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StackOverflow’s Most Copied Java Code Snippet Has A ‘Bug’

I am sure every developer has taken some sort of help from StackOverflow, and there is no doubt that the Q&A platform for coding is a lifesaver. But not every piece of code found on the platform is safe as many of them contain bugs, and interestingly, the most copied code snippet on StackOverflow also has a bug in it!

The most copied snippet on StackOverflow is a piece of Java code that was authored by Andreas Lundblad. He is a Java developer at Palantir and one of the highest-ranked contributors to StackOverflow for programming-related topics.

In 2018, an academic paper identified the code snippet by Lundblad as the most copied Java code on StackOverflow and also one of the highly re-used ones in open source projects.

Posted in 2010, the code snippet printed byte counts (123,456,789 bytes) in a human-readable format, that is, 123.5 MB.


Nine years later, Lundblad found the flaw on his code and admitted that it incorrectly converted byte counts into human-readable formats. He acknowledged the flaw in a blog post and published a corrected version on it.

Apparently this code had been copied and included in more than 6,000 GitHub Java projects — which is more than any other StackOverflow Java snippet.


StackOverflow Code Often Has Security Flaws

Lundblad’s code contained a minor conversion bug that produced a slightly inaccurate file size, but things could become much worse if it were a major bug.

But while Lundblad’s code snippet contained a trivial conversion bug that only resulted in slightly inaccurate file size estimations, things could have been much worse.

It is now a well-known fact that copy-pasting code from StackOverflow is not the best practice, however, developers still do it.

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