@esiao, thanks for the tip about the profile image, will come handy.
I am still working on getting the contrast and color fixed. I will relook at the header and conversation boxes. The problem with my version of minimalist and subtle use of color is when I revisit the design 2 months later, it looks to too stark, bare bones, and bland.
The tags are challenging from a design perspective. I tried border only, with no background color, and text and border in various colors, but it is not looking right.
I moved the tags extreme left under the topic titles, and is not really making much of a difference. They are better on the right.