The aim of the prank is to lead unsuspecting users into viewing Rick Asley’s 1987 pop hit called Never Gonna Give You Up, by planting the video clip’s URL code under online disputes. dqw4w9wgxcq is the URL code of the clip.
Rickrolling now is an age-old tradition on the internet, however, it’s first appearance was contested for a long time.
In 2015, a YouTuber called Hot Dad uploaded a video where he claimed that he did the very first Rickrolling back in 2006 during a regional radio broadcast show.
The pranks that included dqw4w9wgxcq, and rickrolling in general, were popularized on various threads of 4chan, starting from 2007. Users of 4chan were using the phenomenon to recreate an older bait-and-switch format called duckrolling.
After 2007 YouTube uploads started to appear that featured remixes and edits of the original video clip.
There had been several examples of live rickrolling at public events such as sports games or a scientologist rally in 2008.
The trend was so popular at the time that in 2015, mega-company Apple pranked their customers, by setting up the new Apple Watch to spell out “never gonna give you up” at one segment of the device’s tutorial.
In 2019, dqw4w9wgxcq was given an article on Urban Dictionary. The article called it “a cursed URL”.