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In the toolbar at the top of stackoverflow.com, the link to meta.stackoverflow.com has the text "meta", while the corresponding link on meta.stackoverflow.com which links to stackoverflow.com has the text "main". Why? Seems to be plenty of space there for "stackoverflow". Unless you're a regular visitor, "main" doesn't really tell you where it's linking to.

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It's "meta" and "main" for all sites. –  ChrisF Jun 25 '12 at 18:54
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They don't even have enough room to fit "tools" and "review" at the same time, so I'm pretty sure they don't want to add "Stack Overflow" –  Michael Mrozek Jun 25 '12 at 19:07
    
Ummmm....because the main site is not the same as the meta site. –  Jack Maney Jun 25 '12 at 21:10
    
My point is really, why not just have the link text say something more descriptive like "stackoverflow" instead of just "main"? –  j08691 Jun 25 '12 at 21:25
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@j08691 because it's obvious what the parent site is - anywhere you look it say meta stackoverflow –  Shadow Wizard Jun 25 '12 at 21:29
    
In your example, the user is not logged in. Remember that usernames can be quite long, rendering any additional space at a huge premium across the top. For the rest, I'll refer you to the answers below. –  Robert Cartaino Jun 26 '12 at 2:14
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2 Answers

Because it's categorically called the "main site".

Originally this link was called "parent" (where the meta site was the child), but at some point of time it was changed to "main" instead.

My point is really, why not just have the link text say something more descriptive like "stackoverflow" instead of just "main"?

Because it's too long. See kiamlaluno's answer.

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Child? So Meta was the product of SO during a drunken romp? Sounds about right. –  Ben Brocka Jun 25 '12 at 18:59
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The fact is that those links are used for every Stack Exchange sites, and it makes more sense to use the same string for all the sites.
In this way, when users get used to the links shown in a Stack Exchange site, they are also used to the links shown in other Stack Exchange sites as well. They just learn that "meta" takes to the meta site, and "main" takes from the meta site to the site associated with it (which is normally referred as "the main site").

On Stack Overflow, the choice is between "main" and "Stack Overflow"; consider the alternatives to "main" for the following sites:

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Don't forget Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair –  Ben Brocka Jun 25 '12 at 21:43
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