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BS: Origin of RTFM

EBarnacle 10 Aug 10 - 11:46 AM
Little Hawk 10 Aug 10 - 11:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 10 - 12:10 PM
MMario 10 Aug 10 - 12:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Aug 10 - 12:33 PM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Aug 10 - 12:38 PM
jeffp 10 Aug 10 - 01:18 PM
katlaughing 10 Aug 10 - 01:24 PM
Amos 10 Aug 10 - 01:55 PM
EBarnacle 10 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 10 - 03:54 PM
gnu 10 Aug 10 - 04:10 PM
Joe_F 10 Aug 10 - 05:08 PM
JohnInKansas 10 Aug 10 - 05:38 PM
Naemanson 10 Aug 10 - 06:01 PM
Doug Chadwick 10 Aug 10 - 06:52 PM
open mike 10 Aug 10 - 08:55 PM
catspaw49 10 Aug 10 - 10:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 10 - 10:59 PM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Aug 10 - 01:09 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Aug 10 - 02:17 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Aug 10 - 02:18 AM
artbrooks 11 Aug 10 - 09:01 AM
The Fooles Troupe 11 Aug 10 - 09:28 AM
MudGuard 11 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM
EBarnacle 11 Aug 10 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Aug 10 - 11:59 AM
jeffp 11 Aug 10 - 12:16 PM
dick greenhaus 11 Aug 10 - 02:42 PM
Bert 11 Aug 10 - 02:49 PM
JohnInKansas 11 Aug 10 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Aug 10 - 01:49 PM
artbrooks 12 Aug 10 - 02:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 10 - 02:53 PM
mayomick 12 Aug 10 - 04:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 10 - 06:12 PM
mayomick 12 Aug 10 - 06:20 PM
mayomick 12 Aug 10 - 06:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Aug 10 - 08:19 PM
EBarnacle 12 Aug 10 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Aug 10 - 11:45 PM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Aug 10 - 11:48 PM

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Subject: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: EBarnacle
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 11:46 AM

I have been interested in the origin of this useful phrase. Wikipedia states that its first appearance in print was in 1951.

My theory is that it actually originated during WW II when so many other great initialisms began. RTFM literally tells the recipient to "Read the F---ing Manual." I believe that this is a side effect of the fact that we had a massive increase in the number of technical skills needed during the war and there was a corresponding increase in the number of different manuals. Prior to the war, there were some manuals but much of the learning was by the "each one teach one" system or by non-coms teaching trainees.

One of my uncles, who worked in electronics in the WW II navy, stated that he never heard the initialism but did hear the original phrase "When in doubt, read the f---ing manual" with some regularity.

Any ideas or direct experience going back that far?


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 11:57 AM

The original phrase probably goes back to the WWII era, I think. Another acronym along the same lines is FUBAR.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 12:10 PM

The army (WW2) often had sessions with groups of trainee specialists in which someone explained the main thrust of a manual, introducing them to it, and to the Army way of doing things.
I heard the phrase or versions of it, but don't recall ever hearing the initials used.

I remember RTM from communications, meaning Repeat the Message.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: MMario
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 12:11 PM

The phraSE I recall as far back as the early 60's; I don't recall seeing the initials or hear just the initials until the mid 80's


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 12:33 PM

Does anyone actually read the manual in advance? And make sense of it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 12:38 PM

McGrath of H:
That's two questions, you realize.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: jeffp
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 01:18 PM

Real users don't read manuals.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 01:24 PM

No, they call tech support!


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Amos
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 01:55 PM

Au contraire--on some new devices I read the whole manual first, just to see what I'm getting into.

RTFM in my experience developed in the tech support community in the 60s and 70's. I never head it being used in a WWII context the way FUBAR and SNAFU were.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: EBarnacle
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 03:43 PM

Amos, I originally thought the same thing until I read the Wiki entry. Then, I went through the line of thought I mentioned above, including SNAFU, FUBAR, etc. I hope someone here who was involved in WW II can give a more definitive answer.

This is actually a search for the truth if it is still determinable.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 03:54 PM

I was in WW2. My comments are posted above.
I believe Amos is correct.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: gnu
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 04:10 PM

Amos... "Au contraire--on some new devices I read the whole manual first, just to see what I'm getting into."

And, now that many manuals are available on the internUt, one can peruse a manual before one purchases (or does not purchase) the product.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Joe_F
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 05:08 PM

When confused, read the manual, which will give you a good excuse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 05:38 PM

RTFM is an obsolete term, as there is no manual for any of the more recent tech systems.

An apparently authoritative reference for "jargon" associated with early computer days was called the Hackers Dictionary, or New Hackers Dictionary. published by MIT Press. The first couple of editions gave a lot of detailed history about the terms. Where possible, originators were credited, and in cases where no specific source was known, first usages were pretty well documented. Origins of terms used "BC" (before computers) were pretty well researched, with at least suggestions of how the terms "morphed" into IT usage.

The later edition(s?) dropped a lot of the most interesting stuff, indicating that popularizing colloquial usages leads to degenerattion of the language subset and disinterest in history or accuracy among users of the terms.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Naemanson
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 06:01 PM

I recently (and for the first time) heard 'RTFM' on a TV program and thought they'd made it up. I thought it was pretty clever of them and I was highly amused. It's good to know that it has some history to it.

The program was Warehouse 13 and they chose the youngest character to say it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 06:52 PM

It may have been round since World War II   but I had to have it explained to me over on the Paint Drying thread.


DC


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: open mike
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 08:55 PM

ok, then, not RCMP or ROTFL

with RTFM, SNAFU, and FUBAR
we might inspire a whole new
round of "clean up your act"
or CUYA


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 10:11 PM

Considering how many people post around here without reading what is already there, I'm for modifying this a bit to:

RTFTA---Read The Fuckin' Thread Asshole.

I can link to at least 30 threads currently running where it is obvious someone has posted without reading the previous posts. You can generally find one of these limpdicks becasue they are posting the same thing that has been said already, sometimes several times by other limpdicks who don't read the thread.

RANT OFF


Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 10 - 10:59 PM

When you are the tail on a many-posted thread, just go ahead and post as if you were number two- or just copy number two. Very few people will notice that it is a duplication.

Or borrow Catspaw's first post- not even he will remember.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 01:09 AM

I'm with you, Spaw.

People don't even have to READ a thread. All they have to do is search (CTRL F) for key words.

My husband works in a field where public hearings and proposals are common. It is important to inform people of what the project is and to get approval. However, it is estimated that people comprehend less than half of what they read or hear.

Pitiful, aint it?

==========
As for RTFM, I have to smile at the idea that a manual would actually help. Oh, it may get you started, but if there's a problem at all complex, the manual is probably useless.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 02:17 AM

"the idea that a manual would actually help. Oh, it may get you started, but if there's a problem at all complex, the manual is probably useless. "


Of course these days, mobs like MicroCrap has made manuals useless.

When I was on the KL-10 (a DEC timesharing mainframe), it was not uncommon to have to program using the System calls. I still have the manual. I read it many times, each time learning something new that had not sunk in before.

Of course these days, mobs like MicroCrap has made manuals useless.

See almost nobody noticed that I duplicated a line - and RTFM to know how to hide this line! :-P


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 02:18 AM

"the manual is probably useless"

Complex problems are usually a conflation of simple problems - except when MS redo the interface....


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: artbrooks
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 09:01 AM

It is now common to integrate the manual (what there is of it) into computer programs. Of course, it is impossible to find anything and it is even more useless if you can't get the damned thing to work in the first place. That has resulted (in the US, at least) in a series of books called "The Missing Manual". I have several.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 09:28 AM

All of mine are missing, Art....

Better than the useless & missing manual joke is the great Joke imposed on Win 7 users - they bluntly tell you that there is nothing in the 'bundled manual' then blithely ask you if you would like to .... wait for it ....

"Ask a Friend"

namely some random anonymous idiot on the Internet who will probably feed you a total useless crock of shit...

I ended up writing my old "Guide to Win 95/98/Win Genericus" on the web as an act of self defense...

I'm not making this up....


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: MudGuard
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM

I think you are wrong, the F doesn't stand for f---ing.

It stands for "fine" ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 11:32 AM

What you are saying, Q, agrees with what my uncle told me. It would appear that it morphed into an initialism sometime between WW II and 1951, which was the first appearance in print.

Again, considering that the others appeared during the war, I find it a bit strange that a commonly used phrase, did not become an initialism in that period. The search goes on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 11:59 AM

Inadequate manuals aren't just caused by Microsoft. They are everywhere.

In 1980 I took a course in computer programming at a community college. It was taught by the head of the department, one of the pioneers of computer use.

He told us that when a company develops a new product, it almost always goes over budget. The writing of manuals comes at the end of the process, by which time the project is in the red, and management is jumping at every small, sharp noise. Naturally the least amount of time and money possible goes into the manuals. And it shows.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: jeffp
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 12:16 PM

Not to mention that the budget for technical editing is way under what it needs to be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 02:42 PM

When all else fails, read the instructions. It that doesn't work, try following them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Bert
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 02:49 PM

Leenia,

I once worked for a software company who wrote the user manual first.
When the customer approved it, the manual became the contract document.
Then they wrote the code.

It worked great.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 11 Aug 10 - 05:47 PM

One of "Company M's" weaknesses - as I observed - with respect to manuals (and books) was that the proofing, editing, and in early times the typesetting, was done mostly by contract workers. The contract teams generally included a tech editor, usually quite capable, indexer, proofers, etc, but "Company M" absolutely refused to permit any of the team to contact the authors, except by relaying everything through "Corporate management."

The contract invariably expired before the author knew (s)he'd produced a SNAFU, and in the rare event that an author accepted a correction it never got back to the team in time to be incorporated.

Although not widely used, FUBMI was heard - F*d Up By Management Intervention - although that's almost the sole cause of the more widely used FUBAR. (Recollection is that the Hackers Dictionary defined FUBAR as "the result of applying management assistance to a SNAFU.")

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 01:49 PM

Bert, that sounds heavenly.

John, that system sounds awful. It does give management something to do, however. They need that once in a while.

dick, rotsa ruck. I just set up a system for recording my LP's onto CD's. If I had followed instructions, it never would have worked. I contacted Customer Service, got further clarification, and by reversing one step they told me to take, got it going.

The trick is knowing which step to reverse.
=========
As for the origins of RTFM, I recently read "Is Paris Burning?" a book about one part of World War II. It's improbable that the men involved in that hellish mess would get manuals or be able to lay hands on them when needed. No, I suspect the saying comes from a later, more organized time.

Not to mention that the guy you insult by saying 'RTFM' might be the guy you want to save your life down the road...


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: artbrooks
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 02:00 PM

The US Army has a series of books called Field Manuals (FMs), often written at about the 3rd grade level, and a more complicated set called Technical Manuals (TMs). I'm sure other branches and other nations have the equivalent. They have been around since at least WW2. I wouldn't be at all surprised if RTFM originally meant "read the Field Manual (for that piece of equipment)".


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 02:53 PM

We had numerous manuals available in WW2, but never heard or saw R---.
All conceivable topics (Abebooks has over 3000 matches to Army training manuals alone).
I kept some of the manuals after I left the Army, esp. ones on medical subjects since I thought about being a doctor, and I still have one on haemotological tests. I wish I had got the ones for cooks for my cookbook collection.
Some were very good;, particularly interesting were the little ones on customs and language of specific peoples.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: mayomick
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 04:59 PM

You know what .Considering how many people post on this site without reading what is already there I think RTFA should be changed to read

RTFTA---Read The Fuckin' Thread Asshole.

There are loads of threads like that - I can think of thirty one at least. It seems obviouhs to me that a lot of people are too bloody dumb -either that or TFL (too fucking lazy) to read the preceding posts.It's easy to spot the fuckers , they post exactly the same thing that someone else said before.Sometimes they even make the same points that have been made several times .


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 06:12 PM

Mayonaisemick has just reposted Catspaw's comments of August 10. He obviously didn't read before posting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: mayomick
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 06:20 PM

twyfw


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: mayomick
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 06:28 PM

I was going to write YSC at the end of my last post but i didn't want to sound too crude


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 08:19 PM

Crudity obvious, sound unnecessary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: EBarnacle
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 08:30 PM

Let's try to stick to the question. So far, Q has been the most on point and helpful.

I'm still wondering when the switch from phrase to initialism too place.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 11:45 PM

Thanks for the info about manuals in the Army, Q and Art. That's interesting.

When I said they might not have had manuals, I was picturing inside a tank or mud-covered jeep. (The book was pretty vivid.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Origin of RTFM
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Aug 10 - 11:48 PM

I forget to say, art, that I like your idea about 'Read the Field Manual.'   Makes sense.


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