Elitists Could Ruin Tech Communities

JFGI, RTFM, lmgtfy? Sadface

Online tech groups are filled with people who have similar interests and knowledge to share. They should be good places to find inspiration, learn, make friends, and even start a career, but there’s a disturbing undercurrent of disdain for members with less experience. Elitist jerks with bad attitudes leaving rude comments could ruin it for everyone.

Unfortunately, I see a disappointing number of unfriendly responses that I tend to think of as “The Asshole Response“. These responses are usually very short and often make use of acronyms like RTFM and reference URLs like LMGTFY. Sometimes they aren’t responses at all, but just links to some third-party site without any explanation. At its worst, this is tantamount to bullying and could stop good people from taking part in the community.

For some groups, the policy clearly states that questions must be well-researched, but this is a mistake. By their very nature, public forums and groups, especially on sites like Facebook, are a waste of time for most of the participants. Anyone who participates has already decided to waste their time. So, the complaint that an unresearched question wastes the time of the community is invalid. Besides, asking and answering questions that have been answered before is the fundamental basis of all education.

There’s more to a community than just questions and answers. It would be better to encourage people to ask first when they’re having a problem. When that fails, use a search engine or reference some documentation. Anyone who dismisses a question or disrespects the asker because it wasn’t well researched is degrading the community.