Pastebin use on FLOSS social media, and the downsides

A pastebin is a web site where developers can paste in some code, get back a URL, and then share that with others. The usage of pastebins is handy for IRC chat or in email, when a lot of source code will look ugly or be unformatted. However, the pastebin URLs disappear over time and this presents a problem for those of us who collect old data, or want to study the software evolution.

My former student Amber Smith (Elon, '14) and I wrote a paper investigating the rise of the pastebin as it is used in FLOSS mailing lists specifically. We wanted to know how they developed and whether their adoption curve followed classic Diffusion of Innovation theory. We also wondered how different types of pastebins evolved differently, and whether there was pushback about using them.

The paper was presented at OSS2015 in Florence May 16-17. Get the paper over at the!