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Is the "routine maintenance" periodical (or on some sort of schedule)? If so, how often is it? What is the MSO maintenance timetable?

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I guess my point was I'm not really sure what you're asking. About 99% of your question is taken up by a massive picture. Is your question: "What is the maintenance timetable"? If so could you make this clearer? I suspect it's not actual maintenance but the devs pushing a new version. – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 10 '12 at 14:39
Yes, that's what I would like to know. I edited to clarify. – American Luke Dec 10 '12 at 14:41
A bit too localized, no? – casperOne Dec 10 '12 at 14:44
Everybody's getting sidetracked by the part about the last maintenance period. Perhaps I should edit that part out... – American Luke Dec 10 '12 at 14:45
I don't understand the picture in the post (I've seen it when meta goes offline however don't understand the humor). Looks like I'm an impecile. xD After posting the comment I understood that that's the words play on MEAT is murder. LOL – bahrep Dec 10 '12 at 14:50
Read Tiny Tim's post. First time I heard that too. – American Luke Dec 10 '12 at 14:51
I think you meant Tiny Tim Post's Post :P Go ahead, I've lived with the name the whole time I've been posting things on the Internet. I don't mind, honestly. – Tim Post Dec 10 '12 at 14:53
I initially voted to close this as "not constructive", but I think it's fine in it's current state, and the answer by Tim Post is very informative for people that are unfamiliar with the outage process (as well as the joke being made by the downtime image). Voted to reopen. – jadarnel27 Dec 10 '12 at 16:00
What do you mean, "how often"? Meta always means murder, even when the system isn't showing you an informative graphical reminder of that fact. – Pops Dec 10 '12 at 21:53
up vote 19 down vote accepted

All Stack Exchange sites go offline for a short period of time during a routine maintenance cycle. Each site shows a different message when this happens. This can also be shown when developers are working on the sites.

The image you posted was originally "Meat Means Murder", which was altered to read "Meta Means Murder", as users tend to be a bit more passionate when voting and commenting here - or at least that's how it's used. Jeff Atwood resisted the creation of a meta site at all, the image came from a blog post he wrote after finally caving in and creating one.

I believe the sites are checked on a schedule to see if maintenance is needed, but actually going off line isn't really predictable, as far as I know.

In any event, it's perfectly normal. No cause for alarm. Planned protracted outages usually follow advanced notice, via a system message bar at the top of the page, a blog post, or both. Unplanned down time that might persist is usually accompanied by a blog post, or updates from individual Twitter accounts belonging to developers.

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I always felt "Meta Means Murder" meant that your productivity was being murdered. Rather than actually participating on Stack Overflow we are simply talking about it. I guess passionate voting and commenting could also work though... – Lix Dec 10 '12 at 15:04
I just figured it meant to be careful what and how you post, or your reputation will get murdered ;) Voting (and sometimes users) on MSO can be ruthless to those that don't know the rules – Rachel Dec 10 '12 at 15:18
@Rachel It originally came from a blog post Jeff wrote after he finally caved in and made a Meta site. But yeah, it basically been used since to describe exactly what you said. Meta is a very strange place. – Tim Post Dec 10 '12 at 15:30
'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.' – Benjol Dec 11 '12 at 6:43

This is usually result of a new build rolling into the system, sometimes getting a few bumps on the road.

There is a new build periodically (I think even every day) you can see the current build/revision in the bottom right part of each page:

This consists of the date released (Dec 10, 2012) and the revision number. (556)

Usually it goes smoothly but sometimes when moving to new revision there will be short downtime as a result, the developers can't always predict that and even so, I don't think we need to know in advance about short downtime.

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