The RTFM 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. In expurgated texts, substitutions such as "read the flaming manual", "read the fine manual" or "read the friendly manual" are used (or similar variants). Initialisms similar to RTFM include GIYF ("Google is your friend") and LMGTFY ("let me google that for you"). These indicate that the item under question can easily be researched on the World Wide Web.
Many alternative expansions for "RTFM" exist, as do many similarly themed alternative initialisms.
The phrase RTFM may have first appeared in print in 1979 on the Table of Contents page of the LINPACK Users' Guide in the form: "R.T.F.M." -- Anonymous. Apocryphally, some of the authors heard it from a Tektronix salesman.
John Bear's 1983 book Computer Wimp! 166 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Bought My First Computer! discusses the author hearing employees of a computer store mention RYFM ("Read Your F---- Manual").
The phrase RTFM was in common use in the early 1950s by radio and radar technicians in the US armed forces. Operators frequently did not check simple faults; for example, checking whether a fuse had blown or a power plug had become disconnected. A common query would be, "Did you check the oh en oh ef ef switch (On/Off)."
List of similar initialisms
Encouraging the reading of the manual or other background information
- RTBM ("read the bloody manual") (In some countries, e.g., the UK and Australia, this is a fractionally more polite alternative with identical meaning)
- RTFA ("read the fucking/featured article"—common on news forums such as Fark.com and Slashdot, where using "TFA" instead of "the article" has become a meme)
- RTFE ("read the fucking e-mail")
- RTFC ("read the fucking code" [also "reboot the fucking computer" or "read the fucking card"])
- RTFSC ("read the fucking source code")
- RTFQ ("read the fucking question")
- RTFFAQ ("read the fucking frequently asked questions")
- UTFH ("use the fucking help")
- UTSL ("use the source, Luke", a play on the famous Star Wars quote, "Use the Force, Luke", referring to freely available source code)
- RTFI ("read the flaming instructions")
- RTFB ("read the fucking brief" common in advertising, design, photography)
- RTFP ("read the fucking plan" common in construction, engineering, stage design)
- RTFS ("read the fucking syllabus" common in any academic field towards undergraduates in their classes) Alternatively "read the fucking stickys" (on message boards with information contained in "sticky" threads.)
Encouraging the use of at least a basic search
- UTFG ("Use the fucking Google")
- GIYF ("Google is your friend") ("Google it yourself fucker") ("Google it you fool")
- JFGI ("just fucking Google it")
- LMGTFY ("let me google that for you") The basis for the website lmgtfy.com
- JFWI ("just fucking Wiki it")
- JGIYN ("just Google it, you noob")
- STFG ("search the fucking Google") (the initials are consonant with STFU)
- STFW ("search the fucking Web") (the initials are consonant with STFU)
- WIDGI ("when in doubt, Google it"—also occasionally "WIDGIT")
Retorts for the acronyms above
- WABM ("write a better manual" – an answer complaining that the manual is not written well)
|Look up RTFM or RTFA in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Howard, Michael, David LeBlanc, and John Viega. 19 Deadly Sins of Software Security: Programming Flaws and How to Fix Them. New York: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2005. ISBN 0-07-226085-8.
- Dongarra, J. J., C. B. Moler, J. R. Bunch, and G. W. Stewart. LINPACK User's Guide. Philadelphia: SIAM, 1979. ISBN 0-89871-172-X.
- Sperberg, Luther (1984-04-03). "Don't Be a Computer Wimp". PC Magazine. p. 261. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "RTBM definition". foldoc.com. Retrieved 2009-12-08.
- "Routine traffic stop has man up in arms. Er, caught red-handed. Er, never mind, just RTFA". Fark.com. 2008-11-28. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- "RTFM is a four-letter word". Software Sustainability Institute. Retrieved 2 December 2013.