|This page documents an English Wikipedia content guideline. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.|
|This page in a nutshell: Spoilers are no different from any other content and should not be deleted solely because they are spoilers.|
A spoiler is a piece of information in an article about a narrative work (such as a book, feature film, television show or video game) that reveals plot events or twists, and thus may "spoil" the experience for any reader who learns details of the plot in this way rather than in the work itself.
Articles on the Internet sometimes feature a "spoiler warning" to alert readers to spoilers in the text, which they may then choose to avoid reading. Wikipedia previously included such warnings in some articles, but no longer does so, except for the content disclaimer and section headings (such as "Plot" or "Ending") which imply the presence of spoilers. The "No disclaimers in articles" guideline details why spoiler warnings are no longer used on Wikipedia.
It is not acceptable to delete information from an article because you think it spoils the plot. Such concerns must not interfere with neutral point of view, encyclopedic tone, completeness, or any other element of article quality (for example, the lead section). When including spoilers, editors should make sure that an encyclopedic purpose is being served. Articles on a work of fiction should primarily describe it from a real-world perspective, discussing its reception, impact and significance.
Other types of spoilers
The same reasoning for including spoilers when appropriate in works of fiction applies to other types of "spoilers" as well; for example, the optimal strategy for games such as tic-tac-toe, the workings of magic tricks, the solutions to logic puzzles, the answers to riddles, and live radio and television events broadcast on a delay in certain areas of the world such as the Olympics.
But note that this does not mean such information must be included, either. Wikipedia is not a textbook, instruction manual, or video game guide; it should contain information appropriate to an encyclopedia article on the subject.
Why spoiler warnings are no longer used
Before 2007, spoiler warnings, also known as spoiler disclaimers, were a frequent occurrence in Wikipedia articles about works of fiction. However, by 2007, some editors were also including spoiler warnings in articles about myths, folklore, fairy tales, and even biblical stories. After such a warning was added to the article about the Three Little Pigs, other editors took notice and began questioning the prolific and unrestricted use of the disclaimers. After a series of long, contentious discussions, several issues with spoiler warnings were identified.
- There was no strong basis to exclude disclaimers for potential spoilers from the "No disclaimers in articles" guideline when many other disclaimers—such as warnings about offensive images or content and medical and legal disclaimers—would be of greater benefit to the reader.
- No other academic, scholarly, or other professional publications that describe or analyze works of fiction, such as other encyclopedias, include disclaimers about spoilers when discussing said works.
- Sections that frequently contain spoiler warnings—such as plot summaries, episode lists, character descriptions, etc.—were already clearly named to indicate that they contain plot details. Therefore, further disclaimers would be redundant and unnecessary.
- Labeling a plot detail as a spoiler would require editors to use their own subjective opinions to interpret the significance of a plot detail and its likelihood of altering the enjoyment of the work of fiction. This would be a violation of Wikipedia's core policies of no original research, verifiability, and neutral point of view.
Supporters of spoiler warnings pointed out that it had become common practice on the Internet to give a warning about potential spoilers any time plot details were discussed—especially details about how a work of fiction ends—and that readers had come to expect such warnings as a form of courtesy even when most readers will ignore the disclaimers. Because of this, they argued that Wikipedia's policies and guidelines should not apply. However, editors could not reach a consensus about whether the presence of spoiler warnings in articles was an improvement to Wikipedia.