I was a bit surprised it wasn't on there already, right next to LMGTFY. But I can't think of any reason it would be appropriate to put RTFM in a post or comment.

  • 1
    Irony: your post and this discussion would not have been possible with this rule enabled. :-) Also, we would see "R-T-F-M", "R.T.F.M." or "RTF*M" etc.
    – splattne
    Oct 31, 2012 at 7:54
  • Um, no... The Blacklists are per site. Apparently nobody understands how they work. =[
    – Chris S
    Oct 31, 2012 at 13:09
  • 2
    If nobody understands how they work it can only be due the complete lack of documentation. When it comes to understanding how SE works ignorance is an excuse, because it's being carefully cultivated. Nov 1, 2012 at 3:33

3 Answers 3


It sounds good at first glance, until you get into the details...

As of now there are 97 posts containing rtfm. Among them I see:

One thing I didn't see from my short spot check was misuse of "RTFM". Such things should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as they are now.

  • 97 posts isn't a terrible amount of posts to re-write
    – pauska
    Oct 30, 2012 at 15:57
  • 4
    @pauska It is when they don't need to be rewritten.
    – Wesley
    Oct 30, 2012 at 15:59
  • 3
    If you ban "RTFM" on these grounds, you may as well ban "Google" on these grounds as well. Oct 30, 2012 at 15:59
  • Fine, don't rewrite them but block future posts from containing the acronym? I can't see how blocking "RTFM" is bad, when we block people from writing "Help" in a title..
    – pauska
    Oct 30, 2012 at 16:04
  • "Why can't I paste the output of installing rvm into a Server Fault question?" Oct 30, 2012 at 16:05
  • Banning it wouldn't necessitate rewriting any existing questions... We can also make an exemption for when the content contains "RVM" as well. I'm a bit miffed that RVM even does that. The rest, I really don't see self-deprecation as an excuse. But I'll agree that it may need some more thought.
    – Chris S
    Oct 30, 2012 at 16:51

RTFM is (was) an actual product - It is entirely conceivable that we would encounter questions about this product (as a component of the relatively common RT ticketing system), and there are parts of RT that still refer to "RTFM" even though it's no longer a discrete product.
It would be rather unpleasant for us to turn around and tell someone they can't ask their question because the name of the product they're asking about is a bad word.

More broadly, I would rather not see us applying word-bans to correct bad behavior - If people are being dicks we have existing tools (peer pressure, edits, mod messages, suspensions, whomping shovels, personal responsibility) to deal with this, and I'm all for applying those tools liberally.
I think word bans should be saved for truly egregious problems (like LMGTFY), spam, etc.


Sorry but sometimes RFTM is the correct answer. We see far too many posts which would never have been required if the asker had simply done the right thing and read the documentation.

Instead of creating a blanket ban on the term shouldn't we instead simply close any questions where RTFM is given in either an answer or a comment? Don't treat the symptom. Treat the disease instead.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .