It's been noted that spoiler tags should be used only(?) when the titles contain spoilers, but I'm noticing that the tag is also being used to note that there are spoilers in the content of the question; here's a recent example.

Since we don't have any official site policy on how the tag should be used, and tag discussions are currently all the rage, how should we go about applying the tag to questions? Should it just be when the titles contain spoilers? Or also when the content holds spoilers?

  • I'm thinking either the conclusion from this should be subsumed into a faq posting for our policy on spoilers, or mayhaps this post will just magically transform once we come to a conclusion. – Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 17:35
  • @badp What is planned, exactly? – Grace Note Mar 16 '11 at 12:19
  • @Grace Didn't we plan to kill this tag with fire... over time? See also meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/753/… – badp Mar 16 '11 at 12:34
  • @badp No, we planned to kill strategy with fire. Spoiler is still kinda in discussion, and isn't even on the list you provided. – Grace Note Mar 16 '11 at 12:36
  • @Grace What would I do without you, Grace? Oh, right, I'd fail. – badp Mar 16 '11 at 13:04

As it is is bad. We should rename it , because I still think there's value in having both descriptive titles ("How do I save my brother" or "How do I save this character"?) while letting people filter out spoilers that are excessively "in your face."


Let's take a step over for a moment to think about what a tag's purpose is. The purpose of the tag is to tell you what the question is about. In a sense, actually fails this since in most scenarios the tag applies to the nature of the question's content. This is not unlike how genre tags apply to the game, not to the question itself. Thanks to the spoiler formatting, applying the spoiler tag for spoilers in general is like adding a [code-block] tag in Stack Overflow.

In failing to accomplish the primary goal of a tag, some tags continue to exist as a measure of filtering aids. The question then becomes, does this tag succeed where other tags have failed?

I don't think it currently does, mostly because of the relatively unadvertised nature of the tag, which is in part due to our lack of an announced policy on it. I know badp has mentioned several times in chat the current methodology that is seemingly implemented (only when the title is), and the reasoning behind it (so that people can ignore the tag and let us use more descriptive titles that may contain spoilers). However, I don't recall any mention of it on the Meta site itself, except maybe off-hand in a comment. So unless this gets amended, I don't really think the tag has a very good future.

I'm honestly not a fan of a tag whose standard function is to show up on people's "ignored" lists, not even being used to filter out selected questions. But that's mostly for trying to make a consistent tagging system. In the end, if the tag must live, badp's method makes the most sense. We have spoiler markup to handle scenarios that are not in the title.

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    What about the case where the entire text of the question is a spoiler? I'd much rather have a spoiler tag that I can see on the home page that says "Don't open this question if you don't want to be spoiled" rather than having to wrap the whole text in a spoiler tag and annoy everyone that does want to see it. – bwarner Feb 28 '11 at 18:10
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    @bwarner I have a very tough time imagining a question in which the entire question body would be a spoiler but not the title, while still retaining a meaningful title. If you can manage to make the title of the question meaningful while not being a spoiler, surely there must be some changes that can be made to the question itself. – Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 18:11
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    @Grace You could be right, I'm having a hard time finding a good example. I just prefer that people avoid spoilers in question titles to being with. Having a spoiler tag on "Why did Snape kill Dumbledore?" isn't going to stop me from being mad when I accidentally read it. I'd prefer a vague title with that question as the text, and a spoiler tag warning people not to open it if they don't want to be spoiled. – bwarner Feb 28 '11 at 18:16
  • @bwarner The point of badp's plan is that people ignore and hide the spoiler tag, thus not running into that problem at all. Hence why it would be for when the title can't be phrased without either being a spoiler or sounding exceptionally hamhanded and inane. See revisions 3 and 4 of this question, which actually got tweeted in that state. – Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 18:20
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    @Grace I guess, but I only care about spoilers in games that I will likely play, but haven't yet. It seems like overkill to have to hide the tag entirely, especially since people so often misuse it. – bwarner Feb 28 '11 at 18:25
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    @bwarner 'Tis an imperfect policy, and why I'm not really behind it. I think there's a bit of an issue in that we can only apply one level of "spoiler" (lack or presence of tag), when in reality there are different degrees of spoiling, nevermind exactly the part that what is being spoiled matters more. – Grace Note Feb 28 '11 at 18:29
  • @bwarner If there are games you know you want to play but haven't already, ignoring their game tag sounds much more effective. – badp Mar 2 '11 at 14:38

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