Rules about Spoiler Threads

I’m involved in two threads now about Game of Thrones. One is about the HBO series and the books they are based on, and contains information (not hidden in spoiler boxes) that people who’ve only watched the show might not yet know. The other is just about the TV series, and the OP asks posters not to include any information that hasn’t appeared in an already aired TV episode.

By these criteria, neither need spoiler boxes – so long as posters respect the terms set by the OP in the latter thread. But that thread is currently risking derailment (it’s not a lost cause yet) because posters are unwilling to abide by the OP’s requested terms of posting.

FYI, for those who haven encountered spoiler boxes, the biggest problem IMO with using them is not within the thread itself, but with the email notices that come to your inbox with the test of new posts. In emails, the spoiler box coding doesn’t work, so it’s really easy to accidentally read their contents when you’re trying to avoid them.

This is bickering about using spoiler boxes is pretty common in a lot of threads. And I’d like to discuss whether there any rules that might be made to end the bickering.

What I would ideally like to see is OPs that are focused narrowly enough that no spoiler boxes are needed. If they aren’t used, there won’t be any unpleasant surprises when we open emails while not on the boards. The problem with this is that the OP has no authority to enforce a rule like that, and it seems some posters at least will not abide by it.

On a more general level, is there any fix to the spoilers not appearing in emails?

Would moderators be willing to enforce rules set for a particular thread, at the request of the OP? That would presumably include deleting the offending text or entire posts, based on rules set by a non-moderator? Even warning posters who consistently violate such rules. And yeah, I can see problems with this too.

Or maybe I’m making a mountain out a a molehill, and there’s no reason to promulagte new rules for such a minor problem.

Anyone care enough to add their thoughts?

You may not have seen it, but there are rules concerning the use of spoiler boxes in Cafe Society. I don’t know if that helps - I’m not sure if you just weren’t aware of them, or if you were aware of them, but what’s going on in these threads constitutes a special case that they don’t cover.

I can’t really comment on the rest of your questions.

Sorry, I’m a bit confused. Are you saying that because spoiler boxes don’t work via email, you want some threads to have the condition that not only should there be no open spoilers, but there should be no closed spoilers as well? If so, the only way I can see that working (if at all) is if the OP specifically requests it and explains why. As in writing, i giant, 52-point, neon blue, flaming, letters “hey folks, I’m posting this question and I’m asking you to not put any spoilers in here–I want to follow it but spoiler boxes don’t work via email.” You’ll likely still end up with spoilers halfway down the thread as people overlook or forget it–or people gloss over it and assume that ‘no spoilers’ means no open spoilers.

FWIW, I hate spoilers and go far out of my way of even learning plot basics of a book or movie I’m interested in, so I do understand where you’re coming from.

What I’d really like is for the OP to be able to decide whether or not spoilers should be used, and for other posters to respect that. And for mods to enforce it. But as I said, I can see there would be problems with that.

Yes, I did find that hand read it, but it didn’t seem applicable to the situation.

Note: I am one of three CS mods, so this is not the final word.

My first reaction – in threads about a particular unfolding TV show or the like, I have no problem with the OP setting fairly strict standards of what constitutes a spoiler, and with the OP or others reporting posts that do not adhere to those standards. I think by setting up multiple threads for Game of Thrones– one for those who have read the books, and then weekly threads for the TV show – y’all have hashed out a reasonable compromise for what goes where. (I think it’s been at least a week since I’ve had a post report on any of these.) I see there’s now a third thread going on as well – good.

IOW – I think it’s great that you guys figured out how to handle this, and that you let us know when someone is not following the guidelines you worked out for yourselves.

Now, the question of spoilers appearing unboxed in emails – that’s VB software, and it’s not going to change. My recommendation would be that you not subscribe to any thread where there might be spoilers you want to see, or that at least you don’t get email notifications on them. (I will admit that I say this as someone who subscribes to very few threads – mostly season-long threads for shows I watch – and gets email updates on none of them. I subscribe mostly to make it easier to find the thread when I want to post/read once a week when my shows have aired.)

Hope this is responsive to what you’re asking, even if it’s not entirely what you wanted to hear. Let me know if I missed, or misunderstood, anything. Plus, of course, Marley and Ellen may have different takes on this.

twickster, Cafe Society moderator

I agree that the the three-thread solution is a good one nthe ongoing problem seems to be that some posters are coming into the most restrictive thread and not wanting to follow the rules there.

twickster, thanks for your feedback. My big issue isn’t with the spoilers (having read the books) as it is with what looks to me like junior-modding of people saying, over and over, “Can’t you read the OP? That’s a spoiler!” detracting from the overall conversation. You haven’t gotten reports on these threads in over a week; I’d much prefer that people use the “report a post” function than call someone out in the thread over a perceived failure to follow the OP’s rules.

Do you agree that it’s better to report a post than to accuse someone of not following the rules in the thread?

I did report the very first spoiler in the current thread, which Marley spoiler boxed. (Ofmcourse that was too late for me to avoid being spoiled by that one.) It seemed however that no one really noticed that it had happened. And each time it’s brought up a few posters seem tomb surprised by it. The hope is that occasional reminders will actually prevent spoiling. Reporting a spoiler essentially means it’s too late for the reporter.

I think the reason people aren’t reporting to mods is that there is no rule that’s being violated, other than possibly the “Don’t be a jerk” rule. I didn’t report any posts in those threads, instead I too started arguing and contributing to a derailment, until I decided to start this thread about rules.

And here’s another way to frame the question, though in this form it really needs mods to answer it – is it an undue burden on you mods for an OP to set rules for a thread, and ask you to enforce them by editing posts and/or admonishing posters?

I agree, and I totally understand if mods don’t want to moderate each thread based on rules in the OP. I still think, though, that such issues, if hashed out in the thread, make the thread a lot worse than the original spoiler did; if anything, a PM to the person responsible (or, if it needs to be public, a Pit thread about it, linked in the original thread) would be preferable to the sniping we saw in the latest Game of Thrones thread.

Maybe a pitting is the answer, though I can’t recall anyone repenting and changing behavior because of a pitting.

I can’t see how a PM would make a difference, if a public objection in the thread doesn’t. But at least it has the advantage of not being a hijack.

Well, it hasn’t worked out quite perfectly - half the latest GoT threads is dedicated to bickering over the spoiler policy. That’s why this thread was created - so the issue can be settled and people can quit arguing about it.

I do think the “follow the OP’s rules” game may inspire someone else to rush to create the OP first with less restrictive rules. Sure, it would be childish and petty - but if there’s one thing I’ve seen people get childish and petty over consistently, it’s the people who indignantly refuse to follow the spoiler wishes of other people.

The zero-tolerance policy does get some extreme results (like people getting offended that they mentioned the prison cells in the tower in the book were described as slanted downwards towards the edge) - but the problem then becomes a demarcation problem. If you allow the minor stuff, then people start saying “oh, well we’re past this point in the book where they talked about X, so I can discuss X to give background and not spoil the TV show” - but what if the TV show planned to cover X further down the story from where the book did? Now it’s a spoiler. Over the first few GoT threads, there were some fairly decent sized spoilers just casually blurted out with no regard.

A zero-tolerance policy of pretending the books don’t exist for the purposes of that thread may get some overzealous results but prevents creeping into spoiler territory and avoids the issue of what consistitutes a minor spoiler, what constitutes background, what’s a major spoiler, etc.

My take on this - people should generally avoid discussing the book in the TV threads. The majority of people reading the threads will have seen the show but not read the books. To those people, the discussion is often an irrelevant digression even if not a blatant spoiler. If someone asks a specific question about background or something, someone else could answer in a spoiler box - but by having a thread for background material specifically we don’t even need that much.

I am not invested in how you want to handle it – multiple threads or whatever. Having set the rules of “TV info only in the TV threads, unless spoiler-boxed” seems reasonable to me.

If that how you want to do it, if someone is not spoiler-boxing something that should be spoiler-boxed, report the post. A mod will come in, add the spoiler box, and remind people of the expectations of the TV show threads. I agree that bickering about what is and isn’t a spoiler sounds annoying as hell, but I am not reading these threads except when I get a report, so I don’t know how bad that is.

That kind of report/mod action is not a big deal, and will not result in people getting warnings (unless, of course, they’re being aggressively obnoxious, or jerky, about it).

By the way, Gukumatz is apparently up on both the books and the movies, and he has agreed to guest-mod in these threads. He will not get the automatic reports, since he’s not a Cafe Society moderator, but he can be called on to help when knowing the nature of the material is an issue in a mod decision.

All of that being said, I would really prefer not to get into some whole new complicated set of rules around this. Can we try to rely on “don’t be a jerk,” and “giving away spoilers is a form of jerkishness” to get us through Game of Thrones?

twickster, Cafe Society moderator

I hear what you’re saying, but there’s two objections I have:

  1. Less importantly, there are going to be people like me who, excite by the show, have just reread the books, I find it hard to remember which things were in the episode and which were in the books. If someone makes a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.
  2. More importantly, cutting people some slack leads to a better world. Zero-tolerance never ever leads to good results, even though in theory it maybe ought to. Rather than have a “bright line,” rather than argue that the lack of a bright line leads to a slippery slope, I suggest people always, no matter what the rules say, use good judgment. If someone slips up in a minor way, everyone will be happier if folks let it go.

Boyo, the advantage of a PM is that it doesn’t derail the thread, and if it’s phrased diplomatically, I think it’d stand a greater chance of working, since public calling-outs tend to raise hackles and defensiveness. Something like:

Dude, mentioning the slope is a book spoiler! Cut it ouuuuuuuuut

I cannot believe you told people about Tyrion’s last words in this thread.

I think the “pretend the books don’t exist” edict is the way to go, otherwise I believe it is a slippery slope.

Now I’m going to point out the latest example, not because I’m upset by it, but just to use as a case-in-point:

Yes, it’s very minor and nothing to really get riled up about, but it’s a good example of how easy it is to unintentionally let spoilers slip when not following the “pretend the books don’t exist” rule. In this case, a comparison of how Tengu pictured a character from the book to how they appeared in the show led to us prematurely knowing the name and the apparent continuity of this new character.

This time, no harm, no foul. But I think the spoilers will be constant if people don’t pretend the books don’t exist. Usually, they’ll probably be minor like this one, but if it continues unabated, the occasional whopper is bound to slip out periodically.

In my opinion, even though there is an ongoing “open spoiler” thread for the book readers, I think there should be two threads for each episode. The strict PTBDE thread where there should be no spoilers and no references to the book at all, and another thread for the book readers, where they can post whatever they want and refer to the books as often as they like.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t read the ongoing “open spoiler” thread, so I don’t know how things are in there. But it just seems to me that the book readers (and indirectly, the non-book readers) might benefit from having an episodic spoiler thread. The ongoing spoiler thread could go on without being constrained to talking about specific episodes, and then with an episodic spoiler thread, there will be a better outlet for the sort of comments inappropriate for the “no books” thread.