Why questions don't get answered, or "No, I've already RTFM, tell me the answer!"

Mike McCarty mike.mccarty at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 29 22:41:25 UTC 2005

Charles Howse wrote:
> I'd like to start a calm, respectful, reasonable discussion of the reasons
> that we tell people to RTFM, or reasons that people don't get their
> questions answered on mailing lists and usenet groups.


Sorry, couldn't resist :-)

Google for

+how +ask +question

turns up a very good site.


> I don't really know where to start, so here are some random thoughts...
> Maybe I got told to RTFM because I missed something in it?  Well, could you
> just politely point me to the section I missed, please?  Or give me a link
> to a howto or some html page where it is explained?

That's the job of "apropos". You might need to pipe into "grep".

> Maybe the question has been answered in the FAQ for the list?  Just point me
> to it, you don't have to say anything else.

That's a whole separate issue. One should first lurk. If one cannot find
the pointer to the FAQ using Google, or lurking, then a quick request
for a pointer to the FAQ doesn't get bad results. Asking questions
which are in the FAQ w/o having looked for it is bad manners.

> I've seen lots of posts to this list and others with no subject or a subject
> that has nothing to do with the question, but the question was answered
> respectfully.  So, when I post with a good subject, one that will show up in
> a Google search, help me out.

I normally delete entire threads if they don't have a subject or a
subject of "(none)". The only question more stupid than an unasked
one is one with a subject of "(none)", IMO.


> I think the members of this list are mostly doing things the way I would
> like to see them done, but I also think we could all do better, eh?
> I don't mean to step on any toes, just want to start some discussion.
> Does anyone else have any thoughts on why questions don't get the respectful
> treatment they deserve?

Hmm? Very rare here, I think.

This message made from 100% recycled bits.
You have found the bank of Larn.
I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you.
I speak only for myself, and I am unanimous in that!

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