Short version: the old theme is obsolete and insecure, can't be repaired, and the original devs have moved on to other things; it needed to go away for safety reasons, and because we couldn't build new features on that shaky foundation. I've otherwise made every effort for the new theme to look and act as much like the old one as I can.
We'd done what we could to fix the most basic usability features of the old theme when we started on all this at the beginning of the year, and honestly, it was stellar work if I say so myself. It wasn't enough. The underlying code foundation was so broken that we couldn't add new features. We couldn't update the theme at all.
Many of the "new" features that you're decrying aren't new at all. For example, the extended reactions set -- not just like, but all the others
-- those were in the first version of our platform introduced in 2011 (even if we didn't add it to UkuleleUnderground until 2020), but they were missing because the site was broken. Same with strikethrough, sizable text, colors, spoiler blocking, on and on -- they were all here from the beginning, but missing because the site was broken.
(Specifically, the colors and sizable text weren't missing because the site was broken. They weren't here when I got here, but the options are obviously available in our new themes with barely any effort. I just hadn't turned them on because I didn't know anyone wanted them!)
The coolest part of all of this for ME is that if YOU don't like these features, you don't have to use them! Not a single one! Except for the new themes. We needed new ones because the old one was hazardous and unreliable, despite our stellar efforts to at least make it usable for long enough to get it replaced with a safe, extensible alternative.
Quite a few of the changes - the different smilie options, dark mode etc - have been available for a while now, certainly more than three weeks, and they haven’t slowed anything down or broken anything yet!
You're right, @TBB! The theme called Dark was introduced in July after we'd been testing it for several months. Sky came somewhere around there, but stayed experimental for a while longer while I focused my attention on finishing Dark. If anything, the site may be a tiny bit faster with modern themes that in fact hew remarkably close to the platform's default.
I should note that in virtually EVERY case, these new features were added by request. There are probably a handful that I may have rolled in because I knew about them and not enough other folks knew that they existed and therefore didn't request them -- but no question, a dark theme was our biggest request, followed by extended emojis and reactions. That's what we started on first, and our inability to work with the then-current theme is what made us look under the hood where we discovered the extent of the problems.
I used to document who asked for every feature, and mention them by name when I added the feature. I was really glad to let people know that no matter how big or small the request, there was at long last a team that was both able to hear those requests and act on them. I'm sorry that in my attempts to streamline my efforts to get this stuff done as quickly as possible that I've stopped keeping track as carefully, but I swear, 96.4% or more of what you see in the site has been initiated by requests, with admittedly a large-ish effort put into backend stuff that will hopefully never come to anyone's attention if I'm doing it right.
Anyway, that's the story of that. I'm glad most folks are digging the changes, including the changes BACK to when things were working as intended. I sure am!
I actually meant it in a michevous way, since you are looking at the user search quieries lol. For example I searched for “Yay! We love Tim!” for you to maybe see. But maybe you’ll see some weird stuff if im being goofy. Or maybe this isnt how it works and im just showing I’m not tech savy hah
I get it now! I'm so glad you explained, because I don't check every day, or even every week -- just when I remember, every month or two. Only the last 1000 queries are saved, so I by no means see them all.. The goal is just to get some insight into the overall flow of the queries..and I'd have missed this completely if you hadn't pointed it out.
I have to tell you that it warmed my cold little heart to see your message there. And I definitely did! All four of them! Thanks!
I'm very sensitive to the phenomenon you've observed though, because, like you, I've seen it before. Even in its broken state, the previous version of the site was pretty speedy, so I doubt that most people will notice the change, but we are indeed a wee bit faster now.
Again noting that you're right to raise this as a concern! We talk about it a lot backstage, and I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction.
This has been a bedrock of my development approach for a while. The last site I worked on (from 2006-2021) was big -- 2 million monthly visitors, 19 million pages -- and two-thirds of its traffic was from outside the US. Half of that was from people who laughed at the pathetic internet infrastructure in the US, but the other half was from remote areas, underdeveloped areas, even some folks on dialup!!! So before we implemented any change, we timed the code. Other than security changes, if a new feature didn't make the site faster, we didn't implement it.
Our processing overhead is much, much lower here, but I'm still very sensitive to performance.
You can find both of these options toward the right-hand side of the toolbar. On mobile and some pads, or on desktop browsers that aren't in full-width windows, both of these options will be hidden under the extended menu (aka, the kebab menuL three vertical dots), but they're otherwise in the same location.
It has that new webpage smell! Seriously, Tim, I have a little sense of the work, the effort, the sweat that went into this, much of which is behind the scenes, in the same way you don;t much think about the jet engines while you're flying. But you NEED them to work right. Thanks for the wrenching you've been doing, and congratulations on making the site a better experience for everyone.