The Eight Worst Defences For Posting Spoilers

Image: HBO

It’s impossible to live on the internet and not have had the "spoiler debate" at some stage, whether you were the spoiler or the spoiled. The nature of the internet renders spoilers nearly impossible to avoid, but it's often what comes after that's worse.

Why does the topic incite raging arguments between friends? Why do people defend the ability to spoil things so furiously?

If you do enjoy spoilers, that’s perfectly fine. If you see a spoiler and it doesn’t affect your viewing, that’s fine too. It’s when spoilers are exposed to non-consenting recipients who are affected that arguments arise and friends are deleted from social media.

Here are the eight most common defenses for posting spoilers — and why they’re complete bullshit.

“It’s A Harmless Joke”

Spoiling something for a reaction isn't a great joke. It’s rude, but worse than that, it’s boring. If revealing spoilers is your idea of a smashing joke, maybe it's time to give up on attempting to be a comedic personality.

“Character X kills character Y on page 420,” he guffawed at my blank stare of disinterest. Are you stuck in 2005? Did you buy one of those spoiler-filled t-shirts thinking it was the height of comedy?

Stick to the jokes that come out of cheap Christmas crackers, you’re more likely to keep friends with those.

"It’s The Nature Of Social Media"

Consider this: It’s also the nature of TV shows to get cancelled before their time. That doesn’t mean you should be happy about it.

Most social media platforms have ways you can filter out spoilers, but anyone considerate will take a spoiler filled discussion off the grid.

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"X Amount Of Time Has Passed"

Why wait a certain amount of time before taking away the opportunity for someone to experience something for the first time? It never really made sense to me. Cover your bases and ask permission before you dive into spoiling something.

It’s common courtesy, really.

“It’s Not Even a Real Spoiler”

Fake spoilers have the potential to cause more damage than you would think. If you’ve told someone that Character B dies and then followed up with “I was joking that didn’t happen”, you have already affected (or potentially ruined) their experience.

This person now knows Character B doesn’t die — which is a spoiler in itself. There’s no risk factor — any attempt to create tension around Character B's fate becomes redundant. All the anticipation in the narrative is dead before it begins.

But what is a real spoiler? Even something as simple as “it was the best episode ever” can ruin a show for someone by setting expectations.

Perhaps their idea of “best episode ever” is an hour-long Rob Zombie-esque gorefest? Maybe your idea of a “best episode ever” involves diplomatic maneuvering, intrigue, and a Kevin Spacey monologue.

Your enthusiastic post-episode celebrations may influence other people's expectations. It's not always for the worse but it's not always for the better either. Is the risk worth it? What do you gain?

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"There Are Worse Things in Life!"

When did having negative experiences become a competition?

Whenever you hear this defense, recognise it for what it is: A way to derail the argument for the sake of invalidating your (actually completely valid) frustration.

"It’s Just A TV Show/Game/Book/Movie"

First off let me assure you people are aware the book they are reading is, in fact, a book. But just because a fantasy world isn’t real doesn’t you're not emotionally invested in that world. Your experience is real. Your emotional response is real.

There's a reason fiction — whether it's in a book, tv show, movie or game — is so popular.

It’s not just a tv show, it’s not just a book. It’s not just a game or a movie. Spoiling something can often mean ruining what may be a deeply personal experience for someone, for the sake of a few seconds of laughter.

"Your Viewing Will Improve If It’s Spoiled"

Before you even think about using this defense remember: That's not your decision to make.

If someone decides they want to watch something knowing the twist or knowing who dies, that's their choice to make.

People who have been spoiled against their wishes can’t just decide to watch something again for the first time, however. I often wish I could read my favourite books for the first time again, but that’s just not within our technological capabilities. Yet.

"It's Just A Spoiler"

Spoilers are final. You can’t un-tell someone a spoiler.

A spoiler can ruin the hallowed first viewing for someone who hasn't watched the show or film in question — and that's something you can NEVER get back. You're ripping that beautiful experience from them without asking.

Think about it. You don’t need to spoil things for everyone. What do you gain from it?

If you’re one of those people who “just can’t help it!”, try to see the movie with your friends or co-ordinate a day to watch the new episode together. Control your urges.

In short: don’t be a dick.

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Comments

    Terrible who would do such a thing

    Arya kills Littlefinger
    Bran sees R+L wedding

    Nice ad for the LifeHacker "Why We All Need To Get Over Spoilers" story right in the middle of this article.

    Great timing considering you blurted out the winners of TI just this morning.

    Last edited 14/08/17 3:59 pm

      Posting competition results after a major gaming tournament on a major gaming website is pretty much assumed though, isn't it? I don't think I'd call that a spoiler any more than the sports section of the newspaper running a headline "Australia comes out in front over England" after the Ashes.

        The big difference is Kotaku can absolutely choose not to post the winner directly into the article headline/intro that shows without even clicking on said article... Allowing people to watch it first without it being ruined for them if they wish too.

        And if you think about it... Its one of the only situations where Kotaku apparently doesn't hide the core of the article behind the click, so the argument that its expected actually isn't the case.

          I don't disagree that Kotaku could hide results below the fold, but this is much more about reader expectations. If you read the newspaper the day after a big game, most people expect that they're going to see a headline about the results of the game. The same applies here.

          Spoilers don't generally apply to real life events. They're not narratively driven, they're usually unscripted. I imagine very very few people hear "Nigeria wins shock gold in bobsledding" on the nightly news and flip their lid about it. The end doesn't generally spoil enjoying the means with real life stuff, but it certainly can with fictional narratives.

            I agree with the idea that people should not automatically expect things to be hidden if they're going to a website, or reading news, that covers the particular topic.

            I absolutely disagree that spoilers don't apply to real life events though. Narrative or being scripted has nothing to do with it, a lot of people simply prefer to watch things unfold for themselves.

            I wager the amount of people who watch things like sporting matches, etc, after their live broadcast (and hope to not to have the outcome spoiled before they do) is far more common than you would apparently believe. I know have a couple of friends who fit that category, and I find it extremely unlikely that they're the only ones.

            I probably care LESS about spoilers for the narrative driven, scripted TV shows, movies, etc, than I do sporting matches, etc. Because I know if I'm watching a match of any sport, esport, whatever... If someone tells me who wins it very much becomes, "Well there's no point watching this now." for me.

              I also have plenty of friends who prefer not to know the score for a sports match before they watch it. But knowing the result doesn't change whether they enjoy watching the game, it just affects whether they know there was a last minute surge or not.

              The difference between scripted and unscripted is really important. Scripted narratives are crafted experiences that deliberately lead the viewer down misleading or deceptive paths to create effective twists and turns. Knowing the ending of Sixth Sense or Fight Club completely changes the way the viewer perceives each scene prior to the reveal and undermines the effort and intention put in to that build.

              No such thing happens with unscripted or live events because that narrative build is non-existent. Whose Line Is It Anyway isn't spoiled because you know Ryan won the episode because what's entertaining about it is watching how the actors handle the individual challenges put in front of them. I'd put real money down that most people who watch sports care less about knowing the final score and more about watching the moment-to-moment clashes between players as they overcome the challenges they're faced with over the course of the game.

              You evidently don't feel that way, and that's fine, but I don't think you're representative of sports fans in general. If for you there's no point watching a game because you know the result then there's no entertainment for you derived from the contest so there never really was any point watching it to begin with. If the payoff is just the result, you could have looked that up yourself and saved yourself the wasted time of watching the contest.

                As I already said, some people want to watch things unfold for themselves.

                In my case with competitive matches, knowing the outcome absolutely changes how much I enjoy watching a match... Because everything that happens no longer has the impact it otherwise might have, purely because I'm aware of the final result.

                One team might gain a few goals lead, or suddenly come back near the end to within a goal of winning and still have time left to do so... But none of it matters when you already know the end result.

              And just for the record, if I know someone doesn't want to know the score of a sports match, I don't tell them. But I'm a person, this is a website about games. I really think it's naive for people to come to a site about gaming and not expect to see headlines about who won the latest big contest.

              Nobody makes this complaint about sports headlines in newspapers, there's no reason that this would be any different.

                Sports results are usually on the back of the newspaper for a reason, so you don't have to see them. The only time sports results make the front page are things like the AFL or NRL Grand Final, a major Olympic gold medal win, or sometimes the cricket... though the cricket is seeing less and less results on front page time,but more stupid things crickets caught doing.

                  Wouldn't you say a $24M tournament is on the same level as a grand final, though? As far as esports events go I don't think there's anything bigger.

    I watch Game of Thrones a day late every week....so far I've avoided spoilers completely....despite the annoying posts you put on here after every damn episode.

    No-one on my social media pages posts spoilers....that may have something to do with why I allow their posts to show up to begin with.

      Someone I know posts a queen victory tally after every episode, eg. Dany: x Cersei: y
      His 'excuse' was "stay off the internet!". He can be a bit of a dick, so I blocked his posts.

        As would I...and unfriend him too if it wasn't someone I cared about.

    Remember when AMC spoiled the death of Beth in The Walking Dead?

    The channel broadcasting the show spoiled the episode for everyone in the world who wasn't located on the east coast of the USA

      Yeah, but in that case it was Beth and everyone was just goddamn happy it happened.

        were we watching the same show? Beth was actually a useful contributor by that point.

          In what world? Because she sang a song or because she got herself trapped with a bunch of morons in a hospital?

          Beth was a trivial character given way too much attention at the cost of better characters screentime.

            the whole part between her dad dying and being kidnapped where she grew and learnt from Darryl.

      I haven't watched that episode yet!

      Or any other episode for that matter, but spoilers dude :-P

      "X Amount Of Time Has Passed"
      Apparently you weren't meant to assume that enough time has passed that it's ok to spoil that. :P

    I don't usually get too annoyed with spoilers, its part of living in a connected world I guess.

    However, this one time I was playing an online game (rust), I glance down to the chat to see what people are up too and there it is in all capitals.

    KYLO REN IS HAN SOLO'S SON AND HE DIES BY HIM.

    Opening day in the cinemas. That one actually did get to me.

      Star Wars has been out for 2 years and literally everyone's seen it, and yet you still had the decency to spoiler tag it. Kudos!

        Vader's Lukes father in Empire Strikes Back.
        Palpatine actually created Anakin via Midichlorians, we find out in Episode 3.
        Benedict Cumberbatch is playing KHAN NOONYEN SINGH in Star Trek Into Darkness.
        SHE is really a HE in the Crying Game.
        Kevin Spacey is Keyser Sosei in The Usual Suspects.

        Damn it, where's them tags...

          I am disappointed in you @Weresmurf! You forgot:

          SNAPE KILLED DUMBLEDOOR
          ROSEBUD WAS HIS SLED!

      yeah I had a little kid spoil that one for me the day before I was going to see it.

      I worked as a lifeguard and he's lucky i didn't drown him.... ;P

    Acceptable justification for posting spoilers: you have an earnest wish to get your head caved in with a brick.

    It pretty much boils down to : people think they can act however they want because they are online.
    It's a strange and somewhat cowardly phenomenon. But it's everywhere online.
    My general rule is, if I wouldn't do/say it in public it's prob not acceptable online. There isn't some seperate set of rules.
    Jerks online hide behind anonymity because they are cowards. Small minded people. Losers.

    I had THAT moment in Final Fantasy VII ruined by my brother way back when I was first playing the game 20 years ago. I had avoided most spoilers about the game and was still on the first disc. My brother walked in while I was playing, noticed I was using THAT character in my party, and just blurted out completely unprovoked and out of the blue:

    "You realise she dies, right?"

    He probably thought he was being helpful or something - he noticed I was using THAT character in my party and thought I was wasting my time levelling THAT character up...and that him telling me this information would help my playthrough. No...no...it really didn't. You just spoiled and ruined a major story arc in the game before I reached it. Thanks a lot, little brother.

    As you can see, I still haven't really forgiven him for it.

    The internet is a tool for discussing things. People who want to discuss things go on the internet to read about and contribute to discussions about things.

    Some of the things people like to discuss are what they've seen or read about recently, even when some other people have perhaps not yet got around to seeing, doing or reading about that thing. Waiting for discussions to be permitted only after every person ever born, or due to be born in the future, has experienced that thing is not possible, practical or even desirable.

    People who want to wipe the web clean of all discussions that might, possibly at some point in the future, should they decide to wait until the first 85% off Steam sale, 'spoil' an experience that they might one day (but probably won't) have, should probably just avoid this entire web thinggie entirely.

      I'm pretty sure the internet is a tool for porn.

      But if you do want to discuss something you've seen or read recently, there's probably a million places you can do that without spoiling it for people who don't want it spoiled.

        I'm pretty sure the internet is a tool for porn.

        I know that's why I come to Kotaku, but surely someone here reads it for the articles.

      And those discussions can be clearly labelled to ward off anyone who does not wish to be spoiled by them. Case point: the three Business Insider articles the other day prefixed with "[SPOILERS]" discussing the leaked/stolen GoT scripts. What they were doing on Business Insider is anyone's guess, but they did the headlines right, at least.

        it's interesting you use Business Insider as the example, as they used to be terrible for titling the articles with what would happen in the episode.. and as they're tagged as 'news' in Google they'd show up first in a google search for 'walking dead'

          I was just citing the first example that came to mind, and that one likely stuck because of how uncharacteristically clearly it was labelled.

            let's hope it's a sign of them acknowledging the errors of their spoilery ways.

              Looks like it could be - Kotaku's GoT "recap" articles (and the number of recent articles discussing spoilers in general, across the Allure sites) seem to be indicative of movement of some kind.

    But what is a real spoiler? Even something as simple as “it was the best episode ever” can ruin a show for someone by setting expectations.
    I think I disagree with this. Unless a person has an obvious and profound love for a certain character, there's not enough context to warrant calling it a "spoiler".

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