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read biography for - karne

 karne ( 13th May 2003, 12:13, Rank: GSV )  reply

because they're EVIL!

/me fedns of scouge spoilers

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 13th May 2003, 12:41, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

lol! Spoilers aren't intrinsically evil (neither are spoiler readers, honest!). It's only people that don't label spoilers that are really evil. One of the reasons I read spoilers is that I found it difficult to keep up to date on 'news' without getting attacked by spoilers. And if I'm going to be spoiled I'd rather it were done in a systematic fashion.

read biography for - John Kirk

 John Kirk ( 13th May 2003, 13:35, Rank: Patrician )  reply

I think people who read spoilers can be divided into two categories - there are some who deliberately go to websites that contain the info, and there are others who just encounter them (mainly on the internet, or on TV). Personally, I will go out of my way to avoid spoilers, although this can be tricky sometimes.

Back in the 80s, there was a trend for mini-trailers at the start of an episode, e.g. in "The A Team" - you'd get a 30 second montage of explosions etc. I'm glad they've moved away from that, but the modern equivalent is that when you're watching the end of "Buffy", they'll take up half of the screen with a "next on Angel" clip. If I'm watching that on video, then I'll fast-forward through it, with my hand blocking the screen (just a corner visible so that I know when to stop). If it's live TV, then I'll close my eyes tightly and stick my fingers in my ears!

There's a similar issue with trailers for films. I think "Johnny English" did this well - the trailer gave you a good idea of the style of humour in the film, but didn't have any clips from beyond the first 10 minutes. Whereas when I saw the trailer for "The Recruit", I thought "well, that probably would have been a good film if I hadn't just been told all the plot twists, so I won't bother watching it now!"

On the internet, the main problem is due to international time lag. For instance, the USA get new comics on Wednesday, whereas they don't arrive in the UK until Thursday/Friday, so I'll wait a couple of days before I read messages from a mailing list. No problem. In the case of TV programs, the delay is normally much longer, so I simply don't read an American "Buffy" mailing list, since I can't reasonably expect them to avoid spoilers for my benefit. The main problem is when people inadvertently give out spoilers. So, a few years back, there were people discussing the "Supergirl" comic, and saying "the story with Linda and Buzz is quite like the situation with Buffy and Spike", which meant I saw Buffy spoilers that I didn't want to read. Similarly, looking at a recent "Dork Tower" strip: ( - there aren't any spoilers there, but it's certainly flagging up a warning in my mind, so I'll need to be careful once the finale does air.

The thing is, I can understand why people don't want to wait a week to find out what happens next - that's the whole point of a cliffhanger. This is in fact why I started buying comics at speciality shops - ( And I also think that you can still enjoy watching something when you know what's going to happen - otherwise I'd never watch a film/episode twice, or re-read a book. But I also think that reading spoilers does in fact spoil my enjoyment - I like surprises.

There was a situation a while back when someone posted a blatant spoiler about the end of a New Frontier novel to a Peter David mailing list: ( (There was some spoiler space given, but only 16 lines.) Peter David (the author) was very annoyed about that: ( - "I don't know which I find harder to believe: That you flipped to the end of a two-book storyline. Or that you then boasted about it. Do you have ANY idea how much of a an insult that is to the time and energy I put into these books? Do you?" This is mirrored by David Fury's comments in the article that Lorna linked to - the idea that you're not experiencing the story the way they want you to.

In the case of the mailing list, I actually saw Peter David's reply before the message with the spoiler, which put me in an awkward situation of knowing "one of these emails contains info that I really don't want to read". My solution was to get my flatmate (who didn't read the novels) to read the emails for me, and delete the offending one.

It's also worth bearing in mind that even "casting spoilers" can reveal plot points. Primarily because it means that the character is going to survive (well, in most cases...)

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 13th May 2003, 14:41, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, just a few comments.

I actually rather take objection to Peter David's comments. I can understand being frustrated at people reading spoilers, or the end of the book first, but we're not doing anything *wrong* and we're certainly not insulting the writers. If we didn't like the authors/writers then we wouldn't be looking at their books, watching their shows. Frankly, once he's published his book it's the readers who 'own' it. No, I don't know how much time and energy he put into the book, and frankly I don't care. He's either being paid, or he's doing it 'cos he likes it, either way, me reading the end of the book first isn't affecting his life any.

Spoiler space is always a tricky one. Personally I'd say 16 lines is enough, you can never reliably give a whole screen of space due to the widely varying screen sizes. If you're sensitive to spoilers and reading a page there is likely to be spoilers on you should be ready to have to skip sections. The best way I've found is the 'white text on white background' approach, but that's not exactly reliable in e-mail. Or of course for yahoo groups you just use the web interface and nag people to put spoiler warnings in the subject.

For the casting spoilers I agree that they're spoilers (which is why i didn't post them in the article on Angel's renewal). Although of course in the Joss-verse just 'cos a character's still appearing, doesn't mean they haven't died. My general policy is to think about whether people are going to be able to avoid the spoilers forever. Frankly I would be highly impressed if someone manages to not find out the casting on Angel for next season, but am willing to aid them in their endeavour. But I don't consider things like "Buffy ends this season" or "Random Actor X joins Angel cast" spoilers. All the later gives away is that there'll be a new recurring male character.

I guess I'll just be even more careful posting spoiler warnings, and am more than happy to correct things if people think i've given too much info.

read biography for - John Kirk

 John Kirk ( 13th May 2003, 15:34, Rank: Patrician )  reply

As far as Peter David's comments go (which someone else also objected to - (, I think there are two issues. The first thing is that someone read the ending before the rest of the book, and the second thing is that they then told everyone else what it was. He posted a milder complaint about non-sequential reading of a different novel - (, so I think he was mainly annoyed about the person advertising the ending. More specifically, I think it's a question of the way that the information was given. For instance, when other people said (after spoiler space), "I've just finished reading the book, and here are my thoughts", then it's quite reasonable that people would want to discuss the ending, and its implications. However, I think there is an aspect of "I'm a creative artist, and I want people to appreciate my art the way I intended." Taking an extreme example, when there was the recent controversy about the Dixie Chicks, I can certainly understand why they'd be upset about people burning their albums etc., even though the protestors are just destroying their own property.

As far as spoiler space goes, there is a Usenet protocol for that - the idea is that you type "Ctrl+L" in the middle of the message, then the newsreader will replace that with a blank screen, or a "click to read rest of message" button, or whatever, i.e. the person writing the message doesn't need to allow for different screen sizes. Unfortunately, it was never widely adopted, and there's no equivalent for email.

As far as casting spoilers go, I wasn't actually thinking of your links - as far as I'm concerned, you're always very good about flagging them. But (ironically), Peter David's blog has more detailed info in the first paragraph on the page - ( He used to give out spoilers for episodes, but he's stopped doing that now (by request), as you can see in the 5th/6th entries - you have to click on a link to read the spoilers.

read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 13th May 2003, 16:42, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

As far as yahoo groups are concerned, the easiest way to use them if you don't want spoilers is by the web interface (which I use to browse them) and make sure the admin enforces spoiler warnings in subject lines.

As I said above, one of hte key reasons I took to reading spoilers was that I found them impossible to ignore. Particularly because the word 'spoiler' doesn't convay a great deal of detail - eg whether it's a spoiler for a completely unaired episode, one that's just aired in the US, one that's only aired on Sky etc. But it does start to get very complicated. There are some sites that do it well - bbc buffy site springs to mind, and others like whedonesque which are group moderated.

The Dixie Chicks I believe were upset over the fact htat their albums were being burnt because of something entirely unrelated to their music, in particular them using their right to freedom of speech on a matter of national importance.

On a similar note, Peter David can say whatever he pleases about people reading the ends of his books first, but if that's what people want to do, that's what they'll do. His griping about it is probably only going to irritate them further. If said reader had been complaining about the ending being predictable then he's got cause to say "well, d'uh!" but this person has gone out and paid hard earned cash for his book, saught out his group and gone to the effort of posting - ranting at him that much seems a little harsh.

read biography for - John Kirk

 John Kirk ( 13th May 2003, 18:09, Rank: Patrician )  reply

One other aspect of this is where the original information comes from. If someone has seen a Buffy episode in the US, I can certainly understand why they'd want to post comments about it right away, rather than waiting for it to be broadcast in the rest of the world. And as long as they do it in the right way (i.e. relevant newsgroup, with spoiler warnings), I don't have a problem with that. By contrast, if you have someone who works for the production company leaking scripts, then I'd say that's a lot more dubious. If someone has to use an alias because they'd get in trouble for revealing their real name, then they're probably breaching an NDA by publishing that information. Even if it isn't illegal, I'd certainly consider it a breach of trust. So, that's a situation where I think that the writers etc. can justifiably be upset.

There's a comic I used to read called "Thunderbolts", and there was a huge surprise at the end of the first issue, which meant that the series was actually completely different to what everyone had been expecting. It's significant that this twist wasn't leaked in advance, even though lots of people (in the industry) knew about it, since none of them wanted to spoil it. At the other end of the scale, there was some trouble a couple of years ago when Marvel announced a "Starfox" one-shot. The writer gave an interview to a news site, where he talked about what he had in mind (which I have no objection to). Then the editor sent an email to a mailing list, saying "Don't spread this around, but you shouldn't believe everything you read there" (or words to that effect). Someone on the mailing list then forwarded this to the world at large, which led to the editor leaving that mailing list. It turns out that the original plan was to have several announcements before the release of the comic, all promising bizarrely different plots, so that nobody would be quite sure what to expect from the final story. But this never came to pass, because the comic was never published.

read biography for - John Kirk

 John Kirk ( 20th May 2003, 00:47, Rank: Patrician )  reply

Taking a slightly different slant on this, there's an interesting article here - (, which addresses the problem from the writer's point of view. It's specifically dealing with comics, but the general principles apply to films etc. too.

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