Potentially Useful

Writing boring posts is okay

Please don’t be unhelpful on the internet

in: Programming

One of my top pet-peeves on internet discussion and help boards (dating back to the Usenet days, covering the web forum era, and continuing in this current age of Stack Overflow hegemony) occurs when a person replies to a request for help or information with a smarmy and dismissive, “have you tried searching the internet?”1. It’s rude and unhelpful, but there are plenty of rude and unhelpful things on the ’net; what elevates this behavior to infuriating is that in 100% of the cases I’ve encountered these posts, I found them because I’m searching the internet with the same problem.

Not only does this behavior waste the time of the person being “punished” for… What? Asking a question the wrong way? …It wastes the time of every subsequent person who’s doing exactly the thing they’re supposed to be doing.

Please stop writing replies like this. If you’ve done it recently, consider revisiting the message and apologizing. Moving forward, feel free to ignore questions you don’t like; if you want to show off you’re welcome to respond as tersely as you’d like with a pointer a good source of information (such as the relevant section of the documentation—which now only appears in web search results after pages and pages of Stack Overflow posts full of this stuff). Future searchers will appreciate you, and right now they definitely do not.

  1. Or its pre-search antecedent, “have you tried reading the manual?”, a sentiment sometimes abbreviated as “RTFM”. ↩︎