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In this question OP stated that they didn't want spoilers from preview chapters of The Winds of Winter. Somebody then went on to post a comment saying (paraphrased) "why would you exclude The Winds of Winter when it's already been revealed that one of the characters you list as dead is still alive"?

While I was writing this question the user deleted their comment, but I though I'd post it anyway for guidelines

Considering the OP specifically said no spoilers, and gave clear guidelines on what would be considered a spoiler, should/could we flag comments that contain spoilers?

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First let me point out that you can flag anything you want for any reason you want - that doesn't mean the flag will be marked helpful :-)


Pedantry aside:

Yes, this can certainly be a valid reason for flagging.

If someone asks a question about Harry Potter which specifically requests no spoilers from the last 2 books (or 3 films), and someone else leaves a comment which says

Snape kills Dumbledore,

then that person is being a jerk (or possibly didn't read the question properly, but either way the effect is the same). You'd be perfectly right to flag such a comment, and personally I would delete it if I was the one handling the flag. Comments aren't meant to be permanent anyway, and if a comment is unnecessary and obviously going to piss off the OP, then it goes.


With the specific example you cite, I wouldn't say it's completely clear-cut. The commenter said:

Excluding preview chapters is a bit silly, as there's at least one character off the top of my head that is confirmed alive in the preview chapters while you list them as being dead.

The OP had listed several characters as being dead, so this isn't a massive spoiler as it's not clear which one the commenter is referring to. That said, if it had been flagged I would still probably have deleted it.


Per the comments, you would use a custom flag reason of other... and leave a message of:

this comment contains spoilers that the OP specifically asked not to be told

or something along those lines. It may be helpful to also include the URL to this meta topic, so that any mod handling the flag has easy-access to this discussion.

  • I like that by reading the first sentence, I knew that this was one of your answers :) – Möoz Mar 15 '16 at 22:29
  • @Mooz Pedantry FTW! :-) – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '16 at 22:29
  • As an aside what would the flag reason be? – Möoz Mar 15 '16 at 22:31
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    @Mooz Custom. Flag -> other -> "this comment contains spoilers that the OP specifically asked not to be told" (or something along those lines). – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '16 at 22:35
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    I often wish I could add spoiler markdown to comments. – DCShannon Mar 19 '16 at 0:58
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    Should we really allow askers that answers adhere to some arbitrary limitation? Sure, "only the first four books" might sound reasonable, but why then not allow "only information from odd-numbered episodes"? Or "explain X from movie Y but do not include information from the last 15 minutes because I haven't finished watching it yet?" IMHO the rule should be: don't wanna be spoiled? Don't look at things that could spoil it for you. – BCdotWEB Mar 20 '16 at 13:46
  • @BCdotWEB There's no official policy for spoilers, but you may be interested in the discussion here. – Rand al'Thor Mar 20 '16 at 17:08
  • @Randal'Thor based on my answer below, do you think we need a second question addressing spoilers in comments regardless of what OP says is okay, or should this one be edited in a way to simply cover "all spoilers in comments" – Skooba Mar 2 '17 at 18:35
  • @Skooba A second question about spoilers in comments seems like it would be very similar to this one - potentially a duplicate, since pretty much the same rationale applies in either case. But "all spoilers in comments" might be a little too broad for a meta question: there's a whole range of possible circumstances and ways of dealing with spoilers in comments. If there's a particular case you've come across which isn't covered by this thread, maybe ask about that individually and see what people think? (Also, I'm super-tired and may not be making sense at the time of writing this comment.) – Rand al'Thor Mar 3 '17 at 1:09
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Looking at the answers to that question I fail to see how this would be of any use to anyone, not even the original asker. Almost everything is covered in spoiler tags, whatever is visible is mostly unreadable, and much of the information is already outdated, simply because the asker imposed absurd limitations.

It is silly to ignore what the showrunners of Game of Thrones have said at the end of the previous season WRT the fate of various characters, especially when the next season is only a little more than a month away and they have released a trailer which definitely answered the fate of at least one character.

And IMHO it is almost as silly to ignore information that can be gleaned from the preview chapters for The Winds of Winter.

Which means that we now have to pretend that Stannis is possibly dead in the books -- but we know he is alive at the start of TWoW -- and possibly alive in GoT -- except the showrunners have already confirmed he's dead, plus it's not like Brienne of Tarth was going to spare him considering he killed Renly who she adored, plus there isn't anybody who can revive Stannis since Melisandre had already left him and had arrived at Castle Black.

A significant portion of the question will be definitely invalid in about a month's time, and the rest will be when TWoW is published, which could be somewhere later this year (and which was planned to coincide with the start of season six, but GRRM couldn't get the book finished in time). But much of it is already invalid, and only by imposing arbitrary limitations it isn't.

Is it even reasonable to demand that answerers limit themselves to "in-world elements" when comparing two different versions of the same story?

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In addition to Rand's answer, I would like to add a broader sense to this topic...

Do not post spoilers in comments -- Period.

Any spoiler in a comment should be flagged and removed.

I understand we do not have a hard set policy on spoilers to begin with. However, spoilers in Questions and Answers can always have the markdown added if needed. Comments do not have this luxury.

The flag reason should be "Other" then a short line explaining the comment is a spoiler and a link to this meta discussion would be appropriate.

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