Fortune had a really good article on how MySQL is building a commercial open source company.  However, buried in the article is a typo that I expect was introduced by Fortune’s editors.

It’s not as if MySQL workers get some perverse kick out of catching colleagues goofing off, though. They know how common it is for e-mail or voice messages to be misconstrued, so they watch what they say. Fire off a dumb question to one of MySQL’s mailing lists, and you are likely get back the terse rebuke “RTFM” – read the freakin’ manual.

Dear Fortune Editors: RTFM means “Read The Fucking Manual.”  Even Wikipedia says it, so it must be true, although they seem to assert that “Read The Freakin’ Manual” in an acceptable substitute to avoid using the expletive “Fucking.”  But seriously guys, everyone knows that Freakin’ = Fucking in this case – why mess with one of all the all time great initialisms of the programming universe?

  • I'm not nitpick

    Dear Mr. Feld,

    You introduce an interesting typo of your own. You write:

    "…to avoid using the explicative 'Fucking.'"

    I think you meant to type expletive.

    Geez – how freudian. I've correct that. – Brad

  • I’m not nitpicking, just amused

    Dear Mr. Feld,

    You introduce an interesting typo of your own. You write:

    “…to avoid using the explicative ‘Fucking.'”

    I think you meant to type expletive.

    Geez – how freudian. I’ve correct that. – Brad

  • And, imho, RTFM is reserved for those very special conversations. It should not be used on the “where is the any key?” people; RTM is for them. Or even for, the Leadership, when they cluelessly cut the budget in half, move the delivery date in six of your twelve months, and allow the spec to double, they’ll be “rewarded” shortly. No RTFM is reserved for the psuedo techies who will debate about what is feature when they F up the code. RTMFB, a close cousin to RTFM, is for the blog commentors who don’t read the original post and are hurry to correct you. 🙂 I’d never do that because I cna make enough misatkes (sic) by myself thank you very much.

  • Dave Jilk

    Actually “explicative” works even though it wasn’t what you meant:


    Serving to explain; explanatory.

    In fact, “explicative expletive” is even better…it means that the use of the expletive is actually important to the meaning of the phrase.
    In this case the word explains that the suggestion is given in a spirit of annoyance on the part of the speaker.

  • The best acronym ever is still:


  • but manuals are good things, right? so why not “read the fine manual”…

    another favorite support reply, DDT – “whenever i do this it breaks.” “well, then Don’t Do That!”

  • Funny I was reading that article about 5 minutes before reading your blog and thought, how insanely politically correct of Fortune. They could have went with f***ing. Nobody in the history of the software industry has ever said read the freaking manual.

  • I’m with Eric – if you’re going to have to clean it up, at least be sarcastic. Read The Fine Manual, if you must.

    Related: http://feeds.feedburner.com/boingboing/iBag?m=1627 – BoingBoing considers the legal implications of Fuck.

  • At the risk of stating the obvious, presumably, the Fortune editors thought that the use of the word “fuck” might offend some of their readers. They might be right. Excepting people working as software developers, venture capitalists, tech CXOs and rock musicians, I find that signficant percentages of people do actually find that word offensive. Not quite sure why. But they do.

  • DK

    I’ve been noodling on IHTFP

    “I hate this Fucking Place”?
    “I have to find peace”?

    Inquiring minds want to know (IMWTK).


  • I Hate This Fucking Place. Originated at MIT – one of my all time favorite phrases.


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