Spoilers Poll (Poll about spoilers not a poll containing spoilers)

Which is the ethical way to approach spoilers in threads.


TheSword

Legend
So this spin off from the Wheel of Time trailer thread where a significant event in the book that had ramifications for what was happening in the series before was casually mentioned. This led to a debate and I’m interested in what people think about the topic and why?

For the purpose of a this thread a spoiler is a piece of information that reveals information about the plot of a the story before you would have received it. It might a poil the reader/watcher’s surprise. They can be good things or bad things. We’re talking about…Death of a character: other less terminal character development, plot twists. Essentially anything that reveals the plot earlier than it should be revealed.

It doesn’t include guessing or forming an opinion. Only sharing information that you know is true.

In Game of Thrones first season, which I hope most people would know (but spoilered just in case) examples of spoilers would include
Jaime and Cersei’s affair, pushing Bran from the tower, Tyrion’s arrest and trial by combat, Little Finger’s betrayal, the outcome of the battle of the whispering wood, the birth of the dragons and of course the death of dear old Ned.

Have at it. Don’t forget to explain why.
Or give feedback on my poll. It’s my first one!
 

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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
If I think that it's OK to talk about a film or book unless the spoiler thing is mentionned in the thread title, should I vote 1 or 3?

Because the way I read three, it's "unless anyone in the thread asked about not having spoilers" which is a lot to tracks, especially on long thread. If the thread is labelled "no spoiler" from the start, I expect it to contain no plot discussion (because, hey, there are people who haven't seen Star Wars [I guess]. I remember reading a blog post about Rome and someone complained in the comment that Caesar's assassination wasn't preceded by a spoiler warning. I am not sure if it was a joke post (it could be from someone with no exposure to western history, after all).
 

TheSword

Legend
If I think that it's OK to talk about a film or book unless the spoiler thing is mentionned in the thread title, should I vote 1 or 3?

Because the way I read three, it's "unless anyone in the thread asked about not having spoilers" which is a lot to tracks, especially on long thread. If the thread is labelled "no spoiler" from the start, I expect it to contain no plot discussion (because, hey, there are people who haven't seen Star Wars [I guess]. I remember reading a blog post about Rome and someone complained in the comment that Caesar's assassination wasn't preceded by a spoiler warning. I am not sure if it was a joke post (it could be from someone with no exposure to western history, after all).
I think that would fall under 3, you just have a higher expectation that it has to be recognized/requested by the thread owner specifically.

I guess that’s why I would err on the side of caution and have the onus on me not to mention spoilers unless specifically allowed, instead.
 
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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Some additional circumstances matter, and change the answer:
  • Thread title or OP says "no spoilers please"
  • The material is still being produced vs the material has gone to re-runs
  • The spoilery fact has / hasn't 'gone viral' in the general population.
  • The discussion point at hand is the plot arc
  • In-universe, the plot point involves a character pulling off a scam about an important fact. ("I am a bastard child of royalty")
 

delericho

Legend
If the thread title says either "no spoilers" or "open spoilers", then act accordingly.

Otherwise, I take the view that there has to be a reasonable "statute of limitations" regarding spoilers - discussing Luke Skywalker's parentage is a very different proposition when walking past a line waiting to see the movie in 1980 than it is today.

With regard to the specific example in the other thread... if it had been a thread for discussing the novels, or even a thread about some other topic entirely, I would agree that spoilers are fair game. But discussing detailed spoilers for a series that is hoping to introduce the material to a whole new audience is probably not ideal.

I guess, as so often, you should try to know your audience.

On the flip side, it's also important to recognise that mistakes will happen. When going into an adaptation of a 30 year old novel series, chances are you're going to get some things spoiled, even if people try hard not to.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Otherwise, I take the view that there has to be a reasonable "statute of limitations" regarding spoilers - discussing Luke Skywalker's parentage is a very different proposition when walking past a line waiting to see the movie in 1980 than it is today.

Your potential audience matters, though. You only know the people you know, after all.

It’s often easy enough to determine whether or not people in real life already know something that is common knowledge, but you can’t really ever know that’s true of everyone reading a message board.

You know that feeling you got when you were hit with that moment while watching Star Wars? Or whatever moment from whichever media?

I wouldn’t want to rob someone of ever experiencing that moment, even inadvertently.

Fortunately, spoiler tags are easy.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
We really should be in the habit of labelling a thread title as to whether it contains spoilers or not. It isn't hard.

We should allow that some things (like, say the core Star Wars movies) are old enough to be beyond the need to call out spoilers.

We should allow that threads about currently active series (like, say "What If...?" at the moment) will contain spoilers. Don't expect folks to refrain in a thread specifically about the show.
 

We really should be in the habit of labelling a thread title as to whether it contains spoilers or not. It isn't hard.

We should allow that some things (like, say the core Star Wars movies) are old enough to be beyond the need to call out spoilers.

We should allow that threads about currently active series (like, say "What If...?" at the moment) will contain spoilers. Don't expect folks to refrain in a thread specifically about the show.

This seems pretty reasonable to me. I mean, there obviously should be a statute of limitations on how far back you need to spoiler something (if I'm making a reference to something that happened in Forbidden Planet I shouldn't need to worry about spoilering it).

It gets slightly more complicated with media-hopping where you probably should be cautious about spoilers for the thing the spin off media is based on, even if that thing is older and done. That seems to apply to the WoT series since people will watch the series as basically a new thing even if they never read the books.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
How do I choose both:

Mentioning spoilers is ok if I think most people will know already. Everyone’s seen Star Wars right?
and
There’s no problem mentioning spoilers when a thread title specifically says it contains spoilers.

They are entirely different but both allowed spoiler cases. I can say Han shot Greedo or Rosebud was his sled in an open thread because statue of limitations has long expired. But if I'm in a thread marked "Loki [Spoilers]" we can also post spoilers even though it's current, because that thread is explicitly Reader Beware.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
We really should be in the habit of labelling a thread title as to whether it contains spoilers or not. It isn't hard.

We should allow that some things (like, say the core Star Wars movies) are old enough to be beyond the need to call out spoilers.

We should allow that threads about currently active series (like, say "What If...?" at the moment) will contain spoilers. Don't expect folks to refrain in a thread specifically about the show.
I mostly agree with this.

I voted 3, because it's the closest to my stance, which is that;

A discussion of an adaptation should come with an expectation of discussion of the original work, and thus an expectation of "spoilers" unless the thread title or OP asks for them to be avoided.

A discussion of a new thing that has just come out should avoid major spoilers if the thread isn't explicitly "spoiler-friendly", but minor spoilers are fine unless the thread is explicitly "no spoilers". So, don't openly talk about how Brenn's assistant was revealed to be a corrupted cultist who intentionally gave himself an Abberant Mark in the flashback storyline where he and Brenn were introduced as captives of the Emerald Claw who were being experimented on against their will, and he's actually working with the Emerald Claw, on this week's episode of DoctorBadWolf's Eberron Campaign: The TV Show. Use a spoiler tag thingy. Feel free to discuss the developing dynamic between Vidanya and Khalid, how their dynamic of teacher/councilor and student flips depending on the circumstance, and how you wonder how it will develop as they try to deal with their shared and individual trauma.

Expecting people to just always be on spoiler alert, as a default behavior, is not reasonable. The default, both in terms of norms and in terms of what norms should be, is to simply discuss media, and only avoid topics when someone asks you to do so.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
If the thread title says either "no spoilers" or "open spoilers", then act accordingly.

Otherwise, I take the view that there has to be a reasonable "statute of limitations" regarding spoilers - discussing Luke Skywalker's parentage is a very different proposition when walking past a line waiting to see the movie in 1980 than it is today.
This. I got chided once for revealing the ending of a 35 year old movie. I was not amused. If it’s been out 35 years, you’ve got no right to expect people to spoiler tag it for you.
 


TheSword

Legend
The assumption that because something is 35 years old it will already have been seen just isn’t true. If everyone on this forum was 45+ then I might be more likely to feel the same. But we know there are a huge numbers of people in their twenties reading this site.

Until I encouraged him, my partner in his mid twenties, hadn’t seen Starwars, or Shawshank Redemption, Lord of the Rings or any Alien Films and because he was new to sci-fi and fantasy he didn’t really have much awareness of stuff we take for granted. Speaking to his friends I don’t think he’s unique.

Even with that said, it’s still a massive assumption that the age of a book or show means it will have been seen. I didn’t read Game of Thrones until it came out on TV, I only watched Battle Star Gallactica two years ago and It’s a Wonderful Life last Christmas. I’m 41. I’ve still never read any Robin Hobb or watched Firefly. Umbran and Morrus have both said they haven’t read much (or any) of the Wheel of Time and it’s the most widespread Fantasy series ever.

Its a massive assumption that because you’ve seen something and think it’s great that most other people have too. Even if most people have and there are only 10-20% of posters who haven’t, is it still fair to spoil things for them. I think when the majority start ignoring the effects of their decisions on the minority we end up in a sticky place.

It isn’t really fair to expect a new person to the forums to have watched the sum total of all film, book and TV, because as people who have watched and seen these things we retain the right to toss out spoilers at will. “Where have you been? You really should have seen X by now, it’s your own fault if I spoil it for you.” Well thats a form of condescension and intellectual arrogance.

I’ve never played any of the 1st edition adventures, only a couple of the remakes. Is it ok to openly post spoilers about a module because it’s old? That doesn’t sit right with me. Particularly when spoiler tags are so easy to do. They take seconds.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Its a massive assumption that because you’ve seen something and think it’s great that most other people have too. Even if most people have and there are only 10-20% of posters who haven’t, is it still fair to spoil things for them. I think when the majority start ignoring the effects of their decisions on the minority we end up in a sticky place.

It isn’t really fair to expect a new person to the forums to have watched the sum total of all film, book and TV, because as people who have watched and seen these things we retain the right to toss out spoilers at will. “Where have you been? You really should have seen X by now, it’s your own fault if I spoil it for you.” Well thats a form of condescension and intellectual arrogance.

I disagree with this, intensely. Then again, I am condescending and intellectually arrogant, so ... there's that!

Look, this recent and modern preoccupation with "spoilers" isn't particularly productive. Where does it end?

"Oh, don't worry. Jesus will eventually come back!"

"Rosebud is a sled."

"When Luke and Leia kiss, that's got some major icky vibes!"

"The shark doesn't win in Jaws."

"Anthony Perkins is his own mom!"

Sure. As a matter of basic courtesy, when a show or movie is just released, you should avoid discussing spoilers. I think that this issue has become imore important as so many shows and movies rely on M. Night-style "revelations" or "shocks" or "twists" in order to generate interest as opposed to just having ... you know, good plots!

But seriously- this didn't used to (and shouldn't) be that big of a deal. I had heard about the chest-busting scene long before I saw Alien; it didn't ruin the movie for me because the power of the movie isn't in the twist.

There are certain things that can genuinely be ruined by a spoiler- Sixth Sense might be an example. But if something can be totally ruined by knowing one thing about the plot ...

it probably wasn't that good to begin with.

So, yeah, the burden shouldn't be on other people to constantly police what they are saying just on the off-chance that someone, somewhere, hasn't yet sampled the particular media and will scream SPOILERS!

It's true that no one can watch, read, and consume everything. That doesn't mean that everyone else is stopped from discussing it.

Guess what- Thanos snapped his fingers, people died. And then they came back. If you don't know that by now, I can't help you. In addition, not knowing and being able to talk about some things makes it impossible to discuss other things- how can you talk about post-Endgame MCU events without a knowledge of Endgame?
 
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TheSword

Legend
I disagree with this, intensely. Then again, I am condescending and intellectually arrogant, so ... there's that!

Look, this recent and modern preoccupation with "spoilers" isn't particularly productive. Where does it end?

"Oh, don't worry. Jesus will eventually come back!"

"Rosebud is a sled."

"When Luke and Leia kiss, that's got some major icky vibes!"

"The shark doesn't win in Jaws."

"Anthony Perkins is his own mom!"

Sure. As a matter of basic courtesy, when a show or movie is just released, you should avoid discussing spoilers. I think that this issue has become imore important as so many shows and movies rely on M. Night-style "revelations" or "shocks" or "twists" in order to generate interest as opposed to just having ... you know, good plots!

But seriously- this didn't used to (and shouldn't) be that big of a deal. I had heard about the chest-busting scene long before I saw Alien; it didn't ruin the movie for me because the power of the movie isn't in the twist.

There are certain things that can genuinely be ruined by a spoiler- Sixth Sense might be an example. But if something can be totally ruined by knowing one thing about the plot ...

it probably wasn't that good to begin with.

So, yeah, the burden shouldn't be on other people to constantly police what they are saying just on the off-chance that someone, somewhere, hasn't yet sampled the particular media and will scream SPOILERS!

It's true that no one can watch, read, and consume everything. That doesn't mean that everyone else is stopped from discussing it.

Guess what- Thanos snapped his fingers, people died. And then they came back. If you don't know that by now, I can't help you. In addition, not knowing and being able to talk about some things makes it impossible to discuss other things- how can you talk about post-Endgame MCU events without a knowledge of Endgame?
So I’ve seen about 50% of those spoilers you’re talking about there. So I guess I’ve got the rest to look forward to. Or rather, I did.

This isn’t necessarily about gotcha’s or film-hinging-twists. It’s about someone not telling you what’s gonna happen in a film you want to watch in advance… or if they want to talk about it, at least giving some advance warning to give people the chance to cover their ears/eyes. A film based on a twist may or may not be good. There are lots of objectively good films that do have twists though… and I think people should be able to enjoy them without spoilers if that’s what they want.

You say the burden shouldn’t be on us to police what we say? Where does the burden lie then? How can someone, who doesn’t want to know how endgame ends avoid that fate? You’ve said you don’t need to warn people in advance through the thread title, or by pre-warning people so they can’t just avoid threads that are discussing the film. You could just drop the spoilers into any conversation because you don’t feel you should be constrained.

I think it’s a bit old fashioned to think that shows have a time bound period of relevance any more. Streaming, Amazon prime etc means we no longer expect to watch things on terrestrial TV when it’s released. Any film is available any time.
 
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Rune

Once A Fool
I disagree with this, intensely. Then again, I am condescending and intellectually arrogant, so ... there's that!

Look, this recent and modern preoccupation with "spoilers" isn't particularly productive. Where does it end?

"Oh, don't worry. Jesus will eventually come back!"

"Rosebud is a sled."

"When Luke and Leia kiss, that's got some major icky vibes!"

"The shark doesn't win in Jaws."

"Anthony Perkins is his own mom!"

Sure. As a matter of basic courtesy, when a show or movie is just released, you should avoid discussing spoilers. I think that this issue has become imore important as so many shows and movies rely on M. Night-style "revelations" or "shocks" or "twists" in order to generate interest as opposed to just having ... you know, good plots!

But seriously- this didn't used to (and shouldn't) be that big of a deal. I had heard about the chest-busting scene long before I saw Alien; it didn't ruin the movie for me because the power of the movie isn't in the twist.
Pre-internet, you usually knew who you were talking to. Presumably, your friends already knew you would be good with that.

On message boards, you can’t know that. By casually flinging out spoilers with no warning (as you have done several times in the quoted post), you are potentially robbing someone of an experience that might otherwise change their whole way of looking at the world. You don’t know.

Even worse, you’re doing it in a way that involves them without their consent. Spoiler tags are the tool that provides them the opportunity for consent. Or to simply walk away none the worse.
There are certain things that can genuinely be ruined by a spoiler- Sixth Sense might be an example. But if something can be totally ruined by knowing one thing about the plot ...

it probably wasn't that good to begin with.
It isn't always about the plot. Sometimes the emotional weight of the build-up towards the moment is necessary to actually land it. But if you know the moment ahead of time, it’s emotionally meaningless, so that by the time you get there all you have is “Yep. Now I know how we got there.”
Guess what-
Thanos snapped his fingers, people died. And then they came back.
If you don't know that by now, I can't help you.
Well, you can’t help now!

But you could have helped by tucking that away in spoiler tags before you put it in front of readers’ faces (most of whom, I presume are people you don’t know anything about) without so much as a warning that you were going to do so!

It would have been easy to help. The boards give us that tool.
In addition, not knowing and being able to talk about some things makes it impossible to discuss other things- how can you talk about post-Endgame MCU events without a knowledge of Endgame?
None of that discussion is hindered if it is tucked behind spoiler tags. The only difference is, you've given people the ability to opt out.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
A discussion of an adaptation should come with an expectation of discussion of the original work, and thus an expectation of "spoilers" unless the thread title or OP asks for them to be avoided.

So, yes and no. I think that depends on how close the adaptation is going to hew to the original work.

For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, what they do is only a very loose adaptation of the original comics. Referencing the comics in discussion may be amusing, but usually doesn't give away anything about the plot of the work. In discussing the upcoming Wheel of Time series, I expect discussing the plot of the book is very likely to give up elements of the TV series.

In the end, this is really a Golden Rule question. We are talking with actual people, and we should have sufficient respect for them to not ruin their experience because we are thoughtless or showing off how much we know about a source material.

So, for a Wheel of Time TV Series thread, I would expect folks to either set up a separate thread that included book spoilers, or use spoiler blocks when mentioning parts of the books that haven't made it to screen. However, once that series starts, when an episode airs, folks should feel free to discuss the content of that episode. People like me who don't binge watch or often watch shows the day an episode drops, should avoid the thread until they are up-to-date.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
The assumption that because something is 35 years old it will already have been seen just isn’t true. If everyone on this forum was 45+ then I might be more likely to feel the same. But we know there are a huge numbers of people in their twenties reading this site.

Until I encouraged him, my partner in his mid twenties, hadn’t seen Starwars, or Shawshank Redemption, Lord of the Rings or any Alien Films and because he was new to sci-fi and fantasy he didn’t really have much awareness of stuff we take for granted. Speaking to his friends I don’t think he’s unique.

Even with that said, it’s still a massive assumption that the age of a book or show means it will have been seen. I didn’t read Game of Thrones until it came out on TV, I only watched Battle Star Gallactica two years ago and It’s a Wonderful Life last Christmas. I’m 41. I’ve still never read any Robin Hobb or watched Firefly. Umbran and Morrus have both said they haven’t read much (or any) of the Wheel of Time and it’s the most widespread Fantasy series ever.

Its a massive assumption that because you’ve seen something and think it’s great that most other people have too. Even if most people have and there are only 10-20% of posters who haven’t, is it still fair to spoil things for them. I think when the majority start ignoring the effects of their decisions on the minority we end up in a sticky place.

It isn’t really fair to expect a new person to the forums to have watched the sum total of all film, book and TV, because as people who have watched and seen these things we retain the right to toss out spoilers at will. “Where have you been? You really should have seen X by now, it’s your own fault if I spoil it for you.” Well thats a form of condescension and intellectual arrogance.

I’ve never played any of the 1st edition adventures, only a couple of the remakes. Is it ok to openly post spoilers about a module because it’s old? That doesn’t sit right with me. Particularly when spoiler tags are so easy to do. They take seconds.
I don’t really care. I shouldn’t have to expect a spoiler is relevant long after it was revealed to the public on the off chance that someone will be disappointed by knowing it. That’s the price you pay coming to the subject long after publication - that the surprise is well out there in the public, maybe even part of a broad cultural literacy like Romeo and Juliet dying and Vader being Luke’s father. If your enjoyment is dependent on those things being unknown, maybe you should reset your expectations.
 


Ryujin

Legend
So, yes and no. I think that depends on how close the adaptation is going to hew to the original work.

For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, what they do is only a very loose adaptation of the original comics. Referencing the comics in discussion may be amusing, but usually doesn't give away anything about the plot of the work. In discussing the upcoming Wheel of Time series, I expect discussing the plot of the book is very likely to give up elements of the TV series.

In the end, this is really a Golden Rule question. We are talking with actual people, and we should have sufficient respect for them to not ruin their experience because we are thoughtless or showing off how much we know about a source material.

So, for a Wheel of Time TV Series thread, I would expect folks to either set up a separate thread that included book spoilers, or use spoiler blocks when mentioning parts of the books that haven't made it to screen. However, once that series starts, when an episode airs, folks should feel free to discuss the content of that episode. People like me who don't binge watch or often watch shows the day an episode drops, should avoid the thread until they are up-to-date.
I'd go as far as to make this a Wheaton's Rule issue, which I can't state here because of the language involved. When I recently posted about "The Dead Don't Die", I did so in only the broadest of terms. I thought that, like me, many hadn't seen it during the original release which in my area was maybe 2 weeks, at most. If a thread doesn't have a spoiler tag, don't spoil it. I've never read 'The Wheel of Time" series, for example, and would like to come to it as a blank slate.
 
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