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Goodbye, “Online.” Hello, HTTPS!

our domain in transition, showing added and removed parts

On November 7, 2014, Ethan Zuckerman announced he was going to war. The web domain we'd been lusting after for a decade was up for grabs, and come hell or high water, he was going to win it.

The domain was, which, if the world always worked in one’s favour, would have been the address visitors to the Global Voices web site saw in their browsers from the day the site launched in 2005. But back then it was owned by the civic engagement nonprofit AmericaSpeaks, who couldn’t be persuaded to sell. Our fallback was the long, unwieldy, which we grew to love even as it spilled over the edges of our business cards and caused some people to refer to us as “Global Voices Online”.

Our fearless leader, preparing for battle.

Our fearless co-founder Ethan, preparing for battle.

Over the years we kept an eye on AmericaSpeaks and that domain name of theirs. In early 2014, after learning they were closing down after 19 years, we had a few promising but ultimately fruitless conversations with the people charged with selling off AmericaSpeaks’ assets. Then came the note from Ethan on November 7, announcing that had come on the market and he was about to embark on a bidding war for it over at GoDaddy. We wished him luck and waited the next few hours with bated breath, fingers and toes crossed, clutching our respective good luck charms.

“got it”

At 6:07pm EDT that evening, an email landed in our inboxes, with the subject line “got it”. “So…,” wrote Ethan, “we're now the proud owners of”

If we didn’t all live in different parts of the world a bottle of champagne would no doubt have been uncorked, but even the virtual jubilation was loud and effervescent. Only a few weeks before we’d marked the 10th anniversary of our first ever blog post, and our official 10th birthday was just weeks away. What better 10th birthday present than to finally have our organizational and domain names in perfect alignment!

Put an S on it

Taking possession of a new domain was one thing—implementing it across our array of 30-plus linked, multilingual WordPress sites, was quite another, especially as we planned to synchronise it with the switchover from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS, a shift that had long been in the works.

WHY HTTPS? Internet traffic that flows over HTTP sites is unencrypted, which means user data and behavior can be intercepted and tracked with ease. HTTPS provides encryption by default: Content can be decrypted only by your browser, and your data cannot be easily viewed, modified or copied by eavesdroppers.

For the past several months, our Montreal-based tech lead Jeremy Clarke, with support from Carl Alexander, has been working out the intricacies and technicalities of these two unrelated but interlinked processes.

On September 15 we performed the domain migration, and in the process enabled always-on HTTPS across all our major sites. is now the address that appears in your browser when you visit Global Voices’ main English site, and subdomains such as Rising Voices and our translation sites carry as well.

Alongside this shift, Global Voices Advocacy, long known to community members and close friends by the much snappier “Advox”, had a whopping nine characters cut from its former URL and became the svelte In the coming weeks, we shall proudly adopt Advox as our official name in site brand and logo.

And our work is not yet done. Despite serving all pages as HTTPS, we know that some aspects of the cryptography in our setup still need work in order to comply with the latest security protocols. But we're proud to have taken this major step forward. We salute Ethan, Jeremy and Carl for putting in the hard work that made this happen!

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