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Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)

by mr_leisure (Beadle)
on Jan 04, 2001 at 16:11 UTC ( #49738=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Slight point i would like to make here folks.

I got my first RTFM the other day, and wanted to make a point.

Although I know it may be frustrating (but i must say this chap is a very nice guy and is very helpful) for Perl Gurus to see dumb questions posted on their beloved site, I feel they should also be proud that, after some cursory research, I thought "Hey! I'll ask those crazy cats at, they're sure to give me a user-friendly tip or two regarding my dumb question!"

I honestly think I have more chance of understanding an answer I get on this site than most of the stuff I have read on Perl, with perhaps an exception to this guy's book. I am NOT whining, I am just saying, although it may be a trend to say RTFM, you should also be pleased is a highly valued resource among newbies/oldbies alike, and that it relies mainly on its flock (with exception to the Shepherd and his Colleagues) to keep going and remain numero uno.
That's all for now, ciao ciao
if ($mr_leisure) { bow; }
this is still not finished

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by davorg (Chancellor) on Jan 04, 2001 at 16:31 UTC

    It's nice that PerlMonks is seen as a friendlier place to get help than, say, comp.lang.perl.misc, but I think that the reasons why most questions get an RTFM reply in clpm still apply here.

    • There's the old "teach a man to fish" argument. We could hand you a fish every time you come to us, but it's ultimately more satisying for everyone if we run fishing lessons.
    • There's also the question of accuracy. The Perl docs have been read by every Perl expert over a number of years. Most (if not all) of the inaccuracies have been ironed out. You can be sure that the answer you get from perldoc will be correct. Everything you get here is just a monk's opinion. That opinion may well be spot on, but until you have been here long enough to know who's who, how do you know who to trust?

    Sometimes I hear people say that the Perl docs are too big and it's hard to find your way around. This was one of the reasons why I wrote the RTFM series of articles in Perlmonth.


    "Perl makes the fun jobs fun
    and the boring jobs bearable" - me

      I think it's more to do with the way people are told to RTFM than the fact that they've been told that in the first place. The attitude in clpm is more "God you're SO STUPID, WHY didn't you check manual X subsection Y paragraph 9.32?? I hate newbies like you! You're all morons!" rather than the attitude here, which seems to be much more helpful. The replies to mr_leisure's post are all basically telling him to RTFM, but also telling him where he should be looking, and mostly politely without any bitching about how he should have known where to look in the first place.

      'Course, this is just how I see things. I stopped reading clpm ages ago and it might have changed, and of course there are times when replies here are not exactly as friendly as they could be. This post does not affect your statutory rights to tell people to RTFM in any way you choose.

Re: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by repson (Chaplain) on Jan 04, 2001 at 17:32 UTC
    I don't find the RTFM reply as you got it to be very problematic. I think RTFM can be used as a way of stating with a few letters what you want to say in pointing someone in the direction of common information which they have been unable to find.

    Suggesting information sources is better than just extracting the desired information because the person has to do some information processing on their own for the solution. This is a general attitude I think can be useful for newbies in particular, but also anyone else in need, that people need to be able to effectivly find information on their own without relying on gods to always provide the snippet desired.

    Maybe people who learnt computers/programming originally in set lessons will feel differently than me. I'm pretty much fully self taught, from originally a university textbook on basic at the age of about 11ish, then some vb from tutorials, then a smidgen of C before I began perl from the the few chapters of Learning/Programming Perl I read while I had them temporarily. On the whole I find searching for or working out answers on my own more furfilling/enlightening than just asking and recieving RTFM or GRTN(go read this node). Possibly because of some experience in working things out myself I've gained from this I have never actually posted a question myself but always learnt from other peoples mistakes or mostly worked out things on my own. I find researching on other people's questions and projects such as what I put together for the jcwren programming challenge (It gave me an excuse to learn about HTML::Template and CSV) to give a kind of constant enlighenment.

    Maybe that isn't neccessarily the right way to do it, but it's what i've done so far (and I suppose its worked, sorta :). Anyway, enough rambling.

      Don't get me wrong here folks, this isn't a whinge.

      I posted this opinion of mine to the discussion area to promote a discussion, so I could gauge the feelings of the other users.

      Thanks for all the responses.

      if ($mr_leisure) { bow; }
      this is still not finished
by ichimunki (Priest) on Jan 04, 2001 at 18:00 UTC
    I'll try not to echo the other answers with respect to fishing and fish and eating and catching fish.

    I agree that it's sometimes frustrating to get a reference to an answer instead of an answer. My favorite answers are those that include the reference and a quick explanation of what you are looking for or will likely end up with. This way I don't have to wade into the docs completely clueless. Sometimes, however, the answer is best explained by the docs.

    Sometimes the docs really stink. Really. I have at least $125 worth of O'Reilly books which I use to supplement perldoc.

    I agree that sometimes it's hard to find good programming tutelage in perldoc (except for perlboot, this is a shining gem among POD). The POD is mostly a reference to functionality, in spite of some great explanatory sections.

    The questions least likely to get RTFM as responses are the ones which indicate that you've tried to find relevant bits in the FM and couldn't. Or show that you've read the FM but still have a question about xyz piece because the FM is Fing Obscure (see File::Find).

    As for RTFM, it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. At least there is a FM.{grin}
Re (tilly) 1: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by tilly (Archbishop) on Jan 04, 2001 at 23:29 UTC
    Chiming in with the general chorus, I think that RTFMs really are important. PerlMonks is not a help desk for your current crisis. It is a collection of people who like learning and teaching Perl. This means that often you will ask the question you think you want answered, but we will reply to the point we think people will learn most from.

    Often a valid point to make is that you didn't need to ask the question, merely put in some elbow grease.

    The subtext is that putting in elbow grease is how you make the transition from asking questions to being able to provide good answers. (Note: You typically can learn more from trying to answer questions well than you do from reading answers!) So it is a not so subtle way of encouraging people to become gurus themselves.

    But all that said, very often when the answer is RTFM, it is best to not actually say RTFM. The reaction to the phrase "RTFM" is likely to be negative. If you can find a phrasing that says, "The answer you will get will be a pointer to existing discussion that you can yourself with standard search tools" without saying, "You twit! Why didn't you find that answer yourself?", that is more likely to be heard and acted on.

    Sure, it might mean the same thing. But it is a useful social engineering point.

Re: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by clemburg (Curate) on Jan 04, 2001 at 18:05 UTC

    Very, very often answering an RTFM question with something else than RTFM (+ location where to look) is just a waste of time. Rewriting the (often excellent!) material in manuals and books is inefficient and error-prone.

    Also, I often feel that the homework before asking the question has not been done to the required extent, e.g., if I can get a pointer to an answer by just typing the question into a search engine (e.g.,, or by using perldoc.

    Just my 2 cent.

    Christian Lemburg
    Brainbench MVP for Perl

(Guildenstern) Re: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by Guildenstern (Deacon) on Jan 05, 2001 at 01:21 UTC
    I completely agree with you. Being told simply to RTFM (or that you don't know how to RTFM) is not the best way to go about it. Like the old adage says, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Negaterd character class uber alles!
Re: Lies Der Verdammten Buch! (RTFM)
by AgentM (Curate) on Jan 16, 2001 at 21:27 UTC

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