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I've just asked a question on Stack Overflow which was a prime candidate for googling. I admit it was a poor question and with a little bit of research I would have found the answer. It annoyed me that someone put a let-me-google-that-for-you link in the comments. It got right up my nose.

I find it rude and arrogant to get things like that in my answers, and I think things like that will scare away newcomers to this community.

I suggest we don't allow these sorts of links on Stack Exchange sites.

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I think I know the one you mean. I answered an admitedly fairly trivial question and got a comment to that effect about the sametime as a down-vote (the question was also down-voted). I checked the user's profile out of curiosity and found a large number of "that's a trivial question, why are you polluting Stack Overflow" type comments. – ChrisF Aug 20 '09 at 12:26
141 – waffles Aug 20 '09 at 12:50
I just would like to point out to you that asking that kind of question is also rude. – SilentGhost Aug 20 '09 at 13:53
What would be REALLY awesome is if someone posted a lmgtfy link and it turned out that the SAME question eventually became the #1 google result for the search terms. – TM. Aug 20 '09 at 16:29
@TM that would break the internets – Johnno Nolan Aug 20 '09 at 22:01
Questions with an answer that is trivial to find on Google are not helping the SO community. They are generating superfluous reputation, lowering the bar for asking genuine questions, and generally wasting people's time. Furthermore, the answers to these questions are almost always summarized, plagiarized or synthesized from the Google search results. Posting a LGTFY link is like tough love. It points the user to the right answer and does it in such a way that they will hopefully turn to Google for simple questions and SO for their more difficult questions. – Eric Aug 30 '09 at 17:36
@Eric: No, it's just rude. Sorry. Perhaps a [trivial] tag could be introduced, and questions tagged [trivial] would be protected from being indexed by crawlers. – Mark Allen Oct 14 '09 at 18:18
@Eric: I agree with you. – Jim G. Oct 21 '09 at 19:02
lmgtfy isn't rude, its funny. And stackoverflow is for getting answers. If the answer can be found by googling it, then its fine to point the person who asks the question there, or google it for them, hence let me google that for you. – Mk12 Oct 31 '09 at 21:45
Mk12: In my opinion lmgtfy is as funny as the numberous "your mom" jokes. – Esko Jan 4 '10 at 12:56
If you decide to waste everyone elses' time with your trivial question, but thought your time was too valuable to even do a simple google search, I can't say I feel bad for your bruised ego. – Brad Mace Oct 5 '10 at 5:00
After seeing today a question "I need jquery, if if some one have a link plz", I think there are some valid usages for lmgtfy. – Nikita Rybak Oct 7 '10 at 11:48
Trouble is that it is a question of degree. Nearly every question on SO can be answered with a Google search. The issue is where do we set the bar of triviality where this type of response is allowed? Personally I would prefer to have none of these responses rather than get the balance wrong. It is this kind of response that can make a site seem elitist. As someone above said a 'Trivial' tag is probably a better solution. – Martin Brown Dec 8 '10 at 17:10
It is annoying to see how LMGTFY material is becoming low-hanging fruit, with upvoted questions and answers although even a copy-paste of the title into Google would return the correct answer in the first link. And these are the people we want to moderate the sites? – l0b0 Mar 30 '11 at 13:10
LMGTFY is legitimate for answering really bad questions that Google WILL answer for you when you click "I'm Feeling Lucky". If I had enough rep on this site, I would -1 this page. – Thomas Eding Nov 16 '11 at 0:15

19 Answers 19

Banning LMGTFY links will not solve any issue.

On a technical level it will incur a performance hit, and there will be work arounds, but even besides that, banning something rude will not make people more generous. They will simply be rude differently.

It is the attitude that we are wishing to get rid of, not the specific action of LMGTFY.

On the other hand, I don't think flagging as 'inappropriate' is necessary. Docking someone 100 points for being rude is not what 'inappropriate' is about. When I look at people spewing racism, sexism, or just raining pure foul-mouthed abuse upon someone because they didn't like the question, that's offensive. If someone posts a snooty LMGTFY link, then they are simply being rude.

I think the correct response to an LMGTFY link is a downvote, and a comment indicating that you think such disrespectful (although possibly helpful) acts are not encouraged. Next time, the answerer should provide the content of the answer, or possibly a direct link, but LMGTFY is not used on SO.

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One of the problems with this, is a sort of reverse mentality I've seen--some people find LMGTFY humorous, some you end up with situations that, for instance, 9 people vote--the post ends up at -3, with the offender 'punished' by receiving 18 reputation. – Brisbe42 Sep 15 '09 at 11:05
+1 - If I could upvote this twice (or even more) I would. – Graeme Perrow Sep 15 '09 at 11:26
@Brisbe42: Regardless, if we're generous in assuming that the person was not meaning to be rude, they just thought it was a funny way of posting their response, then adding a comment to explain to them that LMGTFY links are not encouraged should help. If the person meant to be rude, then as I mentioned, there's really nothing we can do unless they start getting actively offensive. – devinb Sep 15 '09 at 12:05
I agree that flagging is not for when someone is rude, however some people flag as offensive simply because they disagree! – Mk12 Oct 31 '09 at 21:48
"If someone posts a snooty LMGTFY link, then they are simply being rude." No. They are being realistic. If they want to waste our time, I can waste theirs. (Errr... wait, I'm helping them out in the end with a LMGTFY link anyway, so I'm NOT wasting their time.) – Thomas Eding Nov 16 '11 at 0:18
I agree that LMGTFY links should not be banned, but I also agree they should be used sparingly, and never in/as the answer; only in comments where OP is pushing for obvious, related information that they're too lazy to Google themselves (like how to link to an external CSS file with HTML). – Mister Dood Jun 13 '13 at 7:02
It's not even the attitude that we want to get rid of. It's actually the response that we'd want to get rid of. Of course both are impossible to get rid of. But really, if the implication that "you're too dumb/lazy to search for that" bothers you, a better solution is to have a little confidence that you are neither dumb nor lazy. There's a reason people don't, e.g. make frequent snarky remarks about a poster being "ugly" -- it's because it makes no sense to do so, it evokes no reaction because it's total nonsense. Rude LMGTFY remarks would also go away if they were truly nonsense. – Jason C Aug 14 '13 at 23:13
Where did this 'we' come from when discussing the outrageous idea of banning lmgtfy? This is a community, and I think lmgtfy is a lighthearted way of saying f-off and stop posting questions with well documented answers here. – Engineer Dollery Mar 13 '14 at 19:12
Well I just tried posting a LMGTFY link in a comment on a correct answer to notifiy the OP that the answer could be found on Google (with other helpful resources of course, not just the LMGTFY). So I then found this question after the system said I had unacceptable content. My theory: you can just as easily Google it yourself, then link the Google query result URL like this one. What is the real difference? Flags are more appropriate for this kind of 'offense' than banning an entire domain from answers and comments. – Chris Cirefice May 24 '14 at 20:59
However it was banned – Jamie Jun 16 '14 at 12:30 – Jamie Jun 16 '14 at 12:31
Feeling stupid/bad for doing something is what makes you want to avoid doing that again. Don't get rid of the attitude. We invest our own time into keeping this site alive, and now you're going to tell us how to do it? I understand rules, but "get rid of the attitude"?? Get real... With all the BS we have to put up with when it comes to new askers, who don't care to read the guides or rules and usually bash on us for trying to correct them, we should be able to have attitude in situations where it fits, such as LMGTFY – Vince Emigh Oct 23 '15 at 16:33
@ChrisCirefice, Re "What is the real difference?"; I think you have best answered it yourself. If there had really been no difference, Why would you even use the lmtfy link? – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:09

Maybe if people would learn to Google the question first...

There's a study in human behavior that says that we essentially poke fun and deride things to encourage certain behaviors among our peers. We make fun of people with tramp stamps, people who don't want to be associated with the connotations of having them won't get them. We make fun of certain accents and some people work to disassociate themselves from it by working to eliminate the accent (I know a few people that have done that with certain local accents in the region where I live).

In other words we encourage certain behaviors by reinforcing what we want to reward, and humiliating people who act against the grain. Jeff has pointed out the opposite facet in this by saying that the sites are engineered to encourage good behavior using badges and reputation as motivators, and discourage behaviors by taking away reputation and allowing the community to work to bury people's questions that shouldn't be there.

Most sysadmins/techies seem to have a strong intellectual streak with a leaning towards having people work to solve questions on their own that are very simple to find the answer to on their own. They also tend to be arrogant in their own domain of knowledge, and often grow tired of having to answer the same questions and issues at work with their users after having answered the same questions over and over and over and over...sometimes with the same people asking them a month later the same question.

In a community comprised of people that have to deal with this and are answering questions here as a way to share what they have experienced and look for an intellectual challenge, why wouldn't they snark at people who couldn't have been bothered to Google for an answer that is already out there? There are people who are already getting miffed at the homeworkers asking for dolts to hand over their CS homework answers for them.

New people need to fit into the community. If they don't like it they can participate to change it by getting reputation and participating in upvote/downvote. Otherwise the community that is entrenched probably doesn't want to suffer what they see as their bad habits and unwillingness to invest a little research time on their own...we get enough that at our day jobs and we're not paid to do that with the Atwood Trilogy Sites :-)

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New people do need to read the FAQ and learn how to fit into the community, but we can be polite in helping them do that. If we're snarky and derisive, many of them will just go somewhere else. – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 12:17
I strongly disagree. It has often been mentioned that Google is the SO homepage. I have seen some of my colleagues Google for hours and not find a solution to a problem that I can find in 2 minutes. Some people are not able to search Google, and not everyone does use it. Surprised? Maybe, I live in a country where Google is foreign unless someone has a Gmail account. – BinaryMisfit Aug 20 '09 at 12:28
@Diago-And I've seen people Google and get an answer in the first few links. Isn't that a candidate for proper questions going into the sites in the FIRST place? That was kind of the point. What I'm talking about is the emergent behavior that comes from the system set in place by Joel/Jeff/the SO team. If you don't like it, don't join, or stick with it and join the people trying to change it. I've not seen ANYONE with a good argument why users should not google for answers first, and then people bitch when questions are repeated repeated repeated! – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 12:38
@Bill: I didn't SAY you should be snarky or derisive, I'm saying that it: A) is a tendency in the tech community to do so, B)happens to them all the time that questions are repeated CONSTANTLY and users never read the FAQ to begin with, C)a wanted behavior is for users to be empowered to help themselves unless you want them to be dependent on YOU for answers to everything, and D) it's a KNOWN SOCIAL BEHAVIOR that some of these issues come from mechanisms to reinforce social behavior. I didn't encourage or discourage it, I stated facts. – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 12:40
Last...why is this site, so much supposed to NOT be usenet...turning into usenet? Constant whining about users not being accepted, users aren't reading the FAQ, users aren't feeling welcome, newbies are asking stupid questions, this is inappropriate, moderator come look at this...geez, if I wanted this I'd be on the Ubuntu mailing list for user help... – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 12:42
I think you miss the point, that easy questions are encouraged by Jeff and Joel, no matter how easy they are googlable. – Ladybug Killer Aug 20 '09 at 12:48
@Bart: You aren't just simply stating facts. "Maybe if people would learn to Google the question first..." By excusing bad behavior, you are encouraging it. – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 12:50
Jeff and Joel created a community site, started by their vision and then made clear that they wanted the community to shape it. Their podcasts have made it abundantly clear. Jeff has lamented several times about how things don't go as planned and yet he only steps in when things go too far off course from what he would like, other times he bows to the community. – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 16:11
@John: I'm not discouraging easy questions. I'm saying that, exactly how many times do you want these questions REPEATED? Jeff and Joel have stated before that they discourage that. If people read FAQs, searched first, wouldn't GET repeats. And so how do you discourage it from happening? Teaching users to actually look first? Or just letting them ask repeats? You tell me... – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 16:13
@Bill: As I said for John: how many times will easy questions need to be repeated? What is your solution for that? Mine is for people to search for the answer first. Especially if it's easy. The simple thing people do is just let loose their brain farts into the questions and sit back for the answer to be handed to them, which is exactly what people are trying to discourage. – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 16:14
@Bart: If the question is a duplicate on Stack Overflow, then the proper reaction is to vote to close as a duplicate. A link to the original question and a comment telling them to search Stack Overflow before posting is fine too. The problem with just pointing them to Google is that not everyone knows what keywords to search for when they don't know the answer to a question, but it might be obvious to you if you do know the answer. A link to Google or LMGTFY is simply a content-free answer that doesn't really help. It's a little insulting to presume that the OP didn't Google already. – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 16:32
@Bill: Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't LMGTFY show the keywords in question? And what happens with the search-as-you-type in the system already? It's a little unusual that this is even argument considering that I've not even done a LMGTFY to anyone... – Bart Silverstrim Aug 20 '09 at 17:58
@Bart: I understand that you didn't LMGTFY anyone, I'm not accusing you of that. All I'm saying is that there are better ways to reply than LMGTFY. Yes, it shows the keywords, but so does a simple answer "I Googled for X + Y and found these results..." with a link to the relevant page. LMGTFY is just a smart-assed way of doing the same. I have no problem with "I Googled for X and found Y" answers, I just think we can be polite about it. – Bill the Lizard Aug 21 '09 at 18:11
@Bill: okay. And I'd like to apologize for getting worked up over this...well, thread, I suppose it could be called. I was taking it too personal. Your clarification makes sense, although I think we differ on opinion as to how rude this really is. I sometimes see people doing this as an outlet for stress from their dayjobs, as offering free help on these forums is often an extension of duties at the dayjob, so sometimes the snarkiness just seems to come with the territory (right or wrong). – Bart Silverstrim Aug 24 '09 at 14:07
@Bart: No apology necessary. Spirited debate is always welcome and encouraged. I realize that my own opinion on LMGTFY is at one extreme end of a spectrum, and not everyone is going to agree with me. I don't think it's terribly rude, but it does bother me that someone will choose to be mildly rude when, for the exact same effort, they can post a non-rude, very helpful answer. This, plus the fact that LMGTFY links often lead a person right back to his own question, leads me to think that there's not much constructive use for it here. – Bill the Lizard Aug 25 '09 at 14:55

I think adding in some sort of algorithmic ban on a url is dumb when you already have a community out there who is more than willing to flag something as Offensive. If that post gains 6 Offensive flags, it will be deleted automatically and the poster will lose 100 points as punishment. I like that better than built in "no-no" links.

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I disagree pretty strongly with this, but not just on the basis of LMGTFY. We also have a problem on SO with people creating accounts for the express purpose of spamming their company links. I've deleted multiple accounts in a single day several times to remove this kind of spam. If moderators could just block the URL of the offending companies it would save my time, and the time of the people who report the abuse. Personally, I would block LMGTFY, but that would ultimately be Jeff's decision. – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 11:54
completely agree with this, there will always be people doing this commenting and flagging should sort out this problem without shoving algorithms at it. – waffles Aug 20 '09 at 12:56
i didn't know about this 6 flags = 100 point punishment thing, is that recent? – Kip Aug 20 '09 at 13:00
No, it is not recent at all. If used to be 5 Spam or 5 Offensive, but they bumped it up to 6 Spam or 6 Offensive. It doesn't get used very often because it's not often you have people who know about the power of the flagging features or they don't use it the same way. – TheTXI Aug 20 '09 at 13:02
@Bill the Lizard: maybe a good solution to that problem would be to block URLs which appear in lots of comments which are flagged as spam? – Kip Aug 20 '09 at 13:03
@Kip: I'd like to have a block list that moderators maintain, that way we do have a human making the decision on each URL, but we only have to make the decision once. – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 13:12
@Bill: boy, this is going to wreak havoc on people who visit the now-in-existence Web Apps beta to ask how to use that new LMGTFY search engine. – Pops Jul 24 '10 at 3:50
@Popular: I think we could maximize the irony if we post questions on how to skirt around the LMGTFY ban on SE sites. :) – Bill the Lizard Jul 24 '10 at 4:05
@Bill, hm, that's an interesting idea. I don't know how to get around the restriction off the top of my head, but let me Google that for you and see what I find. – Pops Jul 24 '10 at 4:33
Since when is the community worth anything? Moderators don't listen to the community. :-( – stesch Jan 24 '11 at 6:19
@Pop: lmgtfy/?q=asdf – Hello71 Feb 7 '11 at 3:21 – user270303 Sep 11 '14 at 11:14

Oops! Your edit couldn't be submitted because:

  • Sorry, posts can't contain that content.

Looks like the ban is in effect, eh!

I'd like to point out that stopping an individual's choice of self expression by force (technical or otherwise) only serves to piss them off.

Rather than a ban (the Chinese government loves a good ban!), what's wrong with letting people vote down answers which they find offensive?

Who exactly is being helped or protected here?

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doing the wrong thing should never be easy, and that's the goal here. if you really want it, you can url-obfuscate it. But you will likely be voted down / flagged by the community. – Jeff Atwood Jan 4 '10 at 21:07
Well, fortunately I don't really want it. As I cruise SO, however, I see an awful lot of questions of the sort described by @Eric above (i.e., What's PHP?). In some cases, it's clear the questioner really doesn't know, and I do my best to point them in the right directions. In most cases though, it's clear that they just aren't putting in any effort. The problem isn't the lmgtfy links, it's the questions who's answers are literally the first google result. – Seth Jan 7 '10 at 8:02
The problem isn't questions that can be easily googled for (unless Google points at the trilogy site). The problem is when questions don't belong. One of the purposes of the site is to have definitive answers for questions of interest, even stupid questions. – David Thornley Feb 16 '10 at 15:45
@JeffAtwood: This message is just as dumb as the lmgtfy-link. How am I, the user who for some reason included forbidden content, supposed to know what part of my post was forbidden? At least, make the message specify what's wrong, so the user has a sporting chance to correct it. – Tomas Lycken Jul 12 '12 at 1:34
How do you downvote comments? – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 27 '13 at 1:42
@LightnessRacesinOrbit agreed. Most LMGTFY's are posted in comments. I, for one, would never answer with a LMGTFY because I could have just copied and pasted from whatever site came up first. – jsve Mar 27 '15 at 2:48
@JeffAtwood Saying lmgtfy is the wrong thing is totally subjective. I find it to be the right thing to do. – MadConan Apr 10 '15 at 14:19

To be fair, that LMGTFY link was in a comment, not in answer. I'm not trying to defend it, but just to put it into perspective.

On a broader view: It seems that many people, even regulars, aren't getting the "Every question should be on Stack Overflow" policy. That's the intention of the site makers, and so that's what the community should enforce. Maybe this policy should be made clearer somehow?

I don't have an actual idea as to the means for doing that; I am just throwing it out there...

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for me the issue is the same comment or answer. the aim is not to help the person who asked the question just to put down the asker for asking a question – Johnno Nolan Aug 20 '09 at 11:55
@John Nolan: I agree; as I said, I wasn't trying to defend the behavior in itself. – balpha Aug 20 '09 at 12:27
Is the policy really that every question should be on SO however remotely programming related? That's what's being achieved through the active pursuit of the "try google" responses rather than addressing the "you posted a lazy question" issue in the first place. Yes we can flag them but by the time they are closed, if indeed they are (I suspect mods are as likely to read lazy questions and I am to answer them, flagged or otherwise) then someone has already posted an answer and thereby re-enforced the feeling with the OP that they were right in asking. – Lazarus Feb 16 '10 at 13:00
@bchappell: Whether the question is programming related is a different issue than whether it's easy ("lazy"). "What does #include mean in C" is a valid SO question, while "What city is the Microsoft headquarters in" is not. Both are easy to google. – balpha Feb 16 '10 at 13:45
@John Nolan: I disagree: comments and answers serve different purposes. I think lmgtfy links should never be in answers, but I wouldn't ban them from comments. – David Thornley Feb 16 '10 at 15:44
I've never heard of the "Every question should be on SO" policy. If that's the intent of the site makers, they should put something to that effect on the FAQ or the about page. – StriplingWarrior Aug 10 '10 at 19:32
@StriplingWarrior: The FAQ says: "if your question [is a programming question]… then you're in the right place to ask your question!" -- no mention of a minimum level of any kind. – balpha Aug 11 '10 at 9:09
So you believe "How do I add 1 and 1 in c#?" is a valid question and deserves to be on SO? I agree the bar should be pretty low but if there's no bar, SO is going to end up like e2. What benefit is there to a question which if typed into google has the canonical answer at the top? – Basic Feb 23 '12 at 23:52
"Every question should be on Stack Overflow" Wait, what...?!?!?! – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 27 '15 at 11:37
@LightnessRacesinOrbit Look at the date of the answer. – balpha Mar 27 '15 at 11:38
@balpha: Yes, I know when the answer was posted. Are you saying that your opinion has since changed? – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 27 '15 at 11:41
@LightnessRacesinOrbit I never claimed that "Every question should be on Stack Overflow" is my opinion. – balpha Mar 27 '15 at 11:43
@balpha: Sigh. Are you saying that the policy and the intent of the site makers has since changed? – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 27 '15 at 11:49
"Every question should be on Stack Overflow" So, if I ask "How do I add 1 + 2 in javascript?" and then, the next day, I ask "How do I add 1 + 3 in javascript?", both are questions that belong on SO? SO is supposed to be some kind of perverse Library of Babel, now? Good to know. – Parthian Shot Mar 30 at 21:25

I'm clearly coming late to this, but there's something that seems to be little-known yet very useful: the &n=1 parameter for

This is the "nice mode": it simply causes lmgtfy to say "It's that easy" instead of "Was that so hard". Makes a lot of difference with the tone.

For example:

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However whether it's nice or not was not the (main) problem here. One of only two things can happen: 1) The question - even if very trivial - didn't exist on SO 2) The question existed on SO. In case 1, it's a perfectly valid question and should be answered. It doesn't matter if you can find it on google: you can't find it on SO. This also fixes the problem that I really hate of when you google something, you found a person with the same problem, and the answer is to google it. If it's 2), it should be closed as duplicate. – Andreas Bonini Dec 27 '10 at 0:35
@Koper: I don't agree that every conceivable question in the universe should be in SO. This is the premise of your "In Case 1" response. I think it is manifestly wrong. "What is the answer to 2+2" is not in SO. Neither is "how do I write an if statement in python". Neither of these should be, either. – GreenAsJade Jun 9 '12 at 0:23
@GreenAsJade, How did you find out about the &n=1 mode? – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:26
It was a long time ago, I don't clearly recall, but I suspect it was someone telling me about it in response to me complaining how rude it was :D – GreenAsJade Apr 14 at 0:09

One man's offence is another man's belly laugh (to paraphrase a Heinlein quote). I love the way that tolerance only ever seems to work one way.

Do we really want to turn SO into a monolithic knowledge repository rather than an agile, targeted collection of Q&As.

We try not to repeat code, why repeat ourselves with answers easily found elsewhere?

Why don't we just replace SO with a page with a single text line and a button labelled "Find it for me" where someone can type their question and then all the SO users can search the internet and post the answer back. We could call it SOogle, it'd be just like Google but manual and it could take weeks for someone to get back to you. Sounds Utopian...

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Yeah this OP and his supporters are so concerned about "rude and arrogant" LMGTFW links, but their own rude arrogance about wanting to forcibly block comments they don't like is fine?? Lulz. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 27 '15 at 11:39
@Lazarus, Re "why repeat ourselves with answers easily found elsewhere", if it's that easy to find a valid actual working answer which answers the question, post the link to the answer. If the answer is on another stackoverflow page, close it as a duplicate. If you can't be bothered, then don't do anything, no one is complaining. Sure, one man's offence is another man's belly laugh, I've seen countless people laughing at racist jokes because surely that's funny right? – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:32

Amusing, considering that lmgtfy is banned, while jfgi and fgi are allowed :)

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No, they're not...they're just not banned (yet). – Time Traveling Bobby Nov 22 '11 at 22:14
They self-banned. There's no content on those webpages now. – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:28

Blocking the URL itself will just make people creative... TinyURL, etc. But no, they aren't exactly welcoming - and we do try to delete them when we see them. Some editors used to go to great lengths to point these out, and in all honesty I haven't seen any on Stack Overflow for a while. If they are creeping back, just point them out.

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That's a good point. Maybe instead of a block list we could just have a watch list? – Bill the Lizard Aug 20 '09 at 12:19
You find them on SU for sure (I know, OP asked for SO). But good point (plus one - I'm being creative ;) – Ladybug Killer Aug 20 '09 at 12:44
Rather than a 'block list' a 'watch list' is a great idea. Also, i partially disagree with 'Blocking the url itself will just make people creative' -- it will greatly discourage the behaviour, and only a fraction of people would go the creative route. – Leon Bambrick Aug 20 '09 at 14:19
@Leon - maybe, maybe... – Marc Gravell Aug 20 '09 at 19:29
@Leon: this site is for computer literate people. You really think they would just give up and not look for a way around any restriction you'd put in place? – perbert Oct 2 '09 at 17:52
LMGTFY has a "shorten" option that turns it into a link. – Cole Johnson Aug 13 '13 at 2:06

Censorship can't block rude:

Tiny URLs, on the other hand, are bad for Stack Exchange though and should be auto-expanded. provides an expander service for an ever expanding list of URL shorteners and exposes an HTTP API for its service.

I have had contact with the developer of that site to notify him of my use of the API (per request) and found him quite affable.

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this would make a good feature-request - killing shortened URLs in general – Tobias Kienzler Mar 17 '11 at 16:47
 URLs, if you add a + to the end, display statistics about the link, and the URL it's linking to. Scan that page, you find the URL it's being linked to – Cole Johnson Aug 13 '13 at 2:09

Your question may be summarised thus:

I knew that I shouldn't have posted the question, but I posted it anyway, because I wanted a quick solution to my problem with no regard for the value of anyone else's time.

Then someone pointed out that I shouldn't have done so. I found that "rude and arrogant".

Please prevent people from doing that.

That's called hypocrisy (and it's so blatant that it knocks on the door of Poe's Law), and the very reason that "tough love" is needed in such situations.

Someone needed to point out to you that you were being silly, and they did, and now you know.

I don't hugely miss the ability to post LMGTFY comments, though an equivalent "What prevented you from performing a simple Google search?" accompanied by a downvote would be absolutely appropriate. But if you're trying to ban anyone from being anything but overtly friendly with you in such a situation, well, that does not sufficiently emphasise that what you did is not okay. I imagine the LMGTFY dissenters would find that "rude", too, which is a great shame.

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Heh this question is over 5 years old now. I'm surprised it still gets attention. It was written in the relative infancy of StackOverflow when the rules were forming and the consensus was that all questions should have been on SO. I agree that "what prevented you from performing a simple Google search?" and a downvote, appropriate but I think I still stand my point. New members just don't need that attitude it's not welcoming. – Johnno Nolan Mar 28 '15 at 23:26
I still don't understand why people argue that we must put being "welcoming" ahead of any other considerations. I mean, this isn't preschool where "everyone wins". – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 28 '15 at 23:31
depends on your motivations I guess. Do you want to have an open community where people are encouraged to contribute? Or do you have a body of work that is rigorously edited and infringers given short shrift? – Johnno Nolan Mar 28 '15 at 23:36
@JohnNolan: I'd hope that there is a pleasing middle ground :) Many posters on this Q&A though seem to think that it should be entirely the former, which seems rather odd. Communities need constraints and boundaries otherwise they just devolve into abject chaos. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 28 '15 at 23:38
I hope that too :) – Johnno Nolan Mar 28 '15 at 23:39
@LightnessRacesinOrbit, The OP's original statement is not at a level which requires a Poe's wink, even though your strawman quote might need one. – Pacerier Apr 14 at 11:09
@Pacerier: It wasn't a quote and it wasn't a strawman. Nice try though – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 14 at 11:23
@LightnessRacesinOrbit, 'don't see how it isn't a quote when it's quoted, and isn't a strawman when it's inequivalent. – Pacerier May 10 at 7:57
@Pacerier: Well, there are > characters at the start of each line. But it's not a quote — do you see anywhere else that text was used? No, didn't think so. I was quoting a hypothetical, imaginary character. And it isn't a strawman when it most certainly is equivalent — not sure why you think a character-by-character ASCII diff is going to aptly show that up. You have to use your brain, and perform English reading comprehension, just like you were taught at school. Surely you're trolling at this point so I have no interest whatsoever in further discourse with you. Have a nice day. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 10 at 9:07

SO is self moderating. If everyone agrees that LMGTFY links are bad, they [the posters] will get down votes. This in turn should discourage people from posting them in the first place.

Or am I missing something?

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Well, there has actually been implemented something which blocks lmgtfy links in posts. There is still the possibility though to use e.g. an url shortener service to bypass that check, and that's when the self moderation comes back into play. – fretje Feb 16 '10 at 15:43
Well, you can't downvote comments. – Cole Johnson Aug 13 '13 at 2:14
@ColeJohnson, And most of them are in comments, not answers. – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:47

They are only technically allowed. Flag them! Heavily!
I don't know, if it is feasible, to scan every post/comment for the lmgtfy-link before publishing. Sounds like a performance hit.

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Posts are likely already being scanned for e.g. escaping metacharacters and disallowed HTML. Doesn't seem like it would be that much more cycle-intensive to scan for a blacklist of URLs as well. – ベレアー アダム Aug 20 '09 at 11:58
The problem is it just makes people more inventive... – Marc Gravell Aug 20 '09 at 12:07
(-1) I've posted an answer as to why. – devinb Aug 20 '09 at 12:15
Ban it, and someone registers – Shog9 Aug 20 '09 at 17:05

It looks like this has re-surfaced again.

A comment on this question, includes a lmgtfy link using the URL:
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As far as I remember (if I remember right)...we're allowed to Spam/Offensive-Flag that stuff...which hits with a penalty for that user. *eg* – Time Traveling Bobby Nov 22 '11 at 15:09
Yes, these are other domains which also should be blacklisted. – Time Traveling Bobby Nov 22 '11 at 15:20 seems to be a ripoff of the real site. – Kevin Vermeer Nov 22 '11 at 15:51
4 has been added to the blacklist as well, thanks for bringing it to our attention – Nick Craver Nov 22 '11 at 16:16

In my mind, the solution is simple:

Any question that is lazy enough to warrant a LMGTFY answer is a bad question. Bad questions should be flagged, not answered sarcastically or disrespectfully.

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I agree that LMGTFY can have an arrogant feel to it. Some days back, someone made some comments on my question wondering why on earth I would want to do something like I asked.

It didn't feel nice. However, just now I answered a basic Python question in a comment. I knew the answer from experience, but I also thought googling should have gotten the OP he/her answer. Googling for the title of the question lead me right to the answer. I then added a second comment where I politely mentioned that googling for A got me the correct answer and that, no offense intended, I asked the OP if he or she tried to google.

This second comment was born out of a feeling from my side that the OP did not really try to answer the question. I did not use LMGTFY, but I did ask the OP whether they tried to google. Is this also unwanted on Stack Overflow, as is LMGTFY?

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I don't agree with blocking it altogether. (I agree with it when it's used for a purpose other than answering the question).

There will be real situations where you could not help but to share a Google link for this. Stack Overflow members can judge whether the provider of the link is really interested in answering the question (content of the answer or comment would be enought to talk about that) and only then they can flag or downvote. I have really seen some people posting broad questions, and it would be quite obvious to tell them basic information with a good answer and for details asking them to google it.

UPDATE After reading the comments now I see why people of have a problem with LMGTFY. I would not support that philosophy either. As Chris mentioned, I was of the same opinion for having a legitimate answer with effective support from specific websites.

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Good move downvoter. Your downvote (without comment) is a good example that how people can downvote if they really find no value in what's provided. So what's harm in continuing this trend with google links? – Subhash Dike Apr 20 '11 at 14:52
Sharing a Google link has a different tone to sharing a Let Me Google That For You link. The former is potentially helpful - especially when coupled with some text. The later is always patronising and belittling. (And no I didn't down-vote you.) – ChrisF Apr 20 '11 at 15:00
I didn't downvote you either, but if you wouldn't have been at -1 already, I would have. Also, you're most likely looking for this: Embrace the non Googlers‌​. – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 20 '11 at 15:06
@Bobby, thanks for pointing me to the correct direction. I am just for the google, now i see why people of have problem with lmgtfy. I would not support that philosophy either. As chris mentioned i was of the same opinion for having a legitamate answer with effective support from specific websites. So thanks again – Subhash Dike Apr 20 '11 at 16:47
@SubhashDike, Comments cannot be downvoted only reported (which is invisible). Also, re "to share a Google link for this"; why not simply use a direct google link? – Pacerier Apr 13 at 20:50 suggest users to not ask a question if it already exist! Most of results on Google search are linked to other stack overflow question, so, i think LMGTFY should tell users check first Google before filling database with nothing!

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The problem is with the attitude behind LMGTFY specifically. Either you answer the question (if it is not on SO yet, write a new answer, if it is, link to that and mark to be closed as duplicate) or you downvote/vote to close. LMGTFY is not needed. – Paul Hiemstra Jul 30 '13 at 21:12
@PaulHiemstra, Yes, one can always choose to do nothing. It's a perfectly valid solution when one needs to do something bad. – Pacerier Apr 14 at 11:11

People here are assuming that a question that gets a lmgtfy answer is a bad question, but what about the cases when it's the lmgtfy answer that is bad? Sometimes the answerer doesn't put much effort in reading the question, and after a cursory glance assumes the asker's well thought out question is a trivial one and tells him to google it. Then other potential answerers could see that the question has been answered and become discouraged from answering it.

Also, sometimes people just want a direct answer from a human as a sanity check. It's a good way of learning to put material you read into your own words and ask someone if your understanding is correct. It would just be frustrating/insulting for that person to refer you back to the same material you were trying to understand.

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Sorry, but I'm not sure what your point is. You support banning lmgtfy links, or not? Please add a TL;DR to the answer clarifying this. – Shadow Wizard Jul 5 at 10:19
Well, since you can't be bothered to explain... downvoting this. – Shadow Wizard Jul 5 at 11:49
But you're not getting a direct answer from a human. You're getting a human to point you at a Google link - not the same thing. – Judith Jul 5 at 17:55
Heh, LMGTFY-only answer will surely be removed as "Not an Answer" (link-only answer). Don't worry about that. – Portal Jul 5 at 18:13

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