Some weeks ago we started a discussion about how to handle spoilers after a GeekMail was read during our podcast that spoiled something in Avengers Age of Ultron. The podcast episode dropped 13 days after Age of Ultron came out, but it did spoil for at least one listener and was worth discussing. Because spoilers are a very real concern in our information age and especially among people who care passionately about the subject potentially being spoiled–which is, of course, you our readers and listeners. After giving the matter some thought, I believe I have come to a fair way to handle spoilers moving forward and so I am proposing the Gabbing Geek Spoiler Policy after the break. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Right off the bat we have to define a spoiler. Spoilers are anything that reveal an important detail about a creative work. It’s a big category and there are a number of tricky elements hiding in that seemingly simple definition:
- Important. Is casting news important? Sometimes, like when it reveals a character that will be in a movie. Other times, not so much. Revealing that Tom Hardy was cast as Mad Max doesn’t seem like a spoiler. But if a story had come out that Jada Pinkett Smith had a cameo in Fury Road playing Auntie Entity, that could be a spoiler as well.
- Confirmation. Is a rumor a spoiler? The obvious answer is only if it turns out to be true, otherwise it’s just a fake story. But you can’t know the difference ahead of time.
- Reveal. It’s impossible to know what content has been seen by our readers and listeners. So while it might feel safe to reveal that Darth Vader is [REDACTED]’s father because the movie is over 30 years old, the fact is that some of our listeners haven’t seen Empire Strikes Back no matter how many times we tell them to see it.
Thinking through all of these elements it became evident that what we really needed was a policy on when to use Spoiler Warnings. These are advanced warnings that something we feel is important about a creative work is going to be discussed and our readers or listeners may want to avoid the content until they can see the work in question for themselves.
Below are the five rules I have proposed for the Gabbing Geek Spoiler Warning.
- The 50% Rule. Spoiler Warnings will be given for any discussion of an important detail for content that 50% of the viewing public has not yet seen. Look, we’re geeks here. It’s in the name. So it’s fair to assume that we’re at least in the first half of people to watch a movie or TV show we really want to see. Virtually every movie that goes into wide release has grossed over 50% of their total box office by the end of their second weekend (so about 10 days after opening). For TV shows the biggest ratings measurement is Live + 3 days (and sometimes a slight bump for Live + 7 days). So if we’re discussing a spoiler for a movie that hasn’t been out for 10 days or a TV episode that hasn’t been out for 4 days then we will post a Spoiler Warning.
- Rumors Versus Spoilers. All rumors will be mentioned ahead of time but they aren’t spoilers. If they are revealing something that would be a spoiler if true, we’ll try to give a warning as well.
- No Spoilers In Headlines. Because that’s just mean.
- Books and Netflix Will Be Played By Ear. It’s hard to say when 50% of the audience will read a book or watch a Netflix series. A book is probably safe shortly after paperback release since that’s typically a year after release. For Netflix you could give it as many weeks as there are episodes. But we may have to adjust some of those times depending on when we catch wind of them.
Hopefully that will give everyone some comfort in reading our content and prioritizing their geek content consumption. But if you have any recommended changes to the policy, let us know in the comments!