There's this bit listed in the Code of Conduct as the first example of "unfriendly behavior":

Then there's this comment:

Now, I've written my fair share of rude comments, but I do believe that telling someone to "read the fucking manual" definitely crosses the line of what should be allowed in here. Unfortunately the moderators don't seem to agree with me in that regard:

Given the above I'd like to ask whether others consider it acceptable or not and whether there's still any point to having a "code of conduct" if it doesn't really count?

  • 16
    Before anyone else downvotes they should RT...oh wait Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 2:08
  • 3
    Before anyone else downvotes, they should Google this in 5 seconds.
    – iBug
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 5:05

2 Answers 2


As a sentiment, 'RTFM' isn't acceptable in a comment

Back in the days of yore on a certain popular website 'RTFA' was somewhat playfully assumed to stand for "Read The Fine Article"†. Even if we assume a different word in 'RTFM', the sentiment is not what we want in comments here on Super User.

The user in question had an opportunity to omit that part, or to phrase it more along the lines of what the CoC suggests, for example, minimally:

LoadModule is a statement in an apache config file

Or even better, as Ramhound's comment above put it:

LoadModule isn't a console command. It is something that would be contained within your Apache configuration files. There are community tools that will help you configure Apache to support SSL/TLS. I suggest you try one those tools to get you started.

It is unnecessary, and the sentiment which it conveys is unfriendly.

† Back in the day, 'RTFM', 'RTFA' and similar expressions were the norm. They were shorthand ways of conveying anything from "reading the manual will help you understand the system better and is a good idea" (most charitably), to "this is trivial, if you had read the manual you would know this" (less so), to "I am uninterested in giving advice / your question bores or annoys me" (least charitably).

We've moved beyond those days.

If you want to say that someone's understanding of the overall system would be improved by reading the documentation, say that. It's easy to do in a way that isn't unfriendly. If you want to say "this is trivial" or "your question bores me"... don't.

PS: Some folks can be frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of effort; that's understandable- don't let frustrations colour your actions

Flags can sometimes be wrongly handled

Secondarily, people are human, mistakes happen. A flag can be misread, or misconstrued; and handled in a way that you might not expect. That doesn't necessarily mean there's a shift in policy.

Any concerns about handling of these things can be brought up in the Ask a Super User moderator chat room.

All the Super User mods check this room periodically

  • 19
    Was my commentary actually used as an example of what to say? Is the world ending or something? :-$
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 13:12
  • Don't let it get to your head @Ramhound. I still start each session on SU by asking myself "Why would Ramhound do this?" and then, usually, doing something effectively the same but for very different reasons. Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 20:03
  • @music2myear - I would never let something like that go to my head.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 20:39
  • If I were to design, I would threat it as a keyword and replace the magic (RTFM), as the user types it, with an iconic smiley face with a booklet open in-front. This would have a tool-tip "Read the fancy manuals" when hovered by mouse.
    – F.I.V
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 6:23

I've deleted said comment. It was rather snippy and yeah... in most cases RTFM isn't the right way to put it, COC or not. Its gotten a little reflexive, sadly

I'll leave a note, and check up on what happened.

  • 7
    people are so easily offended nowadays… The end is nigh I guess. Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 17:02
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    They are. And that's why I try very hard to judge if a comment is useful and actually is helpful in solving the problem. People are easily offended. Both if we act, and if we don't. And sometimes someone has to make that choice, and communicate that choice (and yeah,I had a word with a fellow mod over why I disagreed with that). Is the end nigh? maybe, but what's the end nigh of?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 4:10
  • 2
    @LogicDaemon Are they, though, or are easily offended people just more visible in this day and age? Before social media, I assumed everyone had a basic grasp of science, but that was only because everyone around me seemed to have that basic grasp. Germs didn't start to exist when we invented the microscope, and people with autism existed before we had a word for the condition - let us not make the mistake of assuming that things began to exist only after we discovered that they were there. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 22:25
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    @AaronMason I agree, this is probably the case. I'll re-formulate then: «so many easily offended people put themselves into the spotlight and on the edge nowadays, looking to be offended… The end is nigh I guess.» Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 7:08
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    If you want to put it that way - grawity has a record of excellent contributions to the site, and brought up an issue. I'd posit.... Perhaps you are the one being offended, and somewhat hyperbolic.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 7:19
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    It's usually "nigh to" or similar, not "of".
    – JdeBP
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 17:53
  • 1
    I'd grant that, but the point stands. I'm unsure how this ends anything at all.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 17:55

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