TL;DR – Too Long, Didn’t Read

OK so the life is hectic and there’s no time to waste. Many articles on the web use an acronym “TL;DR” or “TLDR” in the beginning of the text to save people’s time, but why and what does it mean?

In short, “TL;DR” means: “Too Long, Didn’t Read”.

If you follow the practice, you may as well stop reading here, as the most important part, the executive summary, has been said. Everything beyond this point will take too long, with too little return for the time you will have invested by the time you’ve finished reading this.

Unless you are learning Search Engine Optimisation, SEO…

Articles that start in the aforementioned fashion go on explaining the thing in a greater detail. The reasons may vary; maybe the author is madly interested in the topic and wants to write a lot, perhaps some readers will have a real interest in reading more about the topic, or the author is a SEO-professional, who knows that longer articles are better appreciated by the search engines and that the recommended minimum is 300 words.

I’m interested in etymology, study of the history of words, so I did a couple of searches for the origins of “TL; DR”.

Urban Dictionary have first listing in 2003.

howtogeek.com writes that the origins date back to the early 2000s but where exactly – it is not known.

I’m also a proponent of readability, trying to keep it sentences and paragraphs short, and I will have to highlight here a quote that WikiPedia has on the topic:

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer and aviator

And yes, finally, there’s a rude way of using “TL;DR”. When someone goes off and writes a lengthy piece that someone else deems a waste of their time, they may comment simply “TL;DR”, effectively stating that their time is more valuable than that of the writer. Who’s the first to put that comment below this post?


PS. This post includes a number of a writing technique’s used these days. Some are useful, some are rather annoying yet used for some reason. Which ones did you notice? Why do these patterns occur over and over again in texts online. The reasons mostly lie in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and sometimes have more to do with providing some content when there’s no time to write good content. I will come back to this topic later when I work more on the SEO section of this site.

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