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The exact origins of creepypasta are unknown. Early creepypastas were usually written anonymously and routinely re-posted, making the history of the genre difficult to study. Jessica Roy, writing for Time, argued that creepypastas emerged in the 1990s when the text of chain emails was reposted on internet forums and Usenet groups. Aja Romano, writing for the Daily Dot, stated that Ted the Caver was arguably the earliest example of creepypasta. The story, posted on Angelfire in 2001, was written in the first person from the perspective of Ted as he and several friends explored an increasingly frightening cave system.
Many early creepypastas consisted of rituals, personal anecdotes and urban legends such as Polybius and Bunny Man. Darcie Nadel, writing for TurboNews, argued that these early creepypastas had to be somewhat believable and realistic to be re-posted. Many of the earliest creepypastas were created on the /x/ board of 4chan, which focused on the paranormal.
Major dedicated creepypasta websites started to emerge in the late 2000s to early 2010s: Creepypasta.com was created in 2008, while the Creepypasta Wiki and r/NoSleep (a Reddit forum, or subreddit) were both created in 2010. The websites created a permanent archive of creepypasta, which profoundly impacted the genre. Many authors started using creepypasta characters in their own stories, which resulted in the development of continuities encompassing numerous works.
The definition of creepypasta has expanded over time to include most horror stories written on the internet. Over time, authorship has become increasingly important: many creepypastas are written by named authors rather than by anonymous individuals. Many of these authors attempt to achieve notice through their creepypasta. The copying and pasting of creepypastas has become less common over time; doing so is seen as intellectual theft by many members of the creepypasta community.