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This was my second week at a new job (I'm a remote developer). I asked one of my new coworkers a question and shared my screen with him. He said "well, first you need to switch to dark mode". He uses the same software I use, but prefers a different color scheme than I do.

At first I thought he was joking and laughed it off. But he was serious. He refused to help me until I switched. So I did, and got my answer. But now I don't feel like going to him again. Am I making too much of this or should I take a stand?

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  • 9
    Did he say why he needed to see it in dark mode? Did you ask?
    – BSMP
    Mar 25, 2022 at 19:30
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    Some people, especially in the tech space, get caught up in their own dogma. I've seen people get really passionate about dark mode in particular. It's annoying.
    – Seth R
    Mar 25, 2022 at 19:31
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    "I like to help my junior co-workers when they ask, but they all use light mode, which I find very hard on my eyes. Is it acceptable to ask them to temporarily switch to dark mode so I can help them?" Mar 26, 2022 at 4:22
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    I am left handed and used a mouse. When working with a colleague who used a right handed trackball I didn't demand that he switch the setup from right to left and plug in a mouse so it would be easier for me to use. I just gritted my teeth and adjusted.
    – DaveG
    Mar 26, 2022 at 15:51
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    @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen happy to if you ask nicely.
    – Seth R
    Mar 27, 2022 at 22:15

6 Answers 6

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Am I making too much of this or should I take a stand?

Are you making too much of this? Yes.

Should you take a stand? No.

This is not a hill I would choose to die on. In your career you're going to encounter more important issues. This isn't one of them.

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Maybe, he has a vision (eye) issue with the "light" mode, and he can only read well in the dark mode. Maybe, that is the reason he prefers the dark mode. (Maybe, he did not explain the reason well enough to you).

You can switch to the dark mode when you work with him. Then, switch back to the "light" mode when you work alone.

There is no need to get into the debate of the dark vs light mode with your coworker especially when you are a new worker and he has more experience and you are asking for his help. Try to get along with the experienced coworkers if you can as this will help you a lot more down the road.

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Although I wouldn't "make a stand" about this, I would definitely consider mentioning this to your line manager (assuming it's not the person you were trying to get the help from!).

Refusing to help a new starter because they aren't going to change their colour scheme (without giving any kind of explanation as to why) - this smacks of childishness to me, and a terrible attitude for a senior colleague to have towards a new starter. Making people feel welcome and able to ask questions is an important part of onboarding and retaining new staff. Putting them off from seeking help from experienced colleagues is the complete opposite of what I'd want as a developer manager.

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  • I think explaining why should not be necessary. What's more important is how coworker asked: "switch to dark mode, now! or I won't help you!" is very different from "can you please switch to dark mode, it'll be easier for me to help you this way".
    – rvs
    Apr 1, 2022 at 11:38
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I have problems reading some people’s screens. Especially from over your shoulder, that is just the wrong distance, I have to sit at the screen. Now dark mode is something my eyes dislike, so there my complaint would go the other way round. And don’t expect me to read tiny fonts.

Summary: if I can’t read what’s on your screen, you won’t get help with it. Now I wouldn’t have said it that way. I’d have said “could you make your font larger”, and if you refused after I told you I have problems reading it, I would leave you.

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  • I can relate to this. I had one client "screen share" a large screen using smaller fonts and I was on a laptop. I could hardly read anything. Next call, I used a large monitor.
    – David R
    Mar 26, 2022 at 14:52
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If you memorize the right shortcuts, it shouldn't take you more than half a second to switch back and forth.

But now I don't feel like going to him again. Am I making too much of this or should I take a stand?

What "stand"!? If you decrease your productivity because of this, it will be 100% your fault. And if you didn't need his help, I'm not sure why you were even bothering him in the first place. I'm sure he has his own work to do.

Anyway, when you ask someone's help, you need to be gracious about it. Personally, when I ask for help, I'll adjust the font size, I'll change the colors, I'll adjust anything they want me to adjust. It's only common courtesy.

Not everyone has the same eyes.

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Surprised at some of the answers and comments here.

I can accept that people can have problems with vision, but any sane person would tell you this before asking you to change how YOU work just for their sake.

It sounds like an obnoxious power play. If an engineer can't mentor a colleague without adapting to environments, they shouldn't be a mentor. Suggesting alternatives and explaining why is the happy path. Ordering alternative approaches "because I said so" is the sad path. It'll garner a grand total of zero respect and it doesn't help anyone.

It's not a hill to die on, it's not a stance to take. It's a point of not being victim of pointless dogmatic views thrust upon you for no valid reason.

Experiment on your own terms.

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  • We have no idea how exactly the other person phrased things, only the OP’s recollection. I wouldn’t assume that was literally what they said, or that it was the entirety of what they said.
    – nobody
    Apr 5, 2022 at 2:02
  • Fair point, probably two obnoxious players, given OP wanting to take a stance. I predict fun times in that team :-)
    – Jeffrey
    Apr 8, 2022 at 14:49

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