Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/128440
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Type: Conference paper
Title: 9.6 million links in source code comments: purpose, evolution, and decay
Author: Hata, H.
Treude, C.
Kula, R.
Ishio, T.
Citation: Proceedings: 2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering: ICSE 2019, 2019 / vol.2019-May, pp.1211-1221
Publisher: IEEE
Publisher Place: online
Issue Date: 2019
Series/Report no.: International Conference on Software Engineering
ISBN: 9781728108698
ISSN: 0270-5257
Conference Name: IEEE/ACM International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) (25 May 2019 - 31 May 2019 : Montreal, Canada)
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Hideaki Hata, Christoph Treude, Raula Gaikovina Kula, Takashi Ishio
Abstract: Links are an essential feature of the World Wide Web, and source code repositories are no exception. However, despite their many undisputed benefits, links can suffer from decay, insufficient versioning, and lack of bidirectional traceability. In this paper, we investigate the role of links contained in source code comments from these perspectives. We conducted a large-scale study of around 9.6 million links to establish their prevalence, and we used a mixed-methods approach to identify the links' targets, purposes, decay, and evolutionary aspects. We found that links are prevalent in source code repositories, that licenses, software homepages, and specifications are common types of link targets, and that links are often included to provide metadata or attribution. Links are rarely updated, but many link targets evolve. Almost 10% of the links included in source code comments are dead. We then submitted a batch of link-fixing pull requests to open source software repositories, resulting in most of our fixes being merged successfully. Our findings indicate that links in source code comments can indeed be fragile, and our work opens up avenues for future work to address these problems.
Rights: © IEEE
RMID: 1000000573
DOI: 10.1109/ICSE.2019.00123
Grant ID: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/DE180100153
Appears in Collections:Computer Science publications

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