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There are a number of questions already on SO about parsing out a URL from text (here and here are 2 OK examples I've found). Even Jeff Atwood posted a blog entry about this. These are a bit unsatisfying though and I didn't want to post a duplicate question so I wanted to turn to Meta as SO actually does this very well in their questions and answers.

What is the mechanism used by Stack Exchange to parse URLs in text in questions, answers, and comments like (, or

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