Spoiler Box Protocol

First off, I should say that I hate spoiler boxes with an absolute passion. I feel they are overused, are an annoyance on my eyes on par with varying font types/sizes/colors, and a source of great unneeded confusion.

But they also have their place, and that’s what this thread is for. I’m placing it in Cafe Society because that’s where the great number of spoilers are. The impetus for this thread is this thread, regarding “Desperate Housewives”.

I feel spoilers should be used under only one circumstance: You’re posting factual information regarding a plot that has already been revealed that a reasonable number of people do not want revealed at this time. This includes:

  1. **Television or movie plot details that have recently aired or been released. ** There is no reason to box spoilers revealing who shot J.R., Mr. Burns, Higgins or how Gilligan made it home. You can also tell me how 24 Season 3 ended, even though I haven’t watched it yet, because I’ve waited so damned long. Also, if I don’t know that rosebud was his sled, then I’ve been living in a cave.

Correlary to #1: Movies that are recently released get a lot of SDMB traffic. It is not uncommon to have 2 threads - one with spoilers, one without. If you walk into a thread with “SPOILERS!!!” in the thread title, there is absolutely no reason to use a spoiler box - anyone reading that thread expects them.

  1. **Major book plots in a thread not dedicated to that book. ** If I’m casually reading a MPSIMS thread not dealing with the subject, and someone reveals that Mr. Jones’ penguins end up living happily in a zoo, and it has nothing to do with the subject, I have grounds to be upset. But if I go into a thread entitled “Mr. Jones’s Penguins Go to Africa”, I should be prepared to have the ending revealed to me.

  2. Television or movie plot details that have NOT been aired/released. If you know, for a fact, that Anakin Skywalker doesn’t actually become Darth Vader in Episode III, but rather joins Greenpeace and lives a life of eco-terrorism and you want to reveal that, put it in a spoiler box. BUT, if you are merely speculating that Anakin joins the circus instead of donning a walking iron lung, there is no need to put it in a spoiler box! Why? Because you aren’t spoiling anything! Opinions are not spoiler information.

  3. **If legitimate spoiler information is revealed in a box, continue that discussion in a box. ** The opposite holds true as well. There is no need to spoiler box something that was out in plain view in the OP, all you’re doing is removing your post from a portion of your audience that is avoiding actual spoilers.

Debatable points:

**Otto ** took issue with revealing information (post #21) readily available to the public in a national periodical in the above-referenced thread. It was information regarding the length of a particular story arc, and felt it needed to be in a spoiler box. Personally, I don’t see the need. Obviously, he does. I’m not sure whether this is a matter of a need to err on the side of caution, or the exception disproving the rule. I dunno. But I do know that later in the thread, after a brief discussion regarding the need for more spoiler boxes, **MsRobyn ** posted a needless spoiler box (post #38) that contained nothing but personal speculation.

The negative aspect of this is that many people may avoid MsRobyn’s comment for fear of being spoiled of actual future plot information. While post #21 may have needed a spoiler box, post #38 absolutely did not.

An excellent post. If I may make one suggestion, inspired by your #2 - Do not reveal the spoiler in the title! If you are talking about “Mr. Jones’s Penguins Go to Africa,” do not title the thread “Mr. Jones’s Penguins” End Up at the Zoo.

We at the People’s Republic of Lost Threads recently agreed (more or less; no one objected, at least) on the following policy:

Wonderful thread. It would be perfect if you showed how to actually construct a spoiler box. Other than, of course, what seems to be the prefered method of “Hey Mod, you should probably put what I just said in a spoiler box.”

Thanks for info.

I think this is in agreement with the above:

If a thread is entitled [show name][date], it is generally used by people who want to discuss the episode of said show being aired on said date. If the thread is started before the main U.S. airing, it will often include unboxed speculation and commentary based on their own opinions – though most will use spoiler boxes if linking to another fan site or other area that might be a source of actual spoilers. In addition, if people are posting while the episode is still airing in the Eastern Time Zone, they will also do so without boxing their remarks. Presumably the West Coast folks are smart enough to stay out of the thread for the couple of hours before the show airs for them if they don’t want anything spoiled.

The folks posting in the weekly Apprentice thread, for instance, rarely box stuff, and most people seem to be okay with this.

I’d be more than happy. Replace any curly brackets - “{” or “}” - with square brackets - “[” or “]” - in the example below:

Place your spoiled goods here.


Place your spoiled goods here.

Also note that as Juniper200 mentioned:

[url=http://www.straightdope.com]Hyperlinks are visible in spoiler boxes.

As are smilies: :slight_smile: :rolleyes: :dubious: ;j

:smack: Let’s try that again:

Here’s a time spoiler boxes are never needed: when the poster is speculating what might happen next. I have seen people freak out about spoilers in speculative threads about Harry Potter and, unless the poster is really JKRowling there are no spoilers, just guesses.

Also understand that spoiler boxes don’t hide anything from the front page. You know the little blurb that comes up when you put the cursor near the thread title? I have had things spoiled for me just because my cursor went near a thread title that I wasn’t going to open.

A couple of caveats/additions/comments:

(1) It is pointless to have spoiler boxes without saying what they’re spoiler boxes for… in a thread entitled “best movie endings”, if you say “my favorite endings are (spoiler box) (spoiler box) and (spoiler box)”, someone’s going to have to read the spoiler box to figure out what movie is or is not being spoiled

(2) A caveat to that is that there are certain very special cases where even mentioning what you’re spoiling spoils it. For instance, if, shortly after The Sixth Sense was released, while it was still in theatres, there had been a “favorite twist endings” thread, it would basically be impossible to mention The Sixth Sense without revealing that it had a twist ending, which would potentially ruin the movie for someone who hadn’t yet seen it. (Obviously, this very post of mine risks doing that, but at this point, I can’t imagine anyone who might ever want to see TSS hasn’t yet at least heard that it has a twist ending.)

(3) Something that should be boxed is plot details, even ones that seem well known to you, from recent TV shows that have aired, but have not yet been released on DVD. I love Angel, but have only seen the seasons that have come out on DVD, and have had a few important plot points accidentally revealed to me while reading totally-un-Angel-related threads. This pisses me off. This obviously does not apply to a thread entitled “Angel season 5 talk” or something.

I disagree with this. DVDs are for fans, not for initial viewers. If you’re an initial viewer, that’s great. But your time has come, and spoilers are aplenty out there. You cannot expect people to box spoilers for information that was televised several years ago.

Why the heck not, particularly if they’re inserting it into unrelated threads? If there’s a discussion of the election going on (what do I mean, “if”?), is it that much harder for me to say “that reminds me of the time in season 3 of The West Wing when (spoiler box)” as opposed to “that reminds me of the time in season 3 of The West Wing when Toby and Sam had that argument about…”?

Because it alienates a good chunk of your readership just by having a spoiler box in there, and it is information that is all to readily available. If something is to the point where it’s a rerun or on a DVD, it doesn’t get a spoiler box. Otherwise, you have to spoiler box every pop-culture reference you ever submit. The line has to be drawn - I think syndication is a pretty good starting point.

Please explain why you hate spoiler boxes so much. I think they are a great help for people who want to watch movies or read books without knowing what is going to happen, even if those aren’t the newest movies/books. I think my annoyance over reading a spoiler for a book that I was going to read even though it was a few years old is much greater than most people’s annoyance over seeing a spoiler box.

I addressed that in the first sentence of my OP. I also addressed spoilers for book plots in threads not dedicated to that book. I made no mention of how recent that book had to be.

They’re also not hidden in email notifications.
I found that out the hard way in Survivor threads. I’d open an email, scroll down to read it while the thread loaded, and see:
“Oh, and this week, Bruno is voted off!”
only to see it boxed in the thread. :frowning:

You adressed that you hate them, not why. I think spoiler boxes are so extremely helpful that they should be used for everything that could be a spoiler in any way. I agree that they are not needed for speculation, but don’t care if they are used for that. In my opinion a spoiler box can never be more annoying than the spoiler itself. It’s just a black box!

You are right about the books. Just change book to tv episode in my previous post.

Othaer than the confusion that is. I just don’t see why the would be confusing.

Read what you quoted again. Here, I’ll break it down for you:

Overusing spoiler boxes makes people ignore them, and the posts they’re in. This is not a good thing, as it immediately handicaps your communication.

See above. I, like many other Dopers, immediately skip over any/most posts containing varying font types/sizes/colors. I put most spoiler boxes in that same category, especially multiple paragraph boxes. Do you really want to alienate an audience before they even read what you typed?

When people post information in spoiler boxes that isn’t actually a spoiler, confusion results. Speculation posted in a spoiler box leads people to believe that it’s true, and not just speculation. It’s a practice that fuels the first two reasons people dislike spoiler boxes.

Munch, thanks for working to clarify the definition of spoiler. As the person who inadvertently spawned this thread (dear Og, I so did not mean to turn that into a big deal), I appreciate it. I genuinely didn’t think that was a spoiler, but Otto obviously did. Ergo, the polite thing to do is to err on the side of caution in the future. I don’t really post all that often–when I do I try to be courteous.