Web Excursions 2021-06-18

The most copied StackOverflow snippet of all time is flawed

Key Takeaways

  • Stack Overflow snippets can be buggy, even if they have thousands of upvotes.

  • Test all edge cases, especially for code copied from Stack Overflow.

  • Floating-point arithmetic is hard.

  • Do include proper attribution when copying code. Someone might just call you out on it.

  • [In 2018, a] PhD student by the name Sebastian Baltes publishes a paper in the journal of Empirical Software Engineering.

  • As part of their analysis

  • No, most people do not include proper attribution.

  • That answer at the top with id 3758880 happens to be the answer [the author] had posted eight years earlier.

    • At this point the answer had over a hundreds of thousands of views and over a thousand upvotes.

The most copied StackOverflow snippet of all time is flawed (2019)

  • ddlatham [the author of #6 on the said list]: Having a person's name attached to their answer, along with a visible score really gives a sense of ownership.

    • As a result, other people don't feel enabled to come along and tweak the answer to improve it.

    • Once an answer is listed at the top, it is given more opportunity for upvotes, so other improved answers don't seem to bubble up.

    • To measure the quality of an item, we should look at the number of votes, divided by the number of views.

  • jsmeaton: "The community" [should be able to] vote to override an accepted answer. It'd incentivise writing newer answers to older questions.

  • saganus: I can't sort answers [on SO] by newest first.

    • apnorton: There are three buttons that act as sorting directions at the top of the answers section: "Votes," "Oldest," and "Active." The "Active" option sorts by most recently modified, which is usually what you'd want instead of strictly newest.