Don't just say RTFM

Don’t Just Say Rtfm

RTFM comments generally useless

If everybody read the fine manual, most of the questions asked on the internet would go away!


"RTFM" is rude , no doubt about it. However, links to the manual in comments are perfectly acceptable , and sometimes the only appropriate response to a question.

It can happen that the person reading the product or something related to the article didn’t find the manual and when we say RTFM, it can be bad for him/her and can hurt his/her feelings. Also, it is better to “Be Nice” and use “Polite” words in order to make the individual read and understand the manual system.

So when posting a manual link, be smart. Drop the RTFM and use nicer wording to help ensure that the link survives. Suggestions:

  • Check out the manual page: (link)
  • See the manual: (link)
  • This is explained in the manual: (link)

If the OP was really lazy:

  • Your question is answered in the manual: (link) For future reference, please always remember to look in the manual first. Thanks!

And if the person did not look in the manual then you can say :

  • You can ask your question in the Contact menu (link).

I absolutely agree.

One thing I like about the FCC forums is that most people responding seem to realize - We all were beginners in programming at one time. Also, not everyone has the same learning curve - or the same learning style.

Other forums treat new students very rudely. It is very frustrating to ask a question and feel that you have been shot down for it. Once my “stupid question” is answered in that tone, I will drop the forum and seek my answers elsewhere.

Manuals are fairly useless if they: can’t be found, don’t make sense, skip valuable information because it should be “common knowledge”, doesn’t exactly answer the question, or the person reading the manual actually doesn’t read very well in the first place.

It must be even more difficult for those who speak and read English as a second language.

This why we are encouraged to seek the answers in the forums and to team up with someone else who is willing to share the learning experience.


I think the point @KoniKodes makes about English as a second language is really important to keep in mind.

And sometimes the manual is cryptic.

However even when RTFM would fit the question, I finds it tends to help me understand something better when I explain it to someone else. Therefore I learn when I answer such questions, and so does the person who asks the question.

What I tend to do when someone ask me a question which I think could be answered with the manual or I think is very “basic” is that I make them think about the problem in parts, and walk them through the tough process I would use.

Overall while most will just want a direct answer, “it is better to teach someone to fish than to just give them a fish.”

1 Like

@bonham000 It’s true that when we explain to others we tend to understand it better.

@P1xt I think that it’s a great way to respond - providing various links as it helps to show possible solutions and examples. It also fits with @Rafase282 thoughts that we need to not just say RTFM, but actually provide enough information to help the person who is asking the original question.