Pastebin [was: Trying to make a basic Python score counter in a game... will not count.]

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Mon Dec 17 07:47:24 CET 2012

On Mon, 17 Dec 2012 07:13:44 +1100, Chris Angelico wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 5:35 AM, Ian Kelly <ian.g.kelly at>
> wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM, Kwpolska <kwpolska at> wrote:
>>> On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 6:25 PM,  <rurpy at> wrote:
>>>> On Sunday, December 16, 2012 10:09:53 AM UTC-7, Kwpolska wrote:
>>>>> PS. please do not use
>>>> Why?
> I don't understand the idea behind the boycott. Are people worried about
> the longevity of linked-to content, in the event that pastebin should,
> as you say, cease to exist tomorrow? Or is it that some won't click a
> pastebin link in case it's abusive? This isn't the sort of abuse that
> can compromise your computer.

How do you know? Between javascript and flash, just about any browser 
could be vulnerable to just about any website. You might implicitly trust 
Pastebin, but you can't possibly *know* that the site won't do bad 
things. It wouldn't be the first time that even a reputable website got 
hacked by somebody who used it to deploy malware.

But that's not why I dislike Pastebin. I argue against Pastebin because:

1) Longevity of the content. Your question is going to be around for 
much, much longer than your pastebin. People searching for help will 
click through to the pastebin and find the code is gone. It is really 
frustrating to (say) search for the solution to a problem, and find that 
the answer is given in an expired pastebin.

2) When you ask for help via email, you shouldn't assume that the people 
reading have access to the web. Perhaps they have email access, but all 
or part of the web is blocked to them. Perhaps they are reading email on 
a mobile device and don't mind paying to download a couple of KB of 
email, but draw the line at (potentially) hundreds of KB of a web page 
plus associated images, unnecessary javascript, web bugs, advertisements, 
etc. Or maybe they just don't want the context switch:

"I'm reading email right now, I'll click the link later..."

Email is a push technology. A pastebin is a pull technology. Whenever you 
require your audience to actively go and get content, you're cutting your 
audience by some fraction.

I am aware that it is irrational and silly, but for me it also has to do 
with a sense of fairness. I'm prepared to spend tens of minutes, or 
sometimes even an hour or more, solving somebody else's problem for no 
benefit except a sense of accomplishment. But ask me to click on a 
pastebin to find out what that question is, and I'm all "Why should I 
have to go out of my way to find out what your question is? You're asking 
me to do you a favour, and you're making me work to find out what the 
favour is??? Fuck you!"

But maybe that's just me :-)

I'm not saying "never use a paste bin". I think it probably makes lots of 
sense to use one in IRC, where it is inappropriate to paste more than a 
line or two of code at once, and the conversation is already ephemeral. 
But in a Usenet or email forum, I think it is almost always inappropriate 
to use paste bins. If your code is too large to paste directly in the 
body of your email, chances are it is too large to expect people to debug 
for you. But you can try adding it as an attachment (.py, not .doc), and 
only if you can't do that for some reason, then maybe a paste bin is 


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