The bug would be about $hotlink(word) not stripping to me, not $1 stripping.
I can only imagine $hotlink(word) meant to be the same as $1.
In fact this non stripping version will also cause the position to be different in some cases ($hotlink(word).pos vs $hotlinepos).
I was just testing $hotlink etc and I ended up with this code:
if ($hotlink(word) != $1) echo -s $v1 $v2 -- more debug here
And I discovered to my surprised that I was getting echo in status windows when hovering lines in channel: default quit messages from users have a $chr(15) right before the closing ')'
Like I said, it might be useful to someone to have a stripped version and a non stripped version to play with, for example if we had only a non stripped version and we wanted to use a stripped version in our script, if we were to just use $strip($hotlink(word)), well we can't just $strip($hotlink(word).pos) so we would have to parse the word ourself etc which is not trivial. That being said I never saw anyone needing a non stripped version of the word (which is all we had before).