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These two commands seem identical to me. What am I missing?

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    Did you ask C-h f? – Drew Nov 30 '16 at 14:05
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Documentation for kill-ring-save:

[...] This command is similar to ‘copy-region-as-kill’, except that it gives visual feedback indicating the extent of the region being copied.

Documentation for copy-region-as-kill:

[...] This command’s old key binding has been given to ‘kill-ring-save’.

You can use C-h f <function-name> to show the help of the function.

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