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Sorry, I guess I'm old.

On one of my questions, I was asked for the "TL;DR version".

What does that mean?

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  • 14
    d00d, ppl on teh internets have short attenshun spanz and pore English skillz.
    – user27414
    Nov 23, 2010 at 20:07
  • 10
    I wish I didn't know what tl;dr meant; it would mean the sites I frequent aren't infested with impatient children Nov 23, 2010 at 20:32
  • "Too old" in this context means "to have an attention span longer than 0.1 ms and thus be able to read a block of text that's longer than 140 characters."
    – MPelletier
    Nov 23, 2010 at 20:34
  • 2
    Hmm... Old fogey though I am I like to see a slightly-longer-than-the-title summary on questions that require a gray wall of text to adequately describe so that I can decide if I want to read the whole thing. Nov 23, 2010 at 20:49
  • 2
    I had to google for TL;DR the first time I saw it too (a few months ago) and I'm only 25 Nov 23, 2010 at 23:12
  • Henceforth I shall name my documentation files that.
    – mario
    Nov 24, 2010 at 0:47
  • 1
    For long time I've thought that people writing that have problems noticing that escaping HTML entities didn't work Jun 12, 2013 at 10:11

3 Answers 3

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Too Long; Didn't Read

It means they want a summarized version.

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  • 6
    TL;DR: shorter plz
    – badp
    Nov 23, 2010 at 20:07
  • 2
    Thanks. I guess that means a lazy reader who couldn't read a page of text. I would welcome someone creating a "summarized" version that could still be answered. Nov 23, 2010 at 20:07
  • 9
    @John - try "Need SQL Help! URGENT!!!"
    – user27414
    Nov 23, 2010 at 20:08
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    @JonB: I'd try that, but the only possible answer would be the URL to Books Online. Nov 23, 2010 at 20:09
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    @John Saunders: It doesn't necessarily indicate laziness on the part of the reader. It could easily indicate laziness on the part of the questioner. Nov 24, 2010 at 15:38
  • 2
    @David: but since the questioner is me, that is certainly not the case. Nov 24, 2010 at 18:20
  • So, it's a comment, and answers with TL;DR should be flagged as NAns? Jun 12, 2013 at 10:09
  • @ŁukaszLech, if that's the only content of the answer then yes. If someone provides an in-depth answer then includes a tl;dr version, that would be fine.
    – Brandon
    Jun 12, 2013 at 14:39
  • @Brandon OK but generally, if someone writes TLDR, it means, they didn't ever read the answer? Or it's just bantering with OP? Jun 12, 2013 at 15:00
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It's an abbreviation for "Too Long; Didn't Read".

What it means on SO is that somebody didn't feel like digging into what you wrote for all the details without more guidance in the way of a summary. Since you're asking for help, and you're going to get it from unpaid volunteers who do it for their own reasons, you might then consider getting the question into a more readable form.

There are people on this site who get ticked at being asked to figure out a question when the questioner didn't seem to care enough to be clear and explicit. Usually, they'll go away and not pay any attention to your question. Posting something like "tl;dr", while perhaps a bit rude, is a useful suggestion.

Fundamentally, two things will happen to any unpaid Q&A site. Either there will be some action to keep the quality of the questions up, or the people who actually know things and are useful go away. We've already lost a really good C++ guy, apparently fed up with question quality among other things.

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  • did you look at the question? If you can think of a simpler way to explain what I needed, I'd love to know it. I'm not an expert on relational database theory. Nov 24, 2010 at 18:21
  • @John: When I first saw the question, I didn't read it. It looked forbidding, like a wall of text. My first point is that it looked unappetizing, and the "tl;dr" commentator was pointing that out. My second is that you are asking unpaid people to help, and accusing them of laziness strikes me as being overly demanding and ungrateful. I'm not saying anything about the original question (and I'm glad you got useful answers), since this wasn't a question like "How could I improve my question so nobody thinks 'tl;dr'?" Nov 24, 2010 at 19:10
  • my point is that I don't think the amount of text is excessive for a question of that nature. I could be proved wrong by someone showing me a way to simplify the question. I know the answerers are unpaid (otherwise someone owes me money), but if I'm right that it's not too much text for the problem, then nobody looking at the question should think it's too much text. Please show me where my reasoning is wrong. Nov 24, 2010 at 19:58
  • @John: Empirically, I was turned off by the appearance of the question, and so apparently was the person who posted "tl;dr". I don't think it's the amount of text, but rather the lack of an easily distinguishable summary. (Yes, I know the first paragraph is one, but that's after reading the question.) Setting those off with "Summary:" and "Examples:" might be all that's needed. As far as your reasoning being wrong, the problem is that it's reasoning as opposed to observation. Empirically, something is unattractive about your question. Nov 24, 2010 at 20:26
  • I was hampered by not knowing the correct terms for the "key" and "more than the key" columns. Nov 24, 2010 at 20:34
2

Wiktionary also contains Internet slang words. For TLDR ("TL;DR" is listed as "alternative"):

English

Alternative forms

  • tldr

  • TL;DR

  • tl;dr

  • * TL/DR

  • tl/dr

  • teal deer

Initialism

TLDR

  1. (Internet) too long; didn't read. Used to indicate that one didn't read the whole text.
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  • 1
    There are people who seriously say "teal deer"?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 24, 2010 at 20:35
  • 4
    @Grace: there are people who put one inch diameter holes in their ears. I saw one last week. Eery. Nov 24, 2010 at 20:42

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