A number of times I have asked questions that what I really need is either a link to the relevant section of the docs (because I can't find it) or a few terms to Google (because I can't seem to figure out what people call something). What should people do to avoid getting RTFM like answers?

If people knew what it stood for I'd start using a WTFM tag.

3 Answers 3


Have your questions specifically said "I'd love to RTFM, but I can't find the relevant bit of the docs - links would be very welcome!" This feels like it's another symptom of this more general issue.

Sometimes answerers won't read questions carefully, admittedly - I know I've been guilty of that on multiple occasions - but at least if you have requested documentation (and potentially explained how you've tried to find it) it's reasonable to disregard and possibly downvote answers which ignore that.

  • I'm thinking that this is a common enough problem to have a short hand way to say exactly that.
    – BCS
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:30
  • Really? I can't say that I remember many questions explicitly saying that. If you find people are ignoring that aspect of the question, try putting it in bold :)
    – Jon Skeet
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:39
  • Unless I'm the exception, I think your comment supports my point. about 1 in 5 to 10 questions I ask fall into this class. And as for a lot of them, they would be doubled in length if I tried to explain this point in the question text.
    – BCS
    Jun 28, 2009 at 20:17
  • I suggest you are the exception here... not that I've seen "RTFM" in many answers, either. If explaining what you've tried doubles the length of the post, so be it. More informative questions are never a bad thing.
    – Jon Skeet
    Jun 28, 2009 at 20:47

Why don't you simply ask?

A question along the lines of:

"I want to do X but can't find the documentation. I've Googled, but come up with nothing".

shouldn't get you RTFM answers.

  • See comment to Jon Skeet and I have gotten what amounts to RTFM out of questions just like that.
    – BCS
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:31

Nothing. Clarify in the comments of the RTFM-answer that you can't find the manual. Make it clear in your question, too.

  • Part of the issue is that I don't want someone to go out and solve my problem for me (that's my job after all) but rather just give me a pointer in the correct direction. The other part is that having a compact way to express this makes it much easier to for people to "get" what I'm looking for.
    – BCS
    Jun 28, 2009 at 20:15
  • It doesn't matter how 'compact' you express it. You can write a sentence, you can use a tag, people can miss it when reading your post. Just re-mention it and ask politely for help getting a hint. Jun 28, 2009 at 20:35

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