About answering instead of 'RTFM!'

I hope and wish that on this forum a friendly tradition will be kept alive and maintained: The tradition of helping newcomers by simply answering to their (apparently ignorant) questions instead of writing acronyms (rtfm!) or only posting links to the documentation.

When I dare to show my ignorance on stackoverflow.com, then there is always a pack of ‘experts’ who jump at me to teach me ‘read the fucking manual’. In the same amount of time, they could have given me a helpful hint, instead of wasting bandwidth.

Recently someone asked here what the keyword ‘New’ means. I noticed some answering in the stackoverflow way and some according to the friendler Xojo tradition.

I hope and suggest that when answering on this forum, that we do it solely with the intention to really help the other, or just keep quiet.

But this is just a suggestion and I understand that once in a while one has to let off steam…

Thanks for raising this @Oliver Osswald, I came across a situation recently where “RTFM” was used here. On checking TFM was missing details (since fixed), so the OP asking the “dumb” question actually did us all a favor.

The difference with StackOverflow is that it is a entirely different thing.

Alone the amount of data – almost 14 million questions compared to 41.600 posts (posts, not questions!) here – makes a huge difference. So they have to request that you check if an answer already exists – and the chance for a newbie question is huge. And a lot of them do not do that. Even while typing in the question they do not go through the links appearing as possible answers. They have to be taught in some way. I was and I did learn quite quickly.

They do not allow discussions, it is for pure coding questions and answers – they have other forums for discussions and other kind of forums (StackExchange and more).

And StackOverflow tries with their moderators to keep out any emotionality as this amount of programmers “going wild” on a topic would make it impossible to keep their question-answer kind of forum. Xojo interferes in a very relaxed way compared to that (which I like and find good). Imagine extrapolating the Xojo kind of moderation to StackOverflow: you computer screen would probably be on fire…

The intro on http://stackoverflow.com/tour is worth reading. It is just something completely different than this forum.

If someone asks what the “new” keyword is the answer is really really hard. We all have been there at some point in time. And sometimes the persons need to RTFM.

We are humans, we have emotions, we NEED the discussions. “There is no chitchat” is the reason why Stackoverflow is for pedants.

I wrote manuals long time ago and I can say people do not really read them.

Nowadays, manuals are gone, disappears…

On the other hand, if some people ask you - on the street - where is the city hall, what answer will you gave her / him ?

“RTFM" ? “Check in your smartphone ?” no answer at all ?

Wrong chanel Pal ?

This is simply insane.

When someone ask for help (really ask for help), try to do just that or as Oliver wrote above: “with the intention to really help the other” or keep quiet. DAAA !

I don’t mind naive questions. I don’t mind explaining. What really gets under my skin is the sense of entitlement of some, who bluntly expect other members to write code for them. And get angry when someone explains where to find the information, since they apparently refuse to lift a finger.

Each poster is different. Ignorance is not a sin. Laziness and disregard for other members should not be encouraged. I refuse to be reduced to someone else coder.

I would not post RTFM, but I regularly post links to the LR, usually mentioning the relevant example.

Now, the New question is notoriously difficult to answer. In fact, explaining to death is much less efficient that a tad of personal experimentation.

“What have you tried” works for me. “RTFM” indicates a holier than thou attitude which would only be acceptable from someone who has never & will never ask the group for help (which does not qualify the person from the thread I commented on).

@Dave S answered a question the other day about how to calculate average and picked the reason. This to me indicated how being friendly adds to our membership which can only be good for the group.

I’ve been helped tremendously by such links. I’m afraid sometimes we forget how painful it is to be a newbie. I remember the frustration of trying to word my searches to find relevant answers (remember I didn’t know the correct terms yet), and then trying to sift through hundreds of results, many of which were not even relevant to my situation.

For example, lets say I have this issue: https://forum.xojo.com/36475-text-label-won-t-update

If I search the forum for ‘label won’t update’, I find a relevant post on the second entry.
On the other hand if I’m a newbie and search for ‘why is text not showing properly’ I get a host of irrelevant topics, and the topic I really want isn’t even in the list.

Terminology still evades me, sometimes…

I don’t care for the acronym, but have no problem with links to the relevant documents pages. It’s basically saying, “here, read this and you’ll find your answer.” That’s different, of course, then just posting a general link which isn’t very helpful.

what is wrong with RTFM?

The potential problem is not knowing where to read. The proper search terms may be obvious when you already know the answer. But less so when you don’t know where to look. I’m all for RTFM when also giving a link to an appropriate place in the manual. As somebody once said: “The best teachers are those who tell you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.”

Yes, one need to know what to look for. Unfortunately, that’s almost forgotten by experts.

@Dave S,

Look on the internet for the translation of RTFM. It is not “Read The Fantastic Manual” like you now claim. It has a complete other meaning, which you very well intended.

Instead of using an escape goat, just apologize for your rude remark to that new member S, like any civilized person would do.

Be a man or be a baby, the choice is yours.

I have nothing to apologize for… If someone asks a question that is so basic (no pun intended) that it is obvious that they did not or would not make an effort to read the manuals (this is what they are intended for), to use google, or to attempt to search this forum for like topics, they are not ENTITLED… The very first thing newbies need to learn, is this is a tough business (I have been in it for 40+ years)… When I started there were no forums (there was no Internet). I spent hours pouring over manuals… but the one most important thing I always did… was TRY. Know it is ok to FAIL (just as long as it is before deployment)… But use ALL the resources available to you.

I myself ask questions here as well as attempt to answer them… But be assured, that I spend hours with Google before I do…

There is no “silver spoon”, no “magic bullet”… If you are not willing to do the work, then don’t expect to reap the rewards.

I apologize for being one of those people who ask “weird” questions.
Yesterday I asked a question about Dialog Windows and why Select Case wasn’t working with the SelectFolderDialog I was using.
Select Case is a very old programming uhmm system, but if I looked in the documents it isn’t explained for every instance.
I relied on the manual but it didn’t explain how to do this particular set of code.
Dave S indulged me and I learned a different way of using Select Case. He also tried to correctly steer me away from that choice.
I appreciate your being experts and being able to answer my weird questions.

Personally I find RTFM as a response to a question (in any forum) very rude and offensive. If that was an answer given to me in “real life” then it would likely end a physical altercation where the said manual was shoved into an unlikely and unsuitably small crevasse, where the light from our nearest star cannot penetrate - unless an apology was given. Hmmm, very hard to do with electronic manuals - I guess I have to work on that one.

Fortunately, because of my age and experience I’m usually able to “tailor” my questions on this forum to suit. I also do research first.

Nevertheless, a simple “May I refer you to this link… If you still have problems, then please come back here and post another question. There are many people here willing to help.”

Which 99% of the time is what most people generally say, in one way or another on this forum - mostly nice.

People who say RTFM should take a step back, and have a good look at themselves as to why they think that it’s an appropiate response. Perhaps a superiority complex?.. I could go on.


Hope you read the manual before doing that.

Well Tim, I actually did some tests using ballistics gel, (ie. MythBusters style).

Using the standard, tightly wrapped, 1044pp 90gsm programming manual “Beginning Visual C# 2010”. It was certainly an eye watering revelation.

I agree with the substance: people should make a minimum of effort to reach a solution to their question, and their question should show that they tried something. However, I would rather opt to not answer a question rather than be rude. People are not entitled to an answer. Precisely. Not even a rude one. On the topic of seemingly stupid questions, read on.

Here, I beg to differ: the first thing newbies need to learn - especially younger people, is how to use resources, including this forum. A polite answer telling them to first try something and come back with a more precise question will do that. Providing links to information will also do that. Rudeness will not do that.

You and I seem to be from the same generation. We are from a generation that learned to work hard to reach our goals and objectives. We value effort and hard earned results. On the other hand, the latest generation grew up with IPhones and computers, getting answers easily at the tip of their fingers. Their first reflex is to ask their network for an answer, rather than search and sift through resources. They operate very differently than we did. Seemingly stupid questions seen recently on the forum appeared to come from members of that generation. They were probing the forum just like they do their network. Instead of sending them away, I would think it is more productive in the medium term to steer then in the right direction through guidance. That certainly does not include providing “effort free” answers. Also certain to me, RTMF and other rude answers will not achieve that goal.