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May 27 2013

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LMGTFY is the new RTFM

Back in the day, questions aimed at technical mailing lists or usenet news sometimes attracted the response “RTFM”. Personally, I always found that sort of reply both rude and somewhat arrogant. Often the questioner was obviously new to the topic under discussion and really wanted to know how to solve his or her particular problem. The fact that the same (or very similar) question had sometimes been answered many times in the past, or had really been well covered in the documentation usually led to the publication of FAQ lists. Unfortunately, this could then lead to responses along the lines of RTFFAQ – only marginally more helpful that RTFM, and just as rude in my view. This sort of response was once distressingly common on technical mailing lists where the respondent seemed more interested in showing off than in actually helping a fellow user.

Of late the smart-alecs seem to prefer LMGTFY in their responses. Admittedly, some of the questions I have seen which elicited this sort of response could really have been answered quite quickly if the questioner had bothered to type the obvious query into the search engine of their choice. And it is not as if anyone using the web can claim not to understand how to use a search engine. But I still think a LMGTFY response smacks of arrogance. Along with answering the question, the respondent is effectively saying “Look, you are obviously too stupid to use google, so I’ll do it for you”. Instead of actually using google and passing that search URL back, they deliberately use a secondary site which aims to insult by including in its name a condescending reference to the fact that the respondent does know how to use google and has done it for the questioner. Bad manners.

If you really want to be ill mannered and arrogant, you should choose something like jfgi.com. That way the questioner will be left in no doubt about your intentions. Of course, it will also prove to others that you are an idiot.

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