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[This question is not specific to Game of Thrones, but it serves as a clear example of the problem.]

A lot of questions which get asked require careful reworking of the question title to avoid inadvertent spoilers. However, I believe that having both a characters name AND season in a question title is a huge spoiler, as exemplified most clearly from a show like Game of Thrones, where even knowing which characters are alive when reveals something significant about the plot.

For example:

Titles like these I believe are much better because they either refer only to a situation, or a season:

Is there an official stance on this already? If not, should a policy that clearly states not to include the character AND season in the title be imposed? Would that be too specific/narrow?

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    Are you an "I got spoiled in the HNQ and I've come to complain about this terrible site" type or and "I saw a spoiler as I was browsing questions with possible spoilers at my own risk but I've come to complain about this terrible site" type? – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:15
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    @Edlothiad I am not. I hope my question did not come off that way--if it did, please consider giving me advice on how it should have been worded. I was just considering how easy it is to spoil key elements of the GoT plot with seemingly information-free titles and thought it should be discussed. – spacetyper Sep 1 '17 at 18:18
  • @Edlothiad I have to admit I do not understand why this question has been downvoted. Is it possibly because some people just read the title and thought I would be complaining about spoilers in the HNQ? – spacetyper Sep 1 '17 at 18:19
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    The reaction you have received will be because people expect you to be one of those 2 types of people, of which we've had a lot recently. The titles you have presented are almost exactly because of those complaints. We've made the titles vague and therefore have been lead to using episodes and seasons, when we don't want to. – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:22
  • Thanks for linking those @Möoz. I must have not searched for the correct phrase before making this question. – spacetyper Sep 5 '17 at 14:53
5

Specific

The fact that Game of Thrones has always included extensive flashbacks and now contains

time traveling psychic powers

Means that literally any character can be in any episode. By definition, mentioning that a character appears in a particular episode is not a spoiler since you won't know until you watch whether that character is seen live or in a flashback.


General

Unless a character's appearance in an episode represents a truly major spoiler, their mere presence in the show in which they're already billed as appearing is not a spoiler.

A good example would be a surprise crossover (like a character from one property appearing in another) or where a character was already presumed to be dead but is somehow surprisingly alive.

  • I think we have a meta consensus that anyways says we shouldn't put episode and season number in titles. – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:22
  • I said think, means I couldn't find it. Use the search bar – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:40
  • Not consensus, but this is what I was remembering. Although I thought @rand-al'thor had said something previously – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:41
  • Hence why I wasn't like "THIS IS IT YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT" and more like "meh looks like I was misremembering again..." – Edlothiad Sep 1 '17 at 18:44
  • Hmm. In Game of Thrones, the fact that a particular main character is still alive in Season 7 could almost be construed as a spoiler, given the show's propensity for killing 'em off. – Rand al'Thor Sep 2 '17 at 11:25
  • @Edlothiad We have a meta consensus not to force people to use episode numbers in titles (the one you linked to), but no rule that people shouldn't use episode numbers in titles. Personally I think it's a nice way of showing where the spoilers come from. With a title like "Why did Cersei do this?", you don't know whether it's got spoilers from S1 or S7 until you actually read it (and potentially get spoiled). With a title like "Why did Cersei do this in S7?", anyone who's watched S1-6 but doesn't want S7 spoilers knows not to click it. – Rand al'Thor Sep 2 '17 at 11:28
  • Well I mean with our recent track record they seem to click and open everything, make notes, go trough all other HNQs write down other question about GOT piece them into a story and get a breakdown for the episode. So apparently we need to make questions just a spoiler warning – Edlothiad Sep 2 '17 at 11:31
  • I dislike this because it supposes that your interpretation of a "major spoiler" is all that matters. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't go looking at the casting for specific episodes. Unless I notice a "special guest star" or accidentally catch an ad, I wouldn't know who's in an episode or not. In fact, some shows, like The Walking Dead have been known to be secretive with their season's billing, specifically because revealing their cast would be a spoiler. – user31178 Sep 2 '17 at 19:33
  • @CreationEdge - Sure, and in that case that would count as a major spoiler. – Valorum Sep 2 '17 at 19:36
4

Specific episode indicators don't have a place in titles. It's cluttered and a waste of space.

They can almost always be edited out, even if the title has to be altered to a better wording.

Instead, I've always preferred to put the season and episode information early in the body, so it's visible in the preview, but also easier to avoid looking at if you've decided the title indicates you may want to skip the question.

An issue with episode information in titles is that there's no standard format, making it hard to search by or block. Examples:

  • Episode's actual name
  • Season 1 Episode 2
  • S1E2
  • S1:E2
  • Ep 1002 (some naming conventions have season number and episode number combined into one)

This is less about spoilers, and more about good titles.

Unless the question is actually about the episode, such as Behind the Scenes, the director, filming location, etc, then the title is probably irrelevant. You'd probably have the same question about the events if editing had split the episodes up differently. So, the episode identifier is more Metadata for people trying to look at the same source.

Keep titles clean, relevant, and useful to the primary question itself.


Here are specific applications:

This is really no different than how we tag movies. Taking a random question of the current front page, we wouldn't title this question:

Part of that's because we have a tag for the movie. But when it comes to seasons, we acknowledge that season tags don't make sense, and so putting them in the title is essentially circumventing our tagging policy (similar to how new users will add tags to titles when they don't have enough rep to make their own tags).

Perhaps a more relatable example is that we almost never refer to chapter numbers/names in book questions.

  • -1; I do think episode numbers in titles can be useful (though shouldn't be required, of course, as said in the meta post you linked). They don't aid searchability, true, but they do help people worried about spoilers (watched S1-S3 but not S4? you know whether it's safe to view this question!), they can clarify titles ("why did X make this decision?" is unclear, but "why did X make this decision in the S1 finale?" might be unambiguous to anyone who's watched it), and they can also resolve ambiguity (the answer to "who knows X in S3?" might be very different to the answer in S4). – Rand al'Thor Sep 2 '17 at 21:53
  • @Randal'Thor That's a bad use of a title. Narrow it down to a scene or nearby event, not some episode, which really tells you nothing about when events happened except the episode's air date. Don't encourage bad titles for spoilers. Our spoiler policy is Good Titles First, Spoiler Nonsense Second – user31178 Sep 3 '17 at 0:36
  • "Good Titles First, Spoiler Concerns Second" - yes, agreed, but you also have a hidden minor premise, namely that titles which mention episode numbers are inherently bad. That's the bit I disagree with. – Rand al'Thor Sep 3 '17 at 9:07
  • @Randal'Thor Well, that's pretty much the policy already. Don't put them in the title, as per the first link... Did you downvote that, too? – user31178 Sep 3 '17 at 13:31
  • No, I upvoted that, because AIUI, the rejected proposal there was to require episode numbers in titles. Not requiring it isn't the same as not allowing it. – Rand al'Thor Sep 3 '17 at 15:24
  • "Should a question's title about a particular episode of a show includes its title?" -> "No." seems pretty clear to me. The follow up question, if the answer was "Yes" would be whether or not to enforce it. But since the answer is "No", it means... Don't put them in there. – user31178 Sep 3 '17 at 16:17
  • It depends on how you interpret that "Should". And reading Taladris's question, it seems to me that they're proposing a requirement (or at least recommendation) to put episode numbers in titles, rather than asking whether episode numbers are allowed to be in titles. – Rand al'Thor Sep 3 '17 at 18:31

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