Using Google to find answers is a good idea, but when it comes to finding answers to technical questions, hitting the documentation first is a very smart move that may save you some humiliation later on.
When you ask “obvious” questions on forums or mailing lists, there is a good chance that the more experienced forum contributors will hit you with an answer like this one: RTFM before asking dumb questions.
Tim Hall has noticed a trend in the Oracle forums:
It feels like most posters these days donâ€™t even bother to open the manuals before asking a question. I canâ€™t count the number of times Iâ€™ve been asked a question, that is answered by the first couple of paragraphs in the manual. Itâ€™s just lazy beyond words.
OK, so Tim is predicting the downfall of Oracle forums because posters don’t bother to RTFM first.
Now, with the help of Oracle Blogs Search and Google, let’s see what other bloggers have written about this subject:
I do recommend and point people to the documentation, but I donâ€™t think I give RTFM answers… I will answer with a gentle reminder such as “well, when I typed your subject into the search field, I found these 5 articles, did you see them?”.
Telling some newbie “RTFM” is an act of pure arrogance. It just feeds the respondent’s ego without helping that questioner learn anything, except maybe not to ask for help in the forum again.
Iâ€™ve just seen a note on the news group comp.databases.server.oracle advising someone to check the online manual for a piece of code to report which objects are using how much space in the buffer cache. This is the reference and this is the code… There are two flaws with this code – it gets the wrong results, and itâ€™s inefficient.
RTFM says “you’re wasting my time and I think you are stupid”. I wouldn’t say that to anyone in one-to-one conversation, I don’t see why it is acceptable in email. (unless you are 14, male and on a video games forum obviously).
First let me say I’m not a prude, but neither do I have a mouth like a toilet. But I do find the acronym RTFM incredibly offensive.
The “F” in RTFM is the biggest clue that most of us blame the user for not reading the manual… since we can’t force our users to do anything, if we want them to RTFM, we need to make a better FM.
And finally, here is what I say:
Feel free to add your own DO or DON’T, or even ask dumb questions, I promise I won’t throw an RTFM on you 🙂