Definitions

read the fucking faq!

RTFM

RTFM is an acronym for the statement "Read The Fucking Manual". This instruction is sometimes given in response to a question when the person being asked believes that the question could be easily answered by reading the relevant "manual" or instructions. It is also used to tell someone to try to help himself/herself before seeking assistance from others. In clean texts, "Read The Fine Manual" is sometimes used. On other occasions, the F is simply ignored.

More recent variants are:

  • STFW ("Search The Fucking Web")
  • GIYF ("Google Is Your Friend")
  • JFGI ("Just Fucking Google It")

Use and overuse

An Internet forum where users read the FAQ before posting their questions is more likely to have a better signal to noise ratio than one that is filled with repetitive postings, and hence is more likely to attract continued participation. When evaluating whether it is acceptable to express sentiments like RTFM, one must consider the trade-off between maintaining the usability of an Internet forum for its existing users, and making a forum welcoming to newcomers.

Critics say that frequent users of the phrase (or similar variants) are simply expressing elitism, and that their attitude drives away newcomers without helping them. Their time could better be spent adding the question and answer to a FAQ, pointing the user to a helpful website, or simply not responding. They point out that RTFM is often used when it is not even clear which manual their correspondent should be reading. One of the most frequent criticisms of the open source community is lack of friendly support for newcomers. The Ubuntu Forums and LinuxQuestions.org, for instance, have instituted "no RTFM" policies to promote a welcoming atmosphere..

This phrase is also commonly used in Massive Multiplayer Online games, from people frustrated by newbies asking how to do something that is explained in the manual.

Some hackers have suggested that in some situations "RTFM" is actually the best advice that an aspiring hacker can receive. They posit that hacking is a dynamic art which requires independence and drive on the part of the hacker, and see "RTFM" as more of a long-term advisement than it is a response to any single query. This argument is only applicable when used with other hackers, however, given that the concepts surrounding open source software are designed to be suitable for use by non-hackers. In fact, usability experts recommend designing some kind of software to be usable without a manual at all, since users don't ever actually read them. Although, of course, there is the argument that users don't read manuals because designers, knowing that users don't read them, don't bother to make them very useful. Regardless of original cause, this problem could be mitigated as the 'contextual help' paradigm comes into play.

See also

References

External links

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