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I've noticed a number of questions as of late have been getting things like "(SPOILERS)" manually appended to their titles to warn those who might click through that there be spoilers in the question.

This practice is silly: if one didn't want to be spoiled going into a question, they shouldn't click through. If it's to prevent a user from reading a spoilerly title, it fails because the title's already there.

Beyond that, we've already blacklisted the meta-tag because it added no meaningful information to the question: adding it to the title doesn't change that.

So after seeing it pop up again today, I went on a SPOILER-in-title hunting spree, and the rabbit hole goes deeper and deeper: I think I've gotten most of the title issues, but then there are posts that buffer their intros with things like "spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler".

How can we go about killing this practice? Is there a way we can educate users to judiciously use the spoiler markdown instead of bringing back forum-isms by any means necessary?

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    I have yet to see anyone provide one solid (or even half-solid) reason for eliminating these tags (other than personal preference), but these tags are a courtesy for site members. Can you provide any solid reasoning for the drive to eliminate this practice? – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 17:52
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    Kill them with fire! Really, editing is all you can do. – dmckee Jan 19 '12 at 20:39
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    I'll repeat what I said on movies, if you don't want something spoiled then you shouldn't be on this site (at least anywhere besides your question). we're not here to hold your hand and make sure you don't ruin something for yourself. but that's my opinion.... – DForck42 Jan 19 '12 at 21:46
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    @DForck42 the 'if you don't want spoilers don't read the question' position is valid, but 'if you don't want spoilers don't use the site' is way too extreme. – Tony Meyer Jan 21 '12 at 6:50
  • I think this is a good practice. Most of the questions I've seen do something like "(Spoilers ASOS) Why does Stannis do this?" and then in the question, explains what Stannis does in a spoiler tag. I'd much rather people did this than writing "Why did Arya kill Sansa and then turn into a direwolf?" in a question title. – Lou Aug 14 '14 at 10:47
  • And furthering from @TonyMeyer, some people will use this site for one book/film/show in a series without having seen the whole thing. I don't see why these people should be pissed on by disallowing spoiler-friendly titles - is it a rule that you need to complete the whole series before broaching any question about it? – Lou Aug 14 '14 at 10:51
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  1. By educating people. Thanks for your meta post.

  2. By editing. Thanks for your contribution.

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But then there are posts that buffer their intros with things like "spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler".

This is due to a bug where spoilered text is shown on the /questions page in the question preview. People have to include those buffers to avoid putting spoilers on the /questions page and the chat blurb.

edit: I stand corrected, apparently the admins fixed this at some point. Spoilered text no longer shows on the /questions page, so we can edit out these unnecessarily long lead-ins.

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    The beginning of a question should not begin with “spoiler spoiler spoiler”, if the question is spoily. It should explain who would be spoiled by the question. – user56 Jan 19 '12 at 19:26
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I use those tags and I think they're necessary. For someone who hasn't read the work in question, they don't know, ahead of time, if the text of the question will spoil something for them or not.

It's true that sometimes the title itself can spoil something for people, and in that case, it doesn't help to mark it, but there are reason for marking a title with [SPOILERS]. (And, honestly, I think it was inappropriate to go through and delete all those warnings **before*8 bringing this up for discussion.)

I've had books and movies I haven't finished spoiled for me in the past. One case was someone posting, without warning, the last sentence from _Deathly Hallows) in a forum that wasn't even about Harry Potter. We've all had works spoiled that way in the past.

As for the using markdown notation instead:

  • There are problems with spoiler markdown. Just try to write two paragraphs in spoiler notation and see what you get.

  • User education is an ongoing problem and not everyone knows how to uses the spoiler markdown format and, honestly, not everyone will learn it.

  • As of now, the markdown help page that appears while writing posts does not include how to do spoiler tags.

  • For many people, this will be a lesser used feature of the markdowns, and when people don't use a feature too often, they forget it or forget to use it.

  • On any site, you have to remember you can't control users. There will be some that do every little thing right, but that's a minority. But there's always a good number that won't learn details like spoiler markdown.

  • You haven't made a case that using [SPOILER] in a title of a question is harmful. At this point, I'm not sure if it's a site policy or just a personal preference.

  • There are many times a person is involved in reading or watching something and is interested in the question, wondering if it'll explain a question they already have that might be a plot oversight or intentional, so they want to see if a posted question will help.

  • Sometimes the entire question would need to be in spoiler format, which almost always leads to a human impulse to at least see if that's a mistake.

  • This is an essentially harmless and can help people enjoy their reading/viewing and enjoy this site more by providing a quick and simple way people can announce spoilers without having to learn markdown (and some people don't know any markdown tags and don't want to learn).

It's pointless to ban something that doesn't do harm but can prevent harm. The bottom line is the site is here for the benefit of the users, not the users here for the benefit of the site. If the users tend to do something one way, that indicates that's what they prefer.

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    [SPOILERS] is not useful because you're not saying spoilers for what. Spoiler markup works if used sensibly, i.e. with leading text that explains what the hidden text would spoil. – user56 Jan 19 '12 at 9:01
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    RE "not everyone will know how to use it": this is a collaboratively edited and maintained site. It is up to us who do know how to use it to go and fix it for those who don't (and educate on how to do things better next time). "New people won't use it" isn't really a valid argument, imo. – Beofett Jan 19 '12 at 13:20
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    As for the risk of spoilers themselves, A) if I haven't finished a book or series, and I see a question about it, I have to assume that there's a risk of spoilers if I read the question/answers, and B) proper use of the mark-down tags will allow curious readers to at least find out what the question is about with a significantly smaller risk of having major plot elements spoiled. – Beofett Jan 19 '12 at 13:20
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    @Beofett - sometimes it's VERY hard to come up with the subject that is not a spoiler in and out of itself. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 19 '12 at 16:43
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    @Gilles - Question tags are visible OUTSIDE the question, so "spoiler for what" outghtta be pretty clear – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 19 '12 at 16:44
  • @Gilles: Try using spoiler text for two paragraphs in a row with a blank row between them. It can't be done unless you play around with it. – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 16:57
  • @Beofett: Yes, it's a collaborative site, but moderators and uses who can edit can't always get to it until people have had time to read the question. – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 16:58
  • As far as tags that are visible, since there's an effort to limit tags, people often only see a tag or two that may not be enough. For example, a star-trek for a question that covers a character in several Trek movies or series will have a Trek tag, but not tags for the movies or shows (or books) it will spoil. – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 17:00
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    @DVK if the subject is a spoiler, adding text in the same line that says it is a spoiler won't be much help. – Beofett Jan 19 '12 at 17:29
  • @TangoOversway If the question is created by someone who doesn't know how to use the spoiler tags properly, then there's no way to enforce anything until users with edit privileges can get to the question, so that doesn't really support the argument of making a policy that encourages typing "SPOILERS!" in the question. – Beofett Jan 19 '12 at 17:32
  • @Beofett: That's one point: There's no way to enforce anything, and letting people use a tag in a title can help and is a courtesy to some and I have yet to see anyone provide a reason why this courtesy or aid should be avoided. No one has provided one single half-good reason for not using [SPOILERS] in a title. – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 17:36
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    @TangoOversway I have provided a reason: saying “[SPOILERS]” doesn't say what you're spoiling. I've seen it on a Dr Who question… spoiler for which episode? As for the difficulty of having two consecutive spoiler paragraphs: that's good in that it encourages people not to put too much stuff in spoiler markup, and what does it have to do with the current discussion anyway? – user56 Jan 19 '12 at 17:59
  • @Gilles: It has everything to do with it. Why push against something that does help people, at least sometimes, but doesn't seem to hurt anything? A "Why is this so?" question is certainly appropriate, since it's something people seem to do almost by instinct. And until you clarified it, I wasn't clear that was what your earlier comment meant. As for too much in markup, sometimes the entire question is a spoiler, so it can be necessary to put a large amount in spoiler markdown. – Tango Jan 19 '12 at 18:05
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    @TangoOversway Every single one of those points has been discussed in the comments here, with explanations as to why they aren't valid justifications for encouraging permanent use of random placement of the word "spoiler". We can't prevent new users from doing it, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with higher-rep users removing it, and using the markup the way it was intended. If you'd like to discuss this further, perhaps we should move it to chat. – Beofett Jan 19 '12 at 18:45
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    I don't find the multiple paragraphs thing very compelling. I never remember how to do it myself, but it doesn't matter because there is instant feedback and I just keeping fiddling until it works. – dmckee Jan 19 '12 at 21:10

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