RTFM

One of the key parts of the mindset we are trying to develop is sharing knowledge with others. A great quote on the subject is 'There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.'

If you're just starting off, you might not think you have anything to provide, but in fact, you're looking at the world with a different perspective than someone who has done it for years. For example, you can provide feedback on when training makes no sense or isn't as effective as it could be, and help make it easier for the next person to go through it. This site is a work in progress and the more feedback we receive the better it will be.

So with that said, you're definitely going to have questions. A negative aspect about hacker culture is the idea that someone should "Read the F***ing Manual" or "RTFM". The first recorded use of this was in a user manual for some program in 1979, so it goes way back. On first glance, RTFM is a great response for any question that could and should have been answered by a casual glance at the manual. The problem with this response is that a large body of knowledge is usually required to understand the manual, and even before that, you need to know the manual exists. If you are taking this course, there is no possible way you can be expected to understand a manual because you are just getting started.

Man-Pages

The most common "manual" you will come across in this course and your travels through hackerdom are the man-pages that accompany every single aspect of the Unix operating system. Man-pages are short for manual pages, and they are a great resource for people who have spent time learning how to understand them. Right now, you don't have the knowledge to be expected to understand how they work, and that is fine. There is no pressure to know anything, but there is pressure to learn.

In Defense of RTFM

RTFM gets a bad rap for good reason, because it is usually used as a put down on someone who doesn't know much about a subject... with that said, once you have the knowledge to understand a topic, if you are using that software, you should read the documentation or man-page. Even if you don't understand the manual, if you are going to ask a question, you might as well reference that you know the manual exists and that what you are asking is referenced, you just need clarification. If you ask questions effectively you will find you understand your initial question and the topic much better than if you had someone explain the answer to just your specific question.

Asking Questions

To put it bluntly, you will never get a nasty response on Roppers for asking a question (Can't say the same about the rest of the internet). Anytime you find yourself lost in the sauce, I need you need to tell me so I can modify the course to help everyone else out. When you need help, post in the Slack in #course_computing, or in #techsupport if it is a general technology question. I will try to answer as soon as I can, or other members of the community will help you out.

Google and Search Terms

There are very few questions you are going to ask that Google can't answer, but for right now, you probably don't even know what you should be googling for. Luckily, you have people here who can help you. One of the best questions you can ask is for search terms on a subject. Post in #techsupport or #course_computing and phrase it along the lines of "Hey I don't understand this, but I'm not getting great results. What are some search terms I should use?".

This is a great way to go about things because:

a) That way the person answering doesn't have to spend time explaining it b) you get all the benefits of doing the research yourself

Learning how to solve problems on your own is a critical skill, but don't worry about it for now. Not knowing what is going on is encouraged here at Roppers.

Last modified: Tuesday, 26 January 2021, 1:56 PM