293: RTFM

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Life is too short for man pages, and occasionally much too short without them.
Title text: Life is too short for man pages, and occasionally much too short without them.


The title RTFM is an acronym for "read the fucking manual", which frustrated software users tell users when confronted with a simple question (most likely answered in the manual).

However, Cueball encounters a similar situation with a 911 call, in which the first question the 911 dispatcher asks Cueball if has he read the toaster's man page (man pages are the 'manual' for *nix systems, but only describe commands and library functions, not hardware). Even if a man page existed, it is unreasonable to require the user of a toaster to read the manual just to avoid being stabbed in the face. The 911 dispatcher decides that as he has not read the man page, Cueball is not entitled to medical assistance, and hangs up. Perhaps Black Hat got a job as a 911 dispatcher.

The title text refers to the popular phrase "Life's too short", which asserts that because we only have a fixed amount of time on Earth, and that time can pass by quickly, we should make the most of it. That could mean, for example, don't spend time reading the documentation unless you actually experience a problem. The second part alludes to the fact that most people die after being stabbed in the face.


[Cueball with a knife sticking out of his heavily bleeding face stands in front of a toaster, which has an arm extending from the top of it. He is holding a telephone to his ear.]
Cueball: Hello, 911? I just tried to toast some bread, and the toaster grew an arm and stabbed me in the face!
911: Did you read the toaster's man page first?
Cueball: Well, no, but all I wanted was--
911: click

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In this writer's opinion, expecting anyone to read a manual that is more than a page or two long, in this Internet-speed era, is unreasonable. 18:30, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

Not reading a manual is punishable by being stabbed in the face...I think we can all blame the customer service people for this one. Speaking from their point of view, though, it's definitely a great feature! 15:32, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

...or losing the face... 15:31, 12 January 2018 (UTC)

Only a few words, ............ :P Dontknow (talk) 05:04, 7 May 2017 (UTC)

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