CopypastaCopypasta or short for copy and paste (copy paste or copy pasted) or for copy and pasting (copy pasting or copying and pasting), is internet slang for any piece of content that gets copied and pasted again and again, typically disseminated by people through online discussion forums and social networking sites. Although sometimes it contains truthful information, it is often accompanied by an attempt to pass off the contents as new and original. The copy pasted material may come from other authors or websites. These copy pasted materials often lack citations or link(s) to the source, which may be viewed as a deliberate attempt by the culprit to steal other people’s ideas or content/material.

In spite of the fact that it shares some characteristics with spam in the sense that they are both unsolicited (and often considered an annoyance), copypastas are primarily disseminated by human operators whereas the latter is automatically generated by electronic messaging systems or spambots.

Origin of Copypasta

The word copypasta is believed to have been coined by 4chan‘s Anon (Anonymous) community sometime around 2006.

However, this straightforward idea of manually copying content from one place and pasting it elsewhere has long been practiced, probably dating back since the innovation of basic text-editing softwares in the early 1980s. This became widespread and were subject to abuse in the early 1990s, when there was a rise in spamming.

It was Lawrence G. Tesler (Larry Tester), a computer scientist, who proposed the names cut, copy, and paste. Beginning in 1974, he and his colleagues at Xerox Corporation Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) implemented several text editors that utilize the cut/copy (first step) and paste (second step) commands to move texts. He is considered as a pioneer of the copy/cut and paste commands.

Internet Ethics

While copypasta may be invoked for fun purposes, copying and pasting content written by other authors without crediting them can be considered as unethical. It can also be a nuisance, most especially if the copypasta poster don’t really have any idea of his own (or have any idea of what he is copy pasting), and just prefers to steal and ride with other people’s ideas so to look smart. In reality, this can be viewed as dumb and it does not bring good impact to the poster. On the other hand, it can be used as good information providing there is a link to a credible source or a good reference.

Copypasta is almost similar to spam. And while spam is disseminated by a spam robot, a copypasta is disseminated by a human who acts like a robot.

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