I only just saw this meta-question here at ELU about insulting LMGTFY links.

I can't understand what is really being referred to. I have followed the meta.ELU question links to the meta.SO discussions and links there and it just is not clear.

Is it:

  • a URL in an answer to lmgtfy.com with search terms
  • a URL in an answer to google.com with search terms
  • a URL in an answer with label 'lmgtfy' and linking to a web site (dictionary/thesaurus/answering website)
  • a question that is general reference and could be answered easily with a google search
  • something else?

My misunderstanding comes from the descriptions around it.

  • First people are saying let's blacklist them. But what is 'blacklisting'? don't you have to have a specific domain name to blacklist?
  • Let's presume that the phenomenon (whatever it is) is very bad, 'rude' is the usual term. But is it the site lmgtfy.com that is particularly bad? Or any googled reference?
  • How is such a link rude? If the answer really is on the web isn't a link the -best- answer? Choice of search terms makes a big difference and picking the right ones can be value added.
  • a link to a reference might be rude, but I would warrant that the original non-researched question that elicited the lmgtfy is also rude, and we (ELU at least) have institutionalized the response to these bad questions, because they are so troublesome, by the General Reference close option, which is essentially a statement that LMGTFY would suffice.

So all these possibilities together seem contradictory, on one end the lmgtfy comment itself being rude, and on the other the question which elicited such a comment being rude. Ostensibly 'LMGTFY comment' would mean literally a comment with a link to lmgtfy.com, but banning them would be like banning the use of the Gen Ref close option.

So which is the correct meaning of 'LGMTFY comment', and how is that different from Gen Ref?

  • This is all meant in earnest (as opposed to this one which was totally sarcastic). If there is a link that you think explains this well, then please give an earnest link. But given my reading of the meta posts, a link is probably not sufficient for me. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:13
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    Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. Google is not general reference. – Marthaª Dec 28 '12 at 19:07
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    (Maybe if I repeat it enough, people will start remembering it?) – Marthaª Dec 28 '12 at 19:07
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    @Martha: I think the distinction is too hard to maintain. All the GR references are available somehow through links, links most easily searchable through google. Are you then saying that online references are not GR? – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 19:19
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    The card catalog isn't the library. In other words, I think the distinction is as clear as day. – Marthaª Dec 28 '12 at 19:20
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    @Marthaª: Your comment reminds me of the beginning of The Simpsons. – J.R. Dec 28 '12 at 20:41
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    @Marthaª: OK. Now that I've reread your meta-question, and thought more, I think there's more nuance here. Sure, Google is itself not the reference, but the hits it gives are very easily the reference. It is not automatic that the hits Google gives are a reason for closing for General Reference, but often the first few hits do give that reason. Also, I feel a difference between a general reference and 'a reason for closing as General Reference'. (BTW, I don't find the distinction in your metaphor.) – Mitch Dec 29 '12 at 14:49

LMGTFY links are, quite literally, links to the domain lmgtfy.com. Which does have a number of aliases such as letmegooglethat.com, but which is not the same as, or affiliated with, google.com.

A link to Google Search is not rude in and of itself; depends on the presentation. A LMGTFY link is always rude by design. Its whole point is to say "you are a moron for not being able to use Google".

Neither LMGTFY nor Google proper are considered general reference for the sake of closing a question. See list of general references.

  • OK, so it is presentation. So the suggestion is to blacklist a poor presentation? Anyway, the demarcation between a google search and Gen Ref is not clear and not easy to keep consistent to even if the explanation is followed. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:32
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    The suggestion is to blacklist the domain. Which, as people have been pointing out for more than three years now, will not solve any issue. The demarcation between Google and Gen Ref is actually not that blurry. Google Search is highly customized, and the results change constantly. Gen Ref, on the other hand, is a permanent and definitive link to a reference source specifically designed to find that type of information. A dictionary is specifically designed to find the meaning of words. Google, at best, is designed to find dictionaries. – RegDwigнt Mod Dec 28 '12 at 14:40
  • OK. I'm slow. My misunderstanding of what labels were referring to led me to misunderstand the situation. That is why I asked. "The suggestion is to blacklist the domain"...that is what I was looking for. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:43

A link may well be sufficient to explain this:


The problem is that the way LMGTFY does its search can be seen as condescending. It emphasises the lack of prior research, and does so in a patronising manner by demonstrating how easy it is to get an answer which answers the question.

If a question is to be closed as General Reference, a link to that "single internet reference" (or possibly to Google's search results) is usually all that's required: it's probably not necessary to rub the questioner's nose in it by actually demonstrating how to do it.

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    So are you saying that using lmgtfy.com is rude (rubbbing one's nose in it') but google.com with the same search terms is not? Or if those are the same, how is that different from giving a link that you found by googling? Isn't that rubbing one's face in it by giving an easy to find link? I think all these are too close together to consider banning or even giving a general injunction to flag. Rewrite less rudely maybe but that's simply presentation. Closing the original question as GR would be more appropriate if one felt the need to remove the link to the answer. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:29
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    There's a difference in approach to using the link above and this one: google.com/… – Andrew Leach Mod Dec 28 '12 at 14:32
  • I don't see the difference. There are all sorts of first comments to questions, not even having links, that are rude in their telling the truth. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:34
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    One demonstrates how to use Google; the other simply presents a list of results. Yes, the user could simply have got that list for himself, but the LMGTFY method assumes the user is too stupid to know how to do that. – Andrew Leach Mod Dec 28 '12 at 14:37
  • OK. So the entire site LMGTFY.com is rude. By its design. I get that. So the whole idea then is to institutionalize blacklisting that particular site? – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 14:41

What Andrew and Reg say. I'd like to add that a user who is unaware of our local regulations is by no means "rude". This mode of thinking is known as the Bureaucrat's Trap. His question may be undesirable, but he is a perfectly fine human being deserving of basic respect.

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    I don't agree. The mode of thinking of blacklisting a site but not deleting a google ref or the link that google found is the bureaucrat's trap. And is lmgtfy always rude? I don't think so...if the OP didn't google for it, maybe it would help them a lot to be shown how to do it. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 15:43
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    @Mitch: Why did you answer me without filling in a purple form? You're so rude. And, yes, LMGTFY is definitely ruder than Google 99 % of the time, and everybody already knows how to type into a box and click "Search". How can you even say that? – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 28 '12 at 15:48
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    using the domain/site is rude in a passive-aggressive manner. But the situation (the OP) that led to that kind of response might also be rude. Anyway, there's nothing special about the domain name, it's just about being rude. And telling the truth sometimes is taken as being rude. – Mitch Dec 28 '12 at 15:57

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