I have seen the use of tl:dr; a fair amount around here. Since the literal meaning of it is "Too Long; Didn't Read" I feel like it goes against the general attitude that we want on this community.

If the post really was too long, then why not post a comment saying the question is hard to follow because of how long it is and ask for it to be shortened and to the point.

I know tl:dr; has also been used to say "What I am about to post is long" but even in that case I don't think we should be fostering the use of short hand that the general public wouldn't know.

I am just one person though and would like to know what others think of it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As noted below, how it was used is rather important. Context is everything! Can you cite some specific examples? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Jul 25 '11 at 23:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff It had more to do with my misunderstanding of people using it to mean "summary". I am much less worried about the use of it now, but I do still wonder about the part of "I don't think we should be fostering the use of short hand that the general public wouldn't know". \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Jul 26 '11 at 0:27


I understand TL:DR; as a synonym for "summary", and, if it's interpreted that way, it's probably OK.

The long version:

I understand your sentiments, but don't think we need to ban TL:DR;. I have never used it the way a literal reading would suggest, and I'm not sure it's ever actually used that way.

In fact, I'm more likely to read a long piece of prose if there's a TL:DR; at the top explaining what I should expect to find. It helps my comprehension by allowing my brain to focus on the content instead of always trying to figure out the main point.

In any case, it's good to provide the information contained in a TL:DR;, whether it's called an abstract, big picture, conclusion, executive summary, introduction, outline, overview, summary, synopsis, table of contents, or TL:DR;. If you think it's unprofessional or used in a literal sense, it's the first thing in that list that I'd be inclined to discourage.

If you feel compelled to edit a post to change TL:DR; to Summary (or something to that effect), please make sure to check the rest of the post - Posts long enough to require abbreviation are likely to need more than one edit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That is very true, but I still think it doesn't address the issue of "I don't think we should be fostering the use of short hand that the general public wouldn't know". I guess I was some what confused in the use of it at times. Maybe I am just not "hip". \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Jul 25 '11 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought that our visitors would know this shorthand. That said, I'm a college student in engineering, so my lexicon isn't exactly representative of the general public. Point taken. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jul 25 '11 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, Internet shorthands in general should be discouraged, IMHO. HTH HAND. I've edited posts to expand the abbreviations a few times when I didn't know what they meant. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Jul 25 '11 at 17:44

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