Related: Spoiler markup in chat from May of 2011.

Should spoilers be allowed in chat? I've never seen spoiler markups in chat -- is that even possible? There's been a lot of discussion on spoilers on the site in general, in titles, in wiki tags, but not a lot of discussion has been given to chat.

How should spoilers be handled in chat?

ETA: I should have initially clarified that I'm not advocating the implementation of spoiler markups in chat. A new user asked what the spoiler policy is, and I couldn't find anything remotely approaching a consensus, so I brought it to meta. Just wanted to make sure this is clear, as I myself am not sensitive to spoilers.

  • The gaming subsite also had a similar discussion, here.
    – Solemnity
    Apr 21, 2013 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


While I understand the appeal, I don't see the benefit of such additional functionality out-weighing the effort to implement it, or the complaints it may cause.

Quite frankly, I'm not even certain spoilers are possible in chat. There's already functionality tied to using a mouse-over effect (it highlights all other messages related to the specific conversation).

Spoilers work in questions and answers because they are potentially viewed by thousands of people, over an extended period of time. This means that even if the OP isn't familiar with the spoiler markup syntax, someone who is can come in after the fact and fix it. While this doesn't help anyone who may have seen the spoilers before the spoiler syntax was added, it does prevent this from being an issue for any future visitors.

In chat the burden becomes much more solely on the shoulders of the OP. The only people who can add spoiler markup to a chat message are the author of the message and a moderator (and this isn't properly restricted to just Scifi mods for our chat, either; any SE moderator can edit messages in chat rooms associated with sites they don't moderate).

In many cases, all adding the ability to use spoiler markup in chat would do is give people something more to chastise users who may not be familiar with the markup and don't use it when it might be appropriate).

I must admit: when I use the spoiler markup in questions/answers, I invariably try several combinations of !, > and < until I see the spoiler markup working properly in the preview; I almost never remember the right syntax the first time around, simply because I don't use it very often. This makes it a real possibility that even if we have it in chat, someone will transpose a character, or make a mistake, and inadvertently reveal spoilers they intended to "protect".

The idea of chat is to provide a more "real-time" interaction, to support back-and-forth discussion (even if the "real-time" aspect is often broken by hours in between comments and response). This creates a lot of opportunities for something to be said that would instantly ruin some surprise.

If you want to say something in chat, and know that the person you're actively talking to won't consider it a spoiler, but you're concerned that other people might, you could post the message, give them enough time to read it, and then delete it/edit it.

The safest and best guideline is to simply avoid discussing major spoilers in chat, unless you're in a private chat room. However, I'd say this is more in the lines of courtesy than a "rule".

  • 1
    All excellent points. I should have made it clear that I'm not at all advocating spoiler markup in chat, but was rather wondering what the community felt. A new user to chat asked what the spoiler policy is and I checked meta and subsequently had no guidance for him. So I decided to gauge the issue here. Personally, spoilers don't bother me, but some people are extremely sensitive to coming across even the tiniest spoiler. I'm not into "Spoiler-free zones" myself. I consider the internet as a whole to be one giant spoiler for everything. I mean, it even has the death clock! Apr 22, 2013 at 21:41

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