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A Read-only Buffer

The asterisk is for the situation when the buffer is a read-only buffer--a buffer that cannot be modified. If insert-buffer is called on a buffer that is read-only, a message to this effect is printed in the echo area and the terminal may beep or blink at you; you will not be permitted to insert anything into current buffer. The asterisk does not need to be followed by a newline to separate it from the next argument.