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This question throws a big spoiler data: Why was Luke Skywalker missing in The Force Awakens?

Here's what OP says on the spoiler issue:

@SS-3 I myself am a big believer in hiding spoilers. However (1) it's been almost a month since TFA was released, (2) people can add TFA to their ignored tags to avoid spoilers, (3) I feel that this question doesn't spoil any major plot points, and (4) the question title was way to vague in spoiler-free form :)

Is this acceptable?

My reply:

(1) One month is nothing. It hasn't yet been released to entire world. (2) With that logic, you won't hide spoiler anywhere. This is wrong. Although people can, they don't always do that. (3) It is broadcasting a major plot point. Lots of people expect to see Luke in the movie. (4) No. It's not.

Is my reply correct? If yes, why haven't community acted on it yet? This question was posted on December 19. I saw it few minutes ago.

  • If the community wishes it, I am more than happy to hide the minor-spoilers in my question. Interestingly, I got downvotes while it was spoiler-free and then, once I removed the spoiler-tags, I suddenly got lots of upvotes, implying that people prefered the spoiler-y version. – RedCaio Jan 3 '16 at 4:36
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    @RedCaio if one of us can come up with a spoiler-free but still meaningful title, are you ok with us just fixing it for you? – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 5:36
  • oh, and by the way, just for the record, it's been just about 1/2 a month. (It will be a month on January 17th, obviously -- two full weekends away.) – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 5:38
  • @MikeEdenfield Sure, go ahead. I'd be fine with a spoiler-free but still meaningful title. – RedCaio Jan 3 '16 at 5:41
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    @RedCaio You should see why this can spoil the fun: People can expect Luke to appear in the middle of the movie because Luke went missing was a main starting point of the movie. After seeing your question, people would know in advance that Luke won't appear in the movie or until the end. – I Love You 3000 Jan 3 '16 at 6:32
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In my opinion, this question title is a borderline case where it may be a bit spoilery (I don't think it's that big of a spoiler), but we will have to live with it either way.


Lets take the commenter's points one at a time:

  1. It's been almost a month since TFA was released

Based on our previous spoiler discussions, this is actually irrelevant. The general practice, as far as I can discern from reading back through meta, is that spoilers never expire; if it's a spoiler on release day it, it's a spoiler a year later. (the trick is defining what exactly is a spoiler; see #3 later).

  1. People can add TFA to their ignored tags to avoid spoilers

Unfortunately, not true. The reason we are much more strict on spoilers in titles than in question bodies, answers, or comments is precisely because this isn't true. There are any number of ways that ignored tags can get seen anyway: the Hot Network Questions lists, the chat feed bot, the mobile app which ignores tag preferences, the twitter feeds, etc.

  1. I feel that this question doesn't spoil any major plot points

This is where things start to get complicated. We have never been very good at separating spoilers from stuff that happens in the movie. Not every plot element, action, or line of dialogue from a movie is a spoiler. (There are some people who do generally want to avoid every detail about a movie, but I would claim that goes well above and beyond just avoiding spoilers.)

The generally accepted definition of a spoiler is something that, if you knew it before hand, would literally ruin ("spoil") the movie for you. That's what we need to ask ourselves when we decide if something needs to be hidden as a spoiler or not: if I knew this going in, would I have enjoyed the movie less?

In this case, I would argue no. Luke was entirely absent from the trailers, and his absence was noted very early on. The very first line in the opening crawl is "Luke Skywalker has vanished." The rest of the movie is driven entirely by the search for Luke's whereabouts. It's pretty clear right from the opening second of the movie that Luke isn't going to be around. Knowing that he remains absent except for a little bit at the end, in my opinion, doesn't detract from the movie in any way.

  1. The question title was way to vague in spoiler-free form

This one is really at the heart of the issue. Question titles need to be meaningful, and in borderline cases, this is often the deciding factor.

If you can come up with a way to phrase the question so that someone else asking the same question can still find it, without revealing the plot detail, that would be perfect. That's the ideal we strive for as often as possible. In this case, I've spent a few minutes trying to do that and come up blank. We absolutely don't want titles like "Why did Luke do this?" -- those are useless.

Until someone can figure out how to reword the title in a meaningful way without including that particular element of the plot, I think it needs to stay as it is.

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    "Has anyone explained why Luke got the amount of screen time he did?" "Why did Luke get the screen time he did in TFA?" – Wad Cheber Jan 3 '16 at 5:20
  • I considered those but they seemed just as "revealing" to me; any way you phrase it you make it clear that Mark Hammil got an "unusual" amount of screen time, which implies "very little." But I would support either of those edits. – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 5:23
  • We might also consider swapping "Luke" for "Mark Hammil" since the OP seems interested in OOU answers... – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 5:28
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    Your reply to #3 sucks. People can expect Luke to see in the middle of the movie anywhere just like Han came. Now, people know that he won't appear entirely. This spoils the fun. – I Love You 3000 Jan 3 '16 at 6:28
  • Dare I suggest "Why was Luke's role less than the trailers indicated?" ? It explains the reason for asking, it explains the main complaint, but doesn't give away the plot point because less doesn't mean absent to surface reader – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 3 '16 at 7:30
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    @ss-3 your comment is exactly what I mean when I say there a difference between "everything that happens in the movie" and a spoiler. Sure you might think that Luke could appear at any moment, but IMO from the opening crawl common sense will tell you he won't, and knowing that isn't going to ruin any party of the movie. – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 12:28
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    No way.. After seeing the opening crawler, I didn't conclude that Luke will be absent. Holy crap.. How can you think that... He could have jumped in just after Han was killed or Finn got down by Kylo. In fact, I was expecting him provided that I saw Han and Chewbacca earlier. – I Love You 3000 Jan 3 '16 at 13:06
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    The movie starts with the condition that Luke was missing (Crawler, Initial Jakku scene), so facts related to it must remain a suspense for viewers. – I Love You 3000 Jan 3 '16 at 13:08
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    I just don't agree with your basic premise, so there's really no point in continuing to argue. Knowing that Luke did not show up until the end would not have changed anything about my movie experience, unlike (e.g.) knowing Kylo Ren's identity would have removed the dramatic impact of a whole section of the movie. – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 13:16
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I agree with Mike - the time since the release is irrelevant, and the title gives away more than we'd like, but it isn't a clear cut case of an important plot point being spoiled.

Mike's excellent answer raises a good point - it's hard to come up with an alternative title for this question that would avoid both spoiling the movie and creating an unacceptably vague title. I can think of a few possible titles that meet both of these concerns:

"Why did Luke1 get the screen time he did in TFA?"

"Has anyone explained why Luke1 got the amount of screen time he did in TFA?"

"Luke's1 screen time in TFA"

All of these are slightly spoilery, because they reveal that Luke's screen time is noteworthy, which - since he's an important player in the series - probably means that he gets very little screen time; however, they don't explicitly give away the fact that...

he is only onscreen for the last 60 seconds, and never even speaks.


1"Mark Hamill" can be used instead of "Luke", if you prefer.

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    I also think, even though it doesn't change the meaning of the question, that focusing on the actor instead of the character somehow seems even less spoiler-y? – KutuluMike Jan 3 '16 at 5:34

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