I mostly agree with your points about RTFM, and confess to having used it, with lack of empathy, irritation and a sense of superiority.

However, my emotional association with LMGTFY is different. I use it lovingly, so do my daughters when I express cluelessness about some app on my phone, and I’ll claim it is actually an inclusive approach because at least the user acknowledges having almost the same state of ignorance.

Perhaps RTFMers lack empathy because they’ve only been in areas where they are sure of themselves or only sightly unsure, or they are the unsure of themselves type to take a 6 week wine appreciation class before casually taking a sip, perhaps they’ve never taken two steps out of their box, perhaps they’ve never thought “I think this is interesting and can be solved, some other smart human must have solved it, I can solve it, but I don’t even know what to ask.”

With coding languages or packages, one difficulty I encounter is the lack of dictionaries, I know the structure or function must exist, but what the f*** did they call it? This is true as much between languages as it is in a new language: TFMs are rarely “reverse look up” where I can search for the structure or function I want and get the keyword.

E.g. in Python’s pandas I didn’t know dataframe.shape() because what it gives you is what I call in plain English size, or dimensions. (What I would call dimensionality = len(dataframe.shape()).) I failed a coding interview partially because of this kind of ignorance. In the absence of a good reverse lookup, isn’t asking, respectfully, the human next to you, the easiest option? Then they can even elaborate or learn what it is you are trying to actually solve!

I stop to miau to cats.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store