RTFM — a critique

I have an RTFM sticker on my laptop, but it's not because I'm in favor of spouting off "RTFM" to any poor noob who had the misfortune of asking a simple question. I have the sticker on my laptop as a reminder to myself that I don't want to live in an RTFM world.

I've been in many circumstances where the "FM" is either incomplete, inaccessible, out of date, or completely absent. Furthermore, I want to live in and foster an environment where it's okay to ask (and answer) questions. Even (especially) simple questions with pre-existing easy-to-find answers. I want to be a part of an open and welcoming learning community. Manuals were not made for beginners, they were made for experts as a thorough and concise description of a tool.

The RTFM mindset does nothing to increase the amount of freely available knowledge in the world, and I'm inclined to argue that it even does nothing to benefit the world. By answering (or even pointing someone to the answer) we leave the world better than we found it.

That isn't to say I don't understand the temptation though. However, I firmly believe that it is never acceptable to sit on our lofty pedestal of natural, innate, instinctive, and completely intuitive mastery of technical skills while looking down on someone so unfortunate as to not be in our position.

This doesn't relieve people from the responsibility to do their own work, and put forth effort in finding the information they need; This rant isn't at all related at the people asking the questions, it's a critique of those answering the questions.

I believe we should treat these all people with dignity, respect, and patience (deserved because they're human beings, not because of anything they did/didn't do). If we can't be bothered to give a constructive answer, at the very least we can point them to the answer a la LMGTFY. The world (that I want to live in) has no room for pompous assholes tearing into someone for not being on their level.

Please think about your words before you respond to irritation.