Wikipedia talk:Spoiler

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Spoiling in lead sections about fictional characters and episodes[edit]

I have been working on Cheers-related articles. I read that spoilers are normally discouraged in lead sections. How would the general discouragement affect character pages, like Diane Chambers, Rebecca Howe, Sam Malone, and Frasier Crane? I already spoiled their last appearances to readers. Also, I am doing my best to not put too much in intros of episode pages, like I Do, Adieu, Home Is the Sailor (Cheers), One for the Road (Cheers), and The Show Where Sam Shows Up. --George Ho (talk) 04:32, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

If the spoilers significantly aid readers in understanding the topic, you shouldn't worry about the spoilers being in the lead. As long as the spoilers are not unnecessary or gratuitous and are covered lower in the article, there's not a solid Wikipedia rationale for keeping them out of the lead. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 10:43, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Principle of least astonishment. If I google a character, I'm likely just interested in figuring out who is the actor or something. Thus if you place a 'spoiler' before mentioning who plays the role, than that might be annoying for people. When you start discussing the origins of a character, I can expect that next in the discussion will follow what happened to the character, and thus I can choose to stop reading. If you place the demise of the character before the origin, than you didn't really give me a chance. Just create a little bit of contextual separation. All within reason of course, this is quite different for characters known just for their demise. For instance redshirts. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 11:10, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Spoilers per say are not discouraged from the lead. Quoting from the quideline: "Spoilers are no different from any other content..." So you should be guided solely by whether the content serves an appropriate encyclopedic purpose. For example If the content is central, or important to understanding the subject of the article, then it probably should go in the lead, otherwise not. That it might in someone's opinion be a "spoiler" should not enter into it. Paul August 18:42, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

I expanded and reworked the leads in Sam Malone, Diane Chambers, and Rebecca Howe. I hope my spoiling the details in the ledes help readers adequately understand the characters without ruining their enjoyments (or anticipation). George Ho (talk) 04:04, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

My question is along these lines. For most TV shows, there are short "episode summaries" on pages for each season - should these summaries for active TV shows include "spoilers", especially when such spoilers aren't yet certain? One example is when a major character is apparently killed at the very end of an episode, yet that apparent death isn't itself the focal point of the episode - yet the show has shown in the past that "dead doesn't always mean dead". I'm not talking Game of Thrones "Snow is stabbed several times by mutineers, including Thorne and Olly" or Dallas "J.R. while working late at the office, is shot." But more Battlestar Galactica "Col. Tigh poisons his wife Ellen" (which is *NOT* in the season-page episode summary.) In the instance I am really curious about, the latest episode has a major-but-not-the-main character apparently killed in the final shot of the episode. Yet this series has shown the ability to "bring back from the dead" characters. Yet the summary for that episode specifically calls out "...fatally injured..." We don't actually know for certain, and it would be a *HELL* of a spoiler for an active TV show for someone who hasn't watched that episode yet. (All the other details are fairly obvious details one could deduce simply from the "preview" shown at the end of the previous episode.) 71.193.197.92 (talk) 06:52, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

As has been repeated several times now, whether a plot detail is a "spoiler" or not should onto be taken into consideration about what plot details to include in a summary. If future information changes the interpretation of a plot detail, then change the detail so that it remains descriptive of the events that occurred at that particular time in the plot. —Farix (t | c) 11:49, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
Addressing a more specific aspect of your post, we write about fiction in unfolding present tense, describing events as they happen. So it would seem to me that if a character "died" in an episode, we would write from the perspective of the present and indicate that the character was poisoned to death. A later summary would reveal our discovery of the twist, that the character was not actually dead. Similarly, if a character underwent gender reassignment, we would probably not retroactively change names and pronouns, because at any point prior to the event, we see the character as gender A, not B. This approach doesn't require consideration about whether the reassignment is a spoiler or not. Rather, we don't mention the reassignment until the in-universe reality occurs. Hope that helps. Cyphoidbomb (talk) 13:50, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I would consider, in the first case, saying that the character is "seemingly" poisoned to death if I had the awareness the character was returning later. If that apparent death was that notable in reactions (I'm thinking the case of the end of Thank You (The Walking Dead) with Glenn's fate a matter of major discusison on the Internet), then the article on the episode 1) likely can be created if it doesn't and 2) more context can be given there, knowing what will happen in the future. --MASEM (t) 13:59, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

Spoilers of works in biographies of real-life persons[edit]

I think the issue is too general to describe. Therefore, I'll provide two specific scenarios. In Scenario A, a biography of a novelist contains spoilers about non-notable works that s/he wrote. How much spoilers can the biography appropriately contain, especially if a work may not garner enough notable reviews for a stand-alone article? For example, Sheila Walsh (novelist).

In scenario B, a biography of a novelist contains some spoilers of notable novels that the person wrote. What if both a biography and an article about the notable novel exist? How much a biography can contain spoilers about a notable work? For example, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice; J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter. --George Ho (talk) 01:33, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

Generally, we shouldn't be going into too much detail on the plot of a book in the author's bio page, even if the book is non-notable. However, if it is necessary to mention the "spoiler" in a one or two-sentence paragraph/summary (which may be reasonable to include), then it's probably okay. --MASEM (t) 01:40, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Whether a plot detail is a "spoiler" or not should not be taken into consideration when determining if said plot details should be in an author's biography. Instead, retaining or removing plot details should be based on whether it is part of the sourced critical commentary relating to the author and serves an encyclopedic purpose. —Farix (t | c) 01:51, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Indeed, quoting from the quideline: "Spoilers are no different from any other content..." Paul August 22:10, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
The correct answer is: whether it's a spoiler or not should absolutely be given no consideration whatsoever, and by 2017 this shouldn't even be a question that needs asking - David Gerard (talk) 12:32, 15 March 2017 (UTC)

Adaptations of Work into Other Media?[edit]

I wanted to get some opinions on a disagreement here: Too many spoilers?.

American Gods (TV series) is an actively produced TV series, which has aired one episode (on March 30) as of this post. The show is based on the novel American Gods, which was published in 2001. Contributors to the TV series wiki page have added significant character and story revelations, and other contributors have cried foul on the spoilers. The additions are sourced from journalists discussing the novel with the assumption that the TV series will be entirely faithful to the published work. My issue (and question for you) is - at what point is it fair to make that assumption?

The showrunners have been upfront about their intention to significantly change some characters (The Technical Boy), add new ones (Vulcan) and the pilot episode added two entirely original scenes (Audrey in the cemetery, Shadow being attacked toward the end). Is my assumption - that the show and the novel should be treated as independent entities - legitimate? Am I right in thinking it's inappropriate to include a character's "true identity" in the Cast List (revealed late in the novel, and a significant twist), when the character hasn't even appeared on the show yet? (Some of the actors have been very candid about their character's various identities but the actor in this particular instance has been tight-lipped and evasive in every interview, if intention is a factor here.) Thanks. The Red Queen (talk) 16:14, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

You can't make the assumption that the show will follow the book 100% faithful, so you are absolutely that those details should not be included until the show reveals or de-reveals them. One similar example that I know that we avoided that were on A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series) (The NEtflix adaption) where the set of parents, which are known in book to be named, were never named (even in the series) so we stuck to just "Mother" and "Father"; if the series should mention the names that equate with the book, then we can change that. Editors should assume nothing from the book going into the TV show, unless there is sourced comments from the creators that affirm a connection. --MASEM (t) 16:53, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Not sure what your question has to do with this guideline. Paul August 17:42, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Probably because the discussion on the article begain with "OMG spoilers from the book!" and WP:Spoiler is the obvious place to look for a policy about that. It turns out it's actually a WP:CRYSTAL situation, we don't know how closely the TV show is actually going to follow the book's plot so guesses along those lines are speculation that doesn't belong in the article. People who want to see the book's plot are welcome to go read the book's article and draw their own conclusions. Anomie 17:55, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Yes! WP:CRYSTAL is exactly what I was trying to express, but I didn't have the reference. Thank you! The Red Queen (talk) 18:11, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

Reader poll[edit]

I was wondering whether there has ever been a poll of readers (not editors) of Wikipedia's articles on fiction, not just regular readers but including those coming from Google, on whether they would prefer spoiler warnings. I cannot find one in the archives of this discussion page. If a significant majority of readers would prefer there to be spoiler warnings, would editors agree to include them, since presumably an encyclopedia is written for its readers and not for its editors? Highflyer Hank (talk) 13:25, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

I don't think we've done a poll, but I would not be surprised if there was a overwhelming response to want spoiler warnings. But while are writing for readers, we're writing for all readers, not just a general swath of them, which is why there is some content we simply do not include (per WP:NOT), and including spoiler warnings just because some do want it would not be an appropriate step, plus all the editing nightmares that would come from that. --MASEM (t) 13:34, 30 May 2017 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a democracy. Cyphoidbomb (talk) 14:39, 30 May 2017 (UTC)
This principle seems to be aimed at using discussion to arrive at a reasoned consensus rather than blindly following the first intuitions of a majority of editors by voting and then ending up with incoherent policies. However, if it would turn out that after reasoned engagement with Wikipedia's readers, they still clearly prefer the inclusion of spoiler warnings, I don't see how the guideline would provide a reason to write the encyclopaedia in a way which editors prefer rather than how a much larger group of readers (who are the ones for whom the encyclopaedia is written) prefers it. Highflyer Hank (talk) 14:44, 27 August 2017 (UTC)
They prefer not to be spoiled. This has been made clear on article talk pages countless times. So I concur with Masem on that. But if they read a Plot section, they should expect to be spoiled; it's similar to a viewer reading the comments section of a video before watching the video and then complaining that the comments section has spoilers. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:42, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

"possible spoilers"[edit]

Currently the page contains the sentence:

"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"

I edited this to add the word "possible" in front of the word "spoilers", but was reverted by here. I think the word is needed because of the fact that certainly not every plot detail will be considered a spoiler by every reader. This fact underlies one of the main problems with trying to make spoilers a consideration. That is, what constitutes a spoiler is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder, and cannot usefully be defined. Paul August 01:21, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Yes, I reverted you. And here's why: In what way can it be validly argued that such a section will not include spoilers? Unless, of course, you are talking about a "Premise" section as well. Our "Premise" sections usually are not considered spoil-ery. Our Plot sections are. We already have an issue with this guideline being used to justify spoilers any and everywhere in an article. You now want it to imply that the Plot section or "Ending" section may not be spoiler-ish and anyone who states so is simply giving their opinion on the matter because of the supposed diverse opinion on what a spoiler is? People know what spoilers are; they are not usually divided on what they are. The Spoiler (media) article currently states, "A spoiler is an element of a disseminated summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot elements which threaten to give away important details. Typically, the details of the conclusion of the plot, including the climax and ending, are especially regarded as spoiler material." How does a Plot section or "Ending" section not do that? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 01:53, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
If you want to add "possible" back and no one else objects, then go ahead and do it. Although I object, it's not that big of an issue. And I'm not interested in getting into a big "What is a spoiler?" debate right now; I am busy with too many other things. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:18, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Are you saying that every plot detail constitutes a spoiler? Paul August 11:28, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
No, but I did consider that the "possible" bit could be interpreted to mean spoilers might be included. My argument is pretty much what GB fan stated below. If a person reads a plot section, they are spoiled on that film, television show, book, play, or other media story, unless they already know what happens in the story or unless the section is missing key details. If I am told of everything that is going to happen in a film, I am spoiled on that film. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. My definition of "spoiler" would not matter. I am stating what I argued in the big RfC we had last year -- people usually know what spoilers are. Take Bignole and Favre1fan93 recently warning me about spoilers, seen here and here, when we were discussing shows. Common sense. They had enough respect for me to warn me. And I thanked them for that. That stated, they had been told beforehand that I'm not yet caught up with Arrow. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:25, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict) On the other hand, whatever any particular person considers "spoilers", those things imply their presence. The word "possible" there seems to be unnecessary fluff. Anomie 11:30, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
I wouldn't say every plot detail is a spoiler but I would say that every plot section contains spoilers. If a plot section does not contain a spoiler, that means one of two things to me. Either the plot summary is not detailed enough and only contains those elements that are in trailers or every person in the world knows the entire plot. ~ GB fan 11:57, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Unnecessarry fluff. Popcornduff (talk) 12:01, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Just to be clear, you are stating that you agree with Anomie that Paul August's edit is unnecessary fluff? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:25, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Yeah. Sorry about that. (Man, I didn't even manage to spell "unnecessary" correctly.) Popcornduff (talk) 13:33, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree that the addition of "possible" seems unnecessary. If the section doesn't contain spoilers, then it's likely underdeveloped. "Spoilers" doesn't meant that every item is a spoiler, nor does it mean that every person is "spoiled" by having read it. It means that there are elements that identify key bits of information. That's it.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 18:56, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

  • Comment - Given that this is about a single, seemingly inconsequential word ("possible"), this entire debate is a bit WP:LAME. But if you want my opinion on this, I fall on the side of not including it. DarkKnight2149 20:50, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
I agree, the only way I could be a summary not having any spoilers at all would be if it is so underdeveloped that it's basically useless.--64.229.167.158 (talk) 03:43, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
Darkknight2149, LOL! Yes, Wikipedia is full of lame debates. I remember looking at the WP:LAME page years ago and thinking that we really do argue over trivial things sometimes. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:24, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Categories, spoiler warnings and highlighted text[edit]

I would just like to bring up a few quick points / suggestions.

Firstly the category section at the bottom of the page. Is it necessary for this section to include information that is in turn a spoiler? I know this may be subjective but the category section seems like a fairly minor part of Wikipedia and not so crucial that information that is spoiler related could be avoided.

Secondly I would agree with previous comments that I think there should be a spoiler warning in specific sections of articles. Specifically when it come to video games (and perhaps other media) the vast majority of games with comprehensive Wikipedia articles have their own separate Wiki pages that cover details of the game in far more depth than Wikipedia. These Wiki pages almost always contain spoiler warnings. The majority of video game articles I have seen do not go so depth that I would regard spoiler related information to be necessary to the description.

Another option I've thought of is why not use (apologies I do not know the specific name for it) blocked out text? As in where what is written is blocked out and then when highlighted the words are revealed. I think this could be a useful option when it comes to spoiler related content where both parties win. The content is still there, so Wikipedia can stay comprehensive, people can see the information if they so wish, but also most will be able to avoid being accidentally spoiled.

Comments, thoughts, suggestions etc welcomed. Thanks for your time. Helper201 (talk) 07:27, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

Though I appreciate your instincts to problem-solve, I don't think that blocked-out text would be very welcoming for users with visual or other impairments. Adding another step between a reader and the information they need doesn't seem ideal. What categories are you referring to that could be spoilerish? Something like Category:Tattooine residents sired by Darth Vader? Cyphoidbomb (talk) 12:39, 3 July 2017 (UTC)
I can see your point there. How about just a simple spoiler warning? And / or placing spoiler information in italics? In terms of categories, I'm referring specifically to the section at the bottom of the page. For me this occurred on the page Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. The plot of the game keeps the players location a mystery and (unknown to me at the time) only reveals the players location upon the completion of one of the six total endings. I was not aware of this as I had completed the game multiple times, but had not received this specific ending. The category section for this page gives away the players location. Helper201 (talk) 11:48, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
Then don't read Wikipedia on an article you don't want to be spoiled about. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it's meant to give information, not hide it. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 13:29, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
Please, is there any need to state the blatantly obvious? As I have said before, I generally make it a point to obviously do as such. However most would clearly not expect to get spoiled from a category section. Also some people (such as myself) want to find information around something without spoilers. Especially for example if its a video game with multiple endings, it may take many, many hours to complete. So certain information will want to be found, but other information avoided. That is why I suggested a warning for spoiler material or placing spoiler information in italics, therefore the information would remain, but people could also be avoided being spoiled, so everyone would win. Helper201 (talk) 20:55, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
And that becomes the other problem with spoilers, exactly where you draw the line between what is and isn't a spoiler. It's impossible to have any definitive advise on where that line is drawn, so we simply forgo trying to draw that line, and assume that as long as you can meet WP:V, all appropriate material can be included. WP is a comprehensive work so we're not going to tiptoe around some details that a small selection of readers may not wish to be spoiled about. --MASEM (t) 21:01, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
Hi, Helper201. A spoiler warning has no chance of gaining support; the "Why spoiler warnings are no longer used" section in the guideline is clear as to why that's the case. The guideline is somewhat problematic as is, however, for reasons noted at Wikipedia talk:Spoiler/Archive 17#RfC: Proposal to make unnecessary spoiling clearer in the guideline. That is archived; so don't comment there. As that discussion shows, the best we can probably do to ensure that readers are not unnecessarily spoiled on Wikipedia is to make sure that the guideline is clear that spoilers typically should not be included when not needed, especially in the case of the lead. If the spoiler does not aid a reader in understanding the story, then exactly why are we including it in the lead? That has been my issue with certain editors when it comes to spoiling. They spoil for the sake of spoiling, and use this guideline as a justification to do so. Yes, the guideline currently states, "When including spoilers, editors should make sure that an encyclopedic purpose is being served." But as noted in the RfC, that is vague and is often ignored. I care about readers not being unnecessarily spoiled, and that's the way that I edit. And as seen in the aforementioned RfC and in the #"possible spoilers" discussion above, I don't subscribe to the view that it's difficult or otherwise challenging to know what a spoiler is. Sometimes what a spoiler is can be a matter of dispute, but it usually is not. In most cases involving a dispute over spoiler inclusion, editors agree that the material is a spoiler; they simply have a different opinion on whether or not it should be included. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:00, 6 July 2017 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:04, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

RfC: Inclusion of spoilers in the cast section of Westworld[edit]

RfC on Potential Spoilers: "Should information revealed to the viewer throughout the series (such as major plot points and reveals) be contained in the Cast and characters section of the article?" -- Radiphus 16:50, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

Edits[edit]

I'm not saying that the policy on spoilers should be changed, but the text is currently worded too strongly, presents contentious opinions as facts, and contains factual falsehoods:

"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."

This is highly subjective and unsupported by evidence. No surveys or other indications are cited to support the claim that warnings about offensive images would be of greater benefit to readers than warnings about spoilers, for instance, and I suspect that for many people, reading spoilers has more long-lasting negative implications than viewing an offensive image (both annoying or shocking them in the moment and affecting the enjoyment of several hours of consuming a fictional work later, rather than only the former).

"# 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."

This is factually false, since other language Wikipedias include spoiler warnings (e.g. the Dutch one). This wording therefore has to be changed for sure.

"# 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."

This is again too strongly worded and incorrect. A section heading of "episode list" does not 'clearly' indicate that it contains crucial details about the ending of these episodes, for instance. Better would be "were already named to indicate that they may contain plot details".

"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."

The process of writing an encyclopaedia always involves interpretation, and not every form of interpretation is biased or a violation of a prohibition on original research. Take for instance the article "Liberalism", which states that liberalism "became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world" during the Age of Enlightenment. What is the threshold for 'popularity'? Even if a source says that it became popular, this is still a subjective statement, since other sources may only consider something to be 'popular' when the majority of a group likes it, etc.

Furthermore, it would be possible in certain cases to cite sources to establish that a certain plot detail is widely considered significant and is in fact likely to alter the enjoyment of a work of fiction. One conclusive example is this: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jul/23/books.harrypotter . This alone makes the statement that labeling a plot detail as a spoiler would always be a violation of Wikipedia's policies on verifiability factually wrong.

Could we please change the wording to make it more accurate? I tried boldly to do this but it was reverted by someone who considered it 'weasel wording'. However, the guideline against weasel wording is aimed at claims such as 'some people think X', which should be replaced by 'person Y thinks X' with a citation, not by making the claim seem even less contentious by presenting controversial opinions as facts by writing 'X is true' without a citation.

Highflyer Hank (talk) 14:31, 27 August 2017 (UTC)

I note you also provide no evidence for your assertion that readers would get more benefit from spoiler warnings than from medical warnings, legal warnings, and warnings about potentially-offensive content. Anecdotally, I note that a recent TFD about a template warning that articles contain names of recently-deceased Austrailian aboriginals received many more comments in support than I've seen on this page in the years that I've been watching it.
Further, the page is very probably correct in stating that there was no strong basis for excluding spoiler warnings from WP:NDA, regardless of any lack of sources for the claim that readers would find other types of disclaimers more beneficial.
I also note that other-language Wikipedias are no more "academic, scholarly, or other professional publications" than the English Wikipedia is, as much as we aspire to that level of quality.
I could agree with you that an "Episode list" section perhaps doesn't clearly indicate that it contains spoilers, although once you look at the first entry and see that it contains a brief plot summary it should be obvious that you shouldn't read further if you want to avoid spoilers. But your attempt to change it from "would be redundant" to "could be considered partially redundant" was very weasely.
I could also agree with you that it might be a bit of a stretch to claim that editorial judgment over whether something is a spoiler or not falls under WP:NOR and WP:NPOV. However, your attempted change in that area did not help that point. I also note that citing an article from 2005 to claim something is a spoiler may not apply in 2017, since as time passes things that were once spoilers tend to become common knowledge, and then we get well into territory where the arguing over whether something is or is not still a spoiler X years later is going to be a waste of everyone's time. At least this way we keep the time-wasting confined to this talk page. Anomie 15:44, 28 August 2017 (UTC)