A pastebin is a type of web application that allows its users to upload snippets of text, usually samples of source code, for public viewing. It is very popular in IRC channels where pasting large amounts of text is considered bad etiquette. A new trend is that users use Pastebin to post Twitter messages that contain more than a 140 chars. A vast number of pastebins exist on the Internet, suiting a number of different needs and providing features tailored towards the crowd they focus on most.



Pastebins similar to the ones referenced in this article have been around since at least 2002.[1] is the biggest and also one of the earliest public pastebins. Over time, many of the public pastebins have become specialized and targeted at a single group of users.[2][3] This benefits the users by letting them share code or text in a consistent and clean manner. In many cases, pastes made to pastebins are kept only for some time, usually a month. Some, however, allow for varying lengths of time anywhere from one minute to an infinite amount of time.

After 8 years, Pastebin surpassed 10 million "Active" Pastes (not spam or expired pastes).[4]

Pastebin Desktop Software has launched Pastebin Desktop software for Windows operating systems.[5] This piece of software allows users to create and manage their pastes directly from their desktop. This software has proven quite popular with programmers who want to store small code sniplets. This program has been developed by Lekë Dobruna.

Common features

Although there are literally hundreds of pastebins available, most have a common set of features. They may appear different or target a different user base, but at the core, they take an upload or text paste and provide a sharable HTTP URL that contains the body of text. A pastebin often has the capability to apply formatting and syntax highlighting to the text for easier viewing. Throughout the years, the number of languages and formatting styles has grown quickly as the Pastebin user base has grown and their needs have fanned out. A well-known highlighting software package called GeSHi supports the most common pastebins. Some of the newer pastebins provide features for comparing two or more pastes, synchronous notifications through IRC or XMPP, paste histories, encryption, password protection, and virtual subdomains. Nowadays, created pastebins allows pasted codes to be executed at server side.[6][7]

Abuse and spam

In some cases, pastebin sites have been abused as a venue in which to post personal information, such as passwords or identifiers.[8] In one such incident, media coverage of abusive postings of approximately 20,000 Hotmail passwords as part of a phishing scheme[9] led Paul Dixon, the operator of the original to temporarily close the site with the following message: " was intended as a tool to aid software developers, not for distributing this sort of material. Filters have been put in place to prevent reoccurrence, but the current traffic level is unsustainable. is just a fun side project for me, and today it's not fun. It will remain offline all day while I make some further modifications."[10]

In 2010, was sold to Jeroen Vader.[11] In May and June 2011, received what has been called "its biggest traffic in its nine year history" when it was used by hacker group LulzSec to post information connected to several of its attacks.[11]

Spam is a large problem. For the same reasons that open up the pastebins to abuse, they are easy to spam. The spambots or spammers involved in this sort of activity may not realize that most pastebins do not allow search engines to index their pages or even follow the links. This causes an extra burden on the services to provide filtering of pastes which would not accomplish the intended goal. To protect against spam, some pastebins have implemented CAPTCHAs[citation needed].

Applications in microblogging

There are some pastebins that exist specifically to surpass character limitations of microblogging services like Twitter. The idea is to save a large piece of text in a pastebin and post the URL and text excerpt to microblogging services that have character limitations.

Programming assistance features

There are specialized pastebins to assist programmers with debugging, testing, and simulation.[6][7] Using these systems, a user is able to paste a program component to the website, which will then compile or execute the software. The results of execution or compilation, such as errors, are then stored and provided to the user.

See also


  1. ^ WHOIS entry; registered September 2002
  2. ^, the first pastebin specifically geared toward Twitter users.
  3. ^, the first pastebin specifically geared toward Drupal content management system (CMS) users
  4. ^ "Pastebin Surpasses 10 Million “Active” Pastes". Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  5. ^ Pastebin Desktop software for Window; Pastebin Desktop software for Windows
  6. ^ a b provides compilers and interpreters for pastes
  7. ^ a b allows to run source code with custom input in 40 programming languages
  8. ^ Hotmail breach reveals passwords for a day, CBC News, October 5, 2009
  9. ^ Scam hits more e-mail accounts, Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, Oct 6, 2009
  10. ^ Broersma, Matthew (6 October 2009). "Phishing attack hits thousands of Hotmail accounts". ZDNet UK. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Brian, Matt (June 5, 2011). "Pastebin: How a popular code-sharing site became the ultimate hacker hangout". Retrieved 30 June 2011. 

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