True black text color in Neutral theme

The default text color in the Neutral theme is #000. I believe it should be #222, like in the Light theme (using pure black is often considered a bad design practice).


(As an aside, I fail to see the attraction in the modern preference not to use true blacks. The web seems to have become a wash of grey. That strains my middle-aged eyes and prompts me to wonder what the demographics are of the people testing for usability…)

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For something that’s often, this is the first I’ve heard this. What is it that is bad about it?

Some says that such contrast causes eye strain.

I sometimes get eyestrain: I find moving the white background towards grey (or neutral off-white) is very much preferable to moving the black away from hard black. The readable view on Firefox, and Instapaper, and Readability, all do it this way. If high contrast edges are a problem, then tone down the white.


To not go off on preferences, but to focus on Discourse, should not the Neutral theme allow a child theme to override the default value?

This is not much to go on.

Do you have specific examples where using #000 is causing problems? Or is this just a matter of personal preference?

Those color palettes are supposed to be starting points or options. We’ll fix any major issues but for matters of personal preference, we recommend that you create a new color palette that suits your needs.


If anything I’ve observed a trend away from using washed-out blacks.

OLED is definitely a factor. Now screens can deliver a true black there’s much more appetite to do so.

If contrast is a concern we can always make grays darker to compensate, right?

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This has nothing to do with personal preference. I regret I said “bad design practice”: this was a mistake that pushed the discussion toward an unwanted direction. I filed this as a bug, because:

  • #000 in Neutral is inconsistent with #222 in Light (text) and Dark (background).
  • Inconsistency is bad and will come back to bite you.
  • Here is how I’ve been bitten: I customized my Discourse instance, under the Light theme, with a lot of black and white images tuned for #222 black. Then I installed the Neutral and Dark themes, to allow my users to choose among them (nice feature). The result is that, under Neutral, all my images seems washed-out compared to the text.

Of course, I immediately fixed the issue with CSS. But you might want to fix the inconsistency nonetheless.

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An older article:

Eyesight over 50 yrs old is much different from eyesight in 20s-40s. Pure white as background is a bear. Pure black as background is Yeti, e.g. much harder. That silvery-gray as the base text, omg, just maul my eyes and get it over with! These do not work well, unless you want to cause eye strain and headaches.


Isn’t this discussion more about poor contrast?

Confession: I assumed “Neutral” referred to a theme. But looking for it, I can’t find it. Where’s it at?

As an aside, I prefer to give my personal pages a light blue color and not pure white.

I don’t know, is the code “aware” of contrast based on color and background-color values and should it do anything about it, or should that be left entirely as a design decision?

I may be wrong, but my take is the “main” theme is “how the author wants the design” and the child themes are “I agree with the theme author on most design decisions, except for these”. i.e. use the theme you like best and tweak it the least amount necessary.