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A user's answer to Can the Force be used to fly? spoils a surpise from the season 2 finale of Star Wars: Rebels.

  • I edited the spoiler into spoiler tags while still allowing the answer to remain clear and neat.

  • However, the answer's poster undid said edit, claiming that it wasn't a spoiler.

what should be do about this post to avoid spoiling was is supposed to be a surprise from the episode?

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For what it's worth, I think your edit would have been reasonable (but insufficient, more on that later) if the presence of Inquisitors was a spoiler.

However, I agree with Rogue Jedi on this one: it's not reasonable to consider that fact a spoiler.

What constitutes a spoiler?

So, the fact that Inquisitors appear (and fly) in the episode is a spoiler in one regard: you didn't know it1.

But using that definition is a problem for a community like this, because it means that everything is a spoiler. Every piece of fiction is new to somebody, so every fact about every work is a potential spoiler. The problem with having this as a site policy seems pretty obvious, because we can't hide every fact; it's a completely unreasonable burden.

I will admit that I'm engaging a bit in reduction to absurdity. Clearly nobody is suggesting that every fact be spoiled. Some things, character names being an obvious example, are safe to leave un-spoilerified.

Okay, great. So which facts are spoilers, and which are not?

We've had some discussion on this, and the nearest we have to a consensus makes one particular point I want to highlight:

  • Consider how "spoiled" I would feel if I knew the information in advance. This is extremely subjective, but it's important, because otherwise everything is a spoiler.

What does this mean in practice? For my money, I would say it means that we should spoilerify facts when they:

  • Are major plot points
  • Are pivotal moments in the main character arcs

That's what I try to do, anyway. You may disagree with me, and I'll get back to that in a moment.

Why is this specific fact not a spoiler?

As I said, I agree with Rogue Jedi that this is not a spoiler. The reason I feel that way should be pretty clear from the previous section, but just to be very clear:

  • The fact that Inquisitors appear in the episode is not a spoiler unless you haven't been watching the show at all.

    • The Grand Inquisitor was a major character in season 1
    • The season 2 premiere ended with the Emperor saying:

      Emperor: Dispatch another Inquisitor to hunt [Kanan and Ezra] down.

      Star Wars: Rebels Season 2 Episode 1: "The Siege of Lothal"

    • Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister have been major antagonists in season 2; Sarah Michelle Gellar (the voice of Seventh Sister) is credited with appearing in five episodes (six if you count "Twilight of the Apprentice" in two parts), about 25% of the whole season, and I would hazard a guess that they've been referenced in dialogue in every episode

    The fact that Inquisitors exist and are hunting Kanan and Ezra is certainly an important plot point, but one that is (or should be) known if you've paid any attention to the show at all. If you haven't, then merely hearing the word "Inquisitor" isn't going to spoil that for you.

  • The fact that Inquisitors can fly isn't an important point to the story. This is perhaps a subjective judgement, but consider how a reveal like, for instance, Maul's presence was handled2:

    • A mysterious character was introduced
    • His identity is left mysterious
    • He's always shot with lots of shadows covering his face
    • The reveal of his identity is drawn out by a short monologue
    • Dramatic chord as the hood is thrown back
    • He says his name, and then fade to black

    That's rule of drama for you. In contrast, how is the fact that Inquisitors can fly handled? After blasting Ezra down a hole, Eighth Brother leaps up and flies away on his saber-copter.

    There's no drama there; it's treated as just being something Eighth Brother can do, like how Seventh Sister has a small army of probe droids to toss around. Even once Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister show up, the fact that they can fly is revealed in a single shot, with no dramatic build-up at all.

To put it another way: would learning that Inquisitors can fly have ruined the episode for you? Most people, I suspect, would answer "no."

However, some people would answer "yes," which is what the next section is for.

What if I think it should be spoilerified anyway?

Everybody has a different understanding of what it means to be spoiled. Personally, I religiously avoided everything related to The Force Awakens for about two weeks, until I had a chance to see it, because I wanted that experience to be completely fresh3; I was more devoted to avoiding TFA spoilers than I am about going to the gym, as my doctor was keen to remind me.

But I don't care about Batman v. Superman. Maybe that's my low expectations talking, but I don't intend to see that until it comes out on DVD, and I don't care to go hiding from it.

But what does this mean for SFF?

Basically, it means that you have total sovereignty over your posts. Be as spoiler-happy as you like, and if anybody gives you a hard time for having too many spoiler tags, send them to the userscripts alexwlchan and I made; they're great for that.

On somebody else's post, do what you did: propose an edit (or leave a comment). If the poster agrees with you, great! But if they don't, let it alone.

By design, we don't have hard-and-fast rules about how to handle spoilers; we can't, because of how nebulous and open to interpretation the issue is. We have a vague policy on how spoilers should be handled, but that's at best a minimum threshold and at worst an acknowledgement that a more definitive policy is impossible. Even that policy opens with:

I think it's up to users to find their own guidelines

It's a subjective issue and, as long as our official policy is "Spoilers be bad. How bad? [shrug]", your understanding of it is not more or less valid than somebody else's.

If you want a more restrictive, enforceable, spoiler policy, post a competing answer to our current policy, and best of luck to you.

What would have been a good spoiler edit to this answer?

So, I said way back at the start that I didn't think your edit was sufficient for removing spoilers. The reason I think that is simple: big honking Maul-face in the embedded YouTube preview.

If anything about that answer is a spoiler, the fact that Maul appeared in the episode is it. Personally, I think removing the embedded YouTube video (adding it as a regular link) and replacing it with a screenshot of the Inquisitors and their saber-copters4 would be a much more effective spoiler edit.

Answers the question, avoids plot-relevant spoilers. Easy-peasy.


1 Or maybe you did, but then it's not a spoiler any more; for the sake of this exercise, assume you didn't know

2 I mean, I figured out it was Maul within seconds, so it wasn't handled that well. Then again, having seen The Clone Wars may have given me an unfair advantage, or maybe I'm just that great

3 It didn't work, but hey

4 No, I'm not going to stop calling them this

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  • I have only seen SW: Rebels season 1. The episode trailers totally spoil Maul's presence in the show so I wouldn't call that a spoiler. I would consider any force-assisted flight a huge deal and, had I answered the question with that example, I would've left who flew and how in spoiler tags so as not to spoil the surprise. :( * heaves giant sigh * – RedCaio Apr 2 '16 at 6:59
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    @RedCaio I suspect your position is fairly unique. But I am curious; what constitutes a spoiler, to you? What makes flying Force-wielders a bigger "deal" than another event on the show? – Jason Baker Apr 2 '16 at 14:07
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    Thanks for backing me up. I'll edit the answer to remove the possible Maul spoiler later. PS: I, for one, will be using the term "Inquisicopters." – Rogue Jedi Apr 2 '16 at 14:20
  • @RogueJedi , JasonBaker - Oooh can we come to a meta-consensus about what to call them? I for one, want us to have enough questions about them to warrant their own tag. It'll be great! – ibid Apr 3 '16 at 3:51
  • Well for one thing, the inquisitors flying was surprising. It was surprising that they could, and it was surprising in regards to how they accomplished it, and hadn't been doing that for the entire length of the show already. Surprises everywhere. – Ellesedil Apr 4 '16 at 16:37

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