11

Given that:

  • Spoiler tags are not very accessible on mobile platforms.
  • Putting answers at the fingertips of googlers is the main way we make the internet a better place to be and are no justification to have posts like this or this.
  • If you are a user and don't want to be spoiled about a game you can put it in your ignored tags list.
  • If you are not a user but Google for a question with spoilers you likely want to be spoiled anyway.
  • Spoiler tags aren't designed to host a whole lot of text in the first place anyway.

we could conclude that:

This is a questions and answers site and while we can strive to avoid accidental spoilers, it shouldn't get in the way of the actual questions and answers mechanism. Googleability is a big deal. Accessibility is a big deal. Question titles and incipits are an even bigger deal.

...and thus:

  • We should make efforts in avoiding questions that are completely spoiler protected.
  • We should only use spoiler protect the parts of answers that, for sake of completeness or clarity, are likely to be unrelated spoilers on their own.
  • We should limit spoiler protections of questions to extraordinary cases where the question title doesn't make it clear already that spoilers lie after the jump.
  • We should make question titles as clear as possible. If making the question title spoiler free requires excessive contorsionism, maybe making the title spoiler free isn't worth it in the first place.

My question is:

What do you think?

  • 9
    I'm sorry about the question title, which spoiled what my question was about – badp Apr 14 '13 at 10:00
  • 11
    -1 for spoiling the question in the title. – BoltClock Apr 14 '13 at 10:17
  • 3
    Aside from the title, the spoilers ARE still in plain text and will be indexed by Google and read by screen readers. I don't see how the tags themselves interfere with search in any way. – Ben Brocka Apr 14 '13 at 14:10
  • @BenBrocka What about SE's built-in search, do you know if text hidden in spoiler markup interferes with it? – galacticninja Apr 15 '13 at 3:07
  • @galacticninja looks fine to me – Ben Brocka Apr 15 '13 at 3:09
  • Soylent Green is people, Vader is Luke's Father, Planet of the Apes is Earth, Snape dies, Malcolm was dead the whole time, Bates is the killer, and Finkle IS Einhorn. Oh, by the way, spoilers. – Batophobia Jun 14 '13 at 15:03
  • @DavidStarkey I wish you knew Italian – badp Jun 14 '13 at 20:17
  • @badp Hilarious. Google translate is such a nice tool. I need to find an English video similar to this now. – Batophobia Jun 14 '13 at 21:46
  • @BenBrocka A late point, but you do realize if someone happens upon a spoiler question through a Google search, chances are they're already looking to be spoiled. – senpai Oct 28 '15 at 8:33
25

Spoiler tags are not very accessible on mobile platforms.

Works fine on my tablet and my phone, one tap and the spoiler text appears. If spoiler tags are broken on any of the supported browsers, we should collect detailed information on where they are broken and ask SE to fix that.

Spoiler tags get in the way of search engines.

They're just some CSS, search engines don't even notice them

Putting answers at the fingertips of googlers is the main way we make the internet a better place to be and are no justification to have posts like this or this.

True, and I agree that there is a significant conflict between useful titles and spoiler-free titles.

If you are a user and don't want to be spoiled about a game you can put it in your ignored tags list.

This is something the very active users here know, but the option to completely hide ignored posts is absolutely not obvious and I bet that most casual SE users don't even know they can do that. If we decide to stop caring about putting major spoilers in titles, the way to avoid them has to be far more obvious or we'll annoy a lot of users.


I agree that there is no point in spoiler-tagging answers to questions that assume that there will be spoilers, unless you spoil more that one can reasonably expect from the question.

Spoiler markup in a clearly spoilery question is often necessary to prevent spoilers from being visible in the question excerpt. Don't know if there is a better way to do that.

Titles are an entirely different problem, and I think we should put some effort into trying to keep them free from major spoilers. Even ignoring and hiding questions won't save you in all cases, they'll still appear in title suggestions when asking questions or in the list of related questions in the sidebar. They also appear in the question feed on the Bridge. I don't like how that often mutilates the title, but I now tend towards favoring avoiding major spoilers in titles at the price of having bad and hard to find titles.

To be clear, I'm only talking about major spoilers, significant plot twists or posts about the game ending. Anyone who wants to avoid even minor spoilers has to stay off the internet until they finished a game anyway.

There might also be some technical solutions that could help with this, but everything I can come up with would be complicated enough that I doubt SE would ever implement it. I think I proposed in the past something like being able to spoiler-tag titles, but that's also a rather ugly solution. Something like being able to indicate that you don't care about spoilers in some tag could minimize the annoyance of the spoiler tags, but that would be a per-user preference and SE is well known for absolutely hating those.

On the topic of spoilers in titles, we should have a clear decision. Either we allow them clearly and make sure everyone know to ignore tags if they don't want to get spoilers, or we do our best to avoid major spoilers in titles. Anything in between is madness.

  • 1
    Re: Spoilers on mobile; while they work fine for me as well, they do seem to generate an above average number of complaints. – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 14 '13 at 10:46
  • 1
    While the option to ignore and completely hide questions for newer titles does exist, I stopped using the "hide" function a while ago (over a year or so ago) because it also hid stuff from the flag/review queue in tags I've ignored. Has this been fixed since then? I really wish they would implement a frontpage checkbox toggle for hiding ignored tags, as it would be a nice QoL improvement for people who want to use the tools available to them to avoid spoilers, but still help in site cleanup. – FAE Apr 14 '13 at 11:03
  • @FAE I regularly see questions and answers with tags I've ignored in the review/flag queue. – galacticninja Apr 14 '13 at 14:08
  • re: spoilers not working well on tablets, it's a problem on iPads when you're logged in to the site (but not when you are logged out). See this ancient meta – Sterno Apr 15 '13 at 12:48
  • "there is no point in spoiler-tagging answers to questions that assume that there will be spoilers, unless you spoil more that one can reasonably expect from the question." - I just wanted to emphasize that last bit, as there are some users who I'm sure would otherwise ignore it. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 16 '13 at 0:32
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft The question of the answer you linked to states: "Does the brooch you pick … have any effect on the … story line ?" It asks for spoiler information on what will happen in the game's storyline (part of which, is the ending). "there is no point in spoiler-tagging answers to questions that assume that there will be spoilers" - I just wanted to emphasize that bit, as there are some users who I'm sure would otherwise ignore it and edit most of another user's answer to be hidden in spoiler markup. – galacticninja Apr 16 '13 at 7:06
4

Spoiler free titles and spoiler tags in questions and answers are important, especially when it comes to game endings and 'major' plot twists.

The last thing we want to be doing is discouraging people from coming to the site because they're afraid they might be spoiled on a major point of a game. If someone is seeking help for level 4 of a game with 50 levels, there's no way for them to avoid accidentally seeing spoilery stuff if it's in titles of questions about that game. Also, new users might get spoiled before having the chance to Ignore a game. This might annoy them enough to make them decide not to use the site.

I don't think the Ignore Tags feature is intended to be used to avoid spoilers. I use it to hide questions about very popular games I've got no knowledge of or interest in (such as League of Legends for example). Even so, questions with these tags still appear in the feed, just shaded out.

You shouldn't need to 'Ignore' every single game you might play in the future. I have a ~lot~ of games. However, there are a LOT more out there that I've not played, but might play in the future. I don't want to have to Ignore every single one, just to try and avoid spoilers. Minor spoilers as stated previously are unavoidable, but I firmly believe that we should be able to browse without the risk of major or end game spoilers.

  • Questions that appear shaded out require a lot more effort to read are almost impossible to skim accidentally. If the answer to "Why doesn't the gizmodo gizmo in level 4?" is "You only find out at the end that the gizmodo was the Gyhaikah the Consumer of Souls all along!", then yes, it might be a good idea to use >!. But if your question is already about the end game, then no it doesn't. – badp Apr 15 '13 at 17:57
  • Agreed, you may not read them accidentally or skim them, but they are still there. – shanodin Apr 15 '13 at 17:58
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    I do not agree that we should be spoilering out everything. It goes against the entire premise of Arqade. Besides, studies have proven that spoilers improve your experience, not ruin it. – Frank Apr 15 '13 at 19:33
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    @fbueckert I think the "studies have shown" argument is pretty weak, to be honest, considering that, sure, that may have been the case for a sample group, but citing it as a reason to say "you shouldn't have a problem with this" when someone clearly does is weak logic at best, downright rude at worst. Yes, studies have shown that to be true for a sample group of people, but that doesn't mean they enrich my experience when I know how I react to them, which is poorly. – FAE Apr 15 '13 at 20:13
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I agree one hundred percent. Spoiler abuse is dumb.

So is @badp. But I won't hold that against him. You shouldn't either.

  • What is this badP abuse you speak of? – Lyrion Apr 15 '13 at 8:00

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