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.
meta.rpg.stackexchange.com, our meta is now at
rpg.meta.stackexchange.com. Just the
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.