I was surfing etymonline and I found its background color exactly identical to the one of our beloved site. Is ELU’s background color based on Etymonline’s or is Etymonline’s based on ELU’s?


1 Answer 1

  1. I was surfing etymonline and I found its background color exactly identical to the one of our beloved site.

“Exactly identical” ? Really? :)

Because the perception of color occurs only in the mind of the viewer mediated by the exceedingly complex human vision system, it is not for me to say whether what you perceived to be ‘identical’ in your own mind happens to be ‘true’ or ‘false’. The observer is always honest to himself regarding his own perceptions.

But perceptions differ wildly between observers depending on a multitude of factors including ambient lighting, monitor settings, biological chemistry including such things as (typically male-pattern) deuteranopia, physical changes to that person’s lens which grows ever dimmer and yellower with age, and each person’s unique visual-processing neurology, not to mention various cultural and psychological biases including confirmation bias.

Given all that vaguery, all I can do here is play by the numbers, which are constant integers blessèdly free of any trompe-l’œil effects. When doing so, only one conclusion is possible.

EL🙵U Page Element RGB Colors

Here on a scale of 0 through 255 are the respective RGB values used for various elements on our site’s main page:

EL🙵U Element Red Green Blue
display text 59 64 69
body text 35 38 41
link text 174 55 55
general background 252 250 243
deleted post background 253 242 242
header/footer background 244 227 201

Etymonline Page Element RGB Colors

In contrast, here are the respective RGB values used for various elements on the Etymonline web site’s main page:

Etymonline Element Red Green Blue
display text 38 38 36
body text 85 85 85
red text 131 0 29
knockout text on red background 228 223 202
footer knockout text 136 136 136
general background 255 252 243
border and footer background 241 236 215
red background 131 4 29
bottommost footer 34 34 34
uparrow background in footer 171 169 155
submit button unfocused 255 244 196
submit button focused 255 237 154

As you can see, when playing strictly by the numbers, there are no elements whose integer RGB triples are numerically identical from one web site to the next.

  1. Is ELU’s background color based on Etymonline’s or Etymonline’s based on ELU’s?

Given the lack of numeric equivalence, this seems rather unlikely. Our site theme was designed long, long ago by site user #4, Jin, who is a a talented and tasteful SE employee with a gift for design. I suppose we could ask her whether she recalls, but I don’t believe your conjecture to be true.

Rather, similar underlying motivations may well have led to similarities in choices of hue. That’s because both sites strove to emulate certain old-time manuscript colors seen on slightly yellowed pages combined with all rubricators’ and typesetters’ standard second color choice of some variant on the hue of red.

That’s why, in a very vague way, the color schemes of the two sites follow similar trends. That likely led you to seeing the parallels between them.

But their respective element colors are in no fashion exactly equivalent numerically when looked at under that most exacting of lenses: that of the computer.

  • 1
    The RGB triplets for the general background color for the two websites are very close to each other. Also, not just the background color. Even the color of the site's logo is the same as the color of the red words in Etymonline. Dec 18, 2022 at 18:11
  • @SnackExchange Etymonline has a general background whose HSV is Hue 45° / Saturation 4.7% / Value 100.0%. We have one whose HSV is Hue 47° / Saturation 3.6% / Value 98.8%. Sure, those are close, but aren’t all “whites”?
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:12
  • 1
    I think we should mention @jin here. Maybe she can explain to us whether it was an accident or a direct inspiration. Dec 18, 2022 at 18:16
  • @SnackExchange The 🙵 in our logo is RGB=[144, 55, 59] & HSV=[357°, 61.8%, 56.5%]. Their red words are RGB=[131, 4, 29] & HSV=[348°, 96.9%, 51.4%]. Those are not the same nor even very close to each other, yet you say you perceive both those reds as “the same color”. Interesting❗ Our ability to distinguish color differences in the reds is terrible because we aren’t able to triangulate all three of our cone types’ signals; mostly only the L-cones fire, and sometimes a tiny bit of the S-cones at the other end, but we get almost no help at all from the all-important M-cones. Perhaps that’s why.
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:24
  • 1
    @SnackExchange I’ve just now pinged her via an alternate communication channel. Your own ampersanded at-reference actually did not do so. This is because she has not commented on this post (yet) nor was its author or editor, conditions necessary for those to land in her SE inbox. Whether she’s both around and available I do not know, but we can certainly try.
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:36
  • 3
    @tchrist FYI, the & in your header EL🙵U Page Element RGB Colors and the one (I’m assuming it’s an ampersand) in your comment starting with * The 🙵 in our logo is RGB…* display as empty squares (I think the Unicode “idk what this character is”) in iOS Safari. I can dig up the version numbers, if that’ll help, but probably suffices to note but they’re both (iOS and Safari, I mean) the latest versions. Whatever font they’re using doesn’t support whatever fancy & you’re using. Just doubled checked and the same issue in iOS chrome. In the deprecated mobile app, some kind of stripes.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 19, 2022 at 0:08
  • 1
    @DanBron That’s code point U+15675, yclept SWASH AMPERSAND ORNAMENT. Here’s what it looks like for me in Chrome running on MacOS. But as I mentioned in my answer, for reasons of reliability I always play by the numbers, not by the appearances. :) It’s also messed up on Safari under MacOS, so I think Apple just...can’t do fonts? :)
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 19, 2022 at 0:29
  • 1
    @tchrist Well, at least now I’m not anxious it’s my lazy M-cones.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 19, 2022 at 1:00
  • 1
    Samsung mobile, Android 7.0; MacBook Pro (but 2nd hand b/c Apple is so bloody expensive) running on OS Monterey. Web browser Chrome updated. I cannot see the ampersand character in either device. Am I alone, I thought I was until I saw Dan's comment. SE is supposed to be inclusive, it's in the CoC so please don't discriminate users with older machines :)))
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 19, 2022 at 12:19
  • The ornamental dingbat font isn't a system font for Apple. There is an assortment of Webdings plus Zapf Dingbats that might have something similar. developer.apple.com/fonts/system-fonts/#preinstalled (It's an operating system thing @Mari-LouA not an older computer thing :))
    – ColleenV
    Dec 21, 2022 at 14:44
  • Similarly, Western websites targeted toward young children gravitate toward primary colors. Color schemes communicate context for people who share a cultural background. I watched an interesting video about purple representing corruption in many video games. It wasn't because one game decided that was the color to use and then every other game copied them. m.youtube.com/watch?v=L51xc6iqeaU
    – ColleenV
    Dec 21, 2022 at 14:58
  • @ColleenV Fun fact: Purple was a luxurious color in Ancient Rome and Greece. Because purple dyes were so expensive. Purple clothes were worn by rich people. P.S.: I think purple grapes were so so expensive. Because grapes were luxurious foods being eaten by emperors from the hands of their concubines. Dec 21, 2022 at 16:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .