13
\$\begingroup\$

This post is likely of interest only to those who are curious about networking and security protocols, or Stack Exchange infrastructure projects.

Or those wondering if they were only merely imagining the URL being different at some point.

As part of upgrading the entire Stack Exchange network to use secure HTTPS links internally, our meta site has had a very tiny move to a slightly different URL. You probably won't even notice because all the buttons and even in-post URLs have been updated,* but anyone who's in the habit of typing in the URL manually (other people do that too, right? … no? okay) will eventually have to adjust their muscle memory.

Instead of meta.rpg.stackexchange.com, our meta is now at rpg.meta.stackexchange.com. Just the meta and rpg have swapped places. Trying to visit the old domain name now receives a redirect — that is, it tells browsers to go away and automatically visit the HTTPS-enabled domain name instead.

Why? Because of the way security certificates work, only one (costly, fragile) certificate is needed for all *.meta.stackexchange.com sites, but every meta.*.stackexchange.com site would have to have its own and there are just too many of those for SE to be able to manage that many certificates. Hence the move to put all the metas on one mega-meta domain name.

More details for the curious and network-geeky at Network-wide HTTPS: It's time, and background on why the domain name polka is happening is in Nick Craver's 2013 blogpost, “Stackoverflow.com: the road to SSL”.

* But existing meta links in comments haven't been automatically updated yet. Those are apparently going to be done in a separate step a while later.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I recommend this for [featured]. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 16 '17 at 23:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I waffled on that a bit. In the end I figured it's such inside baseball that only those who frequent meta or notice it in chat would have a chance of being interested, rather than putting it in front of every mainsite visitor, but I'm not super-decided against a [featured] tag. Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 16 '17 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ No harm in making it featured; it's a significant site change & even the non-savvy might wonder why they thought it was once meta.rpg. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 17 '17 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener That's a point. And it just occurred to me that if anyone is using things like HTTPS Everywhere, they'll be interested even if they're not meta regulars. Thanks for the thoughts! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 17 '17 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Oh yeah, that last edit is a great reason to feature this too. Didn't think of that audience. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 17 '17 at 1:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Apparently meta.rpg.stackexchange.com already redirects to rpg.meta.stackexchange.com, and I expect it'll stay that way because old links to the per-site metas are all over the web. But of course, those old hostnames won't work properly with HTTPS (for reasons explained e.g. in this old blog post by Nick Craver). \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Mar 20 '17 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen Thanks, post updated! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 20 '17 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen Sweet! Will keep doing that then ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Mar 26 '17 at 7:41
3
\$\begingroup\$

Wow, this actually is going to have a significant negative effect on me. I can no longer use Ctrl+T m Enter to go to Meta, or Ctrl+T m Tab to use Meta’s search.

Shouldn’t the certificate for rpg.stackexchange.com (there is going to be one of those, right?) cover meta.rpg.stackexchange.com too?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ IIRC, rpg.stackexchange.com is covered by the cert for stackexchange.com, but (because people have abused it and so we can't have nice things) browsers no longer accept certs for *.*.certified-domain.com, so that cert doesn't actually cover meta.rpg.stackexchange.com. Thus either every SE needs its own cert (determined to be not scalable) or every meta needs to move to a direct subdomain of a subdomain with a cert (i.e., meta.stackexchange.com). There's an older long MSE post about these nuts and bolts somewhere, but I've been having a hard time finding it again. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 18 '17 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen Yesss, that's the one! I'm going to link that in the OP as “more information”. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 20 '17 at 20:44
1
\$\begingroup\$

:( I was hoping the original post on this was right and the stack overflow language adaptations would be saddled with *.meta.etc while we would keep meta.*.etc . I often get to meta by prepending 'meta.' to whatever page I'm on so as to change sites relatively quickly.

It's not that big a deal, and I guess the security benefits are probably important, but it is still annoying.


Actually, according to @Ilmari Karonen, it's likely that the redirect from meta.* to our new address will be kept around indefinitely. So we can keep using that format to access the site ^^ Yay!

\$\endgroup\$

You must log in to answer this question.

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