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A simple string of “and”s seem to crash Google Docs pages | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge | #hacking | #aihp



And. And. And. And. And. 

For whatever reason that specific string of words seems to be enough to permanently brick a Google Docs page. Noted Google’s support pages mere hours ago, the poster who seemingly discovered this unusual bug is quick to point out that the series of five conjunctions, separated by periods, is case-sensitive (at least if the goal is to cause the document in question to become unusable.) 

Engadget was able to confirm the issue on a 16-inch 2019 MacBook Pro running Monteray 12.3.1 and Google Chrome 100.0.4896.127… and we were summarily greeted by the “Something went wrong” popover as well as its loathsome cousin “Unable to load file.” Reloading the page as prompted results in the same popovers. In effect, a death loop. 

Attempts to replicate the issue on Firefox 99.0.1 on a (significantly older, worse) MacBook Pro running Big Sur 11.1 were not successful but a respondent on the Google Support forums claims to have experienced the same problem on the same version of FireFox. 

What exactly is happening here remains a mystery, though we’ve reached out for clarity on what is likely a small if amusing technical oversight. How this bug was even discovered is itself an enigma, given that there’s rarely cause to pile a slew of Ands on top of each other like this. Project Gutenberg turned up no instances in its database, while a (cursory) search through Google Books produced at least one example — seemingly meant to reproduce the effect of stammering — though it did quite meet the punctuation or capitalization criteria. We’ll update should we hear back. 

Update 5/5/2022 6:00pm: Well, nothing from Google just yet, but a reader reached out on Twitter to illuminate how the and-polypse was found in the first place: poetry! A Hacker News user (who shares the same name as the Google Support poster and is, in all likeliness, the same person) writes: “Discovered by Eliza Callahan triggered by a poem in the middle of her novel. (Friend of a coworker).” 

That poem’s been posted online here if you feel inclined to read it — though the site it’s hosted on notes the novel is “forthcoming.” Here’s hoping the draft was recoverable, Eliza! 

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