Let's talk about spoilers, again. March 14, 2018 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Last night there was a Last Jedi post in the frontpage with spoilers above the fold. The post got deleted due to self linking but the fact remains that many comments inside were dismissive of the spoilers even though the digital download was out just yesterday. What should be the guidelines for this kind of thing? Are general spoilers above the fold OK after three months after the release? Should all spoilers go below the fold?
posted by Memo to Etiquette/Policy at 7:13 AM (78 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Here's the deleted post if people want to see. (Note: obviously, spoilers)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’m pretty spoiler phobic, so generally I’d say no on recent days works, on the other hand if it’s cryptic enough that people aren’t going to know what the heck you’re talking about without seeing the movie that seems pretty forgivable too, which most of that is.

Really glad I went into that movie without spoilers on key plot points, FWIW.
posted by Artw at 7:20 AM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Are general spoilers above the fold OK after three months after the release? Should all spoilers go below the fold?

My vote, if we're voting, is NOT REALLY and YES. It's easy to put a spoiler below the fold. It's considerate. Obviously if someone doesn't do this it's not banning territory but there's no compelling reason not to try to be mindful of bigtime spoilers (note: I have not seen this movie, I do not know if those spoilers are bigtime or not) and mods are usually decent about being willing to move a spoiler below the fold if people object.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:24 AM on March 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


Mefi's general policy is: no spoilers above the fold, but spoilers below the fold are fine as long as the above part gives people fair warning on the post subject. This is especially true for recentish media stuff where a lot of people will have been interested -- which I think this is -- and especially for big-deal spoilers -- which I think this isn't.

The spoilers in that post didn't strike me as egregious, they're pretty general. The first sentence is the one that I'm guessing struck people as a problem and (having seen the movie) it doesn't really spoil anything IMO. But yeah, if the spoilers had been more actually spoiley, more likely the post would've been pulled so we could get in touch with the poster about an edit.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:27 AM on March 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I feel like generally spoilers should go beneath the fold, but it also feels like there's been significant creep in the concept of spoilers. Nothing in that post appears to be a spoiler, unless we're expanding the definition of spoilers to encompass virtually anything that happens in the plot of a movie.
posted by protocoach at 7:34 AM on March 14, 2018 [22 favorites]


The thing is, without having seen the movie, I have no idea if those are big spoilers or not (mainly talking about the first one, the Luke one is iffy but maaaybe inferable from the trailers) but now I know that character screws up everything for everyone. Is that important? I don't know, but if a fact is not included in the marketing for the movies maybe don't include it?
posted by Memo at 7:48 AM on March 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I wouldn’t call any of that a spoiler. Without seeing the film or reading the books that came out alongside the movie in December, how would you even know who (that character with a plan) was anyway? A quick Wiki check shows that they are brand new to the world.
posted by kimberussell at 7:48 AM on March 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I stared at that for several minutes trying to figure out what constituted a spoiler and I'm still not entirely sure.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


It's easy to put a spoiler below the fold.

That, basically. There's limited room above the fold anyway, and "go to town" room below the fold. So spoilers, and might-be-spoilers there, with your spoiler-free point (with a warning of spoilers-ahoy) above the fold.
posted by Wordshore at 8:07 AM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am definitely in favour of courtesy and I think courtesy more or less demands that spoilers be below the fold. It sounds like it's not too hard to do.

However, just to share my thoughts as per the post title, I personally feel like people who want absolute assurance that their experience of narrative will be as pristine as the driven snow are pushing a fairly intense load of emotional labour on a community, if the criteria is that any mention of anything not in the trailers will ruin their experience.

My personal reaction is that yeah, vague and general comments about a blockbuster movie 3 months after release that don't do a major reveal may engender transient feelings that someone's experience is getting impinged upon, but I'm not sure that has to be the highest goal.

This is probably not fair and I will still be mindful if I ever brave a FPP.

It's not a hill I want to die on but I feel like sometimes people like me who are spoiler moderates, or whatever, don't participate in these discussions and so everything moves towards the extreme end of things. I was thinking well, what's the benefit of a few minor details above the fold? And for me, that's what draws me in and makes me think about whether I want to engage. I appreciate a sense of what the discussion is specifically about. That may not be worth the Risk of Spoilage but those are my thoughts anyway.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:42 AM on March 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


The post got deleted due to self linking

Such an odd way to go out after 12 years of being a MeFite in good standing. The lure of the Dark Side must indeed be formidable.

posted by Atom Eyes at 8:50 AM on March 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


I would say/vote save the spoilers for below the fold and call out in this above the fold that there are spoilers below.

However I wouldn't call any of what was in that post a spoiler.
posted by French Fry at 9:23 AM on March 14, 2018


I saw the movie and I feel the first sentence is absolutely a spoiler because, though it may not mean anything to you before you see the movie, there is a point where the meaning will become clear in the middle of the movie. I prefer to have those realizations myself, you know, so I can feel sufficiently smug about reading all the foreshadowing correctly.
posted by soelo at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2018


MetaFilter: so I can feel sufficiently smug
posted by Fizz at 9:45 AM on March 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


The first sentence and the one about Luke are both spoilers in any fairly moderate consideration I'd think without having seen the movie as they both give me some clear, though vague in detail, indication of how things will play out and what to expect at some point where perhaps I shouldn't have expectations.

I'm not spoiler concerned myself, but for a movie this recent that hasn't made its way to many "first watch" streaming and rental viewers, those who don't or didn't go to the theaters to see the movie, I think there is some reasonable cause for added caution, especially for a movie so likely to be watched by people on this site.

At the same time, I think the spoiler issue more generally is haphazardly applied and followed and recent conversations about it on Metatalk weren't really addressed sufficiently by the mods maybe because they concerned Fanfare more than the blue? There is a strong tendency for people to assume other members have all watched the same things especially when it comes to science fiction, fantasy, and franchise fare.

Most members are generally considerate about how they approach the conversations from what I can infer, but reading about one superhero movie is likely going to reveal information about others, for example and conversations about any media product that has some mild connection to another is likely to bring mention of that other product at some point. That's natural, but it is still a spoiler that isn't necessarily welcome to people who haven't followed the same media consumption patterns.

Some better guidelines on this might be helpful given how much more prevalent those kinds of posts and media products are, both on the Blue and on Fanfare.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2018


In general I don't support spoiler protection of any kind. It seems like a personal issue that is best left up to sensitive folks to manage themselves rather than a collective burden we are all responsible for.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:44 AM on March 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


As someone who's seen the film, my first inclination is to say that none of those things seems to spoil what actually happens. I do genuinely believe that the person posting, even if they broke the rules, was making a good-faith effort to write that in a non-spoiler way, or they would have been a lot more specific. But I'm somebody who's seen it and is trying to tie those words to specific events--rather than trying to tie those words to a general feeling of knowing versus not-knowing, accurate or otherwise, what to expect from the movie? I think that at least in this case, this is less of a "reckless inclusion of spoilers above the fold" problem so much as a "person thinks they're being careful but they aren't" problem. I do definitely think that now is too soon for actual Last Jedi plot details without a little warning, but even if I disagree, I can see how someone didn't think this counted as details.
posted by Sequence at 10:56 AM on March 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


In general I don't support spoiler protection of any kind. It seems like a personal issue that is best left up to sensitive folks to manage themselves rather than a collective burden we are all responsible for.

That seems pretty antisocial. I'm personally not at all offended by profane language, but when I find myself in a public space, I can somehow manage to keep my filthy sailor talk in check without crumbling under the weight of free speech suppression. I just think of it as part of the basic politeness of living in a society.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:06 AM on March 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


I prefer that sites have official cutoffs on spoiler protection. I've had posts deleted on MeFi for spoilers about the Red freaking Wedding. Like. The Red Wedding happened in the book 18 years ago and on the show five years ago, but I still need to be quiet about the Red Wedding on MeFi apparently.
posted by xyzzy at 11:20 AM on March 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


it's basic politeness really. And as with most matters of politeness it;s less a matter of hard and fast rules and more a matter of being considerate and taking reasonable measures to accommodate others. Doesn't mean that being polite isn't a real thing.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on March 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


But I'm somebody who's seen it and is trying to tie those words to specific events--rather than trying to tie those words to a general feeling of knowing versus not-knowing, accurate or otherwise, what to expect from the movie?

That is one of the difficulties about spoilers. The tendency to think of them as being only about some very specific plot point kinda misses out a bit on why I think they bother people. If you read even a general hint of some outcome, you are primed to both look for it and expect it during your viewing, which is both a distraction and can lead to knowing how things will play out before the film fully clues you into that. The Luke sentence in the deleted post may as well have "in the end" attached as that's what it seems to imply and that suggestion means, even without knowing the specifics, a spoiler concerned person will be waiting for that whatever it is to be revealed, coloring their expectations about Luke's part in the movie.

Again though I'm not one of those people myself and tend more to believe the site should focus on encouraging good discussion more than excess concern over spoilers, but that attitude isn't shared by all so some better guidelines would be welcome, or we can just keep dealing with it in a as we go manner since most of the time that isn't causing complaints even when it reasonably could.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:24 AM on March 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


The existing guidance on spoiler expectations:

On Mefi and AskMe:
-Posts -
No spoilers above-the-fold; spoilers below the fold are ok (as long as the above-the-fold gives some kind of heads up what the thread's about - e.g. a link to "here's a review of The Last Jedi" is fair warning, the poster doesn't need to explicitly say "spoilers within".)

-Comments -
Spoilers in comments are mostly fine (in a thread like "here's a review of The Last Jedi", one knows not to click unless one is ok with spoilers), with some exceptions -- e.g. if the thread begins with a bunch of people being like "oh I can't wait to read this book! so excited!", it would be dickish to drop in with a huge spoiler (we had someone do this with a big Harry Potter spoiler once, it was just pure meanness to mess with people).


On Fanfare - whole different story, more restrictive about spoilers
-Posts-
No spoilers above the fold, spoilers below the fold are ok (for the specific episode not for future stuff of course -- and probably it's nice to show some restraint if there's some really huge thing, just out of an abundance of caution).

-Comments -
For TV shows especially, base assumption is a given thread discusses one episode and can include series content up-to that point, but nothing after/outside of the episode. So, e.g., we ask people not to even discuss the "next week on ___" promos that run after the show, because enough people want to avoid those that it's sometimes been an issue. There are designations for threads where people want to include book (books-included threads) or rest-of-series content (whole season threads, rewatch threads). These norms got off to a slightly weird start because the test case was Game of Thrones where people are more spoiler-sensitive than in other cases, but so far mostly people are pretty good about sticking to this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:48 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've had posts deleted on MeFi for spoilers about the Red freaking Wedding. Like. The Red Wedding happened in the book 18 years ago and on the show five years ago, but I still need to be quiet about the Red Wedding on MeFi apparently.

I had a request to amend a post as it had a spoiler about an Olympics result from the previous day. I thought that sports was simply news and as such fair game. I was happy to amend as it would protect someone else's enjoyment, but... good luck avoiding the Olympics.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:54 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


It seems like a personal issue that is best left up to sensitive folks to manage themselves rather than a collective burden we are all responsible for.

Sure saves having to think about other people which is EXHAUSTING.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


It actually is kind of exhausting and when I am spending energy on thinking about other people I’d so much rather spend it on thinking on things more significant than whether my somewhat ambiguous comment about a three month old movie is something they’re going to view as a spoiler. There is a lot of being-considerate-of-others labor that I believe belongs solely with me and is important to take on, but worrying about marginal pop culture spoiler concerns is not part of that group.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:49 PM on March 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


GoblinHoney: "In general I don't support spoiler protection of any kind. It seems like a personal issue that is best left up to sensitive folks to manage themselves rather than a collective burden we are all responsible for."

What do you envision that self management looking like? Just not reading the front page?
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


If you read even a general hint of some outcome, you are primed to both look for it and expect it during your viewing, which is both a distraction and can lead to knowing how things will play out before the film fully clues you into that.

See, this is what I was talking about with spoiler creep. It's a Star Wars movie. And it's the ninth Star Wars movie. Arguing that general hints of any outcome constitute spoilers means that literally the whole conversation about the film, including the name of the movie itself, and any conversation about the broader universe of the movies and books, would constitute a spoiler. Saying "there's a climactic battle" about a Star Wars movie can't be a spoiler, because there is a climactic battle in virtually every Star Wars movie. Similarly, "[CHARACTER NAME] makes a mistake that endangers their goals" or [CHARACTER NAME] has a defining heroic moment" are sentences that could be applied to multiple characters in every single installment. How can it be a spoiler if it's a trope in the series? (And a trope in, like, every kind of media ever?)

"Darth Vader is Luke's father" would have been a legitimate below-the-fold spoiler for The Empire Strikes Back. "What does Luke's discovery mean for Return of the Jedi?" would have been perfectly acceptable above the fold. As for an actual time frame, I think 1-2 month(s) post-streaming service release is a fair window for spoilers above the fold, but I recognize that some people disagree on that, and I would like to see some recognition of a timeframe in the guidelines here, because according to the rules-as-written, an above-the-fold paragraph containing "Darth Vader is Luke's father" would be against the rules.
posted by protocoach at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


I've had posts deleted on MeFi for spoilers about the Red freaking Wedding. Like. The Red Wedding happened in the book 18 years ago and on the show five years ago, but I still need to be quiet about the Red Wedding on MeFi apparently.

Look, I'll get back to the series eventually, ok? Like, any day now probably.
posted by ODiV at 2:12 PM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Look, I'll get back to the series eventually, ok? Like, any day now probably.

That reminds me; I still haven't seen Titanic. As it's been a long, damp, cold and miserably winter, and the politics are worse, am hoping for a positive/upbeat ending. Not too much to ask; no spoilers, please.
posted by Wordshore at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I also haven't seen Titanic. I'm still mad at it for playing in our little three-screen theatre for eleven weeks.
posted by ODiV at 2:37 PM on March 14, 2018


As a general thing, spoiler etiquette is always a matter of local culture and compromise since there's no one obviously and universally correct way to approach it in a mixed group who don't all share the same preferences and media habits. LM has done a good job of characterizing our expectations for the blue and for FanFare, which are the two main places this comes up, and those are approaches that allow for pretty reasonable expectations about spoilers without making it impossible to post about or discuss media. And we've settled on those expectations because they're manageable and enforceable. They aren't perfect but they make things reasonably workable.

Elsewhere on the site, or when in doubt, the easiest and most polite thing to do is err on the side of caution, because folks can always collectively agree to dig in to details more inside a thread but we can't collectively agree to forget having seen something on the front page. Doesn't need to be an issue of whether an aversion to spoilers is correct or justified or what have you; a value-neutral approach to just being cautious ends up being functionally considerate, and being considerate is basically always a win.

I prefer that sites have official cutoffs on spoiler protection. I've had posts deleted on MeFi for spoilers about the Red freaking Wedding. Like. The Red Wedding happened in the book 18 years ago and on the show five years ago, but I still need to be quiet about the Red Wedding on MeFi apparently.

To be clear, you had a comment deleted in Ask in a question where the discussion wasn't of the plot of the book/episode and the spoiler was unnecessary to illustrate your point. Not a huge deal either way but randomly throwing a spoiler into a thread that is absolutely not a media discussion is generally a good thing to avoid and your point could have been made perfectly well without it, and that doesn't have much of anything to do with the question of spoiler etiquette on the front page of MetaFilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:07 PM on March 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I really appreciate it when people make it clear that I should avoid a thread or something if I don't want to find out about plot points. It's considerate. It's kind of hard to un-read something, so it's nice to know what to avoid.

People act like if you haven't seen a movie within a month of its release, you can't complain about spoilers, which is just weird. Not everyone is on the same schedule.

It is an extremely small burden to be asked not to post major plot stuff above the fold. This site isn't just you and your friends, it's general company, and that means occasionally having to take an extra small step on behalf of everyone else.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:48 PM on March 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


The reason there's no hard and fast rule about spoilers is that it's impossible to define what a spoiler is. No one agrees. I've seen people call even basic information about media, like the names of the characters, spoilers. It's also a very weird bit of social convention that this idea about information being a spoiler only applies to media like books, film, and TV. Titanic is a perfect example. It's a fictionalized account of a real historical incident. People joke about it being a spoiler that it sinks but might legitimately get upset if you tell them Jack dies or that Rose has the jewel the whole time. What's the difference? Is it a spoiler if I tell you that they don't successfully kill Hitler in Valkyrie? And if results from a thing that happened in the real world, like the Olympics, is a spoiler, then what *isn't* a spoiler? Is the day's news a spoiler? If I post the results of an election in a politics thread should I put a spoiler warning on it?
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:00 PM on March 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm not super convinced that those are genuine questions you have.
posted by ODiV at 7:57 PM on March 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Super disengenous arguments and pretend edge cases are pretty much the norm for these discussions. That’s why I personally just go for “try your best to be polite and considerate” over something a rules lawyering asshole is going to come at with a bunch of dumb edge cases.
posted by Artw at 8:03 PM on March 14, 2018 [11 favorites]

Not a huge deal either way but randomly throwing a spoiler into a thread that is absolutely not a media discussion is generally a good thing to avoid and your point could have been made perfectly well without it
That's why I prefer specific guidelines. I mean, people make cultural references all the time when communicating. I could respond to a MeFi post six months from now and make a casual aside that Luke is, in fact, [spoiler], and it's impossible to know if my entire post will be deleted because I could have made my point without that secret information about Luke. Obviously I'm using a hyperbolic example, but if I mentioned anything sooner you might delete it and try to shame me publically with it without actually addressing the question of why the hell there aren't specific guidelines.

It's been real, MeFi.
posted by xyzzy at 8:14 PM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wordshore: "That reminds me; I still haven't seen Titanic. As it's been a long, damp, cold and miserably winter, and the politics are worse, am hoping for a positive/upbeat ending. Not too much to ask; no spoilers, please."

My sisters were of the age when Titanic came out to see the movie a dozen times and swoon over the protagonists. However one of their friends was devastated on first viewing because she didn't know a) the story was placed in an historical event and b) didn't know the ship sank. Can you imagine going into that movie blind? It would have been a completely different viewing experience.
posted by Mitheral at 11:04 PM on March 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Of course the entire movie is told in flashback from a ship floating above the wreck of the Titanic, which might give the game away a little.
posted by Artw at 11:19 PM on March 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


See, this is what I was talking about with spoiler creep. It's a Star Wars movie. And it's the ninth Star Wars movie. Arguing that general hints of any outcome constitute spoilers means that literally the whole conversation about the film, including the name of the movie itself, and any conversation about the broader universe of the movies and books, would constitute a spoiler.

Indeed, that's the problem in both directions. On the one side there is the basic fact that "spoilers", by their very nature, are intended as inhibitors of conversation under the belief that maintaining consideration for potential future viewers around plot development is more important than open response. Managing how that works to please both those who don't want information about the thing they may yet see and those who want to discuss it is the area of difficulty in setting guidelines. The post title/above the fold issue seems pretty clear, no info that is at all revealing for any work of moderately recent vintage. Beyond that though things become murky.

The day after the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones, people on Facebook posted things like OMG The Red Wedding!!. It took about 12 seconds of consideration to put together, the general methods of Game of Thrones, the OMG, and the title "Red Wedding" to figure out what the deal was with the episode. The title alone would have been a clue, but the added emphasis in the kinds of response made that possible clue a virtual certainty in how the episode would play out and who would be affected. Is that a spoiler? In effect, definitely, by any rule, probably not.

Saying the Luke instance shouldn't be a spoiler because its Star Wars kinda shows the other side of the problem, where the assumptions about what one should have seen, what is fair game due to "general knowledge", and what should be off limits is measured by what the person doing the measuring thinks is important and reasonable for the abstract greater community. Spoilers around pop culture matter most to people, but the events that most "need" spoilers are also the things people want to talk about the most and will hold as references in other conversations not directly related to the show.

No matter what one assumes as general knowledge or expected viewing, there will be plenty of people who don't fit that assumption. We can treat spoilers as if that wasn't the case and rely on this sort of vague notion of when things become fair game, or we can make better guidelines. I'm not sure which is better, but I know that the site isn't really that consistent about how it approaches the subject right now, for good or ill. For example, a thread about one Marvel movie is not unlikely to contain spoilers for comic book films. That's how conversations work, and that's great, but it's also spoilers for people who don't track down every comic book movie as soon as they come out.

My preference is to let the conversations range where they will in the discussions and not worry much about spoilers since the connections made often improve the conversation, but that isn't a shared preference when specific instances strike someone the wrong way, so I'm not sure how to proceed in the discussions other than to let each thread itself determine it in its own way, where some have spoilers but no one seems to care and others are tight lipped. That works in an only a problem after someone complains sort of sense, but seems less than ideal.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:41 PM on March 14, 2018


On the one side there is the basic fact that "spoilers", by their very nature, are intended as inhibitors of conversation under the belief that maintaining consideration for potential future viewers around plot development is more important than open response. Managing how that works to please both those who don't want information about the thing they may yet see and those who want to discuss it is the area of difficulty in setting guidelines.

It's actually not complicated at all. No consideration below the fold. All the consideration above. You can expound on what The Red Wedding means in excruciating detail after the fold, but if "OMG the red wedding" might give something away, don't even put that above the fold. Go with something like "latest game of thrones episode discussion" or "an article analysing the latest GoT episode" or whatever.
posted by Dysk at 4:34 AM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


(And yeah, that means missing out on threads on related media you haven't watched, as well as threads about the specific thing in question. C'est la vie.)
posted by Dysk at 4:36 AM on March 15, 2018


It's been real, MeFi.

This is the spoilers thread. Venting is one thread down.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:50 AM on March 15, 2018


We can treat spoilers as if that wasn't the case and rely on this sort of vague notion of when things become fair game, or we can make better guidelines.

It's possible I'm unclear on what "better guidelines" means here, vs. what LM laid out up thread as the fairly specific guidelines we have for posts and conversation on the blue and on FanFare in particular, which is 99%+ of where it ever comes up on the site.

Those guidelines reduced as much as possible are basically this:

1. Avoid spoilers above the fold, everywhere on the site. Err on the side of caution.
2. Spoilers about a thing are fine inside the thread, if it's clear from the post that that's the topic. The post's framing is the implicit spoiler warning.
3. If it's a FanFare episodic/series discussion, avoid discussing future episodic stuff unless otherwise specified.

That covers almost everything. The rest is details we tackle case-by-case when they come up. The case-by-case stuff is itself generally not a big deal; the occasional comment will get deleted, we'll see some flags or get a contact form message, we'll leave a gentle steering note if needed, end of. That's the way it works for every other rule and guidelines on the site too, because we can be explicit as we want about the details of "should" but folks will still do what they actually do sometimes at odds with that and we'll have to go deal with it after the fact.

It's also possible that we just plain disagree about what constitutes sufficient guidelines, which I respect that's where some folks are gonna be on it—like I said above, there's no fundamentally correct or obvious one solution to the spoilers issue, different places will handle it differently—but having hashed this out a bunch of times over the years it's doubtful to me that we're going to stumble at this late date on to some new compromise that will be more workable for MetaFilter specifically than what we have now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:46 AM on March 15, 2018


I'm all for putting spoilers below the fold! But given the deleted post as an example, I really wouldn't have classified 4/5 of those as spoilers at all and even the other one is debatable.

So I'm just still a little unclear as to what would constitute a below-the-fold level spoiler except, well, erring on the side of caution might mean avoiding any mention of anything pertaining to the movie at all? And I understand that there can't be a bright line here but I'd still like to aim for posts on the Blue to be able to be descriptive of content above the fold.
posted by lydhre at 8:37 AM on March 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would have never complained if the post was

"Does Star Wars really hate men now? Is The Last Jedi a good movie or an abomination that killed Star Wars? Audimated Thought tackles these and other common fanboy complaints in a pair of extremely geeky videos. For nerds only. Part I: Part II"

I don't feel the context about what the links are about is lost and I'd have just ignored it.
posted by Memo at 8:52 AM on March 15, 2018


But given the deleted post as an example, I really wouldn't have classified 4/5 of those as spoilers at all and even the other one is debatable.

The specific post in question feels like it's occupying the odd muddy edge case territory, is my take, basically. They're gonna happen; I don't think we can get away from the odd edge case without getting either draconian ("no discussion of any thematic or narrative or character content above the fold, ever") or unreasonably overspecified ("here is a list of two dozen specific okay/not-okay dichotomies to establish what definitively is and is not a spoiler"). I don't think either solution would be good, and I don't think the latter would even work if we tried.

That's what I mean when I say I am doubtful we can find better guidelines on this for MetaFilter. It's very much a broad-scope, holistic statement, not one about this specific post in question, because I don't think we can effectively talk about spoiler policy on MeFi in general by narrowing down to a specific edge-case. It may very well be possible to outline an altered spoiler policy that would make this edge case instead an unambiguous yes/no sort of thing, but that policy would need to turn around and apply well to the general case without overly complicating things, and that's the bit that seems unworkable.

This is not something for which I think there is a slam dunk solution. This is stuff we've talked about repeatedly for years, and landed at the guidelines we have now in the process.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was spoiled on Vader being Luke's father a couple of weeks after the premiere of Empire, just before I saw it (in the theater). I'm still mad about it!
posted by puddledork at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2018


It's been real, MeFi.

I can't think of a dumber conflict to cause a buttoning.
posted by Jpfed at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


LM has done a good job of characterizing our expectations for the blue and for FanFare, which are the two main places this comes up, and those are approaches that allow for pretty reasonable expectations about spoilers without making it impossible to post about or discuss media. And we've settled on those expectations because they're manageable and enforceable. They aren't perfect but they make things reasonably workable.

It's pretty clear about how to handle spoilers, but in the discussion here, there seems to be little disagreement regarding these points. On the other hand, there's significant disagreement regarding what constitutes a spoiler, and information about how to handle spoilers doesn't address that issue at all.
posted by layceepee at 12:19 PM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Again, I think getting to a firm and detailed consensus on What Constitutes Spoilers is going to be difficult. Broad strokes we can generally agree on; as much as folks have a spectrum of personal spoiler tolerance that ranges from "if it's not the major plot twist, whatever" on down to "implications about narrative threads will color my viewing experience in ways I don't like", nobody's really unclear that talking about the plot twists themselves is generally considered spoilery, for example.

I think we can both acknowledge that people will have interpretational differences about the grey area stuff (which we'll have to navigate now and then) and mostly leave it at, hey, avoid obvious spoilers for sure and when in doubt try to err on the side of caution. That catches almost all of the issues up front. Maybe once a month the mod team fields an email about a post or a comment that someone think nonetheless goes awry of good spoiler etiquette, and we take a look and generally it's a quick fix. That's very much a tolerable volume in my eyes.

Beyond that, I don't know. If someone is sitting on what they consider a concise and clear rubric for more thoroughly and unambiguously characterizing spoilers, bring it out here and we can talk about it. I feel like in these discussions we end up hearing calls for such a thing but not seeing the actual thing presented, and I'm not saying that to sass but to put the point on it that while I can totally understand and empathize with an aspiration toward such specification, actually putting it down on paper in a practical, generalized form is hard.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:30 PM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


It seems like things more or less went as they should in this case. People mostly avoid putting spoilers above the fold, someone misjudged what other people would consider spoilers, people flagged it, and the post was removed for unrelated reasons anyway. I get why there's a MeTa thread about this, because not everyone agreed that they were spoilers, but even that seems pretty reasonable.

This thread got a little fighty, because it wouldn't be a MeTa thread if it didn't, but it really doesn't seem like things are going all that badly from my perspective -- speaking as someone who really hates spoilers and likes to know as little as possible about something before going in. People are generally pretty considerate, and when they aren't, we can be like "hey, no spoilers!" and that takes care of most of those cases.

If there's anything I'd like to see made more explicit, it's not about what does or does not constitute a spoiler. I'd rather just join the other people suggesting that we could all err on the side of caution, even if it seems dumb. From where I stand, it makes the most sense to be as conservative as possible about this, because your audience can't un-read something. Mention as few plot points as possible above the fold. More can go in the rest of the post, or in the comments, but the part above the fold is what everyone sees.

I saw the post in question, having not seen the Last Jedi, and I was like "gee, that's a spoiler," but it's not like I was about to scream and tear into someone. It seems like the internet makes every little hiccup seem like a huge, intractible problem that needs to be endlessly hashed out. Honestly, I'm OK with the occasional hiccup, and I'm OK knowing it'll probably happen again, as long as people are generally on board with making an effort to be more considerate than they might think is necessary. It doesn't go unappreciated.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:21 PM on March 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


And when I say "as few plot points as possible," I mean yeah, it's probably safer to mention very little beyond stuff that's, like, on the poster. "Ripley's back!" (she's on the poster) vs. "Ripley was the Alien Queen all along!" (maybe the point of the movie was to surprise you with that fact).

The funny thing is that I haven't seen the Titanic, and I thought I knew the major spoilers already (because they're so big in pop culture references), but someone actually mentioned one I'd never heard of (what jewel?). Like, I'm not going to say you can never ever mention a plot point even 20 years after something came out, but also, you can never assume that everyone is going to be on the same page, even 20 years after something came out.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:32 PM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I stared at that for several minutes trying to figure out what constituted a spoiler and I'm still not entirely sure.

I thought it was the first sentence of the post that was what was objected to
posted by thelonius at 7:12 PM on March 15, 2018


But it's so simple

The probability P of a given fact F being a spoiler for a given work W can be assumed to be equal to the mathematical product of the time since release Tsr of the work; the cultural significance Cs of the work, the relative fame Fr of the work, the plot significance Ps of fact F to work W, the degree So to which W has been previously spoiled in other coverage, the degree Sf to which F has been previously spoiled in other coverage, the distance D from the "fold" to the spoiler itself, and the inverse of the font size Font and color contrast ratio Cr in which the spoiling occurs.

P = 1/Tsr * Cs * Fr * Ps * So * Sf * D * 1/(Font + Cr)

So just work the numbers guys no problem
posted by ook at 6:04 AM on March 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


shit, i double-checked the math and he's right
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:44 AM on March 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


People are waaaaaay too precious about spoilers these days. If not being "spoiled" is that important to you then it is YOUR responsibility to watch/read something in a timely manner. IMO "timely" is roughly one week for TV episodes and movies and one month for books.

If you can't make time to watch something in a week or read something in a month then it obviously isn't a high priority for you and thus I suspect pitching a fit about spoilers is more about getting off on policing others' conversations or stirring up drama than it is about any actual harm you suffered.

Making references to events in literature, film, or TV is and has always been part of normal conversation. Demanding that the whole world revolve around you and your personal fiction consumption schedule is far more inconsiderate than someone openly talking about something that came out months or years ago.

Outrage, deletion, nastiness, etc. is an appropriate response to comments that contain slurs or other *-isms, not to casual references to events in fictional universes. IT'S JUST A STORY. There are literally millions of other stories out there for you to consume if this one is now slightly less entertaining because you have foreknowledge of a small part of it.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:12 AM on March 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


IMO "timely" is roughly one week for TV episodes and movies and one month for books.

Okay, so since the subject of this MeTa is coming out on Blu-ray on March 27th, then no problem, right?
posted by ODiV at 9:34 AM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Side note, I do think it's interesting when there is a wide gap between release dates depending on region. Often people who think spoilers should be a free-for-all after release are very quick to point out that of course this should be the US release.

(Not here, that I've seen, just in other conversations I've been a part of online.)
posted by ODiV at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Jesus, nobody is saying that any spoiler ever is terrible. Just like, not above the fold, and ideally in threads where it's reasonable to expect them. That is people taking responsibility for their reading.
posted by Dysk at 9:53 AM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I mean, unless you're suggesting that anyone who has anything they don't want the enemy spoiled for just stop reading anything at all, it's pretty reasonable to keep spoilers to where they're reasonable to expect.
posted by Dysk at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2018


Okay, so since the subject of this MeTa is coming out on Blu-ray on March 27th, then no problem, right?

The Last Jedi came out over 3 months ago. If you can't be bothered to see it in theaters then you're policing people mentioning spoilers just to be petty about something that isn't actually important to you.

Jesus, nobody is saying that any spoiler ever is terrible.

Are you new here? I received nastygrams over MERELY FAVORITING COMMENTS in Game of Thrones threads because some people believed that they could deduce spoilers looking at which comments I favorited vs which ones I didn't. (Nope: I am a promiscuous favoriter who just clicks + on anything I find amusing or clever.)

There are MULTIPLE PEOPLE on this site who are so petty about policing spoilers that they systematically go through clicking the "X favorites" link on every comment in a thread just looking for someone to complain about.

it's pretty reasonable to keep spoilers to where they're reasonable to expect.

It's reasonable to expect spoilers on any form of social media. When I miss the premier of something and I don't want to be spoiled, I simply don't go online until I'm caught up. Visiting Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, MetaFilter, etc. is not a mandatory part of daily life.

I wonder how the super-spoiler-averse people cope with leaving their houses? Do you take the sense of entitlement you've cultivated online out into the real world with you? If you overhear people discussing a movie at a grocery store or restaurant, do you go up to them and scream at them about spoilers?
posted by Jacqueline at 10:47 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I received nastygrams over MERELY FAVORITING COMMENTS in Game of Thrones threads because

I think it's not gonna be helpful for this or other general site discussions of spoilers to essentially respond to what's currently a pretty mild and chill conversation with overt grumpiness about people's preciousness based on a weird bad past interaction you had, is my main take. I am delighted not to be currently wading through a clusterfuck of hurt feelings from GoT arguments from several years ago and I would very much like to keep it that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:57 AM on March 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Okay, yeah. I feel like we're talking about completely different things then, so no issue. I'm talking about (and I thought we were all talking about) how the mods were moderating spoilerish stuff above the fold in posts, plus a few other things as they've discussed.

I'm not talking about scouring people's favourites, sending nastygrams, screaming at someone at the grocery store, or anything else like that.

I do think seeing a film in theatres isn't an option that's as widely available as you might think, but I'm not going to kick up too much of a fuss about spoilers in any case.
posted by ODiV at 10:58 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you can't be bothered to see it in theaters then you're
Please don't start that. Your theater going experience and options are not everyone's experience and options. I go to the theater 10-15 times per year, but I don't assume people who don't are somehow less interested in movies.
posted by soelo at 11:09 AM on March 16, 2018 [15 favorites]


My discussion is kind of talk-about-site-culture mild level. I really like the "we all try not to spoil things above the fold, people also try to chill if something doesn't quite meet that goal" standard as expressed above. I don't have any complaints about moderation and I liked how this post wasn't kicked off by that.

I do worry a bit about media-related posts on the Blue in consequence since the overall link-summary culture on the Blue in particular is very spoiler-driven about Why Should You Click and sharing the central thesis of articles, and so the arts-type discussions may be a bit less easy to feel engaged with. But as a reader I can just be sure I read those FPPs closely. (I think the capacity to hide spoilers in FanFare descriptions is great for that environment.)

I still do feel a bit like sometimes people who are striving to keep their entire narrative experience pristine have very loud voices, because it is something that they care about.

And for me, it does feel a little tense, like can I contrast TLJ to the treatment of Bruce Wayne in Justice League or whatever or is that going to ruin people's DC universe experience. (I have not done this anywhere.)

I also think the growing spoiler culture is part of a shift where people want THE BEST roasted/brewed/cold-whatever coffee each time they have it (I no longer offer my friends coffee from my ghetto drip pot with my grocery-store beans) and THE BEST avocado toast (okay maybe not?) and THE BEST viewing experience. I do remember The Empire Strikes Best plot reveal issue, which was en-told to me on the playground weeks before I got to see it with my frugal-minded parents at the local rep theatre, but I don't remember it being like...a cultural faux pas that this information was around.

And I think part of that is because our disposable incomes in the middle class are shrinking while we're also being inundated with social media bliss, and so there's a tension where we want to feel like our lives are carefully curated and our time/money well spent. At least this is the explanation I've come up with to explain why it's not just major plot twists that are spoilers now but any interference with the experience of the narrative.

Anyways my plea is please don't let perfection be the enemy of the good in terms of the site continuing to have great discussion about stuff I like. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 11:11 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


My point in bringing up the old GoT threads stuff is that the Overton Window has shifted so far towards coddling the spoilers-averse that there are now people in this community who believe that it is appropriate human behavior to be nasty to a fellow MeFite over something as trivial as the possibility of an inadvertently spoiled plot point in a TV show. And that's ridiculous.

I will follow whatever spoiler policy the mods set because their site, their rules. But having one's posts and comments deleted hurts and thus I think it should be done only when they post/comment itself is hurtful (e.g. *-isms/*-phobic, personal attacks, etc.) or majorly derails the conversation. I don't think it should be done just because some people expect the internet to be sanitized for their protection until they finally get around to watching something months or years late.

Fictional TV shows are not more important than real people's feelings.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:24 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


And my point is that you are taking otherwise understandable hurt feelings about a thing from years ago and using them as a justification to be kind of a jerk in here in a way that comes off as really tone deaf in the context of this actual discussion. I'm sorry that was such a rough experience but you are not responding to this actual thread in any kind of proportional way and are basically picking a bunch of fights for no good reason.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:28 AM on March 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


Your theater going experience and options are not everyone's experience and options.

I say that as someone who used to go to sneak preview premieres almost every week but in the last year has only been to the theater twice and more than a week after those movies came out. (One of them had been rather thoroughly "spoiled" for me by Tumblr gifsets long before I got to see it, but I still enjoyed it.)

I still care about movies but these days I'm prioritizing other things more. That is my choice and I don't feel entitled to making everyone else restrict *their* conversations because *my* priorities changed.

I still do feel a bit like sometimes people who are striving to keep their entire narrative experience pristine have very loud voices, because it is something that they care about.

Hence my feeling the need to speak up, to help balance that out. The domination of the conversation by the super-spoilers-averse is creating some very toxic norms.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Onto another subtopic: Did we ever decide how we're handling transmedia storytelling like the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

I think other MCU movies and episodes up to the same point in the in-universe timeline should be fair game for discussion in Fanfare, but if that's not the current policy then maybe we could have a monthly "Latest Developments in the MCU" post? Like a Fanfare equivalent of the catch-all US Politics threads.

(Personally, I'm literally years behind on all the shows except Agents of SHIELD and I haven't seen Black Panther yet, but one thing that makes the MCU so much fun to discuss is how things tie together.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:42 AM on March 16, 2018


picking a bunch of fights for no good reason

Sorry about that. On reread, I guess I'm being crabbier about this than is warranted relative to the actual size of the chip on my shoulder. I'll dial it back.

(I'm extra grumpy today because the trees are trying to inseminate my sinuses and everything is terrible and I want to die.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:46 AM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Fictional TV shows are not more important than real people's feelings.

I don't think that's the split. I think it's feelings on both sides.

And when you use charged words like "coddling" or tell people that their real motivation is "getting off on policing others' conversations or stirring up drama" then it's really hard to discuss it in a neutral way. I end up feeling my hackles get up despite not even caring about spoilers that much!

As far as MCU goes, treating it like a series as you suggest seems like the best idea. Does Agents of Shield even tie in that much? I suppose that's a question for another thread, but I gave up after a few episodes because it was kind of a joke. Apparently it got way better, but who has the time?
posted by ODiV at 11:49 AM on March 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Rather than continue to delve into the minutiae of Fanfare post policy/strategy for MCU movies/shows in this MetaTalk thread, I've created a Marvel Cinematic Universe Fanfare Club. Let's take the organization discussion over here and the discussion of which parts of the MCU are worth watching over here.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:00 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


coffee from my ghetto drip pot
Might i suggest considering not using ghetto in this way? It holds a lot of meanings and hurt that I don't think you mean.

posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:34 PM on March 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


Jacqueline: "The Last Jedi came out over 3 months ago. If you can't be bothered to see it in theaters then you're policing people mentioning spoilers just to be petty about something that isn't actually important to you."

Silly me choosing food and rent over movie theatres.
posted by Mitheral at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


The Last Jedi came out over 3 months ago. If you can't be bothered to see it in theaters then you're policing people mentioning spoilers just to be petty about something that isn't actually important to you.

There are a variety of disabilities that make going to the cinema difficult but don’t get in the way of streaming/watching DVDs....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:25 PM on March 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Might i suggest considering not using ghetto in this way? It holds a lot of meanings and hurt that I don't think you mean.

Fair enough, thanks.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:11 PM on March 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


"Hey, I just went to see The Last..."
"Cacao."
"Ok, the new Star W..."
"Cacao."
posted by kaibutsu at 11:38 AM on March 17, 2018


"I can't think of a dumber conflict to cause a buttoning."

That's amazing!

If I ever decide to leave metafilter, I'm going to respond to the most innocuous trivial comment with my decision.

eg: commenter: "I wish that kitten video were a little bit longer so we could see what happened to the ball of yarn." me: "Enough of this nonsense, I'm done. Account officially disabled."

I merely ask that no one links to this comment when people respond to my comment with "What the living hell, dude?"
posted by el io at 11:42 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


« Older Fucking Fuck IX   |   Call in show: tell us a joke! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments