What is Pastebin?

With the advent of computers there were also programmers. These programmers developed lines and lines of code that needed to be tweaked and edited over and over to ensure debugging and clean code. As with any written project, it is often better to get a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes to look at something to see what the original writer might be missing. With the booming internet there was a venue in which these programmers to introduce their ideas (lines of code) to others to help with the debugging and refinement process. In 2002 Pastebin.com introduced an application, a pastebin, in which programmers could collaborate with, not only one other, but with programmers all over the world if they chose too. A pastebin is simply a website application where a collection of text can be stored for a specific amount of time, as determined by the site being used and the user. This can be any type of text, but is more commonly used as a debugging or sounding board tool for programmers. The application is also often used to circumvent the 140 character limitation for micro blogging sites, such as Twitter.com.

Unfortunately, as with most tools, there has been abuse. Because such a large amount of text could be shared anonymously, it was used to share identifying information, malware program coding, and spamming. One highly covered event was the distribution of 20,000 hotmail, a free e-mail web service, passwords were distributed via Pastebin.com. This event caused the owner to temporarily shut down the site to develop more filters to prevent this kind of event from happening again. Some steps taken were: account flagging by users, and IP banning when an exceptionally high volume of traffic is present for a specific pastebin.

Despite these hindrances, pastbins are still one of the more common ways to share information between programmers. Since the line of code can be directly edited and then shared as a separate URL it is a popular way to get assistance in debugging a particularly difficult line of code. If used properly pastebins can be an excellent source of creativity for programming think tanks. It has become such a common part of sharing information between programmers has become a verb for sharing lines of code. Where celebrities may ‘tweet’ what they had for breakfast; a programmer will ‘pastebin’ what he/she wrote the day before.

Some pastebin websites are: Pastebin.com, Pastebin.ca, and Pastebin.Mozilla.org. At their base, each site offers a variety of time in which the text will be available, Pastebin.ca being the longest with out signing up for an account. On all of the sites, the information shared is public, though Pastebin.com does allow private pastes if you are a paying member of their site. Pastebin.ca is the only site to offer encryption. Pastebin.ca and Pastebin.com show posts by other users. If you look at those posts you will find that Pastebin.com is more commonly used for programmers whereas Pastebin.ca is more commonly used to share textual information that is not coding. Finally, Pastebin.com is the only site in which you can ensure your coding stays yours and is not considered public domain once pasted.