I was told in a comment here that using a site like LMGTFY was frowned upon.

Although just three seconds earlier the user posted a link to google results (which in my opinion is the same thing).

Are links that show users what they should or could be doing better to find their answers (aside from posting multiple questions) frowned upon?

This is news to me.

Well now it is no longer news to me: Ban LMGTFY (let me google that for you) links <-- don't agree

What is the other side of the coin?

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    It violates the First Directive: be nice. – Uphill Luge Oct 19 '11 at 15:55
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    @UphillLuge ehhh this is not Star Trek. and it is the Prime Directive :-P – Naftali aka Neal Oct 19 '11 at 15:57
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    u.sbhat.me/oY0p7X – Sathyajith Bhat Oct 19 '11 at 16:08
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    "which in my opinion is the same thing" If they're the same thing, then just use Google. Problem solved! – Pops Oct 19 '11 at 16:10
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    I've seen so many lazy useless questions from people over the past two years, I'm increasingly warming towards LMGTFY in nice mode. But I agree it's too rude in non-nice, standard mode and seeing as the modes are so difficult to tell apart, I'm fine with people flagging them indiscriminately. – Pekka Oct 19 '11 at 17:26
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    Please NEVER post lmgtfy or google links. The reason is just obvious. The people who do use google and find the question will find as an answer a link back to the google search they just did. – Thomas Bonini Oct 19 '11 at 17:29
  • LMGTFY has been banned since January 2010, at the latest – Chris Frederick Oct 19 '11 at 17:40
  • @Pekka I disagree with calling such askers lazy...a main reason why this site exists is due to difficulty in finding good answers using Google. – Michael McGowan Oct 19 '11 at 17:41
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    @Michael if entering the question title into Google leads to the first result being the canonical solution to the problem, I call that lazy. I will also downvote that kind of stuff when I see it. The way I see it, this site is for programmers helping each other become better programmers. And what good is a programmer who can't do even basic Googling? They will always be sucking at the teat of Stack Overflow whenever they encounter a problem they can't immediately solve on their own. That can't be what the site is there for. – Pekka Oct 19 '11 at 17:42
  • @Pekka I argue that using this site counts as research. If they behaved correctly and searched the site, found nothing, and then asked, that is perfectly fine. Once they do that, we can have a canonical question to reference in order to close further questions as duplicates. This in turn lets SO be the source of programming information, which is I think what Joel wanted in the first place. – Michael McGowan Oct 19 '11 at 17:46
  • LMGTFY doesn't have a "nice mode." It has "normal" and "slightly less rude than normal." @Pekka – Pops Oct 19 '11 at 17:47
  • @Pop oops... I thought LMGTFY had a mode where you were taken directly to the search result, without any ado. Was that removed? Anyway, fair enough. Using LMGTFY is not okay. Directly linking to Google is. Although nowadays, with all the Ajax stuff, that isn't as easy as it used to be any more. – Pekka Oct 19 '11 at 17:49
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    @Michael the idea you express is very popular among Stack Overflow users, but I think it's plain wrong. There are questions that do not need to be answered on Stack Overflow. For example, "how do I get the sum of two integer variables in C". Or "how do I concatenate a string in JavaScript" . Or "how do I replace a string in another string in PHP". Stuff that is impossible to overlook in the most basic introduction to whatever language the OP is using, or where the canonical documentation page is the #1 hit on Google. – Pekka Oct 19 '11 at 17:50
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    Answering those questions is not making the Internet a better place, but polluting it with search engine hits that should be leading to the canonical documentation instead. Do you want to be used as a mechanical turk answering the questions of people who could get the answer faster on Google in exchange for some Internet Dollars? I don't. – Pekka Oct 19 '11 at 17:52
  • @UphillLuge love that movie – MichaelMackus Mar 24 '14 at 11:23

The lmgtfy.com site is too insulting. On Stack Overflow you are supposed to be nice.

Just post normal Google links (along with a constructive argument!) if you really need to.

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    yes I know nice, but if you see a user polluting SO with the same garbage questions over and over, you do not want the community to be tainted. – Naftali aka Neal Oct 19 '11 at 15:55
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    Just flag for moderator attention. – BalusC Oct 19 '11 at 15:55
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    I am not saying this user did, but what is the difference btw posting a lmgtfy link and a plain ol' google link? – Naftali aka Neal Oct 19 '11 at 15:55
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    As said, lmgtfy.com is too insulting. It's not nice. – BalusC Oct 19 '11 at 15:56
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    Well there is a nice feature. if you append &n=1 to the end of the URL – Naftali aka Neal Oct 19 '11 at 15:57
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    @AManAPlanACanalPanama - if the question is low quality you can a) ignore it, b) down-vote it, c) edit it into better shape, d) vote to close. You don't have to post an answer. – ChrisF Oct 19 '11 at 16:12
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    I can insult people much more without using LMGTFY. In fact, sometimes people deserve worse. (For the record, LMGTFY isn't rude. They are rude for not spending time googling it themselves and wasting my time by looking at the question.) – Thomas Eding Nov 16 '11 at 0:27
  • @trinithis: I too. I only don't insult them in person, but I just ignore the question and close it as Not a real question or Too localized depending on the context. This grows your skin. – BalusC Nov 16 '11 at 0:31

It's not the same thing since instead of going straight to google your link first went to TinyUrl, then to lmgtfy, then it slowly types in the phrase and finally it goes to google. So it's a lot slower and gives the user no information about where the link goes before he clicks it.
You could get the same effect faster by posting a link directly to google and telling the user that you think he's lazy and/or stupid.

And for the record, my understanding is that any links to URL shorteners are frowned upon as well as can be seen here: Ban URL shortening services and Let Me Flag That For You - URL Shortener Cleanup.


My litmus test for this is the following: if an answer can be applied to more than 10 questions per day, then it isn't an answer after all; it's a comment. If the question really calls for such an answer, then it should not be answered at all, but rather closed.

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    I am talking about a comment, not an answer. – Naftali aka Neal Oct 19 '11 at 17:06
  • @amanaPlanaCAnalPAnaMA I noticed that this is quite an old post — would you still like the ability to leave LMGTFY comments? – Steven Shaw Sep 1 '16 at 10:02
  • No @StevenShaw not really. – Naftali aka Neal Sep 1 '16 at 17:40
  • @amanaPlanaCAnalPAnaMA I thought it might pass :) – Steven Shaw Sep 1 '16 at 17:44

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