My name is David, I am the Senior Data Analyst on the Marketing team of Stack Exchange. I am new to the team but am not new to copying from Stack Overflow. I am very excited to share my first community-facing analysis. Expect more to come!

As I am sure many of you saw, this year’s April Fools joke was to limit the number of copies someone could make from Stack Overflow. Although it started as a joke, we finally had the opportunity to answer many longstanding questions about user behavior. Take a look at our new blog post How often do people actually copy and paste from Stack Overflow? Now we know. to see what we found out.

Running this year’s joke was a team effort, and my responsibility was to analyze the millions of copy events we captured. Feel free to ask me anything or add your opinion on how you interpret the results.

  • 2
    Was this SO only - or was there analytics elsewhere on the network?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 19, 2021 at 15:36
  • 2
    SO only for this analysis. But we are exploring how these events can be valuable on other networks and in SO for Teams.
    – David Staff
    Apr 19, 2021 at 15:40
  • 9
    You know what happens when they copy/paste too eagerly ... Also, welcome to Meta Stack Exchange. Nice first post!
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Apr 19, 2021 at 15:44
  • 1
    Linux has a selection clipboard, which is the clipboard used to store selected text, which can be inserted by middle clicking. It’s also possible to copy by drag-and-drop. These events have not been captured, right? Also, funny to see that the mentioned answer with a score of −2 has gained six upvotes since the blog post has been published. Apr 19, 2021 at 18:09
  • 1
    @SebastianSimon, I was waiting to see how the blog post was going to impact some of the answers I mentioned!
    – David Staff
    Apr 19, 2021 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


Since this tracking ran from March 26th 2021 to April 9th 2021, it includes the timeframe in which the April Fools joke was up.

Was there any noticeable change in copy-pastes while the April Fools popup was live, from people just trying to see the joke for themselves?

  • 13
    That was my hypothesis but it was actually the opposite. While the joke was live we did see slightly more web traffic but did not see more copies. Maybe people took the joke seriously and limited their copies to just 3...
    – David Staff
    Apr 19, 2021 at 17:04

: The first graph is misleading (or mislabeled): Why do the groups in the first graph go 0, 1-5, 6-25, 26-100, 10-1000?

Then, the next graph is from 0-5000, which was also a little jarring.

There’s also one big unanswered question: Given the experiment ran for 2 weeks, how was reputation recorded for those had changes? (It would also be interesting to see the results by delta reputation.)

  • 5
    Thanks for catching that! 101-1000 was mislabeled but is now updated. The reputation recorded was a users max rep during that time.
    – David Staff
    Apr 19, 2021 at 16:50

I'd like to have badges!

  • Copycat: bronze badge. Copy 3 chunks of code. (i.e. only something inside code block)
  • Copywriter: silver badge. Copy 10 chunks of code. (i.e. only something inside code block)
  • Copymaster: gold badge. Copy 100 chunks of code. (i.e. only something inside code block)



You should conduct this analysis again, this time without telling anyone. When you did it like this, it created two problems:

  • People might copy three times just to see what would happen when you ran out
  • Others might think that they actually were running out of copies, and use them sparingly
  • 10
    The analysis was run over a period of two weeks, starting before anyone even knew about the April Fools joke. Even during and after that, no one was told they were collecting this data, so no one was told before this post went live. Also, David's comment here already addresses that there was almost no impact on the amount of copies made while the April Fool's joke was running.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 20, 2021 at 12:35
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell This still could've been impacted by the joke, especially for unregistered users.
    – Anonymous
    Apr 20, 2021 at 12:39
  • @Ano Good point. Some ppl mightn't know that it was a fake April Fools' joke. Apr 25, 2021 at 15:15

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