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Old 11-07-2005, 09:46 AM
C K Dexter Haven is offline
Right Hand of the Master
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Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Chicago north suburb
Posts: 16,078

Spoilers


This applies to books, movies, plays, TV shows... anything with a plot. "Spoiling" is when you haven't seen a particular movie (read a book, whatever), and you don't want to have plot elements revealed in advance, and someone tells you that the boss is actually the double-agent. That's "spoiled" the story/surprise for you.

First, if you're in that situation, where you haven't seen the work and you don't want to have plot elements revealed, then the safest approach is NOT TO READ any thread about that work. We'll try our best to avoid spoiling things, but you must take some responsibility on your own.

Now, on the other hand, suppose you're on the other side. You want to discuss or ask a question about a story, and you are unable to do so without revealing a vital piece of information that might ruin a surprise for those who haven't yet experienced it, please use a spoiler warning or spoiler tags.

When do you need to warn of spoilers?
  • Obviously, if the material is new, some people will want to experience it for themselves without knowing the plot. A TV show you see on the U.S. east coast will not be seen for several hours later on the west coast. And perhaps not for weeks or months in a different country. Also, many people record shows to watch later, so just because the show have been aired doesn't mean everyone has seen it.
  • Although a work may have been well known for quite a while, some folks may still be unaware of particular plot points. Agatha Christie has been dead a long time, but there are still new students and others coming to her mysteries for the first time, who don’t want to know that the butler did it. On the other hand, anyone who doesn’t know that Dorothy could have gone home anytime by clicking her heels, well, the hell with ‘em.
It should be evident from these examples that we can’t give hard-and-fast rules about when to use spoilers. Instead, we have guidelines that involve common sense and courtesy: if you’re revealing a major plot element that could ruin the first-timer's experience, then please DON’T. If it’s a brand new work, be careful about revealing minor plot elements, as well.

Also, please don't put a spoiler in a thread title. "This week's episode: Raymond dies!" is NOT a nice thing to do.

Now, the technical part. How to do spoiler tags:

(1) In the thread title, say "Spoilers"
When starting a new thread, the easiest (and probably the best) way to warn for spoilers is simply putting the word "spoilers" in the title of your thread, like so:

Thread title: Question about LORD OF THE RINGS (warning: Spoilers!)

This approach means that no one will stumble into the thread by accident, who doesn’t want to see spoilers. It’s therefore the recommended approach when you’re starting a thread. (You can also ask a Moderator to change the thread title by adding “warning: Spoilers!” later, but that’s already ex post facto.

Please remember that there is a mouse-over feature. When the cursor pulls over a thread title on the main forum page, you see a little box that contains the first few lines of the first post. So, even if you've typed "SPOILER" in the title, it's best not to put any spoiler info in the first six or seven lines of the first post in the thread.

(2) Within a post, use spoiler tags
Within a post, the spoiler tags put text within darkened boxes that must be manually highlighted to be read. To use spoiler tags, enclose the text you want to conceal by typing [spoiler] immediately before that text, and [/spoiler] immediately after the text.

EXAMPLE: You type:
In the movie version of Agatha Christie's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
[spoiler]Marlene Dietrich plays the cold-hearted wife[/spoiler]

This will appear in your post like this:
In the movie version of Agatha Christie's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
SPOILER:
Marlene Dietrich plays the cold-hearted wife.


Note that within a thread, anything that might be a spoiler from some other work should be hidden with spoiler tags, even if the thread title says "Spoilers." Someone reading a thread about the movie PSYCHO, even with a Spoiler Warning in the title, might be upset to find information about the surprise twist in THE SIXTH SENSE, for example. So, be especially sensitive if you are revealing plot information about one work in a thread devoted to a different work.

Similarly, in threads not about a specific work, use spoiler boxes when you think it necessary, and there should be a clear indication outside the spoiler box of what work is being spoiled.
Incorrect usage: :
Quote:
SPOILER:
Hey, in CITIZEN KANE, "Rosebud" is the sled.
Note that the reader doesn't know whether to open the spoiler or not, because she doesn't even know what work is being spoiled. Get it?

Correct usage:
Quote:
Hey, in CITIZEN KANE, "Rosebud" is
SPOILER:
the sled.
More hints on spoiler tags

(1) Just a suggestion: If you have multiple levels of comments within a spoiler box, you can use colors to differentiate them. For example:
SPOILER:
In "Citizen Kane", Rosebud is a sled and Kane dies at the end. Well, at the beginning, actually.
Pure speculation: In the upcoming "Citizen Kane II":, the sled will be rescued from the fire by Kane's illegitimate daughter, who has been hiding behind the suit of armor in the hall.


(2) Please remember that there is a mouse-over feature. When the cursor pulls over a thread title on the main forum page, you see a little box that contains the first few lines of the first post. This is useful for seeing whether you're really interested in the thread. However, that mouse-over doesn't respect the spoiler tags. Best is not to have spoiler info in the first six or seven lines of the initial post.

So, please, be sure to put a couple of sentences of text (just hitting carriage return won't do it) in your OP, before the spoiler box.

Thanks!

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 11-21-2009 at 07:36 AM. Reason: Minor grammatical fix -- CKDH