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Why does Ask Metafilter sometimes displays greens differently.
January 17, 2013 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes when I load Ask Metafilter the green color will show up washed out, but I can open it up in a new tab and it is now a different shade. Usually scrolling down the desaturated page or selecting text will change it back to a more saturated green. Any reasons for this? Safari OSX. screenshot
posted by travis08 to Bugs at 9:28 AM (59 comments total)

Is it possible you still have that April Fool's Day prank from some years ago activated?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2013


Link to fix
posted by Rock Steady at 9:30 AM on January 17, 2013


We don't have the April Fool's Day prank code on the site anymore. Someone released it as a browser add-on at some point, but you'd have to install it to get it working.

I'm not sure what could be causing that for you. The fact that it changes as you scroll makes me think it's something unique to your environment, but I'm not sure what that could be offhand. I'll think about it.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:34 AM on January 17, 2013


I think I've seen something like this but only on a new retina display macbook. travis08, is there any chance that's the computer you are using to look at the site?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:42 AM on January 17, 2013


Can people see a difference in that picture? I'm colorblind and I literally cannot tell where one green ends and the other begins, other than for where the text is cut-off.
posted by OmieWise at 9:53 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


PANTONE is secretly in charge of the green.
posted by rocketman at 9:58 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am running a 2011 Air with 10.8 installed. The green is the only website it ever occurs and it happens intermittently. I have Evernote and 1password installed as plugins.
posted by travis08 at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2013


Can people see a difference in that picture? I'm colorblind and I literally cannot tell where one green ends and the other begins, other than for where the text is cut-off.

Yeah, the one on the left is a muted and dull green, while the one on the right is more vibrant and richer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2013


Anyhow, it is hardly a bother, I just thought someone might know a good reason for that behavior.
posted by travis08 at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2013


Definitely a difference, OmieWise. The one on the left is kind of a gray-ish green.

Not Grey Cell Green.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


More like a green cell grey really.
posted by travis08 at 10:02 AM on January 17, 2013


Yeah, there is a difference. If you measure the greens with a tool like the Mac color picker, the left green is #446647 and the right green is #276846. We don't use either of those exact greens, we use #426746, but color shifts can happen when you save a screenshot.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2013


Not running f.lux, are you?
posted by darksasami at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2013


Wow. That depresses me a bit. This is why I very rarely describe things by color.
posted by OmieWise at 10:09 AM on January 17, 2013


The relatively desaturated green on the left-hand side is exactly the same shade as AskMe normally is for me (#426746 according to Photoshop; the one on the right is #246945 on my read)--so it looks like your problem may actually be that AskMe is getting oversaturated when you scroll down?

I love the Make It Start script to pieces but I am not using it right now.
posted by beryllium at 10:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


No on the flux.
posted by travis08 at 10:10 AM on January 17, 2013


@pb, when I put the right side of screenshot in photoshops color picker I get #426746.
posted by travis08 at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2013


yeah, I see that in Photoshop too. I was getting the number using Mac Color Picker viewing the image in my browser. Viewing the image in Photoshop is a more accurate way to do it.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2013


color shifts can happen when you save a screenshot.

I find this very surprising. Do you know the mechanism? Compression artifact or something?
posted by stebulus at 10:23 AM on January 17, 2013


OmieWise, FWIW I have a 2-monitor setup and on one of them the two greens are virtually identical while on the other they're quite different. (It is a shitty 2-monitor setup.) So in addition to being colorblind your screen may be poorly calibrated.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2013


One idea: Is the entire page being highlighted accidentally? For example, if you click Command+A while viewing a page in Safari, it will highlight all of the text on the page. The default color for text highlighting is Blue, but you can change this in your system preferences to Silver or Graphite which might make it look more like the color on the left in the screenshot.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:28 AM on January 17, 2013


Do you know the mechanism? Compression artifact or something?

Well, I just mean sharing a screenshot on the web isn't perfect. I was getting some shifted colors because I was testing the colors in an image in a browser, which has its own color management system. So the shift was happening in the browser.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This may be a reflection of the current state of my life, but I'm finding this to be a super interesting mystery.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find this very surprising. Do you know the mechanism? Compression artifact or something?

Color profiles.
posted by ook at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK, it just got a little more interesting. It only happens when the page is opened into a new tab. Both with a right click "open in new tab" and with a command/click.
posted by travis08 at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013


Do you have a different browser you can try, see if it's Safari that's the culprit?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2013


I find this very surprising. Do you know the mechanism? Compression artifact or something?

Screenshot gnomes are very lazy.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Silly little video showing how I can change color back by selecting text. Might be hard to see.
posted by travis08 at 10:46 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now that I am looking for it when opening in a new tab I see it happens on many different sites. Just was very noticeable on the Green.

Here is someone else mentioning it at apple forum.

Well at least I got to hear some Ned's Atomic Dustbin.
posted by travis08 at 10:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm also seeing a similar issue using Safari on Mac OS 10.8, although not quite such a drastic contrast as in travis08's screenshot. When I load AskMe questions in new tabs, pages on AskMe will be a slightly richer, bluer shade of green, but if I scroll down the newly revealed portions of a page be the usual shade (checking the color value in a screenshot) below the original bottom of the window. Selecting the text in the top color will also cause it to revert to normal, as will reloading the page.

Seems unlikely that something MetaFilter is doing could cause this; I assume it's a Safari bug.

I haven't noticed the problem on any other sites, but it could be that their professional white backgrounds make the issue less noticeable.
posted by JiBB at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2013


Weird! That video is kind of mindblowing.
posted by Phire at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2013


According to some folks in that Apple forum thread, this is a problem with the way Safari handles custom color profiles. Have you ever calibrated your display, travis08? If so, I wonder if going back to the default display profile will fix this up for you. I have a custom display profile and I'm not seeing this problem.

I don't think there's anything we can do on this end to fix it. If it's really a pain you could always switch to the plain theme where it won't be as noticeable.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:15 AM on January 17, 2013


Well at least I got to hear some Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

Thanks for looking on the bright side. This is so odd.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:24 AM on January 17, 2013


Strange. With the embedded colour profile (Apple "Display" D65 Daylight,) the right side of your image reads to me as #426746. Converted to sRGB, the right side reads, perhaps more accurately, as #246945.
posted by Lorin at 11:28 AM on January 17, 2013


If you two-finger swipe the browser window in Safari to the left or right, it is a way to go backwards and forwards through your browsing history (within that tab). Safari caches a screenshot of the pages in your history so that you have something to look at when doing the swipe action. The screenshot itself could have compression artifacts (which can affect the image's color table), but the page should reload when the swipe action is complete (i.e., you lift your fingers off the trackpad). Maybe something is going on where you have a compressed screenshot on a page like AskMe, which isn't being reloaded properly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm also colorblind and can't see a difference. :)

Hey Omiewise, (out of curiosity,) do certain skin tones look green to you too?
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2013


No, I don't think so...but the truth is that with things like skin color, where on the one hand the color is understood, and on the other it's not fully (what I'll call) saturated, a lot of times I don't really "see" it, as in consciously have an opinion about what it is. I have the same problem with metallic colors, as on some car finishes. I do know that I see grass as orange.
posted by OmieWise at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2013


Fascinating. I have the same problem with metallics.

Generally, I am usually okay at picking out bright / vivid colors, but the moment they fade toward pastels they become difficult to discern. For the most part, I can't see purple. Grass is green to my eyes. And green traffic lights are white.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on January 17, 2013


I have this same problem (sorry, no screenshots). It often manifests itself with vertical scrolling - there will literally be a line on the page I can move back and forth, and expose/hide with no changes. It's definitely a Safari bug.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 1:41 PM on January 17, 2013


Wow brains are weird. Those greens are about as different as yellow and orange so I can't wrap my head around not being able to tell the difference.
posted by Justinian at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2013


For me (and most colorblind people,) it's actually an eye thing, not a brain thing. Cone cell issue.
posted by zarq at 1:59 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup, colorblind dude and those look the same for me too, so I got your back OmieWise. It was years before I could detect the subtle difference between blue and purple (or between fully saturated yellows and greens). When I was a kid I thought traffic-light green was basically white. Anyway, in case you are feeling depressed about it, it turns out our crew might be a little better at some types of edge detection.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2013


en forme de poire: "Anyway, in case you are feeling depressed about it, it turns out our crew might be a little better at some types of edge detection."

Camouflage!
posted by zarq at 2:17 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


zarq, that's awesome!
posted by en forme de poire at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2013


Just to be clear, for me AskMe has always looked the color people are describing as dull and washed-out (the one one the left), not the color that is bright and vibrant (the one on the right). Have I been seeing the Eeyore version all along when everyone else has had the emerald field of green?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This also happens in a two-monitor setup when the monitors are profiled. OSX renders the entire application window to the colour profile of the monitor the window is overlapping the most. So you can change colours by dragging a window from 40%/60% to 60%/40% screen coverage. Whichever monitor has the most coverage will have the "correct" colours.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2013


en forme de poire: "zarq, that's awesome!"

It is, isn't it? Such a weird quirk. More on this from The Straight Dope.
posted by zarq at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I must be partially colorblind, because they look more or less the same to me, except for the visible seam.

I too am intrigued by this, especially because I'm not seeing any color change at all on my 10.8 system, and I do have custom color profiles enabled. Safari and Chrome both show the background color as (66, 103, 70), which is exactly the same as what's specified on the stylesheet, so I'm pretty sure OSX's screenshot utility is just outputting straight RGB.

The left side of the problematic screenshot is (63, 102, 74), which is close but not the same.

One thing the OP can try: type "defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1" in Terminal, relaunch Safari, and then poke around in the Debug menu. Notably there's the "Force Repaint" option and also stuff under "Drawing/Compositing Flags", including turning off the GPU. Maybe it's the GPU compositing that's causing this somehow.
posted by neckro23 at 3:43 PM on January 17, 2013


I sometimes get two different shades of green at once.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:46 PM on January 17, 2013


Yes! The corpse in the library has illustrated what I was talking about.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:56 PM on January 17, 2013


Wow, AskMe has the world's first CSS poltergeist.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:38 PM on January 17, 2013


Now y'all have me wanting a green little sister.
posted by deborah at 8:40 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"PANTONE is secretly in charge of the green."

PANTONE < PANTTWO
posted by Eideteker at 10:57 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is also a Stylish script out there for better contrast which makes the blue, green, and gray darker. I'm using it. When I browse from a computer that doesn't have this stylish script installed, it always startles me.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


PANTONE

There was a fish in my Pant One, so now I'm PANT NONE, AM I RITE?
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:34 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ever since Ask opened it's been the Faded Green for me.

That.... that's not how it's supposed to be? I like that green!
posted by cmyk at 8:51 AM on January 18, 2013


I'd like to hear from rgb on this matter too.
posted by stebulus at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2013


I have this too in Safari. I thought I was going a little crazy.
posted by loulou718 at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2013


Me too. Safari on an Air, a retina MBP and a regular thunderbolt. I always wonder but never investigate.
posted by dame at 11:41 PM on January 19, 2013


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