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April 26, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

What's the site policy on spoilers and ROT13?

Despite the fact that the recent (and excellent) Portal 2 thread on the blue was prefaced with massive spoiler warnings, a fairly large portion of the comments were ROT13'd, which impeded conversation in the comments, and made the whole thing rather difficult to read.

Can we please avoid doing that in the future, especially in threads where spoilers are virtually unavoidable? Is it time for MetaFilter to implement spoiler tags in the comments?
posted by schmod to Etiquette/Policy at 9:27 AM (493 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Ab.
posted by boo_radley at 9:29 AM on April 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


we need a spoiler icon.
posted by clavdivs at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Using your own "spoilers" tag, do a page search for "jessamyn" or "cortex" in almost any of these posts to learn the site policy on this issue.
posted by gman at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2011


Rot13 is fucking obnoxious and comments that employ it should be deleted.
posted by enn at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [37 favorites]


We are not implementing the spoiler tag. We'd really really like people to not turn threads into ROT-13 wastelands, but it's not at the point yet that we'll delete ROT-13 stuff unless there's a really huge push for that. People need to take care about spoilers if they don't want things spoiled for them. We will, sometimes, put spoilers behind the fold or otherwise behind a link.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2011


Not really related to site policy, but is it too late to include <spoiler> ... </spoiler> in HTML 5?

This seems like a problem you could solve pretty simply with markup. Hey, you could even expand the tag with parameters such as date, type of media, name of media, and so on, and configure your browser not to show, or to ROT13, things you haven't seen yet.

I can't be the only person who has had this idea, surely.
posted by randomination at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


but it's not at the point yet that we'll delete ROT-13 stuff unless there's a really huge push for that.

Where can I sign up for that huge push? I hate rot-13.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2011 [28 favorites]


*Spoiler*








The answer is "no."
posted by cjorgensen at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that if people want to avoid spoilers then they should stay out of threads about the subject they don't want spoiled. No tags or letter substitution required. Keep spoilers out of the text of the post, yes. But once inside a thread then there should be zero restriction of discussion any aspect of a subject, in plain English.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just switch to ROT26 and everything will be cool and froody.

is there a browser extension or similar for android that'll handle rot13?
posted by jtron at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2011


May Contain Spoilers
posted by cjorgensen at 9:42 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


/joke about rot13ing it twice to make it more secure
posted by cj_ at 9:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would strongly prefer that people not encode their comments on mefi. I do not enjoy looking at a wall of unreadable text that I have to somehow translate if I want to participate in the discussion.
posted by prefpara at 9:46 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


we'll delete ROT-13 stuff unless there's a really huge push for that Consider me on that bandwagon.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


If it helps at all, just remember that every time you encode something in ROT-13, I sacrifice a baby kitten on the shrine of your ancestors, in your name.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd really really rather people not do the rot13 for anything other than some sort of super exceptional case. "Discussion of details of a creative work in a thread that is unambiguously about that creative work" is not one of those cases on Metafilter.

I didn't say anything in the Portal 2 thread because I was trying not to be a grumpy ass about it for whatever reason, but, yes, that was obnoxious and I'd like to see it not happen again.

And on those rare cases where it really, really makes sense to rot13 something, maybe go ahead and find some way to link the munged content to a non-munged version or something. That may sound like a bit of work for the commenter, but munged text is work for everyone else if you don't make it a click away from comprehensibility.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would discourage spoilers in the post itself. Once you get into the discussion -- well, it's a discussion. Presume that people will be talking about the topic, and some will spoil it. There is that risk, and if you don't want to have anything spoiled, steer clear of the discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2011


Yeah I should maybe be clearer: ROT-13 is a hindrance to communication on this site; it creates this sort of inside/outside dichotomy, inspires flagging and the occasional email. It's, at best, a minor hindrance to people and, at worst, a completely aggravating cliquish "you don't belong here" indicator to people who don't know what it is.

I understand why people use it, and in other communities that tend more towards the geek direction it seems like a totally decent thing to do, but we lean more towards the side of "People need to reasonably assume that a thread about a just-released videogame is going to contain spoilers about that game" and stay out of the thread entirely. We'd appreciate if brand new spoilery stuff were placed "below the fold" in these sorts of post [or questions] and for the most part people do that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


> I sacrifice a baby kitten on the shrine of your ancestors, in your name.

Do you do this directly buy actually killing the kitten, or indirectly by letting God do it per the internet maxim? Either way, I'm tempted.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: "And on those rare cases where it really, really makes sense to rot13 something, maybe go ahead and find some way to link the munged content to a non-munged version or something. That may sound like a bit of work for the commenter, but munged text is work for everyone else if you don't make it a click away from comprehensibility."

I found myself thinking this repeatedly in the portal thread.
posted by boo_radley at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2011


At first I misread this post as "What's the site policy on spoilers and ROTJ?" and thought, "Doesn't everybody know that Leia is Luke's sister by now?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


"Doesn't everybody know that Leia is Luke's sister by now?"

Thanks for spoiling that for me! After 28 years, I was just about to sit down and watch it!
posted by birdherder at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, it killed me to not be able to read that Portal 2 thread until I had finished the game, and then when I went in there it was all awesoma powa'ed up. Boo to ROT13 for me too.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:05 AM on April 26, 2011


As one of the participants in that discussion: sorry. It wasn't intended to be obnoxious or exclusive. The in-thread consensus seemed to be pretty firmly in favor of ROT-13ing spoilers and I had no idea there was a site policy against it. Oh well.

Maybe this should go in the FAQ?
posted by teraflop at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah we should toss it into the spoiler part of the FAQ, I added it. I feel like it's literally never come up before where a whole thread devolved into ROT-13, so no big deal, just good to know moving forward.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:09 AM on April 26, 2011


As one of the participants in that discussion: sorry. It wasn't intended to be obnoxious or exclusive.

Nah, it's totally understandable to see it and run with it; this is one of those things where conventions vary from place to place, and in some places "hey lets rot13 everything" is probably totally kosher. It's not that anyone was being intentionally obnoxious, it's just something that's obnoxious as an aggregate experience.

Maybe this should go in the FAQ?

Yeah, I'm thinking maybe it should.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:10 AM on April 26, 2011


I don't like ROT-13 either, and the only reason I used it was that I didn't want to get yelled at for spoiling stuff.
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on April 26, 2011


If it helps at all, just remember that every time you encode something in ROT-13, I sacrifice a baby kitten on the shrine of your ancestors, in your name.

I had noticed myself becoming more terrible and powerful.

But yeah, having contributed to the ROT13-fest, I see your point. I think it grew out of a bunch of people having just-that-moment finished the game, realising how shit it would be to have any of the surprises spoiled (especially in Portal 2, because it's so damn special) and getting extra super cautious, beyond whatever level of care they'd normally take over spoilers. And then nobody wanting to be the first one to start posting plain text just in case it ruined everything for someone who thought they were safe-ish.
posted by emmtee at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


why bother with rot13 when you can do spoilers like this?
posted by juv3nal at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


or does that not work in all browsers?
posted by juv3nal at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


How did you do that? I have no idea.
posted by theichibun at 10:14 AM on April 26, 2011


Whenever I go to one of those sites where spoilers are blacked out and you have to highlight them, I think, "Cool! It's a secret message!" and end up reading the spoiler.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:15 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm hoping it goes on sale soon since everyone on my friends list seems to be done with it.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:16 AM on April 26, 2011


How did you do that? I have no idea.

<abbr title="seekrit knowledj">spoilers here</abbr>
posted by juv3nal at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


or does that not work in all browsers?

It does not.
posted by inturnaround at 10:22 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no dog in this fight, because a) I like spoilers, as a general rule, and b) I don't mind ROT13, but also wouldn't mind if people couldn't use it here. But I do have a question regarding what people should or shouldn't expect in a thread--

In the thread about the decision to air Doctor Who (and the Walking Dead, etc.) on the same day in both Britain and the US due to the noticeable spike in piracy because of the delays, the thread *eventually* became focused on the season premiere of Doctor Who. I don't think it would be unreasonable for someone to be surprised by spoilers appearing in a thread for an episode of a show that hadn't even aired when the thread was posted. I know it's each person's own problem, especially nowadays, if they get spoiled because the get on the internet before they've seen $SHOW, but in that particular situation, people started using ROT13, and I thought it was kind of them. Again, I'm a big fan of spoilers, but I feel bad when I spoil people who don't want to be spoiled. I don't think it's a bad thing to be cautious when discussing an episode that airs *while a thread is in progress*.

Anyway, I can tell I'm in the minority (maybe even a minority of one), but there must be some kind of solution that we're not thinking of--something that's equally easy for both those who want to talk about it and those who don't want to see spoilers, but want to participate in the main thread.
posted by tzikeh at 10:25 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


To discourage use, I vote that ROT13 posts by disemvowelled.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


how about the acronym tag instead?
posted by juv3nal at 10:25 AM on April 26, 2011


Screen reader users vote for deleting ROT13 with extreme prejudice.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:29 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That just comes out as a weird dotty underline.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2011


I really dislike the use of ROT-13 and would really really favor a spoiler tag or some other implementation of similar instead of flooding threads with gobbledygook.

why bother with rot13 when you can do spoilers like this? [using the abbr tag]

Because it's not obvious that messages contain hidden messages like that and (as I understand it) it fucks with screen readers for the blind.
posted by flatluigi at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2011


I don't think it's a bad thing to be cautious when discussing an episode that airs *while a thread is in progress*.

Being cautious is great, and if you want to mention something spoileriffic in what you feel like is a context where that would be really unexpected, by all means think about how to do that.

That said, I'd say that in your example we're looking at what I'd think of as a fairly standard Reader Beware situation on metafilter: if it's a discussion about a piece of creative work, people who want to definitely not run into discussion of the specifics of that creative work need to avoid the thread or accept the risk that other people reasonably discussing the subject may say spoilery things.

Our concern with spoilers goes about as far as (a) trying to avoid splashing them on the front page and (b) not being a jerk about them by throwing spoilers about relatively recent stuff into unlikely contexts just because you can. Beyond that, if the thread is about x, and you absolutely can't tolerate being spoiled on x, best to avoid the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


i have no objections if the mods want to un rot-13 the thread, personally.
posted by empath at 10:32 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


young rope-rider - place your cursor over the dotty line and wait.
posted by tzikeh at 10:36 AM on April 26, 2011


Man, all these people worried about spoiling shit are spoiling shit. If you don't want to know what happens, don't read the damn thread. Period. End of story.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:42 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would like to join the "No ROT13" push. I was really excited to read the Portal thread (after I finished the game!), but when it turned into wharrgarbl letterpasta, I started just skimming the rest. There's gotta be a better solution, because I can't follow a conversation when I have to copy-paste into separate tabs just to know what people are saying. Anyone know if there's a greasemonkey script that'll let me un-rot things?
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:43 AM on April 26, 2011


Like empath, I just didn't want to get yelled at. One guy got chastised for just quoting a bit of dialogue that wasn't even spoilery.

This kinda feels like something you can't win on. Is the only winning move not to play? Official policy of spoilering being OK notwithstanding, it seems to generate a lot of bad will. I imagine those comments would've wound up called out here if posted without obfuscation.
posted by cj_ at 10:44 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just inept, but at the time the Portal thread was live, I was reading it on my phone and so was really unable (it was possible but a huge pain in the ass) to de-ROT the ROT'd comments. Which was frustrating.

Count me as another vote against.
posted by anastasiav at 10:44 AM on April 26, 2011


Joking aside, I think that interface elements or behaviors that make the sure worse for screen reader users should be eliminated, unless there's an accessible theme that's selectable, or something.

I am an art and video man and don't actually comprehend the practicalities of all this
posted by jtron at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


a fairly large portion of the comments were ROT13'd, which impeded conversation in the comments, and made the whole thing rather difficult to read.

Huh. I'm in the clear minority, but I disagree strongly. I thought the ROT13 comments were very considerate. As someone who's not going to play P2 until it's 9.99 or whatever, I don't want to see spoilers in my Recent Activity page.

Oh well. So it goes ...

"People need to reasonably assume that a thread about a just-released videogame is going to contain spoilers about that game" and stay out of the thread entirely.

And not comment at all in that thread, even early and/or with an interesting link, because then comments will show up on your Recent Activity page.

i have no objections if the mods want to un rot-13 the thread, personally.

If they do, can they also please delete all my comments from that thread, so I don't start seeing spoilers in my Recent Activity?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


You can remove the post from your Recent Activity, mrgrimm. The link is on the left, under the post copy.
posted by m@f at 10:52 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can remove threads from recent activity with a single click.
posted by empath at 10:53 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a compromise solution for those who would want spoilers slightly encoded. Rather than rot-13, which is unsightly and offputting, why don't we reveal all spoilers in Cockney Rhyming Slang?
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


One guy got chastised for just quoting a bit of dialogue that wasn't even spoilery.

People get chastised in every thread on MetaFilter because other people are irritable. This is something that happens regardless of whether there is never another new episode of anything, another new video game, or another sports event. I appreciate that people are trying to be considerate, even of the irritable [seriously, thanks fro mthe bottom of my irritable heart] but sometimes it helps to have a statement of community norms along the line of "People swear here, you might want to get used to that" and this is one of those discussions.

i have no objections if the mods want to un rot-13 the thread, personally.

We're absolutely not going to do that. Not a terrible solution, but I think this is a moving forward" solution (i.e. don't do this in the future) not a "we need to fix past examples" sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:54 AM on April 26, 2011


oh hey yeah. look at that: "(remove from activity)"
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on April 26, 2011


Nthing the "avoid ROT13" push. I stayed out of the Doctor Who thread (in fact, I just stayed off Metafilter) for the better part of a day to avoid being spoiled for the first episode. If I need to avoid being spoiled for the second, I'll do the same thing.

It's on the reader to avoid spoilery threads, and as a regular reader of Who threads, I knew what was going to happen the minute the episode aired. I just assume anything that's a game/book/movie review contains spoilers and read accordingly.
posted by immlass at 10:59 AM on April 26, 2011


Wow, I had no idea it was bothering people that much. I know it's not as elegant as the black boxes on Reddit or Mefight Club you can highlight over, but I got the impression in the thread there was a mixture of people midway through the game and people who were done.

But yeah, if this is really annoying to the community, I won't make posts in ROT13 again, and just assume I should stay out of potentially spoilery threads for media I want to consume.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2011


it fucks with screen readers for the blind

I'd imagine that the rot13 text itself also presents potential problems for visually impaired people dependent on screen readers, though, no?
posted by elizardbits at 11:03 AM on April 26, 2011


I believe the mods have no problem with rot26.
posted by unSane at 11:16 AM on April 26, 2011


elizardbits: "I'd imagine that the rot13 text itself also presents potential problems for visually impaired people dependent on screen readers, though, no?"

For screen readers as a class of device independent of users of the devices.

An example for your listening pleasure.
posted by boo_radley at 11:17 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine that the rot13 text itself also presents potential problems for visually impaired people dependent on screen readers, though, no?

Yes, it's incredibly annoying.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2011


ROT-26 is AOK.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:18 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Damn, boo_radley, a coke for you, sir.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2011


JINX
posted by boo_radley at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2011


Huh. I'm in the clear minority, but I disagree strongly. I thought the ROT13 comments were very considerate. As someone who's not going to play P2 until it's 9.99 or whatever, I don't want to see spoilers in my Recent Activity page.

As considerate as it was, it made the thread nearly impossible to read. And, honestly? If you're looking to avoid spoilers for a game(/movie/book/etc) you want to play in the future, *don't* participate in threads on that game. I didn't read the Dr. Who thread because I expected spoilers.
posted by graventy at 11:23 AM on April 26, 2011


Rot-13 encoder/decoder plugin for Chrome
posted by crunchland at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to start Rot-13ing other things that people harsh on. Loathsome political opinions, hipsterism, the word 'awesome', my fedora, etc. Because I am considerate.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:52 AM on April 26, 2011


Actually, awesome is pretty awesome all rot-13d. NJRFBZR!
posted by dirtdirt at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2011


Count me in on the "rot13 is really annoying" side. It was OK on usenet when your newsreader probably came with a key to rot13 the post you were viewing but on the web it's just awful.
posted by pharm at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2011


I don't know what the problem is. It's a 1-to-1 letter substitution. It's simple to crack!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2011


Pfft. I'm so l33t I rot6.5 everything.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2011


I like the part where ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ did the thing with the ▓▓▓▓▓ in the ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓. That was probably the coolest part of ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓ ▓ ▓▓▓▓▓.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:01 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ?
posted by item at 12:04 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rot-13 just makes the site less usable overall with the need to jump back and forth to a decoder or to use a browser extension. It's an obstacle to the conversation for folks who don't know what's going on or who can't/won't decode.

Count me as one of the people voting against, for whatever that's worth - I certainly just skipped over all of the encoded Portal discussion.

All in all, the politeness convention feels like the best solution. Give a decent warning if your comment will contain a spoiler, and go into conversations assuming that most aspects of a story will be discussed at some level. That feels workable enough to avoid the need to make the site less user friendly to everyone.
posted by owls at 12:05 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Major spoiler. ebtre roreg vf gur svany obff.
posted by iconomy at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2011


We've been around the block on this enough times to suggest that it;s an actual real use case that should be considered and "just don't read threads with spoilers in" isn't a sufficient solution. I for one would like a spoiler tag, or some way of handling this. Second to that.. yeah, we get ROT13. ROT13 is preferable to bloody great spoilers, sorry.

Not really seeing "it's a barrier to reading" as a sensible objection to ROT13 - it's supposed to be a barrier to reading. What is more of a real problem is when it's an insurmountable barrier to reading - on mobile, for instance, it's pretty much impossible to read a heavily ROT13ed thread.
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


ROT-13 is a legacy from Usenet. Usually I'm all about that, but in this case the ROT13 haters are correct. It worked on Usenet because any decent newsread had ROT13 one-key functionality built in. All you had to do was hit F5 (or whatever) and BOOM, all screen text was ROT13d. Hit it again and it switched back. Easy.

Modern web browsers do not have that as part of basic functionality. I'm sure plugins for firefox exist but one shouldn't have to install a third party plugin simply to read a thread on Metafilter. And cut/pasting into another site like rot13.com is a non starter.

So, yeah, ROT13 is wrong for Metafilter, wrong for America.
posted by Justinian at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2011


While I understand the concerns of those who want to avoid spoilers, there's an equally large contingent of folks that have already played or listened to or watched whatever thing is it being discussed, and actually want to discuss it without having to jump through a bunch of unreasonable hoops. So I am joining the anti-ROT13 chorus, although that sentiment seems pretty much universal at this point. If you want to post a spoiler and you want to be super-considerate of spoiler-haters, just chuck it in Pastebin or something. That being said, I think putting a spoiler warning in the post itself should pretty much absolve any one who wants to discuss the thing in the thread of any responsibility to obfuscate.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:24 PM on April 26, 2011


Well, unless it's a mixed spoiler/unspoiled thread, or if spoilers get introduced part way through...

As for in-message spoiler warnings, SPOILER

.
.
.
.
.

They do nothing but attract attention to spoilers.
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2011


Oh man, I hadn't even thought about screen reader issues. Space Coyote, is there a plugin for translating Rot-13? Do readers get that sophisticated/dorky?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:33 PM on April 26, 2011


I'm taking it to meta ask!
posted by Artw at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, unless it's a mixed spoiler/unspoiled thread, or if spoilers get introduced part way through...

There's no such thing as a "mixed" thread. If there's a spoiler, there's a spoiler. And I guess I'm sensitive to the idea of spoilers being introduced in later comments, but seriously, if there's a thread about the first episode of the latest season of Doctor Who, or a thread about Portal 2, people who have watched or played should be able to write about watching or playing. If you don't want it spoiled, don't read the thread that will inevitably contain spoilers. I'm all for an elegant solution to inline spoiler tags that are as transparent to the reader as possible as well as being cross-browser and screen reader compatible, but failing that, the reader should assume that a thread about some new media will contain spoilers.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:37 PM on April 26, 2011


ROT-13 should be banned.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:41 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I hadn't even thought about screen reader issues. Space Coyote, is there a plugin for translating Rot-13? Do readers get that sophisticated/dorky?

Back in the day you would just press F5 or whatever in your newsreader like everyone else. Now it's more often that I personally just select a big block of text and let it read a thread to me as a background task, so I'm not hovering over the keyboard able to kill the speech once it starts going nuts. (I've got some vision, though, I mainly use speech to read longer blocks of text, so I'm not the primary profile of a screen reader user.)
posted by Space Coyote at 12:42 PM on April 26, 2011


I know we've gone over the spoiler tag thing before, but there is a lot of benefit to allowing spoiler tags and not a whole lot of downside, from my point of view. It's pretty much standard on any discussion forum that talks about media at this point. I really think you guys should experiment with them, at some point. Maybe only in one thread just to see how it goes.
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you don't want it spoiled, don't read the thread that will inevitably contain spoilers

That's fine in theory, in practice we have this conversation again and again because it;s actually not fine, and repeatedly stating "just don't go to those threads!" has failed to change that and will continue to fail to change that.

We need spoiler tags.
posted by Artw at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I believe in the opposite of the original post. Use ROT-13 liberally. It doesn't "impede conversation." There are browser plugins that will translate it for you. Use it. Love it. Embrace the standard for spoilers so ancient that it predates the web. I hate stupid traditions as much as anyone, but there's a reason it's been the de facto standard since UseNet. It just fucking works.
posted by Eideteker at 12:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would certainly thank those who, given the opportunity and desire to post a wacking great spoiler, have done so in ROT-13.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seconding Artw and empath. I don't understand how the argument against spoiler tags outweighs their utility; you see them all the time on everything from media resources like TVTropes to generalist sites like Reddit and they work well. I don't think that spoiler discussion is such an edge case that spoiler tags would be out of place here -- people discuss new movies, TV shows, sports, and games on the blue all the time, often as they happen, and it would be nice to have an elegant, unencumbered way to allow people to participate in the thread without having their day ruined. It would certainly be more useful and appropriate than stuff like the blink tag, or whatever other legacy HTML the site supports for no particular reason.

People ask for spoiler tags all the time. I'd think it would be easier to just add them and consider the problem dealt with than have to address the idea and its attendant issues (annoying spoilers! annoying spoiler safeguards! so annoying!) every time some big media property is the subject of lengthy discussion here.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't particularly care for the ROT-13 encoding. For some reason, the decoder page is considered a "questionable" site by the work firewall and while it was loaded I had to go through a "Are you sure you want to go there?" intermediary every few minutes. So I'd throw some text in the box, click the translate button - "Are you sure this site is safe?" yup sure, and then I'd lose the text and have to recopy it.

I realize this is a bit of a special case (and I know we've discussed accessibility of the site at work before), but it was a little frustrating. I like the abbreviation tag, that seems to work pretty well.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2011


Man, now that I've read the comments to this thread, it's like I'm in some Bizarro Universe where ROT13 is NOT the considerate thing to do. What the hell happened to my Internet?

Spoiler: Trg bss zl ynja.
posted by Eideteker at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was one of the people who used ROT13 in the thread. I ended up hating it at the end, especially given that two days later I don't even remember my own comment and have to go to another site just to translate and read it. It also makes searching for something I previous said pretty much impossible, and I imagine anyone reading the page on a mobile device is right screwed.

In retrospect I understand why everyone hates it because that thread going far longer than I thought it would, I've become one of them. But I'll also throw in that the only reason (this was the first and I feel last time I've ever done it) was because a few people upthread instantly screamed THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT IN THIS ONE.

From now on let's use spoiler tags.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I like the abbreviation tag, that seems to work pretty well."

I can de-ROT13 on my phone, but I can't hover over ABBR tags. This is why I have and always will ROT13, unless we get <SPOILER> tags like on jayisgames.com.
posted by Eideteker at 12:56 PM on April 26, 2011


Yeah, ABBR pretty much falls over on the phone thing. That said, so do a fair few implementations of SPOILER tags.
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on April 26, 2011


there is a lot of benefit to allowing spoiler tags and not a whole lot of downside, from my point of view.

Well my point of view is this: in smaller communities you can pretty much mandate their usage and reinforce this mandate via selective deletion and community norm enforcing. In larger communities you can't do this as well, or you need to have a different sort of approach to moderation than we do. So my feeling is this

- the spoiler thing comes up like once out of every 500 posts, this is not a community dedicated to the sorts of things that spoilers are important for. This sort of thing comes up twice a year according to Rhaomi's link
- we're not going to be able to get people to use spoiler tags consistently, people will not do it because they don't know how [we can't get them to use HTML, let's be honest about how well we could get them to use spoiler tags] or because they just feel peevish. I don't want to patrol those people and I don't want them drummed out of the community and I do not want to create a spoiler HTML button.
- people who are annoyed by spoilers are not going to be happy with 95% spoiler-free posts, we cannot commit to 100% spoiler-free posts

I mean, if I understand this correctly, what people would like is a CSS option so that text between a SPOILER tag would be hidden or something else, right? While I agree, that is trivial to create, I'm also concerned about the culture it creates or the implications that the usage of this is mandatory or will otherwise be enforced. Because I personally am fine with having it as an optiuon, but that's about as far as I'm willing to consider going.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


(although TBH I suspect an implementation that works well in screen readers is a bigger challenge)
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2011


We keep having this discussion because people on Metafilter keep falling prey to the illusion that it's easier to police other people's habit of wanting to discuss books/games/movies/tv shows/etc. instead of their own choice to read those threads.

(And yes, since the mods asked my opinion, ROT13 sucks and is inconsiderate. It's my lawn too, and I'll talk about things that might upset the spoiler-sensitive if I feel like it.)
posted by immlass at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Disclosure: I actually very rarely care about spoilers (and, in this case, I've been watching the Yogscast playthroughs of Portal single-player and co-op). It's just bizarre to see hatred for something you grew up with as the way for good and right-thinking people to be considerate to their fellow user.
posted by Eideteker at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


jessamyn - people are doing it already with the tools they have, but those tools are bad, hence this thread.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Not that I really consider ROT 13 that bad a tool, but it has some downsides and it just kind of freaks some people out for some reason)
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on April 26, 2011


Artw - I understand that, my question is if it's better to have a spoiler tag that only some people use, or no spoiler tag, in terms of being honest about how the site works?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2011


A spoiler tag that only some people use.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Because I personally am fine with having it as an optiuon, but that's about as far as I'm willing to consider going."

I think that's all we're asking for. It's a way to be considerate. There are always going to be people who don't know, or who typo on the tag, or whatever. There's always a chance you'll be SNAPE KILLS VEGETA spoiled, even on a random unrelated thread. But there should be some kind of (loose, at least) community standard for layering information for people who may not realize they're walking into Spoiler Country (as in mrgrimm's example of thread drift + recent comments).
posted by Eideteker at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2011


I agree that not everyone's going to use a spoiler tag, and that's fine by me. Not everyone uses ROT13. But the issue keeps popping up because people who DO want to spoiler-tag their comments have to choose the best option from a list of not-really-great options. If we can give them a better option that makes it easier for people to hide spoilers AND easier for people to read those hidden spoilers, I think that's going to make things much more peaceful in spoilery threads. Just a simple button like "Hey, if you feel like hiding your spoilers, use this!".
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


heh. First reply to the AskMe suggests using Rot 13.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2011


GbzzlEBG!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:08 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there was a spoiler tag, could we have to option to disable it in our settings? I don't care about spoilers and seeing everything blacked out/having to highlight to read it is ugly and annoying (especially because the highlighted colors are almost never easy to read).
posted by aspo at 1:08 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate rot13 as well. It's nice in that it's difficult (impossible) to accidentally read stuff, unlike **SPOILERS** It was his sled. But, it's supremely annoying to decode, to the point that I don't even bother most of the time. It's worse than linking to some book on Amazon without mentioning the title.

I fully support an official mouseover-spoilers tag, or failing that, site-wide convention of acronym tag or ʇxǝʇ pǝddıןɟ. Flipped text is what one of my other message boards uses for spoilers - it's hard to read accidentally, it's easy to read if you want to read it, and you can read it on smartphones. The only disadvantages are, it doesn't help with the screenreader issue, and you still have to use a website to generate it (just not to decode it).
posted by Gordafarin at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2011


But, it's supremely annoying to decode, to the point that I don't even bother most of the time.

Yeah, ROT13 basically just ensures that I'll ignore the coded part of the discussion. I don't like it much. I usually just stay out of threads that seem like they're gonna be spoilery, and that does me fine; I'm still enjoying Portal 2 a lot, and I'll be happy to check out the thread in a month or so, whenever I finish it.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:13 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I want to apologize for my tone earlier in the thread. But it really was some kind of Twilight Zone alternate universe horrorshock. It was like walking into a room of people who were complaining about people shitting in toilets because they were tired of cleaning their toilet at home. And people should shit out in the open, instead of in secret. And folks should just get used to watching where they walk, because hey, people are shitting everywhere. And folks were agreeing like that was true and right.

It's still mind-boggling that people have problems with ROT13 (other than screen readers). I mean, it's the easiest cypher to break. It's accepted Internet protocol. But whatever.

I'll still use it and advocate for it, though, unless something better comes along. I understand that the mob has spoken, but I'm still an individual and I have to do what I think is right. But hey, you can just avoid my comments like they were spoiler-y threads, right?

[The Management would like to apologize for the return to dickishness in the previous comment. The neurons responsible have been sacked.]
posted by Eideteker at 1:15 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I frankly really enjoyed the ROT13 spoilers. I though it was a nice move.
posted by jeffehobbs at 1:18 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Flipped text is what one of my other message boards uses for spoilers - it's hard to read accidentally"

Disagree. I hardly notice the difference.
posted by Eideteker at 1:19 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


ROT-13: an elegant solution for a more civilized age.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


t's still mind-boggling that people have problems with ROT13 (other than screen readers). I mean, it's the easiest cypher to break. It's accepted Internet protocol. But whatever.

Wow this sure reads like a hand-wavey dismissal of a valid problem.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


jessamyn: "my question is if it's better to have a spoiler tag that only some people use, or no spoiler tag, in terms of being honest about how the site works?"

Option A, all the way. Most Mefites are savvy enough to know to use spoiler tags if they're available (there were clearly enough to cause a stink with all the ROT-13, and that's not even site-supported). With a healthy dose of self-policing and community reinforcement, I think an official spoiler tag would lead to much better outcomes than having to kludge together an ad-hoc solution for every thread (or forcing interested people to skip participating in risky threads entirely).

You're never going to get perfect compliance, but if you give people an easy, intuitive way to be considerate with their discussion while including the caveat that it won't guarantee protection, that will go 90% of the way to solving the problem. Just include words to that effect in the FAQ and the wiki (and maybe throw up a temporary masthead alert to notify people of the new tag), and let the rest shake out like any other community norm.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just include words to that effect in the FAQ and the wiki (and maybe throw up a temporary masthead alert to notify people of the new tag), and let the rest shake out like any other community norm.

And (it probably goes without saying) add it to the shortcut bar under the textarea.
posted by Eideteker at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2011


I'm not ready for metafilter to become a wasteland of ████████████████████████

█████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
█████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
██████████████

████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████

█████████████████████████████████████████████
██████████████████████████



Mousing over every part of a discussion isn't fun to me and might be really inconvenient for mobile site users.

SPOILER ALERT!!! If knowing the plot of a particular narrative will ruin the story for you it is an indication that the characters aren't fully realized or uninteresting.

Also: ████████████████████████
posted by fuq at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


...if you give people an easy, intuitive way to be considerate with their discussion while including the caveat that it won't guarantee protection, that will go 90% of the way to solving the problem.

But a non-standard HTML-like tag is in no way easy or intuitive. People who know HTML won't know this tag, and someone will need to have read about it in the FAQ. Since spoilers are such a small part of the conversation that happens here, does it make sense to devote a permanent note about it under the textarea? If the site was devoted to discussing new media as it happens the mechanism might make more sense. But including a feature with this much overhead (profile preference, new tag to learn, updates to HTML filters, CSS) for non-frequent use seems like a lot of trouble to go through for a small portion of the activity here.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"uninteresting" should be "interesting" and ████████████████████████████████████████████████
posted by fuq at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2011


No, that's bullcrap.
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we can all agree that Rot-13 sucks.

Luckily, we've got base64 !!! SE9PUkFZIEZPUiBURUNITk9MT0dZISE=
posted by crunchland at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2011


"does it make sense to devote a permanent note about it under the textarea?"

No, I didn't mean add a blurb about it. I meant add it to the actual HTML shortcut bar, next to B I and link. Add info about it to the (HTML help) link, and done. That's all we're asking. I'll even write the FAQ item if you like, and I'll do it for free! =D
posted by Eideteker at 1:41 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't have to be big obnoxious bars. TVTropes uses invisible text with a dotted outline, for instance. I'm sure we could figure out something just as unintrusive and workable for mobile browsers and screenreaders.

pb: "People who know HTML won't know this tag, and someone will need to have read about it in the FAQ. Since spoilers are such a small part of the conversation that happens here, does it make sense to devote a permanent note about it under the textarea? "

A permanent note isn't necessary -- just a note in the FAQ, some kind of one-time high-visibility announcement like a sidebar note or masthead to let people outside of MetaTalk know it exists, and then leave it to the community to encourage each other to make use of it where appropriate, like what happened with ROT-13 in the Portal thread.

(And by "intuitive," I just mean it's easier to use and remember "<spoiler>spoiler here!</spoiler>" than an offsite utility like ROT or the complicated mess that is the ABBR tag.)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2011


That ABBR solution is nice but breaks in mobile and is just too much messing about to do. Plus there would be no way of showing all spoilers on the page, which i would consider a requirement.

( FWIW, I'm now sort of tempted to write a jQuery plug in that will encrpyt an encrypt the text of a tag upon click (or other event) - it seems like it would be more elegant than the CSS based solution and the faliure mode would be the spoiler text remains ROT 13. Probably doesn't help people with screenreaders read it though.... maybe a link as fallback? )
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2011


I think ROT-13 (which I can read, with some effort) would be a great improvement over whatever the hell people are doing that results in white bars on my browser window, which I can't read, at all (Safari 4.1.3).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:46 PM on April 26, 2011


Peopel are pretty familiar with spoiler here! from elsewhere, I'm not seeing a huge education problem.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on April 26, 2011


(Crabby Appleton, those are jokey fake spoilers using solid block characters, not an actual method.)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:48 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The addition of an official spoiler tag would mean that we (ahem, YOU, the mods) have to deal with all the edge cases of what constitutes a spoiler. And on a site where much of the user experience seems to be "read what people have to say about some thing" that seems like a decision that is fraught with peril. More peril than just (as a reader) not reading threads that are about a subject you CANNOT STAND to be spoiled on, and (as a poster/commenter) not spoiling where you can help it. A technical solution is not a solution here, in my opinion.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:50 PM on April 26, 2011


Jokes interfere with the readability of the site and should be banned.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


The addition of an official spoiler tag would mean that we (ahem, YOU, the mods) have to deal with all the edge cases of what constitutes a spoiler

...which I'd argue is a problem they have anyway.

A SPOILER tag is not going to solve the problem of inconsiderate people being inconsiderate. it would, however, give considerate people the option to be considerate.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It does, however, have the potential to expand the definition of "inconsiderate" a fair bit.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:55 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


My two bits, for what little it's worth: although as mentioned we do have spoiler tags at MefightClub, where I think it makes sense, I tend to agree that it may not be the best idea here at the mothership, for the reasons jessamyn and cortex and others have mentioned.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2011


Given the choice between spoiler-tagged stuff and ROT13 stuff one is MUCH easier to read.

I read some of the Something Awful Portal 2 thread at the same time as the thread here and while the constant black spoiler bars were annoying they were less annoying than copy-and-pasting to another site to read what people said. (Or an add-on that'll do it, even.) I like to read what Mefites have to say; you people are smart and interesting.

I'm more than fine with, going forward, people just assume a subject will be talked about in a thread on that subject. Maybe a note in the FAQ that says "please don't read threads about stuff you haven't finished yourself if you care about spoilers" or something.
posted by graventy at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2011


dirtdirt: "The addition of an official spoiler tag would mean that we (ahem, YOU, the mods) have to deal with all the edge cases of what constitutes a spoiler. "

There's going to be complaining no matter what happens. Even strict moderation wouldn't satisfy every edge case. If the tag is accompanied by the caveat that it won't guarantee protection and that people desperate to avoid spoilers should skip the thread, then that will avoid added mod responsibilities while bridging the gap between considerate commenters and those who'd like to read as spoiler-free as possible while still okay with the risk that it could happen occasionally.

Basically, leave it to the commenter's discretion whether to use the tag (which community pressure will encourage), and leave it to readers to decide whether participating in the thread is worth the risk. Given that set-up, the only mod intervention on the spoiler front that would be needed would be removing glaring spoilers from above the fold on front page posts, which is what the mods do already.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


What Rhaomi said.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2011


jessamyn writes "a completely aggravating cliquish 'you don't belong here' indicator to people who don't know what it is. "

This is GOML but I never cease to be amazed that internet users don't recognize ROT13. I believe it, I'm just amazed. I can even read it without decrypting with some effort.

specialagentwebb writes "Anyone know if there's a greasemonkey script that'll let me un-rot things?"

'LeetKey. Also does studly caps, 'leet speak, Morse, and assorted bin encoding.

mrgrimm writes "Huh. I'm in the clear minority, but I disagree strongly. I thought the ROT13 comments were very considerate. "

If we're voting this is also my vote.

MetaFilter: "an elegant solution for a more civilized age."
posted by Mitheral at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


dirtdirt: It's not meant to be a catch-all. Personally, though I'm pretty rigorous about spoiler tags/ROT13/etc. (even though I personally don't really care about being spoiled, as I've said; it's about consideration), I would heartily embrace a mod policy of, "Hey, it slipped through, these things happen" as long as it wasn't malicious. I think if they come out pretty clearly about that at the outset, there won't be too many problems.
posted by Eideteker at 2:08 PM on April 26, 2011


Given that set-up, the only mod intervention on the spoiler front that would be needed would be removing glaring spoilers from above the fold on front page posts, which is what the mods do already.

Well, and fielding all the emails, MetaTalk threads, and flags generated by people who think other folks should be using it differently. My personal opinion (other than loathing ROT-13 because I read really fast and running into it has the mental effect of driving into a brick wall at highway speeds) is that any sort of officially-sanctioned spoiler-flagging method would behave pretty much exactly like NSFW does - not a tremendous amount of mod effort, but definitely a non-zero amount. Possibly a little more just because NSFW issues are generally limited to the post itself, whereas spoilers become a comment issue.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


*uv-svirf Zvgureny*
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on April 26, 2011


Jokes interfere with the readability of the site and should be banned.

Only for people who aren't paying enough attention, apparently. (Thanks, Rhaomi.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:11 PM on April 26, 2011


You can remove threads from recent activity with a single click.

...

oh hey yeah. look at that: "(remove from activity)"

oh hey no! it seems like the removed threads come back into my Recent Activity page when any new comments are added, though ... :(

(let's try it again ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:12 PM on April 26, 2011


That's the thing, though, restless_nomad -- complaints and flags and emails will happen whether there's a tag or not. That's what we're doing right now, right? A 130+ comment MeTa because the on-the-fly spoiler solution we just did was annoying to too many people. Add that to the dozens of past MeTas we've seen asking for a new spoiler policy.

In the past, these issues have been handled with "spoiler tags are iffy, just avoid the thread if you really don't want to be spoiled." With spoiler tags, future complaints about insufficiently hidden spoilers can be handled with "spoiler tags are a courtesy and not a guarantee, just avoid the thread if you really don't want to be spoiled." With the added benefit that people can risk reading the thread if they want with the knowledge that most major spoilers will be hidden in a non-obnoxious way.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:16 PM on April 26, 2011


I'm 100% with Artw and Rhaomi here. I'll add: I don't think ROT13 is terribly difficult to learn. I worked it out just from seeing it used, here. But I accept it's not optimal, for reasons given above.

Spoiler tags can work: they were implemented successfully on another board I post on, and that board's membership isn't as smart or technically minded as Metafilter's membership. If it's relatively easy (technically) to implement, I support the addition of spoiler tags (on the understanding that we won't come complaining to the mods if spoilers still make it through). A reduction in the number of spoilers would still be a success.

A few people have said 'stay out of the threads', which is fair enough, but quite often spoilers for x are posted in a thread about y, and we can't know that until we open the thread (I picked up spoilers for the last Iain Banks from a thread on something completely different).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:22 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a pretty significant effective difference between "that feature is unsupported" and "that feature is supported but not like you want it to be, here's our policy."
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2011


A reduction in the number of spoilers would still be a success.

That seems kind of crazy to me. If something is spoiled, it's spoiled. There will absolutely be a hue and cry for the mods to start applying spoiler tags after the fact if they are added to the site.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:27 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't see the difference in terms of complaints. "That feature is unsupported (which is not how you'd like it to be)" draws as much petitioning (like this discussion!) as "that feature is not supported how you'd like it to be." The former draws calls for its implementation, the latter draws calls for its alteration, but you're never going to find something that satisfies everyone. At least adding the tag in a "reader beware" fashion gives people the power to exercise their own discretion in how to use it (which they already do somewhat messily with the current stopgaps) and readers greater flexibility in reading the thread (instead of "no spoiler tags, skip if you don't want spoilers," you get "most major spoilers hidden by conscientious commenters, it's up to you if that's enough protection.") More people can participate that way if they want, which is good for the thread.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2011


I don't see the difference in terms of complaints.

May I suggest, in the politest possible fashion, that this may be because you can't see the majority of the complaints? As a very recent recipient of Godlike Admin Powers, I can say with confidence that there's a whole world under the hood that isn't at all obvious from just reading MetaTalk and seeing mod notes in threads.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:43 PM on April 26, 2011


Well, I'm late to the party here, but for my 2c I think that having some blessed mechanism for marking spoilers is a decent idea. I'm with Artw in that I think that it should be as a social norm, not a requirement, but if the site can support it with reasonably minimal work we should.
posted by ChrisR at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2011


you get "most major spoilers hidden by conscientious commenters, it's up to you if that's enough protection.") More people can participate that way if they want, which is good for the thread.

But doesn't that just give you a false sense of security? If the spoiler tag is suggested but not required it just takes one clueless (or mischievous) commenter to poison a whole thread. I don't see how having an occasionally used (or even almost perfectly used) spoiler tag would make me more able to participate in spoiler-y threads.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:53 PM on April 26, 2011


I'm not ready for metafilter to become a wasteland of

Well, it's not a wasteland of rot13 right now, is it? If you just mean people abusing it, I don't really think that'll happen. As you demonstrated quite well, it's possible to be obnoxious on purpose without the spoiler tag, and they generally don't.
posted by cj_ at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2011


But doesn't that just give you a false sense of security?

So what? The issue isn't important enough to justify the ongoing expense of enforcing a perfect absence of spoilers. A cheap solution that reduces the incidence of spoilage is good enough.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the spoiler tag is suggested but not required it just takes one clueless (or mischievous) commenter to poison a whole thread.

Yeah, but do you notice how you and everyone else is qouting and highlighting comments they are responding to? People will get it after it is used enough and becomes a norm, and it actually only takes one use for someone to see it and use it correctly.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:07 PM on April 26, 2011


Sorry -- I won't presume to know what the moderation workload is behind the scenes. But I do think that the fact there will be complaints isn't by itself a reason not to do it, considering there's a non-zero amount of grousing being caused by the lack of it. And while I can see how it would be unworkable for mods to become the arbiters of what does and doesn't qualify as a spoiler, it doesn't have to be that way -- if all future requests to spoiler-tag something in a thread are addressed with a standard "spoilers tags aren't policed, you need to read at your own risk," then it doesn't seem like it would add a significant burden. Just a standard policy vs. handling everything on a case-by-case basis.

Rock Steady: "But doesn't that just give you a false sense of security? If the spoiler tag is suggested but not required it just takes one clueless (or mischievous) commenter to poison a whole thread. I don't see how having an occasionally used (or even almost perfectly used) spoiler tag would make me more able to participate in spoiler-y threads."

*shrug* It's a matter of trust, and personal judgment. I think most people here are competent and non-mischievous enough to use tags responsibly if they're available. And if it was something really crucial to me, I could always opt to skip the thread. But tags are nice because they give me the option to read an interesting discussion without being forced to read major spoilers all over the place. Some may get through -- some will always go through even with strict moderation -- but they will generally be minor ones, and rare. I still have the choice to "go dark" and stay away from the thread if I care that much about staying pure, but it's nice to have the option of reading if I don't mind possibly being spoiled a little on something I'm interested in but not totally passionate about.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2011


HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still have the choice to "go dark" and stay away from the thread if I care that much about staying pure, but it's nice to have the option of reading if I don't mind possibly being spoiled a little on something I'm interested in but not totally passionate about.

I guess that's just a weird idea for me. I don't think there are things that I kind of don't want spoiled. Either I want to know nothing or I don't really care. Still, I think it's kind of silly to assume that any spoilers that slip through will be minor ones. It only takes one comment to know that Darth Vader is Luke's father.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2011


While I understand the concerns of those who want to avoid spoilers, there's an equally large contingent of folks that have already played or listened to or watched whatever thing is it being discussed, and actually want to discuss it without having to jump through a bunch of unreasonable hoops.

Precisely. And much as the spoiler tag discussion comes up now and then and I understand that when it does it is from a place of legitimate interest in a feature those folks raising it would like, I have seen zero indication that this is something that the actual general readership and membership of Metafilter is clamoring for. Making a change that increases for everyone the friction in the basic function of this site—reading the text that people type—is not something I see as a good idea specifically for the sake of a small subset of the site.

And that's really the fundamental objection I have, and why I don't like the idea of any officially encouraged spoiler-munging solution, whether rot13 or css styling. Making a site that is fundamentally a transparent read for everyone into one where anybody wanting to read suddenly has to do extra work seems like a bad move. Whether that's cutting and pasting rot13 stuff or mousing over every spoiler, it's more work for every single reader.

Jokes interfere with the readability of the site and should be banned.

Specific types of jokey behavior on the site have been sufficiently disruptive that we've told people not to do it. Recipe-bombing a thread is one obvious example, and a recurring one.

Really, glib dismissals or not, this is a big community full of lots of people with different druthers and habits and extra-mefi context. I totally understand the perspective of people who are amenable to or accustomed to other sites, media-discussion-centric or otherwise, that have chosen to go with the spoiler tag route. I don't think it's a fundamentally bad thing to do or anything and I understand why it comes up now and then.

I just also don't believe that it's something that fits the way Metafilter does and has historically worked very well, and what we have had is a pretty simple system: commenter be thoughtful and avoid deploying spoilers in a careless or prankish fashion; reader beware and avoid threads about x if you absolutely must not be spoiled about x; the very occasional edge cases where this goes wrong can get resolved pretty quickly by contacting us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess that's just a weird idea for me. I don't think there are things that I kind of don't want spoiled. Either I want to know nothing or I don't really care.

Well, take Inception, for example. I was interested in it but didn't see it right away, and had to wait a few days to read this mammoth thread about it. I didn't want to read it beforehand and get deluged with plot discussion, but I also wouldn't have minded encountering a few stray comments mentioning events in the film. So it would have been nice to have most of that hidden so I could browse the thread for reviews of the movie, stuff to look for, and other details that don't give away the story completely.

Or take the finale of Lost. The associated thread functioned as pre-show speculation, a liveblog of the episode, and a post-mortem discussion of the entire series. I'm sure people who couldn't see the finale right away would have liked a way to discuss their opinion of the series as a whole while having most discussion of crucial ending details hidden. It's not perfect, but it's better than the kludge/all-or-nothing choice we have now, where you either get tons of spoilers, none at all (by staying out of the thread), or a kludgy stopgap spoiler-hiding technique that irritates people. Make that stopgap easier to use (and easier on the eyes), more spoilers get hidden, there's greater flexibility in reading the thread (for spoiler-avoiders and the already-in-the-know), and more people come away happy.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:32 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just also don't believe that it's something that fits the way Metafilter does and has historically worked very well, and what we have had is a pretty simple system: commenter be thoughtful and avoid deploying spoilers in a careless or prankish fashion; reader beware and avoid threads about x if you absolutely must not be spoiled about x; the very occasional edge cases where this goes wrong can get resolved pretty quickly by contacting us.

Well that's great and all, but that gives us nothing but ROT 13 if we want to discuss something we know may be spoilery to people reading the thread, and pretend that isn't a valid use case doesn't cut it.
posted by Artw at 3:40 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: "And that's really the fundamental objection I have, and why I don't like the idea of any officially encouraged spoiler-munging solution, whether rot13 or css styling."

Isn't there a middle ground, though? An option of some way for people to be considerate when posting spoilers, without it being officially encouraged/endorsed by site rules? Obviously ROT13 is not going to be the answer, judging by the responses in this thread.

While I think that staying away from the internet is smart if you don't want to be spoiled for something, I *also* think that plenty of people want to be conscientious of others when posting spoilers (as evinced by all the ROT13 in the Portal (and, to a lesser extent, the Doctor Who threads).
posted by tzikeh at 3:42 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


)
posted by tzikeh at 3:43 PM on April 26, 2011


Another data point clamoring for an optional spoiler tag, linked with the bold/italic/link buttons and enforced very loosely (like NSFW). I don't understand the arguments making the perfect the enemy of the good - if, say, 60% of spoilers are taken care of, that seems like a net plus. I'm sure it could be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible so it didn't hurt overall readability. Giving people a good option to use if they want to be considerate of others is great, especially if you're discouraging internet-standard ROT13.

As the site grows, I can't imagine there won't be increasing pressure for this feature - it's standard on a lot of other discussion sites these days. I understand the mod headache, but since "well, it's a judgment call" is official policy on so much other stuff, it doesn't seem like "we won't fix it unless it's a terrible, terrible spoiler" would really go over so badly (or at least no worse than the existing "why don't we have a spoiler policy" stuff).

I have seen zero indication that this is something that the actual general readership and membership of Metafilter is clamoring for.

Well, what about the abundant uses of ROT13 that prompted this very thread (Portal II & Dr. Who), or the biannual "can we have spoiler tags" MeTas? What sorts of things would indicate that people are clamoring for it?
posted by dialetheia at 3:47 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well that's great and all, but that gives us nothing but ROT 13 if we want to discuss something we know may be spoilery to people reading the thread, and pretend that isn't a valid use case doesn't cut it.

If you are dropping something spoilery into a thread where it's really out of nowhere, it's going to be an occasional thing at most and how you choose to accomplish it comes down to personal style as far as I'm concerned. If it's as occasional a problem as it ought to be, it's not going to annoy us as mods and it's going to generate minimal ire from readers. ABBR, rot13, pastebin: pick your poison, use with great discretion, and understand that a few people might be annoyed at your attempted kindness because it's also inconveniencing them a bit.

But that's a very different, and much less common, use case than the one for general discussion of potentially spoilery content in threads obviously about the thing to be potentially spoiled. It is this use case to which I'm speaking, because it is the common one and the one for which a change to any kind of official spoiler-munging convention would have a really significant effect on the reading experience of the broader readership of the site.

Isn't there a middle ground, though? An option of some way for people to be considerate when posting spoilers, without it being officially encouraged/endorsed by site rules? Obviously ROT13 is not going to be the answer, judging by the responses in this thread.

Generally, people on Metafilter seem already to be doing a pretty solid job of being considerate about spoilers; we don't regularly see people being prankish about spoilers or injecting random significant spoilers into threads where they'd be genuinely unexpected, and when those things do happen people are pretty prompt about pointing it out.

This is more an issue of whether the standing policy of "avoid threads about x if you want not to encounter spoilers about x" should be supplanted by a "mefites are expected to use a spoiler tag/mechanism whenever writing spoilers about x in threads about x". Because there is no practical middle ground: either we set the site expectation that spoilers will henceforth be munged, or we're still where we are right now with Reader Beware but also with more complicated policy arguments and more confusing reader expectations about where an only semi-reliable spoiler convention comes into play.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not cool with anything that makes the site harder to read. I agree with cortex 100%.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2011


Speaking of the Doctor Who thread, what on earth was this about?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:58 PM on April 26, 2011


Avoiding random threads doesn't make the site harder to read?
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Generally, people on Metafilter seem already to be doing a pretty solid job of being considerate about spoilers

Well, yes, and forgive me if I'm being repetitive here, but HOW ABOUT GIVING US A HAND WITH THAT?

consider this a clamour
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Avoiding random threads doesn't make the site harder to read?

Nope, not really. It may make the experience of having to stay out of a thread someone only conditionally spoiler-averse might like to read a little frustrating, but that's one decision, made and then moved on from, using a really simple dictum.

I'm not speaking hypothetically; I avoid threads that I really want to not be spoiled on if that want exceeds my desire to read what mefites are saying before I get around to reading/watching/playing whatever it is. I think in a previous discussion I mentioned Battlestar Galactica as a memorable example for me. And sometimes I have to read bits of those threads whether I want to or not, because I'm a mod and it's my job to look at problem areas whether or not it means finding out what happens two seasons ahead of me. So for me it would actually be convenient in that respect to have spoilers constantly munged. That doesn't change my opinion on whether it's actually a convenience for the general readership of the site, however.

And I know that "read about it somewhere else" isn't an ideal solution either—people like reading about and talking about stuff on Metafilter because that's where they like to do it—but Metafilter is not and cannot be all things to all people, and if what you really, really need is a spoiler-averse discussion of recent media there are communities on the internet that do use/enforce spoiler tags and which are specifically devoted to discussion of media of various forms and genre and specificity.

Well, what about the abundant uses of ROT13 that prompted this very thread (Portal II & Dr. Who)

They are notably unusual things. They are not what normally happen on Metafilter. A lot of mefites have been actively annoyed by the sudden blooming of rot13 there.

or the biannual "can we have spoiler tags" MeTas? What sorts of things would indicate that people are clamoring for it?

A lot more noise from a lot more people on a much more regular basis? I don't know how to quantify this really, at some point we're stuck asking folks to take it for granted that we're reporting our perception of the site as mods based on the aggregate of the work and reading we do here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on April 26, 2011


Don't you have a party to go to?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on April 26, 2011


I think we're just going to have to accept that we're not going to get a SPOILER tag, and people who don't like ROT 13 are going to have to live with not reading threads where it might occur.
posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on April 26, 2011


So the concern is that highlighting or hovering over some spoiler-tagged text is so esoteric and difficult for readers that it trumps any benefits it would bring them? That doesn't make much sense to me. Spoiler tags aren't hard to use; they're implemented all over the place without any real difficulties.

I have seen zero indication that this is something that the actual general readership and membership of Metafilter is clamoring for.

You mean outside of MetaTalk? Because there have been dozens of posts on the topic over the years, which is especially high since this is a chronic, come-and-go sort of issue. Where else would they clamor for it?

On preview:

cortex: "This is more an issue of whether the standing policy of "avoid threads about x if you want not to encounter spoilers about x" should be supplanted by a "mefites are expected to use a spoiler tag/mechanism whenever writing spoilers about x in threads about x". Because there is no practical middle ground: either we set the site expectation that spoilers will henceforth be munged, or we're still where we are right now with Reader Beware but also with more complicated policy arguments and more confusing reader expectations about where an only semi-reliable spoiler convention comes into play."

There definitely is middle ground there, though. If spoiler tags are out along with ROT-13'ing, then threads about a spoilable topic are going to be pretty much filled with spoilers. You either read it and get thoroughly spoiled, or avoid it entirely. (You can also hope people will be circumspect enough to talk about stuff without spoiling the uninitiated, but that's highly burdensome for commenters and unreliable for readers).

If you give people simple tools to manage spoilers with social pressure to use them courteously, then the situation become more granular. People who've experienced the topic can read explicit discussion easily, skittish people can avoid it entirely. But there's also the option for less wary folks to participate with the knowledge that most gratuitous spoilers will be hidden. It gives people more options for how to deal with threads.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:14 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If a thread is clearly labelled as being full of spoilers I see no need for ROT13 or any other form of encryption, or any other sort of warning at all. We've been told. You don't want to be spoilered? Don't open the thread.

I am currently enjoying Portal 2 and I have not finished it yet, nor will I for some time. Like good wine, good food and good sex I prefer to savour and linger over a good game rather than screaming through it like a randy adolescent so that I can screech "FIRST!" immediately after coming all over its belly. I simply didn't look at that thread. When I've finished the game, I'll probably go look at it.

Seems simple and obvious enough to me.
posted by Decani at 4:31 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the concern is that highlighting or hovering over some spoiler-tagged text is so esoteric and difficult for readers that it trumps any benefits it would bring them?

No, the notion is that it is sufficiently more annoying and inconvenient than the current state of things that I think it would be a bad thing to do to Metafilter.

You mean outside of MetaTalk? Because there have been dozens of posts on the topic over the years, which is especially high since this is a chronic, come-and-go sort of issue. Where else would they clamor for it?

In email? Of which we get a great deal about some mefi policy issues, and spoilers policy is truly and honestly not anything like one of the heavy hitters.

As far as those search results go, the list is actually pretty varied; "spoiler tag please?" several times, yes, but also one-off edit requests that should have been contact form notes, people complaining about spoiler-related-beefing itself, and stuff that has nothing to do with actual spoilers policy discussion. It's certainly not several dozen actual pony requests; I don't think even the majority of those results are threads about any notional spoiler policy.

And the discussion in various metatalk threads touching on spoilers has been pretty consistently contentious rather than yielding the sort of broad, largely unchallenged support that we'd be hoping to see if we were considering a major change to the site's features and social conventions.

But, again, I don't know how to quantify a feeling here, however you want to count those search results up. I am well aware that it comes up now and then; so do other things that we consistently say no to, and in neither case is it because we didn't notice that it keeps coming up, nor is it that we don't care that some people would like those things. Sometimes the answer is just not in the affirmative.

If spoiler tags are out along with ROT-13'ing, then threads about a spoilable topic are going to be pretty much filled with spoilers. You either read it and get thoroughly spoiled, or avoid it entirely.

Insofar as this is the current default state of Metafilter for the last 11+ years, yes. Like a lot of broad policy stuff on the site, it's simple by design and simple for folks in general to work with, and for the edge cases we try to make things work out as well as we can.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:31 PM on April 26, 2011


Insofar as this is the current default state of Metafilter for the last 11+ years, yes. Like a lot of broad policy stuff on the site, it's simple by design and simple for folks in general to work with, and for the edge cases we try to make things work out as well as we can.

Well, ROT 13 and ABBR seems to be the method by which we do that. I would suggest that the Mods back off on talk of banning their use (because lets be clear, you're not going to do that, right?), we ignore schmod et al and the head-in-sand "just don't click on the thread" types (because they blatantly ignore all the cases where that wouldn't work) and develop better user tools to get around the problem on our own. A Bookmarklet or Greasemonkey script to build the ABBR without some awkward coding would be a good start, though what would be really great is if we could agree on some common tagging convention to surround blocks of ROT 13 text - that way we could work up a user script to toggle them back and forth on click.
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on April 26, 2011


Actually, I don't think the ROT 13 is required if we're all happy with ABBR - the right script could write swap the content of the tag with the title of the tag upon click, and it'd be no problem to rig up a SHOW ALL SPOILERS and a HIDE ALL SPOILERS.
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on April 26, 2011


How would a screen reader interpret a spoiler tag? Whispering?
posted by jtron at 5:01 PM on April 26, 2011


The abbr tag apparently breaks on mobile browsers in addition to it being non-obvious that it's actually hiding anything (on Chrome, at least). I doubt the mods will fix the CSS for it, though, as it'd take more effort than implementing actual spoiler tags.
posted by flatluigi at 5:02 PM on April 26, 2011


"understand that a few people might be annoyed at your attempted kindness because it's also inconveniencing them a bit"

How is it inconvenient to skip my comment?

"Generally, people on Metafilter seem already to be doing a pretty solid job of being considerate about spoilers; we don't regularly see people being prankish about spoilers or injecting random significant spoilers into threads where they'd be genuinely unexpected, and when those things do happen people are pretty prompt about pointing it out."

We were doing fine with ROT13, too, if that's the stance you're going to take.

So if we're not going to SPOILER tags, then I guess we stick with ROT13, then? Because it's all well and good to tell someone to stay out of a spoiler thread, but not all threads are labeled as spoiler threads, and not all spoilers go in threads relevant to their topics (see above about having something Iain M. Banksy spoiled in an unrelated thread). What you're basically saying is, rather than use something that's worked for ages but is confusing to people not familiar with UseNet, we should stop reading MeFi if we're worried about being spoiled. Honestly, I don't see a way to explain how backwards this is. Rather than having more data, some of which is encrypted and can be ignored/skipped over, we're supposed to have less data and stay away from any threads which may possibly contain spoilers?

Again, so we're clear: Don't like ROT13, don't skip it, post to MeTa. Don't like spoilers, skip questionable threads (even ones that seem unrelated at first), and STFU no complaining.

IOW, I disagree.
posted by Eideteker at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I noted that the earlier comments from the mods in this thread seemed to take the complaint as wanting not to be spoiled, not just wanting rot13 to be eliminated in favor of actual spoiler tags.

I'd like to make it clear that I wanted to be spoiled and to read the discussion on it, but that having a thread full of gobbledygook that I had to drop into an external website every time a comment was added was completely unwanted. I would've preferred a thread completely open about spoilers or a thread that, yes, had actual spoiler tags that necessitate little effort to read.
posted by flatluigi at 5:08 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The abbr tag apparently breaks on mobile browsers in addition to it being non-obvious that it's actually hiding anything (on Chrome, at least).

If I do script this I'll probably make the text of the ABBR the rot13 version of the spoiler in the title, that gives mobile and screenreader users the same options they have right now.

It won't help people who break out in hives at the site of ROT 13 of course, but I do not care for those people.
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Onfvpnyyl gur bhgchg jbhyq ybbx yvxr guvf. - actually even without Greasemonkey I'm liking this already.
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Recipe-bombing a thread is one obvious example, and a recurring one.

I'm not going to do it but I had a hilarious idea for a spoiler-███-ified recipe stunt post. Someone should do it when they flame out over finding out that Gordon Freeman dies at the end of Half-life episode three.
posted by fuq at 5:30 PM on April 26, 2011


I would suggest that the Mods back off on talk of banning their use (because lets be clear, you're not going to do that, right?)

We're not talking about banning their use as occasional one-off things where the odd "I really need to inject what is functionally a significant contemporary spoiler into this topically-unrelated thread" thing happens, which is more or less how they seem to show up under normal circumstances. That's not really a notable situation, it happens now and then, that's fine.

What we are give a big Please Don't to here is making it a habit of munging a lot of the potentially spoilery discussion about a topic x in threads reasonably clearly about topic x. That's not a normal thing for mefi; the normal thing is that it's okay to discuss spoilery things in those cases, and reader beware. The recent thing with the Portal 2 thread and the Doctor Who thread is unusual and not something we want to see people continue as a trend.

Shorter version:

1. Occasional, context-sensitive spoiler munging on a one-off basis: happens now, is fine.
2. Frequent, general munging of comments to avoid spoiling threads that are already about the topic being spoiled: not normal for mefi, not something we want to start seeing.

we ignore schmod et al and the head-in-sand "just don't click on the thread" types (because they blatantly ignore all the cases where that wouldn't work) and develop better user tools to get around the problem on our own.

Characterize it how you like, but "et al" there does include the mods. It's not head-in-the-sand, it's recognizing a difference between general historical practice and etiquette here and what some but absolutely not anything like all folks here would like to be a break from that.

"Be careful about what you read" does work. It just doesn't make it so that you can read threads that might be spoily; and while, again, I understand very directly why that might be a bummer sometimes, it's the bummer of the few (having to skip a thread for a while) vs. the bummer of the many (having to deal with a higher-friction reading experience than normal).

Don't like ROT13, don't skip it, post to MeTa. Don't like spoilers, skip questionable threads (even ones that seem unrelated at first), and STFU no complaining.

No. For fuck's sake.

Don't like the actually-occasional bit of rot13 or ABBR or pastebin? Flag it or skip it, not really anything that deserves Metatalk discussion. Don't like a thread chock full of rot13 utterly out of character with how the site normally works? Yeah, that's a reasonable thing to bring up in Metatalk if you want to get a sense of how others feel.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2011


"Be careful about what you read" does work.

No, it does not. But if you're going to pretend it does do us a favour and pretend we're not taking the steps necessary to fix that, ok?
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on April 26, 2011


What you're basically saying is, rather than use something that's worked for ages but is confusing to people not familiar with UseNet, we should stop reading MeFi if we're worried about being spoiled.

No, but thanks for the uncharitable interpretation. What we're saying is that for people for whom the web is a relatively new medium, people who have difficulty with HTML, or figuring out where to put the tags and the titles in AskMe, that we don't want to give them another hurdle, another way that MeFi seems clubby and cliquish and not for them. Yes, that is exactly what we are saying. And if you want a clubby and cliquish MetaFilter, we are asking you to consider making your peace with this not being an aspect of it.

This is not a site like TVTropes or IMDB where there are regular spoiler discussions and we honestly don't feel that one or two MetaTalk posts about this per year is anything approaching a groundswell of support. What we do hear fairly often is that MeFi feels like some sort of club situation where new people are hazed for not understanding how the place works and it's our job, if we want new members [which, generally speaking, we do] to think about that when we think about implementing new features that solve one problem when creating others. We feel that implementing spoiler tags is implicitly giving mod support for a spoiler-hiding situation on the site and we don't want to do that beyond what we already do.

If people want to act out and do ROT-13 stuff anyhow, consistently, that is their choice and that is on them. If it becomes a sitewide problem, we'll address it at the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


fuq, do you drink sake?
posted by Eideteker at 5:39 PM on April 26, 2011


I absolutely cannot connect 'having a spoiler tag HTML button' with 'making Metafilter more clubbish and clique-y.' Could someone spell it out for me?
posted by flatluigi at 5:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you were in the club, you wouldn't have to ask.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:49 PM on April 26, 2011


doesn't know, either
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:49 PM on April 26, 2011


The first thing I did when I saw the meta thread asking for a post-release thread about portal 2, was to wait for one to appear. As soon as I saw that Rhaomi had made one that seemed good and thorough, I favorited it and never visited it again. I want to read the comments once I've played through the whole game.

I would do the same thing with a new movie or novel, if I cared enough. (Actually, the only parts of portal 2 that I'm afraid of getting spoiled are the various solutions to the puzzles, not the story per se.) Why do people feel that they absolutely have to read (or participate in) threads that are obviously going to contain spoilers?
posted by Dumsnill at 5:56 PM on April 26, 2011


"we honestly don't feel that one or two MetaTalk posts about this per year is anything approaching a groundswell of support."

I am having trouble wrapping my head around this level of doubletalk. What you're saying is that one MeTa post about ROT13 being a problem isn't a groundswell, but you're going to make a policy about it anyway, and then when we follow that discussion to its natural course and suggest a SPOILER tag, that's not a groundswell and you're not going to do anything about it? Is the problem here that we haven't been spending enough time and MeTa threads proposing a solution for something that's been working just fine for the Internet at large (ROT13) until someone says they have a problem with that thing? IOW, we didn't predict schmod's post, so no SPOILER tag?

I'd actually prefer you say, "We just don't feel like doing this thing." Or, "We prefer people shitting out in the open."

"What we do hear fairly often is that MeFi feels like some sort of club situation where new people are hazed for not understanding how the place works"

This reminds me of arguments against socialized medicine based on the fact that the government is inefficient. We can have new features AND be more polite to n00bs. I agree about not making the site artificially hard to acclimate to, but this is the Internet. Certain amounts of effort are required wherever you go if you want to be a participating member, and SPOILER policy/obfuscation is a pretty standard thing to find on websites. I mentioned jayisgames before; they seem to do a fine job welcoming n00bs and teaching them about spoiler tags. I personally have no problem with gentle nudges now and then. I mean, I run an IRC channel in 2011, fer crissakes. Handholding is second nature to me. I don't see why we can't call out dickish members in equal measure as we'd call out someone for doing spoilers wrong.
posted by Eideteker at 5:57 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm having trouble understanding why you want a spoiler tag or rot13 of spoilers? Why should I have to self police myself in a thread about a recently released videogame, movie, book, etc?
posted by humanfont at 6:04 PM on April 26, 2011


What you're saying is that one MeTa post about ROT13 being a problem isn't a groundswell, but you're going to make a policy about it anyway

We're not "making a policy", we're being very clear that the practical convention on mefi—that spoilery discussion of x in threads about x is perfectly goddam fine and always has been—is in fact the state of things that we wish to maintain, and that a new departure from that—littering threads with munged text—is not in the offing.

Is the problem here that we haven't been spending enough time and MeTa threads proposing a solution for something that's been working just fine for the Internet at large (ROT13) until someone says they have a problem with that thing?

There are lots of things that have been "working just fine for the Internet at large" that don't happen on Metafilter. Sometimes people propose that we do those things. We often say "no, we don't feel like that's a good idea for this site in particular".
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:10 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPOILER policy/obfuscation is a pretty standard thing to find on websites.

It really isn't. I appreciate that people come from a lot of different places with a lot of different backgrounds but the majority of the biggest websites do not have any sort of spoiler mechanism at all.

Could someone spell it out for me?


It means that people are expected to know

- that there is such a thing as spoilers [not that unlikely]
- that there is a site policy about them [less likely]
- that what they are posting is a spoiler [maybe?]
- that there is a mechanism for hiding them [maybe?]
- how to use that mechanism [we have many many people who can't use HTML buttons or don't bother because they are on their phones, this is unlikely to change]
- how to use that mechanism correctly [see above]

And if they don't have all six of those things, they may or may not get someone being a jerk to them about it and/or starting a MeTa thread and/or emailing us about it. And all of this ignores what happens if people just decide not to use it. It doesn't solve the spoiler problem unless there is a way to really enforce it and with the way this site is built that sort of user education isn't going to happen. On smaller fan-sites where there is more of a common culture, this sort of thing is a lot easier to top-down dictate. On a site like this with light moderation, we can't police it, we can't even agree what a spoiler is, in many cases.

I'd actually prefer you say, "We just don't feel like doing this thing."

If that was what were happening, I can assure you that is what I would be saying.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:12 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Why do people feel that they absolutely have to read (or participate in) threads that are obviously going to contain spoilers?"

Here are some use cases:
1) Commenting in a thread about an upcoming event. I think someone upthread mentioned Lost. You comment about how much you can't wait for the finale. You come back to MeFi a few days/a week later, and your Recent Comments has spoilers. Sure, you can hide the thread, but what if you're already spoiled?

2) Commenting in a thread that you forget about. There may not be an upcoming event, or the thing you commented about may not have a firm air/release date. Anyway, you're talking about some post about the economics of Harry Potter (go knuts!) and someone comes in and says HAY GUYS IN THE NEXT BOOK LILY BECOMES A DEATH EATER and suddenly the conversation is all about that. Again, one glance at Recent Comments and you're done.

3) Thread drift. You're posting in a thread about something Predator-related. Conversation shifts to AVP while you're not reading MetaFilter (shame on you) and then suddenly there's an Aliens spoiler. You like Predator, but hadn't gotten around to watching the Aliens movies. Sucks to be you!

4) Someone links you to a comment in the thread. If you haven't seen the thread, and you're dumped into the middle of it, you may not be aware there are spoilers. Depending on who's passing you the link, they might not know if you've seen the thread (and the warnings at the top) or not (like if it's dropped in a chat room). They may be linking to a spoiler-free comment, but when you read a few comments down, BAM!

These are just a few ideas. I'm not saying we can avoid these things entirely; it's a big Internet. But we can create a safe space for readers and commenters and create a community that encourages conscientious use of spoiler tags. Personally, I'll bop anyone who jumps on a n00b for not using or messing up a spoiler tag. But I think if we view it as a value-add, a way to enrich the discussion, and use encouragement rather than outrage, we'll do just fine. As I said above, when people complain, you say, "Hey, the spoiler tag is an optional extra... no one's required to use it." I'll back you up.
posted by Eideteker at 6:14 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble understanding why you want a spoiler tag or rot13 of spoilers? Why should I have to self police myself in a thread about a recently released videogame, movie, book, etc?

Aw hell no, do not be using the lack of a SPOILER tag or other sanctioned spoiler-hiding method to justify being a dickhead who posts spoilers without consideration for your fellow users. Fuck that shit.
posted by Artw at 6:14 PM on April 26, 2011


I think the perceived cliquishness comes from Rot-13, not necessarily from some hypothetical 'spoiler' button.

But a hypothetical spoiler button would absolutely change the readability of the site, without changing the ability for people to be spoiled, while also adding a big pile of shenanigans (see: using the spoiler tag for set-up and delivery jokes, yo mammaing, etc etc etc). I've ached, lo these many years, for an edit button, and we've talked it around and around, and it never comes and you know what? I am ok with that. metaFilter works so well, SO well, it makes perfect sense for it to be extremely cautious about adding stuff that changes the very nature of the meat of the site - the immutable record, and the single level, thread-free conversation.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:15 PM on April 26, 2011


fuq, do you drink sake?

██, but I do █████ ████.
posted by fuq at 6:16 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It doesn't solve the spoiler problem"

OK, now I see the issue. You're looking at this like we're asking for a solution to the spoiler problem. We're not. What we're asking for is a way to be considerate to other users when discussing possibly spoiler-y information. Something fairly simple to use (a button!), documented (yes, I write documentation for a living, I know no one looks at it), easy to disable, and completely, utterly optional.
posted by Eideteker at 6:21 PM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's possible that I'm wrong here, but on sites like Reddit, it feels to me like the spoiler tag is used more often for silly jokes than actually hiding spoilers?

And anyway, I feel like the important thing is that people should be allowed to talk about things that interest them in a non-obfuscatory manner.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:26 PM on April 26, 2011


What if we want to discuss them in an obfuscatory manner?
posted by Eideteker at 6:28 PM on April 26, 2011


Well, then we grill them into waffles and mail them to each other, in the traditional way.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:32 PM on April 26, 2011


This is an absurd request. If you don't want to read about something on the internet, then don't read about it on the internet. I haven't read Middlemarch yet, should we ban all discussion of it until I do?
posted by joannemullen at 6:38 PM on April 26, 2011


How do you know you're reading something until you've read it? If there was a crucial plot point in Middlemarch, yeah, I'd probably obfuscate it when discussing it in public.
posted by Eideteker at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, doing it wrong again. I mean YOU'RE AN ABSURD REQUEST!

and then I storm out
posted by Eideteker at 6:41 PM on April 26, 2011


Same here, flatluigi. ROT-13 is cliquish for sure, requiring knowledge of what it is and where to find a converter in order to encode and decode the text. But a <spoiler> tag is about as simple as you can get. Most people on Mefi understand HTML tags, and they're trivial to explain to newcomers.

On a related note, does the population of users who would both find themselves needing to use a spoiler tag and be stymied by it really outnumber the users who would find such a tag helpful? I mean, spoiler-prone discussion here usually centers around video games, TV, and movies, usually of the geeky variety. The concern jessamyn has for the welfare of "n00bs" is totally valid, especially given the work she does with digital divide issues, but these novice, low-participation, marginally-attached users wouldn't really be subject to spoiler tag conventions in most cases, would they?

I'm picturing a person who would be intimidated or put off by an expectation to properly tag spoilers, somebody new to Mefi (or to the internet) who just doesn't have the necessary concepts ingrained. But I see this person mainly hanging around AskMetafilter asking for and dispensing advice, with the occasional foray into Mefi proper. (I'm basing this on a stats crunch awhile back showing active users sticking to the Grey and Blue more, while Ask was more popular with lurkers and new members). I don't see such a user mixing it up in the discussion of the latest Abrams blockbuster or theorizing about what the ending of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 entails. Most people interested in that whole media realm have experience with spoilers and spoiler tagging, or at least can grasp the concept of using spoiler tags fairly readily. Those that don't would likely not be participating in such discussions in the first place. (This is pure conjecture though, so feel free to correct if I'm far off the mark.)

On preview: cortex, I think what Eideteker was saying is that there's a disparity in reaction to two sentiments:

A dozen MeTas asking for official spoiler tags = not a groundswell of support
but
One MeTa (this one) asking to avoid ad-hoc spoiler tags (done due to the lack of official spoiler tags) = right, that is annoying, cut it out please

The latter response is justified because it's requesting adherence to "the practical convention on mefi," but it's only the practical convention because there hasn't been any obvious alternative outside of on-the-fly techniques like ROT and supersmall text, which may or may not be brought into a given thread. It's essentially an argument from tradition. It wouldn't be hard to make a spoiler tag the new practical convention -- just look at how quickly everybody in the Portal thread picked up on ROT-13, despite it being a much more complicated technique not supported by the site.

One more thing: "Thread drift" is a real problem in terms of avoiding spoilers. If I hadn't made the Portal thread, discussion of the game likely would have continued in the Potato Sack ARG one. Suddenly all the people talking about a promotional game weeks before the game's launch get game spoilers showing up in Recent Activity. Not cool!
posted by Rhaomi at 6:41 PM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also: If making things dead-simple and non-cliquey for new members is such a big concern, why have HTML support at all? Why not simpler BBCode, or even WYSIWYG? I don't think we should consider switching, I'm just pointing to HTML markup as an example of a somewhat esoteric system we have that we expect new users to learn if they want to take full advantage of the site's capabilities. I don't think proper use of a spoiler tag is much harder to learn than proper use of bold text or how to make a working link, even if it doesn't get a button under the text box.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:48 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But we can create a safe space for readers and commenters...

That's a silly thought and you know it will never work unless you have a safe word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 PM on April 26, 2011


This is an absurd request. If you don't want to read about something on the internet, then don't read about it on the internet. I haven't read Middlemarch yet, should we ban all discussion of it until I do?

How do you know you're reading something until you've read it? If there was a crucial plot point in Middlemarch, yeah, I'd probably obfuscate it when discussing it in public.


If we were discussing Middlemarch and it was clear that not everyone had read it, but I wanted to discuss some particar plotpoint that in my consideration would spoilering it for them then I want to have the option of obfuscating it if I think that's for the best. I don't think that's your decision to make for me, joannemullen, or you schmod, or least of all you, enn. I resent your assumption that it is. And lets be honest here, I'm kind of pissed at you, cortex and jessamyn, for kind-of-sort-of backing them on this.
posted by Artw at 6:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


A dozen MeTas asking for official spoiler tags = not a groundswell of support

That is not what those threads were all about. I get that this is an important issue for you, but you may want to actually read the threads. I'll summarize

- what's the policy on ROT13?
- please be considerate with spoilers [spoiler tag mentioned in one comment]
- Artw discussion about spoiler tags
- request for policy, two comments mentioning spoiler tags
- spoiler fix requested
- callout of someone being a dick about spoilers
- request for spoiler fix
- discussion of spoiler policy in AskMe
- super nerdy "let me talk about my own posts" MeTa only sort of about spoilers
- AskMe spoiler fix
- reqest for spoiler tag on a post
- question about a spoiler in AskMe and whether there should be a policy
- don't really know what that one was about
- please don't spoil EUROVISION in the post request

At that point we're back so far that people were posting images in the thread. There was one thread and four additional comments about spoiler tags before this thread. So yes, not a groundswell of support.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 PM on April 26, 2011


I don't think that's your decision to make for me, joannemullen, or you schmod, or least of all you, enn.

Fine, I'll make the decision for you. Now finish your blue milk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2011


It's essentially an argument from tradition.

It's not an accidental tradition, though. We didn't trip and fall and accidentally not implement a spoiler tag for the last eleven years.

Suddenly all the people talking about a promotional game weeks before the game's launch get game spoilers showing up in Recent Activity. Not cool!

I think "discussion of thing that will come out soon" is the sort of thing people need to sensibly consider will turn into "discussion of thing that has now come out", as far as how mefi has always worked. Most people don't use RA, it's kind of a power-user tool, and I try to remind myself of that when looking at feature/policy stuff because I live out of the thing as well. But for the typical user, RA-specific problems do not appear to be of practical concern; for the lurker or casual reader of the site, that's explicitly the case. And those are by far the largest collections of the eyes on the site.

It's a little bit of a bummer to learn the hard way that maybe you should remove a thread from RA if you've braved the potential of pre-release leaks/speculation/spoilers but aren't going to be able to get to it right away when it does drop and don't want to brave the corresponding spoilery discussion. I get that. I have literally been there. But it's a pretty learnable lesson, one that applies mostly just to a subset of savvy regulars, and falls, once again, in line with the idea that beyond people being intentionally prickish about spoiling stuff (a problem that none of the above ideas solves) it's the norm on mefi that people will talk about spoily stuff in threads about said stuff.

And lets be honest here, I'm kind of pissed at you, cortex and jessamyn, for kind-of-sort-of backing them on this.

I've been getting that sort of vibe for a while in here, yeah, and at this point I'm gonna just go ahead and pour myself a beer and go have a birthday evening and leave this thread alone before I let my keyboard get away from me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:00 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to bed soon, but before I go, I want to be clear that I'm not pissed at cortex, jessamyn, or pb. I love you guys. But I do disagree, and I do feel that the objections you're raising are, in this case, uncharacteristically handwave-y and loaded with doubletalk. So, I'm sad we disagree, but I still disagree.
posted by Eideteker at 7:01 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"(a problem that none of the above ideas solves)"

Still not getting it.
posted by Eideteker at 7:04 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But happy birthday!
posted by Eideteker at 7:05 PM on April 26, 2011


But the thing is, according to site culture right now, talking about a thing in a thread devoted to that thing is not inconsiderate. Even if it gets spoilery. The burden is on the reader to decide whether or not to participate.

What y'all are proposing expands the definition of "inconsiderate behavior" beyond what it is - and by an amount that is not trivial. It would require technical support, mod support, and community buy-in. The first two pretty much require the third, and what Jessamyn is pointing out is that it's not there.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:08 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad writes "May I suggest, in the politest possible fashion, that this may be because you can't see the majority of the complaints? As a very recent recipient of Godlike Admin Powers, I can say with confidence that there's a whole world under the hood that isn't at all obvious from just reading MetaTalk and seeing mod notes in threads."

Sure, rub it in. Why don't you go and post an image now while you are at it.

Artw writes "Onfvpnyyl gur bhgchg jbhyq ybbx yvxr guvf. - actually even without Greasemonkey I'm liking this already."

If people are freaked out about the dotted line you can do the same thing with link by leaving the link text out and just including the title attibute.

Rhaomi writes "Also: If making things dead-simple and non-cliquey for new members is such a big concern, why have HTML support at all? Why not simpler BBCode, or even WYSIWYG?"

BBCode isn't simpler, IMO anyways. The only reason it is used is because it has a closed parser that allows forum operators to allow limited formatting without worrying about exploits.
posted by Mitheral at 7:12 PM on April 26, 2011


jessamyn: "There was one thread and four additional comments about spoiler tags before this thread. So yes, not a groundswell of support."

What did you search for, jessamyn? I count five direct requests for a spoiler tag on a MetaTalk search for "spoiler" since mid-2006 (1 2 3 4 5), not counting requests made in the comments, plus a few more raising issues with spoilers in general that could be solved with a tag.

(And yeah, happy birthday, cortex!)
posted by Rhaomi at 7:13 PM on April 26, 2011


Er, unless by "before this thread" you meant "the last one in the list," not "the one we're commenting in now." *smacks head*
posted by Rhaomi at 7:14 PM on April 26, 2011


What did you search for, jessamyn?

I followed the 22 links to posts tagged spoilers. Which I guess are different than the 12 that go to spoiler.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:16 PM on April 26, 2011


If people are freaked out about the dotted line you can do the same thing with link by leaving the link text out and just including the title attribute.

I was considering using u instead of ABBR - it gives a solid underline, looks more like something you should mouse over, and does not usually have a title so a script for revealing them is less likely to conflict with anything else (not that people use ABBR much for anything else), but on preview title gets stripped. a might be a candidate - iut certainly invites clicking, and there may be somewhere we can link to for the plaintext for the mobile/screenreader folks.
posted by Artw at 7:18 PM on April 26, 2011


"What y'all are proposing expands the definition of "inconsiderate behavior" beyond what it is - and by an amount that is not trivial. It would require technical support, mod support, and community buy-in. The first two pretty much require the third, and what Jessamyn is pointing out is that it's not there."

I don't know who y'all is. That's not what I'm proposing. As for the buy-in, well, people bought in to ROT13 pretty well in the Portal thread (see Rhaomi's excellent comment). I say we keep the definition just where it is, as seen in the Portal thread (which is not some giant unnatural thing as y'all seem to see it, but rather an emergent property of the community), and the buy-in will take care of itself (has taken care of itself already).
posted by Eideteker at 7:18 PM on April 26, 2011


I'm kind of expecting people to be considerate about spoilers anyway, restless_nomad. I don't care if there is a spoiler tag or ROT 13 available or not, posting spoilers without due consideration is the act of an asshole.
posted by Artw at 7:22 PM on April 26, 2011


"it will never work unless you have a safe word"

Unfortunately, the safe word was obfuscated.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:22 PM on April 26, 2011


Mitheral - Gah, sorry, got what you were saying backwardws there. Yeah, A is a candidate, hadn't thought of removing the href.
posted by Artw at 7:28 PM on April 26, 2011


Yeah they bought in so well they made a MeTa about it...

Seriously, though, we're talking about two recent threads that are out of the norm. It's a little early to be proclaiming it "an emergent property of the community."

Artw, that's totally your prerogative. But in terms of actual, enforceable site norms, having spoilery discussions in topical threads is not asshole behavior. It's not unicorns-and-rainbows, for sure, but it's expected. (See pretty much every one of cortex's posts in this thread.)

That's what I'm trying to say - this is a bigger change for Metafilter than it looks on some pretty basic levels. And I *know* y'all are familiar with the pony policy around here - only teeny ponies move quickly. Policy ponies are slow buggers indeed. One request a year - and definitely not uncontentious requests - isn't really the horsewhip you're looking for.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2011


href derf obfu skater
posted by Eideteker at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2011


Artw, it's not anyone else's job to worry about what media another has consumed. It doesn't make them an asshole either, and your willingness namecall shows the negative side of a spoiler tag: people will have another rule to bludgeon others with. Mefi could doesn't need that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've got a ROT13 bookmarklet on FireFox that works well. Since I consume media at a different rate than most people I really appreciate spoiler warnings, ROT13, River Song saying 'Spoilers!', and all that.

I learned my lesson with the evil Sucker Punch thread, though, and didn't even read the Portal thread.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2011


Sorry if it is already posted, I haven't read right to the end here yet, but:

ROT13 fucker/defucker extension for Chrome here.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:35 PM on April 26, 2011


> Still not getting it.

Well, the feature would have to be off by default, for one, as to enable it by default would be a dramatic change in the way the website operates. Otherwise it would seriously change the site for non logged in users (ie, pay $5 to see spoilers!).

So only people who knew enough about spoilers as a feature would go and turn it on in the first place. A feature only a very small margin of users would use (being the number difference between those who read the site vs post comments vs power users who use tools such as RA vs the even smaller groups of users who use greasemonkey scripts), could become a nightmare of threads as some small vocal group complains about a user not using the spoiler tag they didn't know existed (because they didn't see it, didn't turn it on, etc.), and then would add the additional layer of that group needing help fixing their spoiler tags, or flagging comments that they think should have spoiler tags applied to them, that don't, etc.

Versus pretty much saying don't be surprised if the thread talking about Portal 2 contains spoilers about Portal 2, if you are participating in such a thread and don't want spoilers, you may want to reconsider participating or possibly waiting (you have 30 days) to comment until you have finished the game.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2011


"And lets be honest here, I'm kind of pissed at you, cortex and jessamyn, for kind-of-sort-of backing them on this."

You are being intense and pushy about this in an obnoxious way.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2011


Seriously, though, we're talking about two recent threads that are out of the norm. It's a little early to be proclaiming it "an emergent property of the community."

Emergent in the sense that it arose naturally, community in the sense that it was user-driven. This wasn't astroturfed or artificially summoned out of the ether; this is users doing what users do. And fine, someone had a problem with the way we're doing it, so we propose an alternative. The response to that is, "No, you should avoid any threads which might contain spoilers."

I'm not saying we have huge threads of nothing but spoiler-tagged data. But I think we've demonstrated that there is community support for a better way to handle spoilers, and we're willing to set the expectation that use of the feature is optional (or opt-in). I'm fully willing to write any copy you need to cover the feature. I love the site, I want to make it better. Which is why it's so frustrating to be met with folks not willing to listen to your arguments because they've already made up their minds based on the popular sentiment of the first 20 comments in one thread about the topic.
posted by Eideteker at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the thing is, according to site culture right now, talking about a thing in a thread devoted to that thing is not inconsiderate.

Sorry, you don't get to have some bizarre, MetaFilter-specific definition of the word "considerate."
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2011


> Unfortunately, the safe word was obfuscated.

Yeah, "obfuscated" is kind of hard to properly pronounce when you have a mouthful of balls.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:40 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I fully support a highlightable SPOILER tab. There are lots of edge cases where it's important. I posted a Doctor Who thread a few weeks before the show aired. If that had turned into a discussion of the show's new episodes, I'd have been spoiled. Same with things like the PORTAL ARG thread.

There's also times when you spoil something specific that isn't what the thread is about. Like 'The twist in the new episode of Doctor Who is the same as the twist in [SPOILER]All You Zombies [/SPOILER]'. Without a Spoiler tag what do you? It just leads to very odd situations.

We have a diverse userbase here. Some people can't afford to get media at the same time as other people or live in different countries or whatnot. It's just considerate.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Which is why it's so frustrating to be met with folks not willing to listen to your arguments because they've already made up their minds based on the popular sentiment of the first 20 comments in one thread about the topic.

You realize that you seem just as obtuse and unlistening from this side?
posted by dirtdirt at 7:44 PM on April 26, 2011


"Well, the feature would have to be off by default, for one, as to enable it by default would be a dramatic change in the way the website operates."

You can't have it both ways. Are spoilers not really a big deal and not frequent on the site, or are they totally a huge deal and changing them would be dramatic?

The feature would be enabled by default. MetaChat, for example, has Images Off by default. Where there was an image, you see text that says something like: =Click to display image=. And there's a big colorful "Images On" link in the top menu bar. Despite most internet sites not having images off by default (of those that have images), it has not broken the site or the Internet at large yet.

"some small vocal group complains about a user not using the spoiler tag"

Let's not do this. And if people DO do this, we make it pretty clear that they're being jerks and they should stop. As I said above, it's a way to be conscientious, but you're never going to shield 100% of spoilers. I think we're all adult enough to know this.

"Versus pretty much saying don't be surprised if the thread talking about Portal 2 contains spoilers about Portal 2, if you are participating in such a thread and don't want spoilers, you may want to reconsider participating or possibly waiting (you have 30 days) to comment until you have finished the game."

This is where we started, but I've pretty much moved on from that. I feel like a spoiler tag would be useful in other situations.
posted by Eideteker at 7:49 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I say we disemvowel spoilers.
posted by NoraReed at 7:54 PM on April 26, 2011


"We have a diverse userbase here. Some people can't afford to get media at the same time as other people or live in different countries or whatnot. It's just considerate."

Amen. Part of the reason I no longer care about spoilers is that I'm used to not being able to afford stuff until well after it's out (Portal 1 is actually the last game I purchased, and even then, it barely worked on my machine... I'm SOL on Portal 2 until I get my tax refund and can build a new desktop). It takes a lot of nerve (or priviledge?) to say "You have 30 days to buy this thing."
posted by Eideteker at 7:55 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROT13 is a shitty thing to do to users.

People who want their cake and to eat it--by talking about something they haven't seen or done yet (what the fuck are they going to talk about anyway? "Gosh, I can't wait to do this thing I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YET DON'T SPOIL IT FOR ME but gosh it will probably be great!!!")--are whiny. Grow up already. It's like being for prohibition because you personally cannot handle alcohol.
posted by maxwelton at 7:56 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But we can create a safe space for readers and commenters and create a community that encourages conscientious use of spoiler tags.

The thing i love about Metafilter is that its not a safe space. I remember reading one of the mods talk about how they get emails sometimes from people who can't handle all the cursing on Metafilter. I get that people don't like cursing but I'm glad Metafilter isn't one of those sites where fuck doesn't become f***. I like that despite all of the word policing threads that have popped up in Metatalk in the past year or so the only official mod position is "Try not to be a dick". I like that Metafilter is the site where they well give you 15 or 20 chances to not be a dick before they ban. And even then, you can probably come back. Even during the heyday of the boyzone/feminism threads, they mostly let the users sort it out and didn't feel the need to layeth the smack down. As I typed this, I realized that point I was getting at was that there has been a hell of lot more contentious things, that led to a lot more negative experiences than being spoiled, where they could have resolved the issue with a tech fix and chose not because that's not the find of place Metafilter is.

Which is why it's so frustrating to be met with folks not willing to listen to your arguments because they've already made up their minds based on the popular sentiment of the first 20 comments in one thread about the topic.

Or it could be that people who are hanging in around in Metatalk have already had this discussion in Metatalk and other places several dozen times already.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:01 PM on April 26, 2011


Amen. Part of the reason I no longer care about spoilers is that I'm used to not being able to afford stuff until well after it's out (Portal 1 is actually the last game I purchased, and even then, it barely worked on my machine... I'm SOL on Portal 2 until I get my tax refund and can build a new desktop). It takes a lot of nerve (or priviledge?) to say "You have 30 days to buy this thing."

But that is why I do care about spoilers.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:01 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who want their cake and to eat it--by talking about something they haven't seen or done yet (what the fuck are they going to talk about anyway? "Gosh, I can't wait to do this thing I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YET DON'T SPOIL IT FOR ME but gosh it will probably be great!!!")--are whiny. Grow up already. It's like being for prohibition because you personally cannot handle alcohol.

Again, things air at different times. Threads are created about media for different reasons. There was a big thread about sexism and Bulletstorm. If someone had said "actually, it's not sexist because of ENDING TWIST" in that thread that should have got a spoiler tag. Or talking about other media while discussing that one. Like, 'Bulletstorm is like Metroid, in that the main character is secretly a girl'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:04 PM on April 26, 2011


Really, where people draw the line at what constitutes a "spoiler" is somewhat subjective and arbitrary. If there's a [HYPE NEW PIECE OF MEDIA THAT I'M INTERESTED IN CONSUMING] out, then I generally don't want to read what any internet random has to say about, nor do I want to really be versed in even minor details. Some people might be fine with lots of details, just not knowing how the ending or major plot points resolve. Others are in-between. If you're going to account for all definitions of "spoiler" then the whole thread will be ROT-13ed and then why bother even going in there in the first place unless you've already consumed that media.

Then you have to define statues of limitations for various media. It's all so arbitrary. It's enough to have a spoiler warning on the outside of a post.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 PM on April 26, 2011


You don't have to define anything. No one's talking about community standards, except as a strawman to knock down the idea of a spoiler tag. It's a chance to ask yourself, "Would knowing this hurt someone's enjoyment of the thing?" If the answer is anywhere between "probably" and "yes," then obfuscate. Which can mean a spoiler tag, it can mean ROT13, or it can mean talking delicately around the matter. Or just not posting. It's self-selected.

So stop, as a thread, talking about "having" to use the spoiler tag. No one is talking about that, and you're getting quite tiresome.
posted by Eideteker at 8:17 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's worth mentioning that SPOILER tags or whatever have other uses, too. For every destructive "oh, people are just going to use it for framing jokes", there are constructive uses like masking potential triggers and whatnot (like personal stories of abuse that may be hard for some to read due to their own experiences, but still provide a value to the community). I'm not saying we have to do that, or should do that, but it's an option. It's not just about "waaah I don't want my special thing ruined because I have no self-control," it's about adding functionality to the site that we've already demonstrated use cases for, in addition to possible uses we haven't foreseen.
posted by Eideteker at 8:25 PM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Artw, it's not anyone else's job to worry about what media another has consumed. It doesn't make them an asshole either, and your willingness namecall shows the negative side of a spoiler tag: people will have another rule to bludgeon others with. Mefi could doesn't need that.

It's 1999. You're reading a thread about ghost stories. You decide to post "Hey, Bruce Willis is a ghost in Sixth Sense!" as plaintext. You're an asshole. No if, no buts, no prevarications, you're an asshole. Doesn't matter if a SPOILER tag or ROT 13 is available or not.

If you contend that doing such a thing would not make you an asshole then I really have no idea why i am talking to you. But that's none of us here, right? Because we have brains in our heads, right?
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


> No one is talking about that, and you're getting quite tiresome.

Who is? I made one comment about discussing what a spoiler was.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:29 PM on April 26, 2011


"So stop, as a thread, talking about "having" to use the spoiler tag. No one is talking about that, and you're getting quite tiresome."

There. Saved you having to read one sentence back from where you c/p'ed.
posted by Eideteker at 8:32 PM on April 26, 2011


The ABBR tag should not be used for spoilers because it's semantically incorrect. You don't know how someone else is going to render the ABBR tag. Do not do this.

ROT13 is horrifically user-unfriendly in a modern browser.

I personally vote for a spoiler tag. It is, frankly, dumb that users have to avoid looking at an entire thread becase it *might* contain spoilers. And what about when a spoiler just arises naturally in a thread that is otherwise not spoiler-bait?

I would have loved to read that Portal 2 thread but the potential for spoilers made it off limits for me.
posted by unSane at 8:32 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


> There. Saved you having to read one sentence back from where you c/p'ed.

Ok, dude. But you responded to my comment directly then drifted into a general indictment. That is tiresome.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 PM on April 26, 2011


Man, I have totally forgotten how to code without jQuery.
posted by Artw at 8:36 PM on April 26, 2011


"Ok, dude. But you responded to my comment directly then drifted into a general indictment. That is tiresome."

You came into the thread and dropped your witticism without reading the previous comments. I submit that it is you, sir, who is tiresome. Ha HA!

V punyyratr lbh gb n qhry!
posted by Eideteker at 8:40 PM on April 26, 2011


Hafhofpevor.
posted by crunchland at 8:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn wrote: What we're saying is that for people for whom the web is a relatively new medium, people who have difficulty with HTML [or ROT13—CA], or figuring out where to put the tags and the titles in AskMe, that we don't want to give them another hurdle, another way that MeFi seems clubby and cliquish and not for them.

Trying to make MetaFilter idiot-friendly isn't such a great idea.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw writes "Gah, sorry, got what you were saying backwardws there. Yeah, A is a candidate, hadn't thought of removing the href."

NP. It was kind of hard to parse, I blame the stress of my apprenticeship final in two days. My instructor told us we could.

Burhanistan writes "Yeah, 'obfuscated' is kind of hard to properly pronounce when you have a mouthful of balls."

One could say your safe word is being obfuscated.

maxwelton writes "People who want their cake and to eat it--by talking about something they haven't seen or done yet (what the fuck are they going to talk about anyway? 'Gosh, I can't wait to do this thing I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YET DON'T SPOIL IT FOR ME but gosh it will probably be great!!!')--are whiny. Grow up already. "

You can often talk about things without knowing all the details of the thing. Take for example this TV Tropes page on Memes. It's fun reading even without knowing the origin of the meme and at least some of those memes would spoil the source if you knew the source or the details of the source.

Crabby Appleton writes "Trying to make MetaFilter idiot-friendly isn't such a great idea."

It's not being idiot friendly. ROT-13 isn't very discoverable (what the heck would you google for?) to people who are ignorant of what (jung gur urpx jbhyq lbh tbbtyr sbe?) represents. You have to be able to recognize the pattern to know it's ROT-13.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just googled "jung gur urpx jbhyq lbh tbbtyr sbe". The third result mentioned ROT13.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:08 PM on April 26, 2011


Sometimes you read about a piece of media because you want to decide whether to read/watch/play it. Going back to Suckerpunch, that movie could go either way. It wasn't like Portal 2, where everyone knew it was going to be great. I might have thought 'hmm, I wonder what Astro Zombie and his love of trashy movies make of this'. Or when Diablo 3 comes out I might want JHarris' take on it before I shell out the cash, since that's his thing.

There's obviously a 'spoiler point' that's reached when everyone just starts talking about spoilers but before that a SPOILER tag is great. In that hypothetical Diablo 3 thread someone might say "It's not as good as the ending of Torchlight, where..." and then you need some spoiler tags.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:14 PM on April 26, 2011


THIS IS A MOTHERFUCKING SPOILER ALERT FOR LIFE:

Everyone is going to die. Probably slowly and painfully. Quite possibly alone, if you're lucky enough to make it to old age.

Even worse there's probably no God or afterlife. These mere seconds of daylight are it. That's all there is. Yet you're not even dancing.

Is this really how you want to spend the good, healthy days of your life? Arguing ad nauseum about the importance or non-importance of spoilers so you can safely enjoy and consume inconsequential fantasies and fictions in a variety of media formats?

Really? Your consumption of highly forgettable escapist fantasies are that important that you actually need a policy decision about the "fair" use or obfuscation of spoilers?

PUT DOWN THE KEYBOARD AND GO FOR A WALK ALREADY.
posted by loquacious at 9:45 PM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here's a first pass at an ABBR script: http://www.arthurwyatt.co.uk/javascript/spoilers.user.js

(I stole the actual Rot13 code from here, most of the time I spent on it was figuring out Greasemonkey, which I've somehow avoided coding with before. Oh, and you CAN use jQuery. )

SPOILER (mouseover to read):
Vg pbairegf gur jubyr grkg bs gur pbzzragf obk, juvpu vf abg vqrny, nyfb guvf vf cheryl sbe perngvat na NOOE naq yrggvat lbh zbhfrbire gb ernq vg, ab shaxl bapyvpx fghss sbe rkvfgvat NOOE pbzzragf lrg (gubhtu npghnyyl gung fubhyq or rnfl ol pbzcnevfba. Nyfb vg oernxf ba cerivrj.

Is this really how you want to spend the good, healthy days of your life? Arguing ad nauseum about the importance or non-importance of spoilers so you can safely enjoy and consume inconsequential fantasies and fictions in a variety of media formats?

No! I want to be pissing about with JavaScript, obviously.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really? Your consumption of highly forgettable escapist fantasies are that important that you actually need a policy decision about the "fair" use or obfuscation of spoilers?

This holier than thou bullshit doesn't help anybody. Neither does "If a work is good, you don't need to worry about spoilers because it won't matter". Just because you don't care about art or media doesn't make you better than people who do.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:09 PM on April 26, 2011


I'd prefer something you can highlight, so it works on mobile phones.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:09 PM on April 26, 2011


Not really possible for me. TBH I've never found that to work well for me on my phone anyway.

Oh, and the other limitation to that script (WHICH IS JUST A TOY FOR NOW) is it breaks HTML. Probably doesn't do too well with quotes either. TBH there's probably all sorts of other stuff I should really be checking for.
posted by Artw at 10:14 PM on April 26, 2011


Artw, I can't believe you spent all that time creating a nifty tool to help make people's days a little better instead of DANCING THE DANCE OF LIFE.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Loquacious, I think any sort of spoiler script like we're talking about is unnecessary and a bad idea and I still think you're being a huge jerk about it.
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2011


Well, I was mainly being helpful out of spite.

Kidding! Kidding!
posted by Artw at 10:16 PM on April 26, 2011


Loquacious, I think any sort of spoiler script like we're talking about is unnecessary and a bad idea and I still think you're being a huge jerk about it.

You should have seen what I didn't post.
posted by loquacious at 10:22 PM on April 26, 2011


The ABBR tag should not be used for spoilers because it's semantically incorrect. You don't know how someone else is going to render the ABBR tag. Do not do this.

It actually seems like a good match for what we want, in that shows one bit of text and then shows another when you do something to it. I'm wondering if screenreader handling of ABBR may even help us - I'd assume, and I am prepared to be wrong here, that it would have a go at reading the contents of the ABBR and then there would be some optional way of getting it to show the explanation of the contents - which in our case would be the spoiler.

Liek I say, I am pulling this out of my arse so it could be a load of bollocks.

(Hate to think what ROT 13 sounds like read aloud, probably it summons something horrible. Could be worse though, could be Perl)
posted by Artw at 10:31 PM on April 26, 2011


Yeah they bought in so well they made a MeTa about it...

To be fair, OP concluded that MeTa by asking, "Is it time for MetaFilter to implement spoiler tags in the comments?"
posted by dialetheia at 11:04 PM on April 26, 2011


You should have seen what I didn't post.

Did you not post it because you can't post a dance?

I know it's not a vote, but: +1 spoiler tag.
posted by painquale at 11:50 PM on April 26, 2011


You don't have to define anything. No one's talking about community standards..., It's a chance to ask yourself, "Would knowing this hurt someone's enjoyment of the thing?" If the answer is anywhere between "probably" and "yes," then consider whether you should obfuscate.

Pretty much this, with slight amendments in bold. I don't want to impose anything on this community, but I would like this community to have the option to hide spoilers. I think we're smart enough to understand when to do so, and even a reduction in spoilers would be of benefit, even if it wasn't 100%.

(Oh and happy birthday Cortex, hope it was a good one).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:23 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


.. ... / - .... .. ... / - .... . / - .... .-. . .- -.. / .-- .... . .-. . / .-- . / .-- .-. .. - . / - .... .. -. --. ... / .. -. / --- ..- .-. / ..-. .- ...- --- ..- .-. .. - . / -.-. --- -.. . ... ..--..
posted by kaibutsu at 12:41 AM on April 27, 2011


THPOILERTH!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:02 AM on April 27, 2011


Yeah, <abbr title="spoiler"> ftw.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 AM on April 27, 2011


Since the entire purpose of MetaFilter is for discussion anything that significantly interferes with discussion makes this a lesser place. So abbr/link tricks, ROT13, and highlight-to-read should be strongly discouraged; they don't work across all devices, are very cumbersome, or both.

Since spoiler tags seem to be a non-starter from a mod POV then we're back to the status quo: MeFi isn't a spoiler-free place and those sensitive to spoilers need to avoid discussions where spoilers are likely to be found.
posted by 6550 at 3:26 AM on April 27, 2011


I have neither the time not the energy to do this, but I wonder how the folk so gung-ho about spoiler tags feel about trigger warnings. Because it's the same kind of thing.

For a data point, I am in favor of neither one here, though they are both sometimes useful elsewhere.
posted by winna at 5:16 AM on April 27, 2011


"ROT-13 isn't very discoverable (what the heck would you google for?) to people who are ignorant of what (jung gur urpx jbhyq lbh tbbtyr sbe?) represents. You have to be able to recognize the pattern to know it's ROT-13."

Rhaomi pretty clearly called out that he was using ROT13 early in the thread, and linked to a tool to decode it. This is a Best Practice.

"Trying to make MetaFilter idiot-friendly isn't such a great idea."

I wouldn't put it quite in those terms, but I'm not sure making sure all the corners are rounded on the site is the best approach. Any community has a minimum investment, which involves learning the community norms and so on. I understand the argument about not wanting to make MeFi too difficult to learn, but I don't think learning to use some minimal level of HTML or how to click a button on a toolbar is that barrier. And again, no one's going to be forced to use these buttons. But I don't think it's good to cultivate a community of people who don't care enough to invest five or so minutes to learn how to use the site features. When you cater to everyone, you build the expectation that everyone will be catered to, which creates its own demands. You get a userbase of learned helplessness who expect you to fix everything for them. Sure, you can argue that that's what we're doing here, but I think most of the users in favor of some kind of spoiler tag have been pretty forthright with helpful suggestions on how to make things work. It's a far cry from, "I don't understand this thing, make it go away!"
posted by Eideteker at 5:19 AM on April 27, 2011


HOLY CHRIST YOU NERDS! You are talking about being "spoiled" as if it might provoke some intense existential crisis or something. If you are worried about learning about the ending of Portal 2, don't read or comment in the thread, and on the edge case that spoilery stuff drifts into unrelated threads, maybe you get "spoiled" once a year or so whenever that happens. If so, big freaking deal! If the media (game, movie, book, whatever) you were going to consume is worth its salt you should be able to mostly enjoy it anyway, even knowing what's going to happen at the end.

Implementing some html spoilery thing would be unnecessary and annoying, IMHO, and the ROT13 in the Portal 2 thread was pretty irritating to me as well.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:39 AM on April 27, 2011


R'lyehian is the only acceptable form of obfuscation.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:43 AM on April 27, 2011


I find the word "obfuscation" really offensive and I expect people to be more sensitive to my needs. I really and truly hope to not have to start a MeTa thread asking people not to use words which I have to look up in order to fully understand their meaning.
posted by gman at 6:11 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


And what's the problem with :

SPOILER:

The part of the thing that is a spoiler.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:24 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not angry with anyone about it, but I also wish we had spoiler tags.
posted by tomboko at 6:34 AM on April 27, 2011


Metafilter: mainly being helpful out of spite

Space Coyote writes "And what's the problem with :

"SPOILER:

"The part of the thing that is a spoiler."


That works in threaded blogs where each comment has obvious non-text headers and footers. When you are dealing with just plain text footers it is hard to know when to start reading again. When the spoiler is a multipage treatise on the plot of a movie it works ok but a single line "Luke I am your father" type spoiler is hard to not read when set off that way.
posted by Mitheral at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, I think I keep getting lost in this thread, so I want to rephrase my point:

I'm assuming that
  1. many, if not most people would not want to know the endings and plot twists of a piece of media before they are able to consume it themselves
  2. most people on MetaFilter are thoughtful enough to hide their spoilers despite no official way to do so
  3. most people (for reasons of disability, platform, or otherwise) would like to be able to read MetaFilter with the least added effort possible (installing extensions or going to external sites just to read comments are non-ideal)
  4. assuming foreknowledge of MetaFilter history as a requirement to be able to follow along in a thread is cliquish, clubby, and definitely not ideal
  5. the mods are actually willing to implement a potential solution instead of sticking with the status quo
The alternate solutions proposed so far are pretty flawed, in my opinion: I still push that implementing a spoiler tag would be the easiest and simplest way to solve this problem. Nearly all discussion forums I've been on have implemented a spoiler tag system, usually in one of two ways: either as a blacked out bar that you could highlight or hover over to read, or as a collapsible section with a button to show/hide. The second is more obvious but adds UI elements that don't really fit with Metafilter's style, while I can easily see the former implemented in highlight style (maybe in hover style if it's more considerate of new mefites).

Implementing the spoiler tag in that way caters to the people who do want to be spoiled in addition to the people who don't want to be spoiled by making spoiled comments as easy to read as they are to ignore. All the text is readable without external websites or extensions, making it work well with screen readers.

It does, however, require knowledge of what a spoiler tag is, which (though it doesn't fit with my experience) is apparently not a common concept. I'd say that the concept of blacked-out bars hiding text can be assumed common knowledge (government redactions, etc), though. I also think that adding an HTML button similar to bolding and italics in addition to the comment preview that shows exactly what the spoiler tags would show up as would allow the tags to explain themselves.

In summary, if being able to spoil things is allowed by the mods, I'd like a tag to be implemented, as the hacks people are coming up with are far from ideal (as I detailed above). If the mods would rather have no hiding of spoilers (which I very much doubt but seems to be heavily implied), I'd recommend adding that to site policy and adding a flag so that we can all report it when it happens.
posted by flatluigi at 7:47 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, one of these words uses the abbr tag, but Chrome doesn't display it so you'd never know.
posted by flatluigi at 7:50 AM on April 27, 2011


Were you inspired by Questionable Content, kaibutsu, or was that just coincidence?
posted by phearlez at 8:35 AM on April 27, 2011


010010010111010000100000011101110110000101110011001000000110010101101110011101000110100101110010011001010110110001111001
01100001001000000110001101101111011010010110111001100011011010010110010001100101011011100110001101100101
01001001001000000110000101110011011100110111010101110010011001010010000001111001011011110111010100101110
posted by kaibutsu at 8:51 AM on April 27, 2011


Looks like the dotted underline thing for ABBR is a Firefox thing. Possibly doubling up with u would help a little, though i;m thinking the contents of the ABBR should be an indication that something is hidden there as well (which the other reason I'm using the ROT 13 of the spoiler as the content of the ABBR)

I can add a bunch of stuff to the user script to make ABBR more apparent and usable (click to reveal, etc...) but that of course will be only for people running the script - ideally our solution should work for people coming in cold as well.

A SPOILER tag implemented on the actual site would of course be better, but hey, we make do.
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2011


flatluigi: "Implementing the spoiler tag in that way caters to the people who do want to be spoiled in addition to the people who don't want to be spoiled by making spoiled comments as easy to read as they are to ignore. All the text is readable without external websites or extensions, making it work well with screen readers."

This is an interesting point.

Mods -- are we allowed to style spans by classes? Can I use <span class="spoiler">? If so, then we have a hook for stylish to work with.
posted by boo_radley at 9:47 AM on April 27, 2011


and consider any element instead of "spans".
posted by boo_radley at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2011


Classes are stripped.
posted by Artw at 9:50 AM on April 27, 2011


maybe that could change? Or is there concern about people being idiots with metafilter's existing classes? I dunno, I'm just talking here.
posted by boo_radley at 9:52 AM on April 27, 2011


Adding a click to ABBR that swaps the title and the text turns out to be ludicrously simple. That works on the ROT 13/ABBR combo I've added with my script and existing ABBR spoilers. "Show All Spoilers" and "Hide All Spoilers" will be easy too - though I have no idea where to place them on the page.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2011


That still leaves ROT 13 shitting up the thread.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2011


Ask for a spoiler tag then. Or avoid threads where people might be discussing spoilers and Rot 13 is likely to occur.
posted by Artw at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just got hit by something that might have been averted with a spoiler tag. People in the Doctor Who thread were talking about the past episode. Just now, someone described the contents of a photo about an upcoming episode. It showed up in my recent activity. The thread was speculative but not spoilery until then. I am guessing that the comment would have been buried in a spoiler box if one were accessible.
posted by painquale at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ask for a spoiler tag then. Or avoid threads where people might be discussing spoilers and Rot 13 is likely to occur.

See this? This is the opposite of what the mods have said they want to happen.

My TL;DR of team mods wishes was to avoid big spoilers in threads not related to a thing, and have the sense not to enter a thread directly related to a thing once it's out. Easy peasy.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:34 PM on April 27, 2011


If it's easy peasy for me to stay out of threads that contain things that might bother me then it's easy peasy for you to stay out of threads that might bother you.
posted by Artw at 2:45 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, you know, we could accept that "just stay out of threads" isn't a solution that satisfy's anyone (except I guess people who really, really like spreading spoilers and don;t want anything to get in the way of that) and discuss actual real solutions.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm having trouble understanding why you want a spoiler tag or rot13 of spoilers? Why should I have to self police myself in a thread about a recently released videogame, movie, book, etc?

There seems to be a pretty huge disconnect here. Some people think the pro-spoiler tag people want to police everyone on MetaFilter.

I think it's more that those people want to have an accepted method for them to be considerate when discussing spoilers. (Not me, I don't know many spoilers.)

Also, what if the game, movie, book has not been released yet, and someone is posting critical plot details with advance info. You wouldn't suggest they obfuscate the message?

I think there's an unbridgeable gap between those who think that spoiler tags detract from communication vs. those who think it adds to it.

Or I guess what Eideteker said a while ago.

My opinion is that spoiler tags (or whatever variation of obfuscation) allow users to post stuff that they normally wouldn't.

So we'd be getting more contributions, not less, including some fantastic spoiler info for those users who want it. Instead of the ROT13 comments in the Portal 2 thread, would you prefer that those comments just disappeared? That strikes me as odd.

talking about a thing in a thread devoted to that thing is not inconsiderate

Depends how you talk about it, no?

It's like being for prohibition because you personally cannot handle alcohol.

WHOOSH! (A better analogy would be alcohol % labeling.)

Since the entire purpose of MetaFilter is for discussion anything that significantly interferes with discussion makes this a lesser place. So abbr/link tricks, ROT13, and highlight-to-read should be strongly discouraged; they don't work across all devices, are very cumbersome, or both.

I would say that the LACK of a spoiler tag interferes with discussion. You have a whole subset of users being told to JUST STAY OUT OF THOSE THREADS. You think less users contributing to a thread is a good thing? I must disagree again.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:31 PM on April 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


300!
posted by Eideteker at 3:40 PM on April 27, 2011


flatluigi writes "It does, however, require knowledge of what a spoiler tag is, which (though it doesn't fit with my experience) is apparently not a common concept. "

It's not the concept, which I'm guessing the majority of users are familiar with (though maybe not a large majority), it's the syntax. Spoiler is not a standardized html tag. This is easy to compensate for with forums using BBCode and variants. It's very hard to compensate for on Metafilter which doesn't use that abomination. Even if a consensus can be reached regarding what syntax to use the actual implementation is going to have to be preformed by pb because spoiler isn't recognized mark up for any browser. With all the edge cases and interaction with other tags it is not a trivial problem to parse that. And even if you manage that you still have to communicate the custom syntax to users, the overwhelming vast majority of whom do not frequent Meta if they even know it exists.

It would probably be easier to add a little ROT13 button to the posted by line of every comment.
posted by Mitheral at 3:41 PM on April 27, 2011


Not a trivial task, but not an insurmountable one either - MeFi already does a fair bit with the input from the comments field before it gets spat out again.


It would probably be easier to add a little ROT13 button to the posted by line of every comment.


Well, since I'm all drunk on Greasemonkey power, if you want that...
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on April 27, 2011


I would not welcome the creation of a spoiler tag, and if created, would not use it.
posted by zabuni at 3:48 PM on April 27, 2011


The thread was speculative but not spoilery until then.

Some people consider speculation to be spoilers. When I was hanging out at Television Without Pity, speculation was confined to a single thread because somehow it might spoil people. I was never to clear on the details of how speculation spoiled people.

I am guessing that the comment would have been buried in a spoiler box if one were
accessible.


Or not, because many people would/do not consider that sentence to be a spoiler.

I have little doubt that if spoiler tags were implemented, there would be lots of metatalk threads about what exactly consists a spoiler and "who does that guy think he is not spoiler tagging the fact that Tyler and Norton are the same person because I haven't seen it yet."
posted by nooneyouknow at 4:02 PM on April 27, 2011


I'd consider random speculative stuff based on trailers and promotional stills as not very far into the territory of needing SPOILER tags, myself, but probably the sort of thing you should think about a little regardless of whether we have SPOILER tags or not.
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on April 27, 2011


SPOILER!!!

He was an American the whole time.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:45 PM on April 27, 2011


Could you rephrase all that, Mitheral? I'm not following you.
posted by flatluigi at 4:57 PM on April 27, 2011


I am old, and I approve of rot13.
posted by flabdablet at 5:21 PM on April 27, 2011


What is the character limit on the title attribute?
posted by Karmakaze at 6:22 PM on April 27, 2011


For every destructive "oh, people are just going to use it for framing jokes", there are constructive uses like masking potential triggers and whatnot (like personal stories of abuse that may be hard for some to read due to their own experiences, but still provide a value to the community).

Oh man, this totally sums up for me why a spoiler tag is a bad idea. So it's not just for spoilers? When do we the tag, then? When something is new? How about if the media in question is 5 years old? Or if it's 25 years old? How about if it's not a spoiler but potentially disturbing text?

I look forward to the many ensuing MetaTalk discussions on what "spoiler" really means and callouts on people who used or did not use the tag in a way that someone likes.

Anyway, I saw that there was a Portal 2 thread. I waited until I finished the game and then gleefully finally opened the thread. I saw a bunch of crazy letter that made no sense. Then I made a little face and moved on to the next thread, feeling kind of disappointed that I couldn't discuss a great game with a clever community without a bunch of bother. So I guess I'm anti-ROT13, anti-tag, pro-avoiding spoilery threads, and pro-people not being jerks and posting huge spoilers where one wouldn't expect them.
posted by jess at 6:22 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just as my two cents, I like the current policy. I'll translate the occasional bit of ROT13 if it sounds particularly interesting from surrounding context, but when a thread, here or elsewhere, becomes a mess of ROT13 to avoid spoiling whatever it is about, I'll just give up and move on. I'm not a big fan of having to click, highlight, or hover over lots of bits of text just to read the discussion. I'm fine waiting to read the Portal 2 thread until I get and play the game, and I wish that I'd be able to do that without having to wade through a bunch of obfuscation.
posted by JiBB at 7:12 PM on April 27, 2011


Oh man, this totally sums up for me why a spoiler tag is a bad idea. So it's not just for spoilers? When do we the tag, then? When something is new? How about if the media in question is 5 years old? Or if it's 25 years old? How about if it's not a spoiler but potentially disturbing text?

As an example of this, we did have a metatalk in which someone took people to task for spoiling An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. This story is over a hundred years old.
posted by zabuni at 7:27 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spoiled Rotten Pony
posted by Favorites Pony at 8:54 PM on April 27, 2011


flatluigi writes "Could you rephrase all that, Mitheral? I'm not following you."

Unlike <em> or <b> or <Blink> there isn't a standard html <spoiler> tag. That means that merely wrapping text in <spoiler></spoiler> tags isn't going to have any effect when people read the comment. Firefox, Chrome, IE, Opera, etc. are going to silently ignore the tag and not change the formatting of the enclosed text. So pb would have to write some code that translates <spoiler> tags into whatever display effect is actually desired (white out, ROT13, hover text, whatever) every time someone clicks the post comment button. Simple enough I suppose but then he needs to make that function work across all sub sites; all the special formatting sites like mobile and professional white; and in combination with all the other supported tags (ponder for a second what should happen to the title text of a link that is in the spoiler area). He's got to make it work in preview, in the live preview, on the favourites and recent activity pages, on AskMe where a spoiler might be the best answer so it has to work with the highlighting and when spoiler text is quoted by someone else (no idea how you'd manage that last one). And once he's completed that herculean task he has to maintain the functionality going forward (it is almost impossible to drop features like this once they become popular if they become problematic).

Assuming that work is felt to be worth it the mods then have to teach the non standard syntax of the <spoiler> tag to the user base. And forever more put up with new users and old users who weren't paying attention asking "how to make spoiler text" and "why are half the comments in this thread white bars" and "why isn't <spoiler> working on my wordpress blog".

Yep, I wouldn't wish it on a middlin' enemy.

PS: I'm surprised this hasn't turned into an orgy of Morse.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 PM on April 27, 2011


Spoiler: IT WAS REAL THE WHOLE TIME!!!!
posted by fuq at 9:06 PM on April 27, 2011


- .... .- -. -.- ... / -- .. - .... . .-. .- .-..
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 PM on April 27, 2011



Oh man, this totally sums up for me why a spoiler tag is a bad idea. So it's not just for spoilers? When do we the tag, then? When something is new? How about if the media in question is 5 years old? Or if it's 25 years old? How about if it's not a spoiler but potentially disturbing text?


It's up to the user, but MeFi generally has a polite, considerate userbase. I just posted a blog that has, at the worst, some artistic semi-nudes. I still tagged it 'NSFW', since I didn't want anyone to get in trouble.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:47 PM on April 27, 2011


Mitheral, I still can't follow you. Are you arguing that the actual code implementation would be odd so therefore it shouldn't be implemented? I think you're putting the cart before the horse.

Could you (and anyone else still willing to talk about this) respond to my summary?
posted by flatluigi at 11:13 PM on April 27, 2011


Screw it, the mods don't care and nobody in this damn community favors changing anything about the site. Don't bother responding to my summary, I'm out. Go back to making jokey morse posts.
posted by flatluigi at 11:50 PM on April 27, 2011


The problem is the desire to display information subject to user knowledge. There are those who are spoiled, and those who are unspoiled, and ideally, certain information would be visible to the spoiled but invisible to the unspoiled.

Any proposed 'fix' (including the status quo) does one of two things:
a) Make discussion harder for the spoiled, or
b) Risk spoiling the unspoiled.

The complicating factor is that threads where spoilers actually come up are a bare sliver of a proportion of all threads. So any implemented mechanism would need to not impact usability of the site in the 99.9% of threads where spoilers are a non-issue.

Personally, I am perfectly happy with the "don't click on a thread if you don't want to be spoiled" school of thought. Remaining unspoiled is not a fundamental right, and those who wish to remain unspoiled should be willing to work for it, by refraining from participating in threads about media the haven't seen while they wait to become spoiled in their preferred format. It's like showing up to a book club without having read the book and then getting pissed when somebody talks about how Dumbledorf got killed...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:43 AM on April 28, 2011


It's 1999. You're reading a thread about ghost stories. You decide to post "Hey, Bruce Willis is a ghost in Sixth Sense!" as plaintext. You're an asshole. No if, no buts, no prevarications, you're an asshole. Doesn't matter if a SPOILER tag or ROT 13 is available or not.


Are we taking July of 1999 before the movie came out or early August then it did come out or late August after it had been out a few weeks or November?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:31 AM on April 28, 2011


--. ..- ...- ..-. / --. .-. -.- --. / ...- ..-. / .-. -.- --. . -. / ..-. .-. .--. .... . .-. .-.-.-

OK, now I just feel kind of silly.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:20 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spoiling the Sixth Sense between cinema release and video release would make you an asshole, spoiling it between video release and first TV showing merely makes you a jerkface.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on April 28, 2011


Screw it, the mods don't care and nobody in this damn community favors changing anything about the site.

We care a lot about this but unfortunately we don't care about it in the same direction as several passionate users who also care about it. I know it sucks to be in "agree to disagree" territory about this, especially when it concerns a place you love and a topic you care about, but that's sort of where we are.

Implementing something like this is non-trivial, we've explained why we feel strongly about not doing it. People disagree with not only our conclusions, but also our premises--how welcoming do we want the site to be for n00bs, how much HTML is it okay to expect people to use, how perfect does a solution need to be to be worth the front-end costs, how much user-education is possible in a large community, how much friction is okay with a system like this--and while we don't expect you just to be like "Oh okay, thanks" about it, we're not in a "don't care" situation here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2011


We care a lot about this but unfortunately we don't care about it in the same direction as several passionate users who also care about it.

I know we don't do things by popular vote, but if we polled, I'd bet a pretty significant percentage of users would support it. There may be only a few people that are passionate about it. I'm in favor of it, but I could take it or leave it. I don't really mind spoilers.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on April 28, 2011


And once he's completed that herculean task

Oh come on. It's a few lines of CSS and a span tag.
posted by empath at 8:56 AM on April 28, 2011


I know we don't do things by popular vote, but if we polled, I'd bet a pretty significant percentage of users would support it.

What's a pretty significant percentage?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:28 AM on April 28, 2011


Three to six standard deviations, depending on how small you need your p-value to be.
posted by bonehead at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. It's a few lines of CSS and a span tag.

Well, on the output side, I imagine parsing it would be a bit more work. And it's only really possible with CSS and SPAN only if you're going with the text-is-same-colour-as-background-until-highlight model, which has some limitations.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2011


What's a pretty significant percentage?

More than 'several', less than a 'plethora'.
posted by empath at 9:38 AM on April 28, 2011


I think some the bad vibes here could be due to a perception of dissembling.

It seems to me like the #1 reason mods wouldn't want spoiler tags or some variation is that it makes moderating MetaFilter a lot more difficult.

Isn't it that simple? That seems to be a reasonable rationale to me. The rest of it seems a little irrelevant.

Well, on the output side, I imagine parsing it would be a bit more work. And it's only really possible with CSS and SPAN only if you're going with the text-is-same-colour-as-background-until-highlight model, which has some limitations.

I mean here's a full rational rejection of spoiler tags for me:

1) It wouldn't be simple to implement (in a fashion that works for all users)
2) It could make life more difficult for the mods (much harder to scan posts for offenses, etc.) ,,, (tho it seems like a technological solution exists here as well, e.g. disable spoiler presentation for mods - and it's much easier to moderate "spoiler tag" content than ROT13 or Morse Code content ...)
3) ... and it wouldn't provide much value to the users, i.e. not very many users are clamoring for it (which is the debatable point, I think)

Anyway, I think the rest of the arguments against "spoiler tags" are pretty much bunk, but I still think it's reasonable to say "we're not gonna do it, at least not right now."

PS: I'm surprised this hasn't turned into an orgy of Morse.

-... ..- - .-- .... . .-. . .----. ... - .... . -.-. .... .-. --- -- . . -..- - . -. ... .. --- -. !?!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2011


.-- .- - -.-. .... / .. -. ... .--. . -.-. - --- .-. / .-.. . .-- .. ... / --- -. / .--. -... ...
posted by clavdivs at 10:38 AM on April 28, 2011


All this morse is making me sad...

.--- . .-. .. -.-. .... --- / .-- .- ... / .- -. / .- .-- . ... --- -- . / ... .... --- .-- / .- -. -.. / ..- -. ..-. .- .. .-. .-.. -.-- / -.-. .- -. -.-. . .-.. .-.. . -..
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2011


--.- .-. .-.. ..--.. / / / / / / / --.- .-. .-.. ..--.. / / / / / / -.-. --.- / -.-. --.- / -.-. --.- / -.. . / -.-. .-. ....- -... -... -.-- / -.-. .-. ....- -... -... -.-- / -.-. .-. ....- -... -... -.--
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:26 AM on April 28, 2011


Que?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2011


Sorry, QUE is not a valid Q-Code.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:10 PM on April 28, 2011


another way that MeFi seems clubby and cliquish and not for them

Honestly, anyone I send a thread to with spoiler tags of some sort (chief example, a Something Awful thread) can figure it out. The rot13 or morse code? Way more clique-y.
posted by graventy at 12:14 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROT13 has been used on the net for more than twenty-five years. There's no ROT13 clique.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2011


The morse code I posted is patterned after a typical "general call" used on ham radio in the CW mode (i.e., using morse code). "QRL?" means "Is this frequence in use?". CQ means "calling any station". DE means "from". CR4BBY is my notional call sign (I don't currently have a real one). I figured if we're using morse code, we might as well do so in the idiom in which it is most commonly used these days.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:27 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frequency, that is.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:29 PM on April 28, 2011


/has sense of satisfaction from clicking CW and turning it into Continuous Wave then clicking and turning it back again.
posted by Artw at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I've just updated http://www.arthurwyatt.co.uk/javascript/spoilers.user.js, so anyone with Greasemonkey installed should be able to grab a copy of that and have the joy of clicking on the "CW" in Crabby Appleton's comment above and seeing it expand out)
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2011


How do we feel about wrapping spoilers in u to make it more clear there is an action there? SPOILER: Vg'f nyy n qernz!

Downsides: In FF, which helpfully underlines ABBR, you get a weird dotty underline.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on April 28, 2011


Great. We start using commercial codes and then the "perfect" murders start.

Tension, apprehension and dissension have begun.

Crabby Die Fithy!
posted by bonehead at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2011


But then you can't click on it. Underlining is for clicky things. Clicky things, I tell you. Not mousey things. The mousey things can have the dotted line if they want.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:52 PM on April 28, 2011


If you were a true fan, bonehead, you'd give me some of what you're on.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please oh please let there be a nerdy rap group called ROT13 Clique.
posted by jtron at 1:05 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm on the road to demolition, me.
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on April 28, 2011


Sorry, it's been a long time since I read the book. Apologies for missing your allusions.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:31 PM on April 28, 2011


What is the character limit on the title attribute?

I believe tooltip display of contents of the title attribute is 512 characters. Also HTML would show up in the tooltip and some formatting screws with it. Which means I'm probably going to alter my script to throw up a prompt, truncate what's entered to 512 characters, remove HTML, and then insert the result as a ABBR/ROT 13 combo at either the current cursor location in #comment or the end of whatever text is there currently. Obviously this lends itself more to short, snappy spoiler comments than multiline screeds and back-and-forth conversations in ROT 13, but to be honest given the feedback here on that sort of thing it's probably for the best.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2011


Sorry if I've missed something relevant, but it seems like this is crying out for some kind of Greasemonkey script where the average reader sees normal text and everything stays the same for most people-- but where people who want an "enhanced spoiler experience" or whatever can turn on the option of having certain text obscured (which people with or without the script can trigger in a certain way)?

I mean, obviously that's very suboptimal for the script users because many many people aren't going to use it. But it seems like folks are saying "I don't care if it's very incomplete, I still want it" so that doesn't seem like a good reason not to do it. In relevant threads people could spread the word politely ("hey, just FYI a few of us are using the SpoilerHider script, you can get it here if you want it, if you want to put (SP) at the beginning of something spoilery and (/SP) at the end that'd be a nice thing to do since it'll hide it for us, but if not that's OK") but it would be clearly understood that the default is people not using those tags and it's totally uncool to yell at anyone for not accomodating the tiny minority of people using said script?

Is there some reason why that can't be done now? Obviously Artw's been doing a lot of work but it seems like that's still based on using unreadable ROT13 text in the body, right? Isn't that something that the mods want to discourage? Is there a technical reason why it can't be regular text which with the script becomes invisible/obscured-- by something like being triggered by (SP) and ended by (/SP) or triggered by ***SPOILER*** and ended by ***END SPOILER*** or whatever? (I have no clue how that kind of stuff actually works, so sorry if that's a stupid question.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:53 PM on April 28, 2011


the average reader sees normal text and everything stays the same for most people

So the default would be huge great spoilers in the thread? I don't really think that's really a good idea at all...

Obviously Artw's been doing a lot of work but it seems like that's still based on using unreadable ROT13 text in the body, right?

Well, sort of, but pretty much not. it's more based on using ABBR surrounding some placeholder to display a spoiler on hover for regular users, and to give users of the script the ability to click on the placeholder and swap it for the spoiler text inline. I'm using the ROT 13 of the spoiler as the placeholder text as it takes up the same amount of space and users without the ability to hover (mobile users) get something they can convert to plaintext with a little effort (not ideal but nothing is). It may or may not be better for screenreaders than plain ROT 13, I don't have a good insight into that yet - TBH I'm not seeing a good solution for screenreaders short of a clickthrough.

All in all what I am aiming for is a solution better than the current situation for people with and without the script, but not really perfect for either (though it will be pretty good for people with the script), that does not make the situation worse for anyone and ignores the "threads are divided into CAN POST SPOILERS and CAN'T POST SPOILERS and nobody should need this" fallacy.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2011


(though I admit that if you don't mind SPOILER: [mouseover ABBR] but are sent into a frothing fit of apoplectic rage by the site of ROT 13 in your thread you are probably SOL where this solution is concerned.)
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on April 28, 2011


So the default would be huge great spoilers in the thread? I don't really think that's really a good idea at all...

I understand and appreciate that you don't think it's a good idea, but it is how this site has always worked. It is generally speaking okay to discuss stuff related to the topic of the thread in the thread, whether that stuff is spoilery or not. The general expectation on the site, what we've underscored in past discussions over the years, is that it's the reader's job on this site to avoid likely discussions of things they don't want to be spoiled on.

We take exception to people going out of their way to be jerkish/prankish/obnoxious about spoilers in weird places, and when someone with no ill intent accidentally does something really visible and bothersome with a spoiler we'll generally try to fix that up, but those are rare situations that have nothing to do with general discussion on the site.

I do not object to folks occasionally munging something because they think that the specific context makes it a bad idea to post those details but also distinctly calls for discussing them with some warning. That is what has historically happened at times, as an occasional one-off sort of thing, and that's fine. A script that makes it slightly nicer for the people inclined to do that now and then is totally fine, and good on you for getting your hands dirty putting it together.

If there's an expectation that in general discussion people will start munging a lot more text, that's about the only place where my objections come up. But I feel like that's the fundamental point of disagreement in the thread—not (a) how someone should format their occasional spoiler munging, but (b) whether spoiler munging should be something that is significantly more common on Metafilter.

My answer to (a) is "I have no strong opinions". If it's as occasional as it has traditionally been on mefi, it's not a big deal either way; any given instance is likely to annoy a few people for one reason or another because of the friction it introduces to the reading experience, but that's not a terribly big deal at that scale.

What we've been saying about (b) is that we're not interested in enforcing a shift in the cultural norm around here. That norm is that it's okay to discuss details, spoilery or not, of x in threads about x, and that folks need to be cautious about which threads they dip into if they're trying to avoid being spoiled.

And I know some folks have said of a spoiler tag or munging convention that e.g. "it wouldn't be compulsory", and my objection there is that when occasional munging becomes frequent munging, it is by definition compulsory for all readers regardless of whether they are using the munging stuff on their own content. That which they expect to be able to read has been munged without their having any say in it.

Those volunteering to start munging spoilers in general discussion are also volunteering everyone else to deal with said munging. That's where it goes from being "I'm trying to be considerate of people who might not want to be spoiled" (which is a perfectly noble thought) to also being, in practice, "I'm being inconsiderate of people who expect to be able to read a discussion without having to take extra effort to uncover text that normally they'd be able to just read". That's why I'm not interested in seeing a significant increase in munged text. That's why I'm not interested in promoting, explicitly or implicitly, a de facto policy of users being expected not to discuss potentially-spoilery details of a topic in threads about that topic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


So the default would be huge great spoilers in the thread? I don't really think that's really a good idea at all...

I understand and appreciate that you don't think it's a good idea, but it is how this site has always worked.


I'd disagree with you there. how the site has always worked is that users have used their good judgment, and sometimes that has lead to posting spoilers and sometimes not, and generally that's worked out for everyone.

TBH I don't expect any large increase in text munging at all, nor would I with a SPOILER tag. I'd expect to see it a little more, sure, but generally in the same places and for the same purposes we see ROT 13 now.

That the introduction of a SPOILER tag or script would instantly lead to the userbase seems to me to be just as much a fallacy as the hard line between spoilery threads where any spoiler is a good idea and non spoilery threads that they are not.

Of course you can stop all of this instantly by having a hard policy against munged (or the case of ABBR stripping the tile tag) I think that would be a shitty move personally, but hey, that's your call.

Without that back to trusting the judgment of the users - which as I say is how the site has always worked.
posted by Artw at 5:54 PM on April 28, 2011


Also (SPOILER) Lbh jvyy nqq n FCBVYREF gnt riraghnyyl. :-)
posted by Artw at 6:00 PM on April 28, 2011


I'd disagree with you there. how the site has always worked is that users have used their good judgment, and sometimes that has lead to posting spoilers and sometimes not, and generally that's worked out for everyone.

We're not disagreeing. That it's fine for people to discuss spoilery stuff does not mean people always aggressively and compulsively discuss spoilers. What it means is that when they do discussion spoilers, which is often, it's not considered a problem as a matter of policy and people objecting to, as occasionally happens, are basically objecting to the site norm.

I feel like it reduces to a conflict between "we feel the current norm is a good one, which is why we don't see a need to introduce a new spoiler munging system" and "mefi needs a new spoiler munging system even though the current norm is a good one". I don't really see the whole things-are-fine-so-lets-change-something line of reasoning as compelling.

Of course you can stop all of this instantly by having a hard policy against munged (or the case of ABBR stripping the tile tag) I think that would be a shitty move personally, but hey, that's your call.

We have not suggested any such policy nor would I expect us ever to do so. It's not something that even needs arguing against, because we're not arguing for it. The distinction between "please don't litter threads with munged text as in these two recent annoying examples" and "no one can ever munge text ever" should be pretty clear, especially considering the number of words we've put into this thread explicitly discussing the nuances of said distinction. A bit of politely-motivated munging is fine. I trust your judgement there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:26 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm in support of no spoilers in the summary and free for all in comments. If it's a rainy day I can see that through my window. If I choose to walk out in the rain I'm going to get wet (whereas inside I keep dry, though I understand that if I go outside, I'll get wet) and I'm not going to ask others to hold an umbrella over me or ask God or the weather satellites or do a dance to stop the rain.
posted by juiceCake at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2011


Me too, no spoilers on the front page, free for all in the comments or 'more inside'. And no mystery meat links that lead to spoilers - give people the chance to make an informed decision.

At the moment there are two camps of readers on MeFi, the "who cares about spoilers" group and the "I'd really like to avoid spoilers" group. I'm in the latter. But if we get a tool for hiding spoilers, then the second group splinters into the following groups:

- it's a spoiler until it's been released on DVD/mass-market paperback in the US/UK/worldwide
- it's a spoiler until [x] months/years have passed since release
- it's a spoiler if it's photos or "Next time on..." previews of upcoming releases
- it's only a spoiler if it's the actual work, not the promotional material
- it's always a spoiler every time

I just don't think the mods should have to police these different expecations of spoiler boundaries. It'd be a really shitty job unless they pick a rule themselves, and generally MeFi is better with guidelines instead of bright-line rules.

As much as I'd love to participate in threads for movies/books/tv I haven't read yet, to see interesting links about it and build my anticipation, this just isn't the place to do it. If anyone can recommend a good site for media discussion with a decent spoiler policy, I'd love to hear it.
posted by harriet vane at 8:47 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


ROT13 has been used on the net for more than twenty-five years. There's no ROT13 clique.

Yes there is. Just because it's been 'on the net' for so long doesn't mean everyone knows about it. Everyone is on the internet now, not just people who were on Usenet in the 80s and 90s. Using the 'being nice to newbies' argument, when someone sees rot13 in a thread, they have to determine that a.) It is a cipher, and not just a cat stepping on someone's keyboard, and b.) What type of cipher it is, and how & where to decode it.

On the other hand, button-click, mouseover, and highlightable spoiler text are in fairly common use around the web - and even if they weren't, they are much more intuitive for an unexposed reader than deciphering rot13.

I'm not saying I know an ideal solution... but if we're tackling the 'newbie-friendly' angle, rot13 sure ain't it.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:37 AM on April 29, 2011


On the other hand, button-click, mouseover, and highlightable spoiler text are in fairly common use around the web - and even if they weren't, they are much more intuitive for an unexposed reader than deciphering rot13.

There's several reasons I really like metafilter, and one of them is because my reading isn't disrupted by ██████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████
█████████████

posted by fuq at 6:55 AM on April 29, 2011


Spoiler alert: mouse over the ugly black bars to get my point
posted by fuq at 6:57 AM on April 29, 2011


No one is asking you to change the cultural norm. We are just asking for a way to make the existing munging, that we're doing already, easier. Yes, I understand that you're concerned that making it easier will cause more munging, but I think if we make it simple enough (and easy to disable in your profile), that won't be a problem.

"I don't really see the whole things-are-fine-so-lets-change-something line of reasoning as compelling."

But things clearly aren't fine, because we have this MeTa. Someone's not happy with the way that we're currently obfuscating things, so we're trying to propose a way to make it better for everyone.
posted by Eideteker at 7:49 AM on April 29, 2011


Mouseovers are the mystery meat of spoiler treatments.

I'm no developer, but we all could sketch out a simple set of specs that most users probably wouldn't mind, and many (honestly many, I think) would like very much.

1. Add universal account setting to Show or Hide "Spoiler Text" by default (unlogged users would be spoiler-protected)

2. Add button to set text as "spoiler" (an "SP" would work for me, so as not to confuse <s> users) between italics and link buttons. (perhaps another universal setting can hide the "S" button if users really wanna whine about it ;)

3. The "S" button tag then presents the selected text with a style or other presentation treatment--for users who have designated that setting--that allows users to toggle the obfuscation off (and perhaps on again, dunno, but most sites do)

Sure, 3 is hand waving, but that's where the fun comes in? I'm sure there are some ingenious spoiler-treatment experiences out there that someone could steal/borrow. I know it's been mentioned several times, but see Jay Is Games comments for a simple implementation.

Users who select "Show Spoilers" universally would have exactly the same experience they have now, with the exception of a new "SP" button, that they can use if they want). Users who select "Hide Spoilers" see posts with spoiler text protected by click.

I realize it's significant development and perhaps even difficult to do depending on how the additional code affects the page, but it does seem like a semi-reasonable path for a pony.

The honestly debatable problem is the question of how many users really want that pony. Consensus seems to be not enough.

I do think it's a pretty standard feature for any site that primarily features user-contributed content related to current movies, games, tv shows, and books. Which this site is, often.

The most practical use case I think are game posts, particularly free puzzle games or whatever where someone might actually want a spoiler for that level 43 they've been stuck on for 3 hours, but don't want to ruin a post that most users haven't even seen yet ... etc.

The other obvious use case has been noted several times: different release dates around the world.

And "when is a spoiler no longer a spoiler?" - eh, let the crowd decide that.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2011


But things clearly aren't fine, because we have this MeTa. Someone's not happy with the way that we're currently obfuscating things, so we're trying to propose a way to make it better for everyone.

Someone's not happy with the way that, in a couple of recent exceptional diversions from normal practice around here, people suddenly started significantly obfuscating things out of character with how Mefi normally deals with these things. "Don't keep doing that new weird thing that doesn't usually happen on Metafilter" is pretty straightforward as a response goes.

We're never going to have everybody always be happy. I feel like that's safe to take as a given. But right now what we have is a general expectation for how the site works, and I feel for people who are unhappy with that if it doesn't create the proper handling of spoilers that they'd prefer, but that stands in tension with the people who are fine with how it works right now.

We are just asking for a way to make the existing munging, that we're doing already, easier.

I've been clear that I don't have a problem with the actual current typical rate of munging. I reiterate that because the degree of munging we've see in the vast majority of threads where it would be an issue has always been minimal. It's not what we saw in the Portal 2 thread; that's the exception, not the rule.

Revamping our policy on spoilers or implementing a new markup system in reaction to a couple of weird one-offs, rather than basing it on basically everything else that has ever happened here, would be foolish.

So, again: occasional munging where it seems specifically particularly appropriate? Has been, and remains, fine. If people want to use Artw's script for their occasional munging, that is totally fine and more power to them. But the current cultural norm on mefi does not justify implementing a new markup system specifically for spoilers.

Yes, I understand that you're concerned that making it easier will cause more munging, but I think if we make it simple enough (and easy to disable in your profile), that won't be a problem.

If we were talking about something that were explicitly opt-in rather than opt-out, that would balance out a bit better; if the only people who have to put up with munging are those who have explicitly poked a thing in their profile to say "yes, please hide stuff that other spoiler-minded people have marked as spoiler as well", it wouldn't affect the default reader. As it is, any proposed disableable spoiler markup would affect the default reader, and that's a much more significant impact.

But with a notional opt-in spoiler thing we're back to something where, if the expectation is not to significantly change the volume of spoiler munging on the site, it's not clear to me why this justifies the effort of implementing and maintaining and educating users about a whole new markup feature.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2011


Well, for one thing, we could have threads like the Portal thread, just as they are now, content-wise. The difference is, some folks wouldn't notice it was munged, and those who prefer munging would see things munged. That's what I'm saying. Everybody wins, with I guess you're saying the exception of the mods. But otherwise, there's no real difference. As for the culture changing, well, no... not really. Those of us who have been munging will continue to do so and those who don't want to won't.

I mean, I guess I'm fine with making it opt-in. I would suggest that non-munged (as in, profile disabled, not un-munged, which would be after you click on the spoiler tag) be set off in some way, either a slightly different background color or a dotted underline or a plaintext <spoiler></spoiler> or something so folks know not to just blindly copy and paste it, but even that would probably cause an uproar. So be it.

But obfuscators gonna obfuscate, and in the same token as you don't want to make the site confusing to new users, I think you also have to realize that some new users ARE going to be expecting obfuscation. So that's another argument that cuts both ways. Whether they're expecting ROT13 or spoiler tags or whatever, there's always going to be some friction. And I think giving them something to opt into is going to make their MeFi experience less of a headache, all around. Guys like Rhaomi, Artw, Mitheral, and I are around pretty often; I'm sure we're all happy (I know I am, at least) to educate folks on spoiler tags if they ask. Not as a bludgeon. And I will volunteer (as I have been) to write the FAQ on it, as well as an introduction to it for new users (explaining not just the feature but the culture). I know that's not like an "oh well, we're sold!" feature, but I mean, it's not like we're exactly just demanding things and giving nothing back. We're trying to work together here, and we're certainly not trying to throw you to wolves or under a bus or under a bus with some wolves who are there, lying in wait.

So yeah, that's pretty much what I have to say. Honestly, and I really really mean this, I'm glad you've stuck around and are still willing to discuss this with us. I know this has turned into much bigger of a conversation than I think anyone anticipated, but I think it's been a good one. I still feel like we're talking past each other a bit, but at least we're talking.
posted by Eideteker at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2011


Well, for one thing, we could have threads like the Portal thread, just as they are now, content-wise. The difference is, some folks wouldn't notice it was munged, and those who prefer munging would see things munged. That's what I'm saying. Everybody wins, with I guess you're saying the exception of the mods. But otherwise, there's no real difference.

Very little of my fundamental objection has to do with my convenience. This is almost entirely about my desire not to see the site become incrementally less readable than how it has traditionally been, about not wanting people who previously could just read the thread as it is on the page to have to begin to click/hover/whatever more to reveal text that previously would have just been a plaintext comment.

If people's munging habits stay as they are right now, there's not a problem and I have no complaint. And I don't see a justification for implementing a new markup function on the site to support that; weird exceptions like the Portal 2 thread aside, there hasn't been a significant problem that calls for that significant solution.

If people start munging significantly more, that's having an effect on the basic readability of metafilter threads as-they-have-been, and that's where I would have an objection.

And that is my primary reason to be really disinclined to create a spoiler markup system on the site: either it would not get used much, in case why are we going to the trouble of building and supporting this thing, or it would get used much, which is precisely what I find objectionable because I do not want to see that kind of increase in volume of munging.

But obfuscators gonna obfuscate, and in the same token as you don't want to make the site confusing to new users, I think you also have to realize that some new users ARE going to be expecting obfuscation. So that's another argument that cuts both ways.

Except that when some users are, due to lack of familiarity with Metafilter discussion norms, expecting obfuscation where it's not going to be, they're going to learn about the norms here. This is the basic process of acclimation to any specific community; it doesn't involve learning non-standard markup or futzing with profile options or so on; people learn the same basic "ah, that is the deal here" lessons about cursing being okay, or about blatant self-promotion not being okay, or about not signing their posts, or or or.

There's a difference between adding complexity/friction for all users (which introducing new markup and any expectation whatsoever that it will be used entails) and simply not adjusting the community norms to meet the expectations of one subset of people unfamiliar with and making incorrect assumptions about how the site works. For the people who come to mefi expecting not to be spoiled in general discussions, it's a quick learning experience. For everyone else, it's a non-event: they're reading a discussion about x, and people are talking about x, period.

I know that's not like an "oh well, we're sold!" feature, but I mean, it's not like we're exactly just demanding things and giving nothing back. We're trying to work together here, and we're certainly not trying to throw you to wolves or under a bus or under a bus with some wolves who are there, lying in wait.

I really, truly understand that. I know you guys are coming from a place of wanting to constructively solve what you see as a problem with how Metafilter handles this specific thing right now. My feeling is not How Dare You or anything, it's just that we don't agree that it's a problem that crosses the threshold of needing solving in this way. I'm not saying no because I don't understand, I'm saying no because I understand and, genuinely respectfully, do not agree.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2011


OK, it's now available here: http://userscripts.org/scripts/edit/102256

It now uses a prompt and inserts your spoiler at the cursor position. HTML is stripped and quotes are properly handled. I would very much appreciate some brave volunteers to give it a spin.
posted by Artw at 10:48 PM on May 3, 2011


Heh. The show link probably works better: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/102256
posted by Artw at 10:54 PM on May 3, 2011


Hmm. At present it seems to be Firefox only, not sure what steps I need to take to get it working in chrome... theoretically it should just run?
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2011


My $.02:

ROT13 isn't ideal. The fact that people use it anyway means something, and IMHO means more than its detractors are giving it credit for, but then again, I don't think it's a particularly impenetrable custom, particularly if people label ROT13 content as such, which I think would be a much better norm to encourage than avoiding attempts to be polite to the unspoiled.

It means that people are expected to know

- that there is such a thing as spoilers [not that unlikely]
- that there is a site policy about them [less likely]
- that what they are posting is a spoiler [maybe?]
- that there is a mechanism for hiding them [maybe?]


I think there are potential solutions that could avoid most of these issues. One that might work:

Add a flag for spoilers. Flagging one's own comment as a spoiler could get it automatically collapsed to something like "[comment contains spoilers. click here to read, or here turn off spoiler-hiding]". Flagging someone else's comment as spoiler-y might get it collapsed, based on either some threshold of enough similar flagging or mod discretion or some combination or what have you. Then, in addition to this behavior, let people set some preferences (either post-wide or site-wide) to whether or not to actually collapse spoilers or leave them out in the open.

This setup doesn't require every poster to know what spoilers are, or the site policy, or that what they're posting is a spoiler, or that there's a mechanism -- until a spoiler shows up and they want to read it. But it lets people who do know such things and want to be polite manage their posts, and also provides them some useful channel of spoiler moderation w/o spawning another MetaTalk thread or an in-thread derail. And it would let people who just like to read do that, too.
posted by weston at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rot 13 *isn't* ideal. However as we have these conversattions it's becoming more and more clear that the same people who hate Rot 13 are the ones that want to block any other more sensible solution. Add a spoiler tag to the tag and an always off option and they'd never see Rot 13 or any indication that anyone hid anything again, but that's not good enough for them due to some weird ass principle that everything should be spoilered all the time.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on May 15, 2011


However as we have these conversattions it's becoming more and more clear that the same people who hate Rot 13 are the ones that want to block any other more sensible solution.

I despise ROT13 and I often use an ABBR tag. I find it intrusive to reading, particularly as people pretty much never warn about the presence of ROT13. Also, I'd never encountered it until about a year ago, on metafilter, despite the fact that I've been on the internet for over a decade, include geeky communities on usenet (most communities I was part of used spoiler space for spoilers).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2011


Including geeky communities, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2011


FWIW, Artw, I grumbled about rot13 on the Doctor Who thread but would favor a more humane mechanism for hiding spoilers. (And weston's idea above is very humane and very clever.)

I carefully stayed out of that thread until I'd seen the episode, specifically to avoid the spoilers that I knew might be there. And I'm still faced with walls of rot13 to decode.

There must be a better way to satisfy both the impatient and the patient. rot13 skews it too far one way; it hides spoilers but it punishes everyone else forever.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:11 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I reckon we should just post the heaviest spoilers possible as soon as it's been shown in the UK, and see how long that argument holds.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on May 15, 2011


Because the solution, when someone disagrees with you, is to be the biggest most massively-throbbing putrescent dick possible?

Charming.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:24 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. Exactly.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on May 15, 2011


I hate to say it, but I wonder if the real problem here is that most of the Doctor Who fans here really, really enjoy discussing Doctor Who with other Whovian Mefites. I love it, too. But it's really not what metafilter is for, and so we're left trying to come up with solutions to problems that are arising out of off-label uses of the site, so to speak.

I'd say the Portal problem was similar--the awkward intersection between using something as a message board when it's really just meant to be a place to respond to TFA.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:31 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, all discussion in the Who thread got killed off so that's a small bitter victory for the anti-Rot13 folk right there.
posted by Artw at 3:34 PM on May 15, 2011


. . . did it? Seems jessamyn just asked people to cut out the ROT13ing. If the discussion was killed, it was sort of a side-effect. Not like it came down from high or anything.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:38 PM on May 15, 2011

I hate to say it, but I wonder if the real problem here is that most of the Doctor Who fans here really, really enjoy discussing Doctor Who with other Whovian Mefites. I love it, too. But it's really not what metafilter is for, and so we're left trying to come up with solutions to problems that are arising out of off-label uses of the site, so to speak.

I'd say the Portal problem was similar--the awkward intersection between using something as a message board when it's really just meant to be a place to respond to TFA.
Agreed. No one should have to avoid threads that are reactions to articles about shows or entertainment on the off chance they turn into discussion about content for which there is no preceding article.

And I see no good way out of this while keeping true to what Metafilter is.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2011


I'd say the Portal problem was similar--the awkward intersection between using something as a message board when it's really just meant to be a place to respond to TFA.

Just a reminder that if you do want to discuss Portal 2 or any other games at whatever length you like, Mefight Club is a fine place to do that. It's not public or search-engine indexed, so it lacks that feeling of 'MILLIONS ARE READING MY AWESOME COMMENT' that we can enjoy by participating here at the mothership, but it is a cozy and friendly place to get your gamegeek on.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2011


We even have spoiler tags. Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:23 PM on May 15, 2011


Nobody's holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read every comment. Or do you do that in every thread you encounter?

In the threads I want to follow and possibly participate in, yes, yes I do. We generally encourage the 'read the thread before replying' in fact.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:48 PM on May 15, 2011


Anyway, if you need me, I'll be back on the DW thread catching up. So I get to find a comment in ROT13, hoghlight and copy the comment, open a new browser window, go to rot13.com, paste the text in, click cypher, THEN read it, then refind the MeFi window, find where I was on the page, and go to the next comment. Which, hm. ROT13.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:56 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, it's like slavery...
posted by Artw at 6:11 PM on May 15, 2011


Yes. That's the standard we apply now. Didn't you know? We only fix problems if they are like slavery, and like you said, this one is. I thank you for your astute, reasonable, and mature acknowledgement of that fact.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:16 PM on May 15, 2011


How about we just address the issue in front of us instead of trying to derail people who disagree with us with nonsense?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2011


I'm going to go with the fix where you drop the weird compulsion and asswociated made up problem - seems like that would make EVERYONE much happier.
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on May 15, 2011


"Anyway, if you need me, I'll be back on the DW thread catching up. So I get to find a comment in ROT13, hoghlight and copy the comment, open a new browser window, go to rot13.com, paste the text in, click cypher, THEN read it, then refind the MeFi window, find where I was on the page, and go to the next comment. Which, hm. ROT13."

d00d u need leetkey
posted by Eideteker at 6:58 PM on May 15, 2011


Won't work on any of the ways I read mefi: my iphone, the work ipad or xoom, my kindle, my mac where I use Safari mostly, or my Windows box where I use IE9 mostly.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:05 PM on May 15, 2011


Development sort of stalled on the Metafilter Spoilers Assistant, but making it HTML freindly and then following through on Mitheral's joking comment of putting a little Rot/unROt button at the bottom of every comment - a little less impressive than leetkey but it should do the trick. That and a toggle for all of the ABBR obscured spoilers on the page.
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on May 15, 2011


Won't work on any of the ways I read mefi: my iphone, the work ipad or xoom, my kindle, my mac where I use Safari mostly, or my Windows box where I use IE9 mostly.

I beleivbe there are Greasemonkey options for both Safari and IE9. Sadly for the non computer devices you're going to need a proper SPOILER tag implemented server side. Feel free to request one now.

Also, the thread is showing signs of regeneration, so I guess you didn't completly kill it off by calling in the mod hammer.
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on May 15, 2011


I guess you didn't completly kill it off by calling in the mod hammer.

...

Yes, Jessamyn couldn't have gone there on her own and had an opinion by herself. You know she works here, right?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:23 PM on May 15, 2011


"Won't work on any of the ways I read mefi: my iphone, the work ipad or xoom, my kindle, my mac where I use Safari mostly, or my Windows box where I use IE9 mostly."

Sorry you're too rich for a free add-on, with all them fancy ways to use a 'puter.
SPOILER: Gurl znxr Sversbk sbe znp NAQ Jvaqbjf.

Or, you know, you can just not read rot13'd comments.
posted by Eideteker at 7:28 PM on May 15, 2011


Joking aside, I feel like there's a lot of argument in bad faith here. It's not right to dictate someone else's behavior because it's inconvenient to you, or because you don't want to make an effort. If you don't like ROT13, then don't read it. If you don't like spoilers, don't read them.
posted by Eideteker at 7:33 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not a matter of "If you don't like ROT13, don't read it." We'd rather you not use ROT13 in these threads. We've said that repeatedly. This is not John Kenneth Fisher somehow trying to dictate behavior, this is site policy - as we've repeatedly explained in this thread and the ones we're discussing on the blue.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:38 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eideteker: "If you don't like ROT13, then don't read it. If you don't like spoilers, don't read them."

It should be noted that one of these things is much more difficult than the other.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:42 PM on May 15, 2011


This is not a matter of "If you don't like ROT13, don't read it." We'd rather you not use ROT13 in these threads. We've said that repeatedly. This is not John Kenneth Fisher somehow trying to dictate behavior, this is site policy - as we've repeatedly explained in this thread and the ones we're discussing on the blue.

You appear to be contradicting the earlier statement by cortex above there and the general sentiment that people should use judgement in this rather than ROT 13 being banned or anything.
posted by Artw at 7:44 PM on May 15, 2011


ANd really, if you are going to say thast limited use in some occasions is okay, but the bar is set so low that discussing kety plot pointrs of a show that only aired last night isn't a good time to use it, then there isn't really a good tim to use it ever, and you should just fucking ban it - It;s the same fucking thing. People won't like it and they'll cuss you out for it but it'll save everybody the trouble of trying to read your minds.
posted by Artw at 7:48 PM on May 15, 2011


From cortex's post above:

The distinction between "please don't litter threads with munged text as in these two recent annoying examples" and "no one can ever munge text ever" should be pretty clear

Is it not?
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:49 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would it suprise you to learn that I thought the use of Rot13 that caused John Kenneth Fisher to start telling everyone their business was kind of borderline but largely done for sane and considerate reasons, like it's key plot points of a show tghat, as I say, aired just last night, and so, IMHO, mostly falls into OK usage territory?
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on May 15, 2011


Telling everyone their business? My god you have a chip on your shoulder.

Based on favorites and comments in this and other threads, I disagree that the general sentiment is okay with ROT13. You've said yourself "I'd prefer spoiler tags, however they are not available. Rot13 was simply a convenient alternative to that. Apparently it turns out a big chunk of mefites really, really don't like it so I'll not be using or suggesting that again. "

This isn't me playing gotcha. That was a while ago and you're 100% entitled to bring it up again, and that is not my point. My point is though that even you have acknowledged the numbers are not on your side in this matter. A spoiler tag would be great. I'd vote for it, if we voted. But instead of making arguments for what your side thinks is reasonable, we're just getting ad hominems about 'rich people'*, bizarre accusations of killing threads, and weird dismissals of mod statements as somehow just being "called in" by your opponents.

There is a lot of bad faith argument here, and while I don't claim total innocence (I can be flippant and sarcastic this is true,) the nastiness and hostility is largely one-sided and entirely bizarre.

Can you possibly lay out your point of view without a dig every other line?

(*not artw, I know)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:59 PM on May 15, 2011


Yeah, I would be surprised, because I thought we were pretty explicit about what ok usage was. Again quoting cortex just to make sure I'm not shifting the definitions, since it was a while since I read this whole thread:

That norm is that it's okay to discuss details, spoilery or not, of x in threads about x, and that folks need to be cautious about which threads they dip into if they're trying to avoid being spoiled.

It seemed pretty clear to me that the thread in question was about Doctor Who and therefore spoilery discussions about Doctor Who are pretty much ok. The discussion that started up in ROT13 is pretty much exactly what we're trying to avoid, it picked up a bunch of flags, and Jessamyn stepped in to remind everyone to please not do that.

I know that you don't agree with site policy, Artw, but if you really don't understand it at this point let's hammer out the points of confusion now.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:03 PM on May 15, 2011



That norm is that it's okay to discuss details, spoilery or not, of x in threads about x, and that folks need to be cautious about which threads they dip into if they're trying to avoid being spoiled.


Fair enough, but not actually the subjuect of this discussion, which was users who want to stop other users objetcing to text being munged to obscure spoilers. I am not trying to stop John Kenneth Fisher postuing anything spoilery, that's entirely his own consideration and bringing it into the conversation clouds things, what I am responding to is John Kenneth Fisher trying to stop other people making their own choices about how they post.

I question is quite simple: Are expected to use "good judgement" on this per my conversation with cortex? Or are we expected to just never munge spoiler text? And if the problem is that you think peoples judgement on this is wrong think that peoples idea of when a good time to miunge spoiler text is wrong what are your guidelines regarding that?
posted by Artw at 8:14 PM on May 15, 2011


"Please only use Rot13 for a sentence at a time, and don't have long back and forth conversations in it" would, BTW, be a perfectly sane and reasonable policy that I *think* everyone could get behind and would prevent conversations like this.
posted by Artw at 8:17 PM on May 15, 2011


I wonder if the real problem here is that most of the Doctor Who fans here really, really enjoy discussing Doctor Who with other Whovian Mefites.

When I threw my small fit over seeing a single-link mega-popstar new release post apparently swallowed, the general Metatalk response seemed to be that if enough of the community liked it, then it was OK, even if it might not fit generally discussed guidelines in the past. If Doctor Who doesn't pass this muster while Gaga does, then perhaps the suggestions in that Metatalk thread that I should be on Reddit or my own blog instead of Metafilter were better than I gave them credit for at the time.
posted by weston at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2011


Well, fair enough, he should have taken it straight to MetaTalk instead of posting in the thread. As should everyone else, really.

Why would a one-sentence limit change anything? I'm not sure where you're going with that.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:22 PM on May 15, 2011


Why would a one-sentence limit change anything? I'm not sure where you're going with that.

It would stop the wall of Rot13 effect that everyone seems to object to and encourange people to read around it a little given context.
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on May 15, 2011


Also, stop acting like there was one "no that one was okay!" comment that I replied to. There were at least nine rot13'd comments in that thread by that point that I was replying to, and I'd be willing to bet I could scroll up and find a good couple more.

Well, fair enough, he should have taken it straight to MetaTalk instead of posting in the thread. As should everyone else, really.

Well, yes. I hadn't noticed this one was here and in fairness I went right here and didn't say another word about it there.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:26 PM on May 15, 2011


"Please only use Rot13 for a sentence at a time, and don't have long back and forth conversations in it" would, BTW, be a perfectly sane and reasonable policy

No, it just means you're forcing people who want to follow the thread -- even long after any need for spoiler protection has expired -- off to rot13.com once per sentence rather than once per post.

I consider "good judgement" to be more about where, rather than how much, to use rot13.

As I said in the Doctor Who thread-- and in retrospect should have said here instead, for which I apologize:
The post says "Warning, may contain traces of spoilers". And it's two weeks old and has been actively discussing the last few episodes shortly after each of them aired.

It's entirely reasonable for "some method of dealing with spoilers" to be "don't read the thread until you've watched the episode" here.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know which of the nine you think I was replying to. I might even agree that it was a case that falls within what I would consider acceptable personally. But I wasn't replying to just one, now was I.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:28 PM on May 15, 2011


(I'm over-commenting here and we're all, myself included, not being as civil as we should, so I'm taking a time-out and calling it a night. I still love all of you, even artw ;-)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:33 PM on May 15, 2011


The post says "Warning, may contain traces of spoilers". And it's two weeks old and has been actively discussing the last few episodes shortly after each of them aired.

Yeah, um, I took that as being about the article and discussion of the article, rather than an announcement that the thread is a free fire zone for stuff that subsequently aired.

It's entirely reasonable for "some method of dealing with spoilers" to be "don't read the thread until you've watched the episode" here.

Good on you. Others may have thought the same. Others may have not thought the same, and the guys posting in Rot13 are posting in Rot13 because they are being cautious about that. I'm really rather disturbed by what appears to be a mod based consensus that it's okay to take swings at them for that.
posted by Artw at 8:51 PM on May 15, 2011


It's pretty much ok for people to say "hey you're not following site policy" in MetaTalk. That's pretty much what it's for. As I said above, it should have come straight here, but I think you're reading way more hostility into the situation than is really warranted.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:56 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really rather disturbed by what appears to be a mod based consensus that it's okay to take swings at them for that.

No one is taking swings. We are explaining how we see the evolution of people on the site responding to spoilers and how we-as-mods think that needs to go from a site policy perspective. Threads devolving into ROT-13 is not okay. People using ROT-13 occasionally is okay. We're still working this out, seeing how people on the site feel, seeing how often it comes up. But at the point where people start flagging stuff and emailing us and complaining about ROT-13 stuff, we'll show up and say "Hey remember, we talked about this a little."

Our general feeling as Team Mod on the site is that people who are concerned about spoilers need to be cautious when reading threads about things that are likely to get spoiled. We will pretty much only step in if someone has included an above-the-fold spoiler for a currently happening thing. Other levels of spoiler policies or tagging on the site seem unworkable and problematic for a number of reasons that we have outlined previously. We would like people to be understanding even though this may not be their choice for how they'd like things to go.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 PM on May 15, 2011


Our general feeling as Team Mod on the site is that people who are concerned about spoilers need to be cautious when reading threads about things that are likely to get spoiled.

Yeah, I'd say everyone is in agreement on that - I don't beleive I've seen anyone in this thread say otherwise. The point of contention would seem to be more based on wether we should ASSUME when we make comments that anyone concerned about spoilers will be successfully avoiding the comments.
posted by Artw at 9:29 PM on May 15, 2011


One would avoid the comments by avoiding the thread, surely?

I'd agree that the only way to maintain transparency and clarity with regards to site policy is to make that policy the one that is apparantly most callous. Caveat lector.

It's not so much that I want everything to be spoiled, but that any other position would inevitably lead to in-fighting and vigilantism as to whether a comment is spoilery, or spoilery enough to be need to be posted in sekrit code. Of course if someone does want to use sekrit code, or hide a comment in a roll-over, it's up to them, as long as they take into account that many people won't bother to read their comment, which will become somehow extraneous to the thread. And as long as they take into account that it is in no way incumbent upon anyone else to use those strategies.

I'm not sure that it's the mods' role to police whether such-and-such a comment is borderline spoilery or not, and any requirement to be obfuscatory would inevitably lead to calls for moderation, not so much over blatant plot reveals, but over other things. I don't see that it's necessary to obfuscate the quotation of a line that you find particularly pleasing, but if you want to, then fine. I don't think you could demand other people obfuscate the quotation of lines they find particularly pleasing, and that's what the arguments would be about.

Personally I feel ROT13 comments to be exclusive and cliquey - there's something annoying about something demanding all that extra attention, but often not paying back with extra interestingness - but that's just how I feel and it's my problem. I don't have to read them if I don't want to. I don't think I would post one, under any circumstances.
posted by Grangousier at 4:04 AM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It should be noted that one of these things is much more difficult than the other."

Yeah, that was my (somewhat snide) point. And again, I've said I really don't give a crap about spoilers. But that doesn't mean I try to dictate how people handle them.

Just because I commented in a thread a week after the original episode aired doesn't mean that I am current on the episode that aired just last night. But those comments are still going to show up in my Recent Activity. Why should someone be penalized for not being able to predict the future?

Which is why I say this is kind of a bad faith argument. No one is saying "Don't post spoilers." But yet people are saying "Don't ROT13!" No one's saying "Always ROT13 everything!" and yet others are saying "Always assume everything is spoiled, ever." To the point where you can't read a thread about the movie Aliens for fear that there's going to be an unrelated Predator spoiler. Or Terminator.

I'm not saying no one should ever be spoiled. But if someone wants to be conscientious about not spoiling others, goddamit, babies, you've got to not be a dick to that person. And you know what, if you don't want to decypher ROT13, don't. Just don't do it. You'll live, just as someone who gets spoiled will live.

"I'm over-commenting here and we're all, myself included, not being as civil as we should, so I'm taking a time-out and calling it a night. I still love all of you, even artw ;-" [parentheses elided]

OMG HE RIPPED THE BOTTOM HALF OF HIS OWN FACE OFF!!! WTF!!!
posted by Eideteker at 6:35 AM on May 16, 2011


What's the policy on foreign-language threads/comments? I seem to remember a couple of FPPs that were made in a language other than English, but I don't know if the comments were also non-English. I assume it's the same; if we're discussing something in a foreign language, the discussion of that object/site should be in English (with the exception of the occasional quote).
posted by Eideteker at 6:37 AM on May 16, 2011


Reading these spoiler threads makes me not want to post in the Doctor Who threads ever (or any other threads on the blue that discuss spoilable media and pop culture). I don't use ROT-13 because I find it annoying and shitty to read; I try not to be rude; but someone is eventually going to have a screaming hissy fit like painquale almost had in the thread (they would be piiisssed or whatever) because I didn't meet whatever standard of spoiler-free behavior they think ought to be site policy and isn't.

When I don't want to be spoiled for what happens in Doctor Who, or anything else, one of the things I do is stay away from Metafilter. People have been discussing Who on Metafilter with spoilers after every episode this season, and IIRC did the same thing last year. Spoiler-sensitive people need to stay away or remove the threads from Recent Activity instead of policing the conduct of the rest of the entire site population to a standard that exists only inside their heads.

(And on the subject of ROT-13, no it is not a good compromise. If you came here to talk, say what you have to say. If you don't want to talk, stay the hell out of the thread. At least the Who thread isn't a fucking wall of ROT-13, but it's bad enough. And no spoiler tags either. The problem isn't an engineering problem; it's a social problem of expecting other people to mediate your internet experience. No technical solution can solve it.)
posted by immlass at 6:48 AM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just because I commented in a thread a week after the original episode aired doesn't mean that I am current on the episode that aired just last night. But those comments are still going to show up in my Recent Activity. Why should someone be penalized for not being able to predict the future?

Why, at this late date, would you be surprised to see discussion of the current episode in a thread where people have been, as in many many mefi threads past, discussing the latest developments on the topic of the thread?

No one should be or is being "penalized" beyond possibly learning for the first time that they might need to be cautious about which threads they dip into or which they leave hanging around in their Recent Activity if they're spoiler averse. It's not a punitive campaign, it's at worst a clash of personal expectation and established site culture.

What's the policy on foreign-language threads/comments? I seem to remember a couple of FPPs that were made in a language other than English, but I don't know if the comments were also non-English.

It's rare but not unheard for a post to be made, and discussed, in a language other than English. Bits of discussion break out now and then in other languages as well. The lack of a consensus of fluency in something other English here makes these things fairly uncommon. If someone is not being a dick about it (e.g. lapsing into something other than English specifically to get away with being an asshole or something weird like that), it's not really a problem.

If a handful of people started insisting on having lengthy back-and-forths in random threads in something other than English just because they could, that'd probably get more attention and need talking about. But being conspicuously obfuscatory is a bit different from reverting to a specific natural language relevant to the thread, in those rare cases where that happens.

And by all means, if someone starts a thread about the history of rot13 and obfuscatory text, lapse into that dialect to your heart's content. But let's not conflate rare cases of non-English natural language discussion for its own sake with the idea of intentionally munging arbitrary text in a discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not terribly concerned about spoilers, but it seems many here are. And it seems clear that most of them consider thread-level granularity for spoiler visibility control to be too coarse. I don't think that's an unreasonable position. Comment-level granularity could be implemented straightforwardly by providing a way to mark a comment as a spoiler when posting. Spoiler comments could be visible by default, but a user could specify in his profile whether to show spoiler comments by default, as well as on a per-thread basis. Each individual spoiler comment could have a button to make it visible.

I truly don't see why finer-granularity spoiler visibility control should be a big problem. Therefore, I don't see why the mods are so adamantly opposed to it. Why not just go ahead and implement it? The issue won't go away on its own.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:55 AM on May 16, 2011


I truly don't see why finer-granularity spoiler visibility control should be a big problem.

Because then people will just argue about what belongs in the spoiler tag and excoriate folks who didn't meet their standard for protecting against spoilers.

I came back to add: one of the points of my hate for ROT-13 is that I read on my phone. It's mildly annoying to have to decipher ROT-13 on my laptop, but I can at least install a browser extra to decode in a right-click menu or something. If I'm reading on my phone, I either have to spend a lot of effort to cut-paste-decode repeatedly or just skip a lot of the thread. I know I'm not the only person who reads on the phone, just from the number of mobile ponies requested, so I'm sure I'm not the only person who would encounter this problem (though I may be the only one who cares).
posted by immlass at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I truly don't see why finer-granularity spoiler visibility control should be a big problem. Therefore, I don't see why the mods are so adamantly opposed to it. Why not just go ahead and implement it? The issue won't go away on its own.

Because then the problem becomes "What must go in spoiler tags?" The consensus of the pro-spoiler-tag folks seems to be, "No one will be required to put anything in spoiler tags, browse at your own risk." This is essentially where we already are, so why add another tag? That's my reading of the current situation anyway.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:05 AM on May 16, 2011


I truly don't see why finer-granularity spoiler visibility control should be a big problem. Therefore, I don't see why the mods are so adamantly opposed to it. Why not just go ahead and implement it?

It blows my mind how many times we are travelling through this argument in this thread.

Crabby, please read what cortex and jessamyn are saying, and you will understand why they aren't going to do this, no matter how hassle-free and excellent this idea seems to you. I won't repeat what they've already said really clearly, multiple times.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:16 AM on May 16, 2011


Why not just go ahead and implement it? The issue won't go away on its own.

Because the issue won't "go away" so much as just change shape if we implement a spoiler system, something we have in any case discussed at length in this thread our various reasons for not wanting to do.

I remain sympathetic to folks who wish Metafilter's policy and cultural convention on spoilers was different than it is, but that's pretty much what this comes down to. There are many things about the status quo of Metafilter that not everybody on the site likes. This place cannot be all things to all people.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2011


For the sake of the argument, imagine that a voluntary spoiler visibility control mechanism were in place. So arguments might arise about specific instances of failure to mark perceived spoilers. Would this really be any worse than the occasional complaints about omission of NSFW tags, for example?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:24 AM on May 16, 2011


Would this really be any worse than the occasional complaints about omission of NSFW tags, for example?

I think so. We have a pretty clear description of what NSFW is [in the FAQ] and the default is we ask people to be cool about linking to NSFW stuff but if they miss a NSFW indicator we'll helpfully go in and add it. Occasionally people will argue with us about whether something is or is not NSFW in an effort to get us to add a tag where we feel it doesn't belong and we'll point to the FAQ and explain the intention behind using NSFW at all.

With spoilers, there isn't a clear definition. Some people think you can't spoil a movie or a book that is five twenty or fifty years old and others do. The idea of spoilers is personal--something is spoiled if it's spoiled for you, so some people are more hardline about this and others are less so--and this is a place we do not want to be, having to fuss with people about whether something is or is not a spoiler, whether it needs to be marked as such, whether soandso is an asshole for posting it, how to moderate someone who consistently posts unmarked spoilers, etc.

In short, having a policy on spoilers requires us to have a definition of spoilers and then make moderation decisions based on content as opposed to tone. There is a very short list of "things you can't say on MetaFilter" that is already sort of a hassle to manage but we feel there's a very large benefit to the community to have, say, a hardline stance on racist speech. We don't feel the same thing is true for spoilers. This is not to say we don't sympathize, but not something we're going to take on at a mod/site mechanics level.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:02 AM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Why, at this late date, would you be surprised to see discussion of the current episode in a thread where people have been, as in many many mefi threads past, discussing the latest developments on the topic of the thread?"

Honestly? I didn't remember there was a new episode out. But this doesn't seem like a solution. Am I supposed to remove every old [insert IP here] thread from my Recent Activity every time I comment in it, just in case the discussion revives.

"No one should be or is being "penalized" beyond possibly learning for the first time that they might need to be cautious about which threads they dip into or which they leave hanging around in their Recent Activity if they're spoiler averse."

Excuse me, but I thought the underlying issue here was about being a conscientious user involved in the discussion. Recent Activity is how I follow-up on threads where I've commented. Your basic response is "don't participate in any threads if you don't want to be spoiled"? Because if I'm participating, in good faith, in any kind of discussion in any thread, and I go away, when I come back, I go to Recent Activity to see if there's been a response or if there's anything I need to follow-up on. So if someone asks me a question in a thread I've participated in, I'm supposed to not see that because I'm not allowed to look at my Recent Activity? Really? How does that make me a better/more conscientious MeFite?

"It's rare but not unheard for a post to be made, and discussed, in a language other than English. Bits of discussion break out now and then in other languages as well. The lack of a consensus of fluency in something other English here makes these things fairly uncommon. If someone is not being a dick about it (e.g. lapsing into something other than English specifically to get away with being an asshole or something weird like that), it's not really a problem.

If a handful of people started insisting on having lengthy back-and-forths in random threads in something other than English just because they could, that'd probably get more attention and need talking about. But being conspicuously obfuscatory is a bit different from reverting to a specific natural language relevant to the thread, in those rare cases where that happens.

And by all means, if someone starts a thread about the history of rot13 and obfuscatory text, lapse into that dialect to your heart's content. But let's not conflate rare cases of non-English natural language discussion for its own sake with the idea of intentionally munging arbitrary text in a discussion."


Here's where you're being disingenuous again. You make it sound like people are using ROT13 to be dicks, when it's actually the opposite. And there's no conflation here. If someone speaks French, you wouldn't call them a dick for speaking French. It's their culture, their custom. ROT13 is our culture, our custom. It's how I was raised. It's what I'm used to. I'm sorry if you can't understand it, but we have fallen all over ourselves to provide resources for translating it. You have consistently taken a hard line that you will not put any kind of spoiler tag into effect, so we use what we have.

"Because then people will just argue about what belongs in the spoiler tag and excoriate folks who didn't meet their standard for protecting against spoilers."

Again, disingenuous. No one is arguing for this. Spoiler tags will be opt-in. Most people won't know they're there. Please read the thread before participating in it.

"The consensus of the pro-spoiler-tag folks seems to be, "No one will be required to put anything in spoiler tags, browse at your own risk." This is essentially where we already are, so why add another tag?"

Because those of us who are encoding spoilers with ROT13 are getting raked over hot coals.

"Crabby, please read what cortex and jessamyn are saying, and you will understand why they aren't going to do this, no matter how hassle-free and excellent this idea seems to you."

This is the crux of the problem. No matter how helpful we are, no matter how many suggestions we make, the mods have already decided. They are closed to input. Fingers in the ears, "la la la la" at this point. Which is really disappointing, considering they're usually pretty open and forthcoming. Those in favor of shitting in the open have won, and toilets have been outlawed. Because if one person is allowed to have a toilet, using toilets might become compulsory. Give me a break.
posted by Eideteker at 9:39 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn, you seem to be assuming that providing a mechanism to hide spoilers implies that you must create (or change an existing) spoiler policy. I don't see how that follows.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2011


Excuse me, but I thought the underlying issue here was about being a conscientious user involved in the discussion. Recent Activity is how I follow-up on threads where I've commented. Your basic response is "don't participate in any threads if you don't want to be spoiled"?

My response is "take personal responsibility for managing your participation in threads on topics about which you are significantly spoiler averse". Not don't participate: make decisions about whether and how to participate.

You make it sound like people are using ROT13 to be dicks, when it's actually the opposite.

I don't think anyone (aside from in a couple of implied threats to GET OUR ROT13 ON, THEN, upthread) has been using rot13 to be a dick. What I do think is that people using rot13 in suddenly significantly more volume and then getting a negative reaction to that from users and a request from the mods not to do that are in the position where I'd hope they'd hear that feedback and respect that, however good their intent initially, upping the volume of rot13 on the site is not being generally well received.

At a certain point, "I'm not getting what I want so I'm going to do some more of the thing that other people on the site have clearly reacted badly to" is moving into dick move territory.

This is the crux of the problem. No matter how helpful we are, no matter how many suggestions we make, the mods have already decided.

After how many suggestions are we required to change our minds? Is there some sort of limit here where because a thread goes on long enough we have to abdicate responsibility for how we think the site should work to whoever is insisting otherwise?

Fingers in the ears, "la la la la" at this point.

Oh get off it. Disagreeing with you is not the same thing as refusing to listen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't remember there was a new episode out.

If you care enough about spoilers for new episodes, isn't it your responsibility to know when a new episode is coming out so you don't get spoiled?
posted by immlass at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2011


Jessamyn, you seem to be assuming that providing a mechanism to hide spoilers implies that you must create (or change an existing) spoiler policy.

Anything that we stick our mod hands in needs a policy behind it even if the policy is "Mods will use their best judgment on when to apply this policy" We've restated what our existing spoiler policy is, such as it is, several times in this and other spoiler threads. Since the site has a small mod team and a lot of community oversight, everything we do as mods is open for debate with the community. So if we create a site mechanism for hiding spoilers, that is very specifically and affirmatively opening the door for a lot of questions

- When should this be used?
- Why should this be used?
- What if someone is using this for a joke?
- What if someone is using this to be a jerk?
- What if someone isn't using this and I think they should?
- What is a spoiler? Why do we have this tag?

I know that many people view the site through their own lens of how people should act and how a mechanism like this should function, but at the end of it we feel that implementing something like this actually won't solve the problem with the userbase that we actually have. That is to say a userbase where some people feel strongly that spoilers should be hidden and other people feel strongly that obfuscating text in a thread messes things up. People do not even agree on the problem, much less a remedy to that problem.

So, thinking forward, if usage of a spoiler tag mechanism is entirely voluntary [i.e. absolutely no mod oversight into its use on the site, which wouldn't happen anyhow] there is really and truly no way to make sure people reading a Dr Who thread won't accidentally get spoiled. We're certainly not willing to proactively hide spoilers--we're really loathe to edit comments in the first place--and so we sort of remain where we already are except with a more complicated calculus of how we got there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2011


"My response is "take personal responsibility for managing your participation in threads on topics about which you are significantly spoiler averse". Not don't participate: make decisions about whether and how to participate."

But your response above was that if I participate in a thread that may or may not have spoilers, I should avoid Recent Activity. In general. Which is ridiculous. Or otherwise remove any possible spoiler-y thread from my Recent Activity.

"After how many suggestions are we required to change our minds? Is there some sort of limit here where because a thread goes on long enough we have to abdicate responsibility for how we think the site should work to whoever is insisting otherwise?"

Not what I'm saying. You're not required to change your minds. But it would be nice to know you're listening, not just rehashing the same statements over and over again that show you're missing the point. But I apologize if my tone came off as more derisive than eyerolling. I realize that's not helping. But we're still dealing with an enforced inequality here. See my above comment:
Which is why I say this is kind of a bad faith argument. No one is saying "Don't post spoilers." But yet people are saying "Don't ROT13!" No one's saying "Always ROT13 everything!" and yet others are saying "Always assume everything is spoiled, ever."

Some of us are trying to live and let live, and some of us are trying to prescribe someone else's behavior. For all your (collective you for this MeTa, not you specifically, cortex) bluster about ROT13/Spoiler-tag people "excoriating" other for improper spoiler etiquette, it's rather surprisingly not the ROT13/Spoiler-tag people who are trying to tell others what they can and can't do.
posted by Eideteker at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2011


"If you care enough about spoilers for new episodes, isn't it your responsibility to know when a new episode is coming out so you don't get spoiled?"

Sorry if that wasn't clear, lass. I've said repeatedly I don't personally care about spoilers. I may or may not have been spoiled by Recent Activity; frankly, I don't care. But I can see how someone MIGHT care. I'm arguing for the defense; I'm not a defendant personally.

"there is really and truly no way to make sure people reading a Dr Who thread won't accidentally get spoiled."

This is true, and I understand where you're coming from, but this is what I'm saying about having the same arguments over and over. The idea is to give those who want to be respectful of others a way to do so. A spoiler tag is one way to do this. ROT13 is another.

Because, let's face it, if you grow up used to using a toilet, you're probably going to keep wanting to use a toilet even if you're somewhere where everyone else is shitting in the woods. To you, it's proper etiquette and hygiene. I can bite my tongue about other people just popping a squat randomly on the sidewalk, but I'm going to keep using the porcelain convenience. If one is not provided, I will bring my own. Not willfully, stubbornly, or dickishly. No one is forcing you [the reader, not the mods] to clean the toilet. You may see it, but you don't have to look in it. But it's not going to go away. Even if the people who are using ROT13 now were to stop completely, you're always going to have an influx of new users (as I said above) who will be expecting ROT13 and who will do it according to their custom. If we provide a spoiler tag, they'll know what to do.

Again, I understand that you're looking at this from the "what's the benefit to the mods/site?" perspective. But as I've said time and again, I think if we establish that our site culture allows spoilers (which we've basically already established), the threat of coercion dissipates. Because for every one person saying, "Hey, use spoiler tags, n00b" you'll have five others saying, "Hey, man, we don't force people to use spoiler tags here. But OP, here's info on spoiler tags if you are interested." It's a kinder, gentler MetaFilter.
posted by Eideteker at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2011


For all your (collective you for this MeTa, not you specifically, cortex) bluster about ROT13/Spoiler-tag people "excoriating" other for improper spoiler etiquette, it's rather surprisingly not the ROT13/Spoiler-tag people who are trying to tell others what they can and can't do.

You are comparing posting spoilers to shitting in public. Let's assume that there are significant numbers of people who feel strongly about the subject. That would mean there is significant antipathy towards spoilers, towards the people who post them, and towards the people who don't consider them a problem.

Do you think this antipathy towards spoilers is likely to disappear with the addition of a spoiler tag?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:44 AM on May 16, 2011


But your response above was that if I participate in a thread that may or may not have spoilers, I should avoid Recent Activity. In general. Which is ridiculous. Or otherwise remove any possible spoiler-y thread from my Recent Activity.

On specific subjects about which a person feels very strongly about not being spoiled, yes, that's pretty much their sole resort. Because mefi is a place where it's okay to have spoilery discussions.

If a specific person is concerned about any spoilers on any topic ever, I have a hard time seeing them having a good time on Metafilter. Because it's a place where it's okay to have spoilery discussions.

Any new "this is totally optional, not enforced, and no one has to use it and hence many people won't" spoiler system leaves you in precisely the same position. If we do not require people to hide all spoilers, spoilers will still exist and be just as problematic for those folks who want not to be spoiled. It is a non-solution to this aspect of the problem.

Some of us are trying to live and let live, and some of us are trying to prescribe someone else's behavior.

Making the site incrementally more of a chore to read is not "letting live", is the problem with that formulation. However good the intention, a regime that introduces more friction to the basic reading experience is absolutely intruding on other people's metafilter experience.

I am understanding, to the point of being blue in the face, of the fact that different folks have different sense of priority on this as far as whether notionally somewhat reducing the volume of spoilers is more or less important than being able to read a thread without having to do extra work to get at the full text of the discussion. That's okay, this is a place rife with disagreements.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the critical disconnect here, Eideteker, is that some people feel like spoilers are the shit on the sidewalk and some people feel the ROT13 is. That's not a disagreement that's going to be easy to resolve.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the mod response to requests like this (and an edit window for comments), completely baffle me. It's like you guys have never seen the rest of the internet, sometimes. Plenty of message boards have spoiler tags, and I can't think of any instances I've seen where it's caused an iota of drama or confusion. Same goes for another oft-requested feature, the ability to edit comments.

If the maladjusted sociopaths at reddit can handle spoiler tags, I'm sure that we can.
posted by empath at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fingers in the ears, "la la la la" at this point.

Oh get off it. Disagreeing with you is not the same thing as refusing to listen.


You're really, really not listening.

You either can't understand what people are saying, or you'd prefer to just bury your head in the sands, becasue if you were listening you wouldn't be endlessly repeating the "people can just stay out of threads, and everything is fine!" without

You are not disagreeing, you are refusing to listen. I'd actually prefer it if yopu straight up disagreed, but that is not what you are doing with your ote dismissals - you are refusing to listen.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2011


OK, Jessamyn, let me take a crack at those questions (slightly reordered):

- What is a spoiler? Why do we have this tag?

A spoiler is information about the content of a story that, if revealed to a person who has not read/viewed/heard the story, would likely substantially diminish their enjoyment of the story.

The spoiler designator exists to allow users to identify such spoiler information in their comments so that it is not displayed to users who have specified that they do not wish to see it.

- When should this be used?

When commenting on a story, one should consider whether one's comment includes spoilers and, if so, use the spoiler designator.

- Why should this be used?

As a courtesy to one's fellow mefites.

- What if someone is using this for a joke?

It is to be hoped that the novelty will wear off.

- What if someone is using this to be a jerk?

It is to be hoped that the novelty will wear off.

- What if someone isn't using this and I think they should?

You have no recourse beyond asking the person to use the spoiler designator in future. Its use is entirely voluntary.

That is to say a userbase where some people feel strongly that spoilers should be hidden and other people feel strongly that obfuscating text in a thread messes things up.

The latter should:
—refrain from turning on "spoiler hiding" in their profiles, so that no text is ever obfuscated for them
—use the spoiler designator in their own spoiler-containing comments as a courtesy to the former

So, thinking forward, if usage of a spoiler tag mechanism is entirely voluntary [i.e. absolutely no mod oversight into its use on the site, which wouldn't happen anyhow] there is really and truly no way to make sure people reading a Dr Who thread won't accidentally get spoiled.

This is a straw man. Nobody has called for absolutely perfect spoiler control.

We're certainly not willing to proactively hide spoilers--we're really loathe to edit comments in the first place--and so we sort of remain where we already are except with a more complicated calculus of how we got there.

If you implemented the mechanism I proposed, then spoiler visibility control requires simply toggling a switch on a comment, which is not, technically, editing the comment. So on the, presumably rare, occasions that you want to change the spoiler status of a comment, it would require only the click of a button to do so.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because mefi is a place where it's okay to have spoilery discussions.

So, cortex, it's considered very rude in real life, but it's just fine on MetaFilter. Umm ... why?

Any new "this is totally optional, not enforced, and no one has to use it and hence many people won't" spoiler system leaves you in precisely the same position.

Well, not precisely the same position. I'd like to think that most people, indeed, nearly all people, would be courteous. If I'm correct, then we'd be left in a considerably better position.

If we do not require people to hide all spoilers, spoilers will still exist and be just as problematic for those folks who want not to be spoiled. It is a non-solution to this aspect of the problem.

It's not a perfect solution. But there's no perfection this side of the grave. I think you've heard the old saw about the best being the enemy of the good.

[...] whether notionally somewhat reducing the volume of spoilers is more or less important than being able to read a thread without having to do extra work to get at the full text of the discussion.

The spoiler visibility control mechanisms being proposed require no extra work to get at the full text of the discussion. The default would be "spoiler-hiding off", so a user would have to do "extra work" in order for any text to be hidden for him.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:30 AM on May 16, 2011


"On specific subjects about which a person feels very strongly about not being spoiled, yes, that's pretty much their sole resort. Because mefi is a place where it's okay to have spoilery discussions.

If a specific person is concerned about any spoilers on any topic ever, I have a hard time seeing them having a good time on Metafilter. Because it's a place where it's okay to have spoilery discussions."


The thing is, though, that as others have said in this thread, it's totally possible for a spoiler to drop randomly in an unrelated thread. Is a spoiler tag going to stop that? No. Might it help? Probably. But that's not the central issue. The reason I even brought that up in the first place was to show how asymmetrical the mod response is here.

'Any new "this is totally optional, not enforced, and no one has to use it and hence many people won't" spoiler system leaves you in precisely the same position. If we do not require people to hide all spoilers, spoilers will still exist and be just as problematic for those folks who want not to be spoiled. It is a non-solution to this aspect of the problem.'

Nah, man. Nah. Spoilers will not be JUST as problematic. They will be, in fact, less problematic. Because the people having the problem with spoilers will have less of a problem AND the people having problems with ROT13 will have virtually NO problem anymore. This is so win-win it's ridiculous.

"Making the site incrementally more of a chore to read is not "letting live", is the problem with that formulation. However good the intention, a regime that introduces more friction to the basic reading experience is absolutely intruding on other people's metafilter experience."

This is why we're asking for an optional spoiler tag, so we can stop offending the ROT13-haters. That's what this discussion is about. It's not about eradicating all spoilers, and it's not about ROT13. That's why we keep saying it sounds like you're not listening; this is the core argument and yet we keep talking around it.

"I think the critical disconnect[ion] here, Eideteker, is that some people feel like spoilers are the shit on the sidewalk and some people feel the ROT13 is. That's not a disagreement that's going to be easy to resolve."

Again, we're not actually talking about ROT13. We're talking about how to implement a spoiler obfuscation system that pleases the greatest number of users. Because, as I said above, obfuscators gonna obfuscate. Give us ROT13-ity, or give us... something else.
posted by Eideteker at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, cortex, it's considered very rude in real life, but it's just fine on MetaFilter. Umm ... why?

I don't agree that spoiler-y discussions are rude in real life. It depends on whether people have seen what you're talking about yet, and whether you could be expected to know that, and whether they have sufficient notice that you're going to be talking about spoilers. I also think after a certain amount of time (maybe 24 hours after a TV show airs, or a week after a movie is released), I don't think it's reasonable at all to expect people to not talk about spoilers in the thread.

That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with people using spoiler tags as a courtesy, and I don't foresee many problems from adding the option.
posted by empath at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2011


So, cortex, it's considered very rude in real life, but it's just fine on MetaFilter. Umm ... why?

It's considered very rude in some contexts in real life, totally fine in other contexts, and middling/dicey in still other contexts.

It's considered fine on mefi because that's been the cultural convention on the site for over a decade. This is a place where people discussing spoilery stuff in threads is alright.

The spoiler visibility control mechanisms being proposed require no extra work to get at the full text of the discussion. The default would be "spoiler-hiding off", so a user would have to do "extra work" in order for any text to be hidden for him.

It would also be a lot of work to achieve very little. I agree that it's as close to a friction-free implementation of the idea of a spoiler tag as has come up, and said as much two weeks ago in this thread when we talked about it before.

But it's also creating a bunch of implementation and maintenance work on the tech side, and introducing new user education and community management work on the moderation side, in service of what would be by design a feature most people would never be aware existed. It's not something we're seeing as being worth the payoff. For folks who think that sucks, I sympathize.

This is why we're asking for an optional spoiler tag, so we can stop offending the ROT13-haters. That's what this discussion is about. It's not about eradicating all spoilers, and it's not about ROT13. That's why we keep saying it sounds like you're not listening; this is the core argument and yet we keep talking around it.

rot13 has historically been very little used on the site. Any "rot13 hater" offended by that traditional rare one-off use to the point of losing their shit about it needs to deal with that on their own, because we're not making policy about that sort of thing.

The people who overtly reacted to the great big pile of rot13 recently are having a pretty normal reaction consistent with being a regular reader on mefi and not seeing that sort of thing normally happen. We agree with that reaction: it's not the normal thing here, and we don't want that specifically to keep happening. That's what this thread was started in response to.

You can "stop offending the rot13 haters" by not using a bunch of rot13 on a regular basis. As a very occasional now-and-then thing in those odd circumstances where you want to be cautious about a conspicuously out of place spoiler, do what you will. It will probably annoy someone and please someone else and in the mean time not be a big deal if it's just here and there and not something happening in significantly greater volume than usual. There is no additional solution required to deal with that situation; it's how things have always been.

I understand that the discussion in here has not been only about rot13. I've talked to, and listened to folks talk about, all kinds of stuff related to spoilers—why they're in favor of a spoiler tag, why they're against a spoiler tag, how a tag might work, how to deal with opt-out vs. opt-in, in what ways it could be manageable client-side, what the implementation details would be for the tag, whether it should be handled as a pseudo-HTML tag or as some alternative markup or as a per-comment toggle, whether introducing a spoiler system would cause people to hide spoilers more, whether it would create pressure to hide spoilers, whether it should create that pressure or expectation, whether and how any formal policy would accompany that, what user education issues would come with implementing such a system, etc. It's a great big topic. It has many angles. Different people care about different angles.

I am tired of doing my damnedest to address my/our take on this stuff point by point as it comes up and then being told that I am not listening because in one comment or another I fail to address whichever part of that great sprawling topic any given person most wanted me to be addressing, or because I have not said "yes" to a proposal that I guess I'd have no choice but to say yes to if only I was paying attention.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


In a way, it's a rehash of the old "optional threading" discussion. You can't make optional features that substantially change the way people interact with the site. If Metafilter implemented a spoiler tag, people would get mad at each other for not using the spoiler tag, or not using it when they think it should be used. Thus, it's not really an optional feature.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2011


[...] people would get mad at each other for not using the spoiler tag [...]

So what? People get mad all the time. Why are you all so scared that somebody's going to get mad? You know, some people are mad that there's no spoiler visibility control mechanism on MetaFilter. You don't seem too concerned about that.

Thus, it's not really an optional feature.

It's a feature. And it's optional. Therefore it's an optional feature. (Or it would be, if it existed.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:52 PM on May 16, 2011


It's considered very rude in some contexts in real life, totally fine in other contexts, and middling/dicey in still other contexts.

I've seen a number of people who had just had a story they were looking forward to reading spoiled for them. In no case did tears of gratitude figure into their reactions.

It would also be a lot of work to achieve very little.

A little work to achieve quite a bit, actually.

But it's also creating a bunch of implementation and maintenance work on the tech side, and introducing new user education and community management work on the moderation side, in service of what would be by design a feature most people would never be aware existed.

I'm a programmer. Not a web programmer, admittedly. But you can't tell me that the mechanism I outlined above is all that difficult to implement. There's already a lot of AJAX stuff on this site.

And the notion that it would be "by design a feature most people would never be aware existed" is ludicrous. Everyone would be aware it existed. If someone didn't like it, they could refrain from enabling it, but even in that case spoiler comments would still be marked somehow (just not hidden).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2011


I guess I'm confused, too, at the amount of push-back the idea of an optional tag is receiving. Surely, a simple bit of javascript/css trickery could quickly implement something that hides spoilers if tagged, and reveals on-click? It need not incorporate site-wide or thread-specific options.

All many of us are asking is for a polite way of hiding spoilers for 'current things' that doesn't require anyone to go outside the site to encode/decode to participate (should they choose to do so).

cortex: I am tired of doing my damnedest to address my/our take on this stuff point by point as it comes up and then being told that I am not listening because in one comment or another I fail to address whichever part of that great sprawling topic any given person most wanted me to be addressing, or because I have not said "yes" to a proposal that I guess I'd have no choice but to say yes to if only I was paying attention.

I appreciate the time you're taking to respond to these comments.
From my point of view, I can somewhat understand where some of the confusion is coming from; I suspect it's largely from the mod team's usual largess -- a lot of ponies for seemingly-minor site tweaks are granted out-of-hand, quickly and cheerfully (or at least, that's the impression I get as a somewhat-regular MeTa lurker). That this one is being denied seems out-of-character, as people aren't used to hearing "no" ;)

posted by coriolisdave at 4:05 PM on May 16, 2011


Crabby Appleton: " It's a feature. And it's optional. Therefore it's an optional feature. (Or it would be, if it existed.)"

I'm not sure how else to say this. It wouldn't be an optional feature, because if I want to talk about the ending of Lost in a thread and I choose not to use the tag, there's no way that you could hide it. And so we're talking about a substantial change to the way that everyone uses the site.

You know what I like way more than a spoiler tag? Just being careful. If you look back at the Portal 2 thread, a lot of the non-ROT13-ed comments manage to talk about key points without spoiling anything. That's how Metafilter works at its best; it's also how real life works at its best.

I suspect that a spoiler tag would lead to folks losing a lot of that care*. So yeah, this would be a change for everyone.

*A suspicion confirmed by spending some time on the IMDB forums, for example, or Ain't It Cool.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2011


LOL! Some people really need to learn when to take 'no' for an answer.
posted by unSane at 4:28 PM on May 16, 2011


unSane: LOL! Some people really need to learn when to take 'no' for an answer.

Perhaps this will work better: AB.
posted by gman at 4:32 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely, a simple bit of javascript/css trickery could quickly implement something that hides spoilers if tagged, and reveals on-click? It need not incorporate site-wide or thread-specific options.

A big part of what makes MetaFilter so wonderful are the strict limits it imposes on our conversations. No avatars, no sigs, no images, no attachments. There are essentially only four ways of altering your text (bold, italics, small, and strikethrough), and only two of those ways are granted the imprimatur of a button at the comment entry field. To say that it is a "simple bit of trickery" to add an entirely new way of styling the text that is the totality of the MetaFilter experience seems ludicrous to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you look back at the Portal 2 thread, a lot of the non-ROT13-ed comments manage to talk about key points without spoiling anything.

But they didn't even need to do that, surely? The Portal 2 thread had a spoiler warning in its title; was there ever any reasonable expectation that it would be a spoiler-free zone?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:54 PM on May 16, 2011


For what little it's worth, I am fine with spoiler tags in general and in principle, but I agree very much with the idea that they are not right for Metafilter, and, in some handwavy sense, implementing them would do violence to some foundational principles of the site, including the one mentioned by Rock Steady.

Which are big words for such a small thing, I know. But still.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rock Steady: To say that it is a "simple bit of trickery" to add an entirely new way of styling the text that is the totality of the MetaFilter experience seems ludicrous to me.
Why? Noone is suggesting recoding the site in its entirety (at least, I hope they're not!).
What I'm thinking you'd see would be like this1:
Scripting enabled:
[ click to see unlikely spoiler ]

No scripting enabled:
[spoiler]


Cortex is a great hunk of manly man
[/spoiler]
At the end of the day (for me, at least) it boils down to simple courtesy. Some of us wish to be respectful of both the people who wish to avoid spoilers, AND the people who hate ROT13 and want it to die in a fire. I'm really having difficulty imagining how this will violate the foundational principals of the site (whatever those might be).

1: Too dumb to figure out how to do actual angled brackets, square ones used instead.

posted by coriolisdave at 6:25 PM on May 16, 2011


Anyone who hates ROT13 deserves no respect whatsoever.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:42 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


NONE, MOTHERFUCKERS. NONE.
posted by gman at 6:52 PM on May 16, 2011


I hate rot13.

And this is NOT BETTER. Now you want me to go to rot13.com seven times to read your comment? It'd better bloody well be worth it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:58 PM on May 16, 2011


LONDON MELON IS PRINCESS WINDPIPE RAMPANT FEVER WE SOON OF OF BEHIND GUARDED EVIL SHYLOCK THE WITH ON WASP NEST EXPECT I GENERAL TURTLE BY THUNDER SIGNED PLATE WINDOW LEFT THE FIELD TO AM PEACH CREEK MILES
posted by unSane at 6:59 PM on May 16, 2011


Why? Noone is suggesting recoding the site in its entirety (at least, I hope they're not!)

I'm not talking about coding. I'm talking about the community and the foundational principles of MetaFilter, as stav said. I think roll truck roll is really on to something when he suggested that the "traditional" way to avoid dropping massive spoilers on MetaFilter was to choose your words carefully, and have some consideration for your fellow MeFites, both in what you write and what you read.

I do understand the desire for a spoiler tag, and I appreciate the elegance and simplicity of the implementations that have been suggested. I just do not think we should make such a major conceptual change to the way we communicate on the site.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:03 PM on May 16, 2011


I'm talking about the community and the foundational principles of MetaFilter, as stav said.
So am I. Or at least, I think I am. I ask again - what are these 'foundational principals'? I would've thought "don't be a dick" was fairly high up there. The solution as suggested above would not increase the amount of dickishness, but could well assist others to decrease their penile quotient significantly.

Anything that makes the site more welcoming should be encouraged, surely?
posted by coriolisdave at 7:12 PM on May 16, 2011


OK, I just read through the comments on that Dr. Who thread since the episode aired. And wow, what a nice thread until someone came along and made a big stink about ROT13. Folks were using it or not using as they liked, coexisting side-by-side with no one twisting anyone's arm either way. Which is why it's kinda hard not to feel like this is the mods caving to whoever is complaining loudest. Because plenty of people are capable of being sensible about this (empath and coriolisdave made some great comments here) no matter which side of the issue they sit on. There's a real push for a decent spoiler tag here, which contradicts the whole "no one wants this" or "lot of work for little reward" line of rhetoric you keep pushing. I mean, a problem exists. Here's a solution. Saying "there's not a problem" isn't a solution. It's not just going to go away.
posted by Eideteker at 7:19 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And this is NOT BETTER. Now you want me to go to rot13.com seven times to read your comment? It'd better bloody well be worth it."

Or you could just hang on til I've posted the pastebin. You're welcome!

(I'm dying to know, though... was it worth it? I mean, I doubt that it was; I'm hardly a Who scholar.)
posted by Eideteker at 7:23 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is why it's kinda hard not to feel like this is the mods caving to whoever is complaining loudest.

They are doing basically the opposite of this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:28 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a crappy solution since, as I posted (several miles) upthread, markup is supposed to be semantic. This is why you see [em][/em] not [i][/i]. There is no [spoiler] tag in HTML so you have to use some other markup which may or may not render correctly in $BROWSER (eg some scripting thing which will undoubtedly break somewhere and be a headache). It's not a simple textual rendering like bold, or italic. It's basically a kludge.

Can't believe I allowed myself to be dragged into this.
posted by unSane at 7:33 PM on May 16, 2011


I'm talking about the community and the foundational principles of MetaFilter, as stav said. I think roll truck roll is really on to something when he suggested that the "traditional" way to avoid dropping massive spoilers on MetaFilter was to choose your words carefully, and have some consideration for your fellow MeFites, both in what you write and what you read.

Me, I'm for all of those things where appropriate, but I should point out that the core argument against using ROT13 and/or spoiler tags ("people can just avoid threads with spoilers in so there is no way they should be ") is also a core argument against choosing words carefully, having consideration forother users or avoiding dropping massive spoilers in threads, and in fact many people here have argued that they are all okay also.

(Of course, when someone pointed out that they *had* actually managed to get a face full of spoilers the reaction was to mock them, which rather suggests that everyone understands that it's a bullshit argument but chooses to stick with it anyway out of convenience)
posted by Artw at 7:40 PM on May 16, 2011


Okay -- everyone, take a look at what Eideteker did here.

See how he posted some rot13 in a comment -- but then in his next comment, he posted a single link to the plaintext version, so no one had to copy-and-transfer=and-paste to read what he'd said, all we had to do was click one link and that was it?

I vote everyone who wants to do rot13 do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 PM on May 16, 2011


Or you could just hang on til I've posted the pastebin. You're welcome!

God, thank you so much for that. I saw your comment and saw how you slipped into rot-13 MID SENTENCE and just about had to stuff my fist in my mouth to stop from screaming. I understand that you guys who use it are just trying to be nice and think we're just being a bunch of jerkfaces for not liking it but I can't get past my instinctive feeling that it's jarring and frustrating to read to the middle of the sentence and have it suddenly turn into gibberish. So really, thank you for doing that. Only way to improve on the implementation would be to include your link in the original comment.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:54 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, a problem exists. Here's a solution.

I (and others) would argue that a tag is not the right solution for MetaFilter.

I should point out that the core argument against using ROT13 and/or spoiler tags ("people can just avoid threads with spoilers in so there is no way they should be ") is also a core argument against choosing words carefully, having consideration forother users or avoiding dropping massive spoilers in threads

I don't think those things are mutually exclusive. Even if there were to be some sort of tag implemented, it has been made clear that people would still have to be careful about what threads they read (as no one appears to be suggesting any kind of enforced tagging) and people would still be asked to refrain from dropping massive spoilers in unexpected places. I understand the benefit of a spoiler tag, I do. I just don't think that benefit is worth such a drastic change (in my estimation) to the MeFi experience.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 PM on May 16, 2011


Eideteker gets a gold star for implementing ROT13 in a way that's usable on a phone.

the core argument against using ROT13 and/or spoiler tags ("people can just avoid threads with spoilers in so there is no way they should be ") is also a core argument against choosing words carefully

It's more like understanding that every person defines spoilers differently, so that one person's carefully chosen words are another person's face full of spoilers. The only way to be sure you won't be spoiled, for whatever your definition of being spoiled is, is to stay out of the discussion. If spoilers are really like public defecation, I don't know why you'd want to be in shitty threads anyway.

People can argue about how to implement spoiler management all you like, but unless and until the mods can get an agreement about what is actually a spoiler (how major of a plot point does it take to make a spoiler? how minor of a detail is it before it's not a spoiler?), the technical solution will solve nothing. That's where I'm seeing a lot of fingers stuck in ears.

(If I didn't assume everyone in this discussion was operating in good faith, I'd just figure it was a backdoor attempt to bring in a strict spoiler policy without mod agreement and that the push to implement spoiler tags was a prelude to hauling offenders into MeTa and eventually running them off the site if they refused to conform. I don't think that's the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if the effect of spoiler tags were increased callouts and resulting flameouts, and as a result of those reduced participation in potentially spoilery threads.)
posted by immlass at 8:01 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm dying to know, though... was it worth it?

Favorited twice, so yes. And thanks so much for the pastebin link, now I can go back and read it again.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:26 PM on May 16, 2011


[...] unless and until the mods can get an agreement about what is actually a spoiler (how major of a plot point does it take to make a spoiler? how minor of a detail is it before it's not a spoiler?), the technical solution will solve nothing.

This is the same ridiculous assertion that cortex made and I refuted above. If people have fingers in their ears, perhaps it's because they keep hearing the same old tired BS, over and over again.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:27 PM on May 16, 2011


Wow, you really are living up to your handle, Crabby!

I have been around here quite a while, and I don't remember another thread in which so much bad faith was projected onto the mods (lalala, ignoring us, willfully misrepresenting, making "ridiculous assertions", etc.) with them being so bloody patient! Re-explaining, point by point, with great frequency...

You are lucky that my mod control panel isn't working right now, because there would be a bunch of timeouts for the nastiness in here.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:16 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't really see how you've refuted anything about people having different definitions of spoiler. When does something cross the threshold of becoming a spoiler - if it's in the "next week" teaser? Which semi-regular characters make an appearance? Speculation about something that might happen in future episodes/volumes? What if it's speculating about a future event but based on an episode that's only aired in the UK, while the rest of the world waits for the geotarding to be lifted?

Disagreements over the dividing line between spoiler and non-spoiler will still arise, even if everyone involved is doing their best to act in good faith. Expectations of threads being spoiler-free will still rise, even if there is no guarantee of it actually happening here, because it's the norm in other sites that use spoiler tags and that sort of thing is catching.

Generally, MeFi policy is based on either mod fiat or a few hundred people arguing it out in MeTa. A community consensus on the line of spoilerage is harder to acheive when you've got such a wide range of possible media (tv, movies, music, books, graphic novels, interactive sites) being unevenly distributed over the globe while we can all talk at once on this site. So the mods have made a decision and not everyone is happy with it, but it's the best we're going to manage without setting a weird precedent for future changes to the site.
posted by harriet vane at 12:23 AM on May 17, 2011


If I had the time I'd start a forum with two main forums, one spoiler-free and one spoiler-wild, and invite all the MeFites over. People could start on one side then pick up the conversation again on the other side after they'd done watching/reading/listening. Threads would never close, because you never know when someone might come across something new-to-them and want to add their two cents to the ongoing discussion. People could read about stuff to see if it's their cup of tea without having the details given away. People spoilering on the non-spoiler side would be flogged then hellbanned.
posted by harriet vane at 12:26 AM on May 17, 2011


imlass: unless and until the mods can get an agreement about what is actually a spoiler...the technical solution will solve nothing. That's where I'm seeing a lot of fingers stuck in ears.

Stuck in ears indeed. I agree that we're unlikely to ever reach an agreement on what makes a spoiler, but there is more than one problem being discussed, and the technical solution would solve one of them -- it would solve the unreadable-thread problem caused by ROT13 use.

There need not be a policy change for this to occur, it would make threads less annoying for all concerned, and may entice non-dicks to be more careful with potentially spoilery comments (or may not, but I can dream).
posted by coriolisdave at 12:54 AM on May 17, 2011


Wow, you really are living up to your handle, Crabby!

Wow, that's original! Never heard that one before.

I have been around here quite a while, and I don't remember another thread in which so much bad faith was projected onto the mods (lalala, ignoring us, willfully misrepresenting, making "ridiculous assertions", etc.) with them being so bloody patient! Re-explaining, point by point, with great frequency...

That's really the point. They "re-explain" without addressing the arguments made.

You are lucky that my mod control panel isn't working right now, because there would be a bunch of timeouts for the nastiness in here.

I feel lucky.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:52 AM on May 17, 2011


I don't really see how you've refuted anything about people having different definitions of spoiler.

No, I did better. I refuted the notion that it matters.

Let's imagine that 20% of spoiler instances involve weird edge cases—a massive over-estimate. So 80% of spoilers are straightforwardly, unremarkably hidden from people who don't want to see them. That's a big net win.

All the other esoterica you go on about doesn't really matter either, in my opinion. There are always disagreements on the site about something or other. There's no reason to think this would be any worse.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:05 AM on May 17, 2011


refute is the first person singular of rebut
posted by unSane at 6:13 AM on May 17, 2011


No, I did better. I refuted the notion that it matters.

No, you attempted to refute the notion that it matters. But failed, because it does matter.

What is safer: a power saw with no guard, or a power saw with a guard that is prone to failure? I say a saw with no guard - because it forces the user to be very very careful with it, rather than allowing a user to rely on something that is will fail.

In the case of spoilers any technological solution will fail because spoilers are not definable. This has been tortuously detailed here already. So, you get all het up and nasty because the mods are reluctant to implement something that will complicate a blessedly simple interface, that most users won't use, and that won't even really help those that will? Come on.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:32 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is safer: a power saw with no guard, or a power saw with a guard that is prone to failure?

OK, Meatbomb, am I allowed to call this analogy "ridiculous", or are only the mods' utterances sacred?

In the case of spoilers any technological solution will fail because spoilers are not definable.

I see the light! All must bow before the ineffable, indefinable spoiler. Back in the thirteenth century, Duns Scotus wrote a treatise on spoilers that ran to fourteen volumes and barely scratched the surface. How could I have ever thought ...? How could I have ever imagined ...? Oh, the folly!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:57 AM on May 17, 2011


Well now you're just being silly! I guess that's better than being crabby, so way to go, good on you.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:59 AM on May 17, 2011


Well, actually I'm mocking silliness, but whatever.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:09 AM on May 17, 2011


Let's imagine that 20% of spoiler instances involve weird edge cases—a massive over-estimate.

Now I think you're just trolling at this point. You really believe that MeFites will agree at an 80-90% rate on the spoilerness of a given comment? I bet we don't even get 80% consensus on "Is the sky blue?"
posted by Rock Steady at 7:18 AM on May 17, 2011


Guys, Crabby is just being Crabby. (As opposed to crabby.) It was ever thus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 AM on May 17, 2011


And the Empress is being Callipygian, which is probably the only pleasant thing to contemplate in this thread.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2011


I think we should use the <blink> tag for spoilers. Then people who don't want to read spoilers just synchronize their blinking to avoid seeing the text. No hated ROT-13, no dependence on external sites like rot13.com/pastebin, doesn't require adding anything to the codebase for a spoiler mechanism, and the people who don't care about hiding spoilers can simply blink normally.

Spoiler: It's the perfect solution!
posted by 6550 at 12:25 AM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or they can just use Chrome, which doesn't support blink.
posted by SpiffyRob at 4:53 AM on May 18, 2011


Am I the only person who spent a non-zero amount of time actually trying to blink in sync with that tag to see if it could be done?








Well, shit.
posted by phearlez at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2011


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