Spoiler Etiquette: A Few Tips As We Head Into Sweeps

04 Apr

Spoilers. It’s almost a dirty word in fandoms. Nearly everyone has been spoiled on a favorite show at one point or another. If you haven’t and you do use social media, well I guess it’s nice to finally meet a unicorn. The thing is, spoilers are everywhere. With so many shows on TV, our attention is demanded by multiple networks. So interviews, clips, photos, and teases of information are given out in hopes of getting you to watch one show over another and bump up those ratings. It’s a sort of curse of our day.

One of the biggest problems around spoilers is in the sharing of them. There are some people who don’t like spoilers at all. They want to be as surprised as they possibly can. Others love to learn spoilers. Both groups have different reasons for their opinions and NEITHER IS WRONG. It’s a personal thing. But where we run into trouble is of course where those two people meet. Are you a jerk if you talk about spoilers on your twitter or reblog a promo pic on tumblr? Or if you complain about it, does that make you a bitch? No. And yes. There’s a level of courtesy, respect, and cold hard truth we can all learn to deal with in terms of spoilers. I’m not saying I have all the answers, but here are a few things that I think it is important to consider.

1) If you don’t want to hear spoilers, take the time to consider how important that is to you. And then make a decision about your time online. It’s not just your friends who talk about spoilers. News media does too and you’re just not going to be able to ignore it completely. I’m sorry to burst the bubble there but that’s a fact. IF YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT, AT SOME POINT YOU WILL GET SPOILED. Accept it, deal with it, and move on. This doesn’t mean you have to be okay with being spoiled (more on that later) just accept that you will at some point be spoiled.

2) KNOW YOUR FRIENDS. I can’t emphasize this enough. Know who likes spoilers and who doesn’t. Also a good idea? Knowing who likes to share spoilers.

3) ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ASK BEFORE TELLING SOMEONE A SPOILER. I don’t care how many times you’ve talked about leaked info or anything else before. Ask before you spoil. They might not have heard it yet and would’ve preferred to stay surprised. ASK FIRST. AND DO NOT ASK “HEY DID YOU HEAR THAT A MAIN CHARACTER IS GOING TO DIE ON ____? WANT TO KNOW WHO?” THIS IS A FUCKING SPOILER. If your idea of asking people if they want to hear a spoiler is this, you can go bite into a razor blade stuffed apple.

4) This next one is admittedly harder to do but try to be vague when talking about spoilers. A private conversation allows you to debate to your heart’s content. But in general, ESPECIALLY if it isn’t a widely released spoiler, be vague and talk more about your feelings than the spoiler itself. Can that still give it away to people who know you? Yeah. But it’s still considerate of others.

5) Finally, once a show has started airing live in any part of the country, ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU ARE SHIT OUT OF LUCK. Look, I know this one is harsh. But it’s the brutal truth of the world we live in. You can ask people to be considerate and expect people to be courteous up until a show airs or a movie is released. After that, all bets are off. It’s just not fair to ask people to censor themselves in the middle of being excited about something that is out there for the general public. I live in the MTN time zone. Believe me, I get spoiled if I forget what time it is and get online early. But don’t blame others for that.

5b) On a related note, if you watched an earlier airing and then you see a friend is watching the episode…DON’T @ THEM WITH A SPOILER FOR LATER IN THE EPISODE. That is such an asshole thing to do. If someone comments about how a couple never seems to find happiness, (or whatever) take a moment and see if they are watching for the first time before you tweet at them and TELL THEM THERE WILL BE A GREAT KISS LATER. If you are the type of person who does this, you can go play in traffic. With knives.

So how do you prevent spoilers if you really do hate them? Here’s a couple ideas that I suggest. First, stop following entertainment news media. Or ask friends which ones are good about being vague in headlines so it’s not a dead giveaway. Those guys have a job to do and sharing info is part of it. If you follow them on twitter, you’re going to be spoiled. Instead, I recommend following a good fan twitter. They’ll keep track of all articles so that you don’t have to follow a bunch of others. Also, turn off retweets. Yes you’ll have to do a little extra work to find articles by going to someone’s twitter account but retweets can spoil you so fast it’s absurd. Turn them off. Tell your friends that you don’t like spoilers and don’t feel bad about unfollowing someone who constantly tweets spoilers. You’re not unfollowing because you don’t like them, it’s just that you have a desire to stay unspoiled. THAT IS TOTALLY OKAY AND IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE UNFOLLOWED, BE UNDERSTANDING. And during live airings of a show, a couple things can save you. First, stay off tumblr. It’s like a minefield with spoilers. Do yourself a favor and don’t get on tumblr until you’ve seen an episode. As for twitter, open your profile page, not your main page. So like for me, I would open That keeps @s, RT’s and spoilerrific posts away until I’m ready to view them. It’s not perfect, but it allows me to share my thoughts without being totally spoiled while I’m watching.

At the end of the day, neither side is going to find a perfect answer. For those who like spoilers to be 100% considerate means having to censor everything they say. Those who want to be spoiler free, have to be 100% away from the internet. That’s not a happy medium. But if those of you who love spoilers take 10 seconds to be considerate of those who don’t, and those who hate them accept that spoilers exist and you might run across them inadvertently, we can come a lot closer to a healthy online environment.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Let's Talk TV, Pull Out the Soapbox


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One response to “Spoiler Etiquette: A Few Tips As We Head Into Sweeps

  1. Dayna Dawn Small (AKA Dayna Barter)

    April 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I think a lot of the problem around “spoilers” is that some people believe that “anything I don’t want to know” = “spoiler.” By definition, anything a production releases for the purpose of it being publicly consumed, such as a promo for an episode that has not yet aired, is NOT a spoiler. Casting news = NOT a spoiler. And if someone is so “spoiler”-phobic that they feel it is, they not only need to stay offline, but not watch any television because commercials are going to promo the shit out of stuff. Discussion of books that shows or movies are based on is NOT a spoiler. Just because you haven’t read it does not make it a spoiler, and no one has a duty to not discuss it in a spot where you might see it.

    Now, if someone has some behind-the-scenes, insider knowledge, THAT’S a spoiler, and no, it shouldn’t just be thrown out there for public consumption. Take some small comfort in the fact that the insider who shared the information will likely not remain an insider for long.

    And, as Melissa said, once an episode airs, it is NOT a spoiler. If you’re in a later time zone, stay offline or do as she suggests and just Tweet from your profile page, not your home page.

    And lastly, FFS, if you DO go online when you shouldn’t and are “spoiled,” accept your own responsibility in the matter and STFU about it, already!


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