I've answered a Java question today. The answer was long and included a considerable amount of code. When I tried to post the answer, I got a cryptic error:

enter image description here

I've copied my text to an external editor, and tried posting parts using binary bisection. After some trial and error, the problem boiled down to a humoristic reference I made to LMGTFY.

It was very frustrating - I put some effort into an answer, and the error message didn't help me understand the problem, and wasn't even anywhere near the offending link (in this example, the link is at the top of the post, error message in the middle):

enter image description here

Could we change that to a meaningful error message, like:

Sorry, but "Let Me Google That For You" is not helpful and might be offensive. See why in our community discussion.

Update: Some comments suggest that we should not help rude users understand why they were rejected. I strongly disagree, for three reasons:

  1. There are probably many users who post a LMGTFY link as a part of a good answer as a comic relief. They shouldn't be punished.
  2. Users with tendency to rudeness can be schooled with a polite message that explains the reason behind blocking.
  3. A frustrated hacker will try to take vengeance on the system. We can expect a lot of url shorteners and other tricks when a user finds out the blocking reasons after banging the head against the wall.
  • 31
    Shouldn't that error message be a LMGTFY link about the state of LMGTFY on Stack Exchange? You know, to get the message across. Feb 25, 2013 at 13:18
  • Wow, that's brilliant. It would make the user smile, rather than grumble. Please suggest that as an answer.
    – Adam Matan
    Feb 25, 2013 at 13:28
  • 1
    Why help those folks out? They're not helping other people out.
    – user7116
    Feb 25, 2013 at 13:50
  • 6
    @sixlettervariables: if someone writes a full answer and includes on LMGTFY link, they'll get that message. If they can't figure out what the problem is, they will probably not post the answer. That's not good. Feb 25, 2013 at 13:55
  • 2
    @JoachimSauer: I think the set of users who write good answers AND drop a LMGTFY link into it without knowing it is a problem is a very small set. We could probably live without those answers.
    – user7116
    Feb 25, 2013 at 14:20
  • 14
    I prefer "Direct links to lmgtfy.com are too obvious. Please use an url shortener that redirects to LMGTFY instead." Feb 25, 2013 at 14:31
  • 4
    @sixlettervariables I've updated my answer to explain why. I spent ~10 minutes trying to figure out why an answer I put a lot of effort in was rejected.
    – Adam Matan
    Feb 25, 2013 at 14:31
  • 2
    @AdamMatan: why on earth did you think LMGTFY would be appropriate in an answer on a professional site?
    – user7116
    Feb 25, 2013 at 15:01
  • 2
    @CodesInChaos: You. I like you. Feb 25, 2013 at 15:15
  • 2
    I can't think of an instance where someone would use LMGTFY unless knowingly being at best snarky or pejorative, so I think the thinking here was the issue should be pretty obvious. However, I do rather like the text you suggested, and I tend to favor "here's why you should not do that" (if the 'why' is available) over "don't do that".
    – user50049
    Feb 25, 2013 at 15:25
  • 8
    @TimPost Well, one example that comes to mind is if there is already a post out there somewhere with a LMGTFY link in it and someone goes to edit it to improve some other unrelated problem, they'd get this error message and may not even realize that there's a LMGTFY link in there that ought to be edited out. Another case would be the link coming along for the ride in a copy/paste block making up a quote.
    – Servy
    Feb 25, 2013 at 15:33
  • @Servy Yeah, making it more descriptive is good all around.
    – user50049
    Feb 25, 2013 at 15:42
  • 1
    The error message now says to see Why can't I post LMGTFY links?. However, that is not clickable, and entering that question in a search at the given site, or even at meta stackexchange, is useless. Telling users to see something should provide a link to whatever it is that you want them to see. This UI interaction is just confusing.
    – Drew
    Jun 20, 2016 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


The error message now shows which phrase is banned:

enter image description here

  • That's closer to CodesInChaos's suggestion than to the original one, though. Since you're presumably storing a list of these banned strings somewhere, wouldn't it be possible to improve the user interface by adding a "rejection message" column (or equivalent) to whatever table they're stored in? It could still default to "X cannot contain 'Y'." if not explicitly specified. Mar 5, 2013 at 21:50
  • This doesn't resolve short links (e.g., bit.ly) to check for lmgtfy links.
    – Mooseman
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:40

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