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RTFM is an initialism for the direction "read the fucking manual". This instruction is sometimes given in response to a question when the person being asked believes that the question could be easily answered by reading the relevant user's manual or instructions. It is also used to tell people to try to help themselves in obvious ways before seeking assistance from others. In expurgated texts, substitutions such as "read the flaming manual" or "read the friendly manual" are used[1] (or similar variants). On other occasions, the "F" is simply ignored.[2] The abbreviation can also be found on message boards, to mean "read the fucking (or first) message", or "read the FAQ, moron".

Since the rise of the Web, pervasive internet connectivity, and ubiquitous search, a similar type of response has involved the idea that by asking questions that could easily be answered by even the most cursory, obvious search, the user embarrasses himself by showing that the very idea of searching before asking didn't even occur to him. The most common variants of this type are GIYF ("Google is your friend") and LMGTFY ("let me google that for you"), both with a tone of patronizing helpfulness (with varying degrees of sarcasm). Often the responder will even insert a link into the reply that, when the user clicks it, will take them to a saved search query.[3] The clear implication is that "you should know by now to do this yourself."

Many alternative expansions for "RTFM" exist (particularly expurgated ones), as do many similarly themed alternative initialisms.


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