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April Fools' copy-paste button for lazy programmers now actually for sale

A prank on the Stack Overflow site becomes a real product.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Stack Overflow copy-paste buttons

Stack Overflow's copy-paste keyboard, an April Fools' Day prank that ribbed lazy programmers, is now actually for sale.

Stack Overflow

You have to be careful not to be tricked by the tech world's April Fools' Day fabrications, but on Tuesday, one prank product became real.

It's been a joke in programming circles for years: Instead of writing your code from scratch, just head over to the Stack Overflow forums and copy the way another programmer already solved your problem. The meme is such a fixture that Stack Overflow turned it into an April Fools' Day prank this year, saying it would limit free access to its site unless people bought The Key, a device with buttons just copying and pasting.

Enough people said they'd actually buy one that Stack Overflow, with help from keyboard aficionado Cassidy Williams and custom keyboard maker Drop, designed one for real and began selling it for $29. A portion of the keyboard sales' proceeds will go to Digitalundivided, a nonprofit set up to help Black and Latinx women succeed as technology entrepreneurs.

"Good artists copy, great artists steal, but [the] greatest artists copy, then paste," said Ben Popper, Stack Overflow's director of content, in a blog post.

Copying and pasting from Stack Overflow is in fact a widespread practice, as the company showed during the April Fools' event. 

"One out of every four users who visits a Stack Overflow question copies something within five minutes of hitting the page. That adds up to 40,623,987 copies across 7,305,042 posts and comments between March 26th and April 9," Stack Overflow said in April. "Knowledge reuse isn't a bad thing -- it helps you learn, get working code faster, and reduces your frustration."