive color mixing, where the primary colors are Red, Green, and Blue. Black is the background color of light.

                              1. 1

                                I think it’s neat, like the Inverse Colors mode on iPhones, but I do not like dark mode. I wouldn’t take it away, if people like it, but it’s more like a low-contrast mode to me.

                                If white hurts your eyes, just my .02, you might could lower your contrast. (you can also just use dark mode! I respect your preference) I will say: #ffffff on #000000 is terrible contrast, and you should not look at that if you don’t have to. I like looking at slightly-red/less-blue off-white near (251, 251, 241). I think acme uses (255, 255, 253). HN uses (~235, ~235, ~235). Anywhere in there is good to me, against #222222 text. I don’t like my IDE feeling like Doom 3, personally.

                                1. 1

                                  For me, the most comfortable viewing mode is using light mode (dark letters on light background) with the brightness of the display turned way down, such that it’s visually darker than my desk and walls. With this low brightness settings, the letters in the dark mode would appear very blurry and almost invisible to me. For a better contrast in the dark mode, I would need to turn up the brightness of the display a lot, at which point I would see ghosting or burn in of letters on my retina. For this reason, I never liked dark mode.

                                  1. 1

                                    I personally find easier to read text with dark over light, but the opposite for code, when I have to focus more on each “word”.