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The Right to be Spoiler Free

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The actress who plays Arya Stark on HBO’s production of Game of Thrones believes that people have read the book and talk about the book in front of people who have not read the series but watch it on television are snobby individuals ruining the series for everyone else.

“I’m so sick of going on the internet and seeing all the book readers being snobby, spoiling it for other people, then saying, ‘Well, it’s not a spoiler. The books have been out for years,'” she told TVLine.

It’s true that the internet is a hotbed of spoilers. There are places that post the endings of movies like themoviespoiler.net. There are entire wikis devoted to the breakdown of popular books into their finest minutiae. (see e.g., Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Marvel comics). Ms. Williams says that its mean of readers to spoil the series for non readers.

“Like, couldn’t you just stop being mad for a second and let other people enjoy the show? They feel they have a claim on the series because they read the books first, and I understand that, but they don’t need to be mean about it.”

I admit to having read the books and know what is coming. Spoiler: nothing good. And when Red Wedding, a scene involving shocking brutality and deaths, splashed onto the screen, I was this guy in this gif, smug in my knowledge that not only had I read the Red Wedding scene but I knew it wasn’t even the most horrible thing Martin had written in the series. Spoiler: It’s all horrible.

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Williams’ statement about spoilers sets the perfect stage for this discussion because it sets forth three of the conflicts that exist in spoilers v. non spoilers. Does someone who has superior knowledge gained through early consumption of a media work have the responsibility to refrain from discussing something with individuals who may or may not have lesser knowledge? Whose right to use the internet is greater? What are the motivations for publicly sharing information that could be deemed a spoiler?

Who’s right to the public space is greater?

Williams argues that she should be able to go on to the internet and participate on her favorite sites without being subject to spoilers. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads are all venues that are open to the public.  All three contain spoilers for books and movies that are nonchalantly and intentionally thrown out at any time of the day. Sometimes there are random comments on message board forums. Sometimes there is a status update on Goodreads. Sometimes it’s an offhanded tweet and sometimes its an intentional Facebook update designed to specifically impart information. (And this is not counting the sites that are devoted to giving spoilers).

Does the right not to be spoiled in a public space supercede the right of the other person to have a discourse about media that they’ve consumed? Because it is a public space and as Williams’ words suggest, she is taking an active part in going on the internet, a public medium. Should the person who hasn’t seen the movie or read the books simply stay off the internet to preserve their ignorance so that the media consumption is pure?

In the above youtube video, a man tries to avoid every mention of the World Cup Soccer match from the moment he leaves his office to the time that he arrives home. He’s taped it, he informs those around him, and doesn’t want to be spoiled. He covers his ears, shades his eyes, rolls up his car window. When he arrives home, he believes he’s safe, only to have his daughter run out of the living room declaring the outcome of the match. (I won’t spoil it any more for you ;) )

To some extent, if you want to remain spoil free, you almost can’t enter the internet’s public space because there are millions of people who have consumed the book and even if you try to remain spoil free by doing everything humanly possible, it’s easy for the spoiler to leak through. For those who haven’t read the book or watched the movie or television show, once the spoiler is read or heard, it cannot be undone and thus the consumption experience may be adversely affected.

Whose right is greater? The one who wants to discuss or the one who wants to be spoiler free?

How long should the public space remain spoiler free?

Assume that the right to be spoiler free takes precedence. A person could remain spoiler free if only those with knowledge would just keep it to themselves. But for how long?

Individuals on the West Coast often suffer spoilers on the internet from viewers on the East Coast who tweet or Facebook about something in real time. The Game of Thrones books have been out for years as have the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Is saying something about Thorin’s fate a spoiler to those who haven’t read the book that has been out since 1937?  What about Little Women? If I say who Laurie, the hot rich boy next door, ends up with, is that a spoiler? 

What’s the timing? Wait until the movie is made and then speak of it? It’s only okay to do a real time update if it is a simultaneous broadcast? How long after a book is released can we talk about what happened? I.e., in Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady, there is a big surprise that is revealed about half way in. The book was published in 2008. Or how about Pia’s secret in Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison? That book was published in 2011.

If you say never, why is the right never to be spoiled for some person trump the right of others to share the information?

What is a spoiler? And what is the motivation?

In this review by Eagle of Colleen Hoover’s book Maybe Someday she mentions that the hero Ridge has a disability. This is information included in the first 15 % of the book. Many of the fangirl reactions to the review indicate that they believe it’s an inexcusable reveal of a spoiler and some infer that it must be because the reviewer hated the author.

Ms. Williams also suggests that there is meanspiritedness behind spoiling. For me, I actively seek out spoiler reviews for particular books so that I know if a character dies or if there is a cliffhanger. When I read paperbacks, I flicked to the back. Often. Most of the time. I know for many readers, they have triggers whether it is rape, abuse, violence, and we try to point those out here in reviews. It’s hard to know where the line should be drawn for spoilers.

On the blog, we have the spoiler button but I’ve heard from others, and not in a derogatory manner, that our reviews contain too many spoilers. They are information filled and maybe are best read after a book is released rather than before. (Although I write my reviews based on what information I would want to know as a reader going into a purchase).

Spoilers can often get me to read a book as well. But I try to be cognizant that there are others who like to experience everything on their own. It’s just how to balance their right to have a pure experience between my right to talk about it.

What are your answers to these questions? How do we balance the right to speak publicly about our entertainment consumption and the right to be spoiler free?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

54 Comments

  1. Sirius
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 06:31:43

    Eh, I am like you I actively seek out spoilers most of the time especially when I read romances , I flip to the last page to be sure that there is no character death even when I read a lit fic – and it is a good thing for the book because if there is ending I don’t like I can prepare myself for it. I try to resist to do so when I read mysteries, but even that is hard. I feel that more readers do not like spoilers than those who do so when I write my reviews I try really hard to write in a non spoilerish way. There are instances when this just does not happen because I have to talk about spoilers that bothered me, but I do try. Now re: discussions – I don’t know whose right to talk about books and movies with spoilers or without spoiiers supersede one another, but I do think that it is often inevitable that something spoilerish may slip no matter how hard people try and if one really wants to avoid spoilers one should avoid discussions completely – just in case. I do think people should be considerate especially in case of new books and movies and not spoil for other people, but things happen – if one talks about content, things happen. I do also think that it is silly to hope not to be spoiled when book was out in 2008 and even 2011 and in those situations people who have not read it definitely should not read any related discussions till they are done with the book – just too much time passed IMO.

  2. Keishon
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 06:40:08

    Interesting commentary and topic. It should be understood that there will be people who have never read or watched what the masses have read and watched. So, there should be some responsibility to warn others away who don’t want to be spoiled. From my experience and observations, most people try to preserve the “pure experience”of others so that he or she can have the same experience. It’s only fair. I think the internet is usually pretty good at spoiler warnings. At least give people the choice and fair warning. I don’t think one has to trump the other. Of course, the most challenging thing about spoilers is what constitutes a spoiler? Almost anything said is considered a spoiler outside of the main details. To end, spoilers don’t bother me either. Sharing a few choice spoilers is a great way to get me to read or watch something.

  3. Sirius
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 06:51:09

    Keishon – I definitely agree about warnings, that goes without saying, but also as you said – sometimes there are details that one may not even think are spoilerish. I usually put two or three spoiler warnings in my reviews if I have to disclose something important, but I may not even think that something is spoiler. Still think that as long as one enters discussion about book or movie one should not expect to be completely spoiler free if just by accident.

  4. Sandra
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 06:52:08

    Reminds me of the joke making the rounds when Titanic The Movie came out. Guy comes out of the theater and announces to the crowd waiting to enter: “the boat sinks”.

    There are spoilers and then there are SPOILERS. I try to avoid reviews for new books that I have in my TBR (I skipped the review for Magic Breaks, for ex.) just so I don’t see any spoilers. For other books that I may be wavering on, I’ll read spoilers to see if it’s something I’m interested in. Finding out the big reveal in Spymaster’s Lady would have been a major spoiler. When rereading, it’s obvious that Bourne tells you from page one, but that’s an AHA! moment that would be missed with spoilers.

    When a book is adapted to a movie, I don’t think there’s an obligation on readers to remain silent, especially if it’s an older book. Spoilers such as Thorin’s fate become topics of discussion. Will the movie remain true to the book, or will Jackson change the outcome? What happens next in GOT, and how will it be handled? There have already been discussions about how the Outlander series may differ from the books.

    Even if it’s a recent book, especially a hugely popular one (Twilight, Hunger Games, FSOG), the storyline is often known to the public in general terms long before the movie/TV show ever hits the screen. It’s not a spoiler when everybody walking into theater already knows the boat’s going to sink. It’s the journey the movie takes you on to get to that point that’s important.

  5. Tabs
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 07:39:27

    I ran into the spoil or not spoil conundrum a fee weeks ago with a Harlequin Presents. The plot involved an accidental pregnancy but the pregnancy ends in a miscarriage well into the book and the heroine’s pregnancy.

    It was so important to the story that I didn’t know how to write a review without mentioning it. I also WANTED to mention it because of how well I thought the author had handled it. But I really didn’t want to spoil the story for anyone and I fet that even mentioning there was a spolier involving the pregnancy would be saying too much. I also didn’t want to just write something vague because of how triggerring pregnancy loss can be for many people.

    I ended up just putting a star rating on goodreads and not writing anything substantial.

    To spoil or not spoil is HARD, yo.

  6. Brie
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 07:47:41

    Spoilers can be useful and help us make informed decisions, but I like having control over them. It’s not the same to actively decide to seek and read a spoiler than to come across one accidentally. This is one of the many reasons why I dislike and try not to read early reviews, because, as others have said, what constitutes a spoiler can vary from person to person, and even when people try to give hints without spoiling, those hints aren’t usually as subtle as they think they are.

    But reviews are easy to avoid, so if I get spoiled, it will probably be my own fault. Social media, on the other hand, is trickier. The day after the new Kate Daniels book was out, someone tweeted her excitement over an important plot point that happened in the middle of the book. It was such a blatant spoiler, that I’m surprised this person, who happens to be a blogger, didn’t get any flak about it. I follow someone who randomly live-tweets shows day(s) after they aired, which is very obnoxious, and also makes it harder to avoid spoilers I thought I had avoided by not being on twitter the night the show was aired.

    I think we can have all the spoilerific conversations and discussions we want while still being mindful of those who haven’t consumed the show/movie/book.

    @Sandra: To me, there is an obligation not to spoil someone’s enjoyment of a movie or show just because the book has been out for years. It’s about respecting how a person chooses to experience that particular story and not ruining it for them. Accidents happen, of course, but if I know someone hasn’t read the book and doesn’t want to know, then I can, and will, keep quiet.

  7. Carolyne
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 07:50:55

    I care about experiencing the surprises and reveals of a movie/book as they unfold. Taking the emotional ride of a story is of key importance to me–unless it’s something I feel so bland toward I might not see/read it at all. If I know what’s on the way, instead of being in the moment, I’m separated from the story and watching the mechanics of it. So I stay out of online discussions, off tumblr, etc. It’s not up to me to demand that people not enjoy themselves gushing over something that excites them or analysing story points. Like the poor guy in the commercial, I try not to put myself in a situation to encounter plot details.

    I trust an actual reviewer to be adept at handling spoilers–tagging them, hiding them, stating in advance that the review will contain spoilers. If a reviewer can’t do that, or doesn’t draw the line where I would, then I simply don’t read that reviewer anymore.

    I stopped reading any film reviews at all from a local big-deal artsy newspaper–come to think of it, I’ve stopped reading the paper entirely–when its reviewer revealed the Shyamalan-like twist of a newly released film in the first words of the first sentence (“The so-and-so is really a such-and-such, but the end of the movie isn’t the most interesting thing about it” or something like that). It’s not up to the reviewer to decide whether it’s the journey or the surprise that has more weight for the viewer or reader.

    But that’s a reviewer. The rest of us hoi polloi? I’d wish for a courtesy warning in a common space where one isn’t expecting to see spoilers. But I can’t demand it, and I don’t count on it.

    Some information is so widely known and part of a long cultural experience that it’s likely to filter through no matter what. I’d be bummed if I wanted to read Moby Dick or Romeo and Juliet and heard the ending first, but I wouldn’t be mad. But I’ve been hypersensitive about spoilers in newer popular culture ever since my mother spoiled the big reveal of The Empire Strikes Back when I was kid (so, before everyone in the universe knew it) the day before my father was going to take me to see it. She assumed I knew, and I think she was just trying to be part of this weird science fiction fanaticism the other two of us had. I’ve been jumpy ever since the Empire incident.

    I won’t spoil it for you.

  8. Tina
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:19:01

    I read her remarks and frankly felt they sounded a bit petulant to me. I read & watch live tweets of GOT and for the most part people have been really good about not revealing stuff only crowing about it after and revealing more details. Mainly because A) there still exists a sort of code that it is mean-spirited reveal a big secret and b) because on some level people want to see the reaction of the person once the secret is revealed to them. To re-live vicariously their own reaction to the reveal. I do think people were upset that the show veered away from the books in a very critical plot element. I admit I was bummed because it was one of the things that made that book stand out for me as well. So i wonder if some of the meanness she is seeing is anger because of the difference?

    On the whole, I do think people are sensitive to spoilers and try not to be That Guy. But I do think (and somewhat agree with) the feeling that after a certain time has passed that some of the rigid secret-keeping can be relaxed a bit. Once a pivotal plot point in a book/movie/show has been out circulating long enough, there becomes a tipping point after which is becomes a tick ludicrous to continue to insists on some sort of high level conspiracy of silence. And even untenable.

    I remember when the movie The Crying Game came out. All the reviews alluded to this huge secret plot twist in the middle. It actually acted as a sort of selling point for the movie because people were so darned curious about what it could be. Not a single review revealed it at the time. Even people who went and saw the movie still didn’t reveal it. Sure, this was before twitter & the internet exploded, but there were Bit.listerves and people still talked, but even so people were respectful. Nowadays people still will talk around it, but honestly the movie was released 23 years ago and any even casual look at stuff surrounding it will reveal the twist.

    And of course that doesn’t even get into what is a spoiler and what isn’t. I wrote a review on Amazon and someone pitched a fit in the comments about a spoiler I revealed. Now, mind you this was something that was revealed in the first six pages of the book. If one reads the sample, one would have seen it easily. So sometimes you really can’t win.

  9. library addict
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:25:11

    I think people vary so much on what is considered a spoiler. I like some spoilers and other things—such as the book’s blurb—I don’t consider to be a spoiler though others do.

    On one message board we were discussing Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series (which a lot of us read for the first time last year) and one poster felt listing who the h/h’s of the books in the series which were already published were was a spoiler. I disagreed.

    I can understand how hard it is to avoid spoilers. I had avoided reading books 5 and 6 of Harry Potter thinking I could enjoy the movies more. I managed to avoid all spoilers for a few years (and that was difficult to do!). But at the end of film 5 (which I liked not knowing what was going happen at all), a big spoiler from book 6 was announced very loudly by two teenaged girls behind me in the audience. Needless to say I read the remaining books out at the time right after so that I could read 7 as soon as it was released and enjoy it spoiler free.

    It’s hard to avoid spoilers and I do sympathize with people. But I am more on the side of people who have read the book/seen the movie being able to discuss things than I am on the side of no one can say anything on the off chance someone is spoiled.

    The time issue is also a huge factor. I knew some events from the Psy/Changeling series before I read the books as the series had been out for a while before I started it. And I read a lot of book blogs and had discussed the series with reading friends as part of general book discussions about series. So though I had not been actively seeking out spoilers, some things were “spoiled” for me because I came so late to the series.

    If the folks watching Game of Thrones really want to be spoiler free they can either (a) read the books or (b) stay off the internet and at home. That’s the reality of the situation. Because it has become such a pulp culture phenomenon nowhere online is truly safe. Someone in line at the grocery store could day something. Or wherever. I know more about the series than I ever wanted to and I have neither read the books nor see the show. Then again I feel that way about reality TV stars too. When something reaches that level of saturation there’s no avoiding it 100%.

  10. library addict
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:34:25

    Oops, meant to add I agree with other commentors that most people try not to spoil major events/turning points for people they know have not seen a show/read a book. And a big part of that is wanting to allow the new person to have the same experience of discovery even if it years later.

    I also think if you have friends you know have certain triggers most people do try to at least offer a word of caution when they know a friend will have a bad reaction to a book, movie, or TV show. Spoilers are not always a bad thing.

  11. Jorrie Spencer
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:45:02

    Fun conversation! (And I love the FIFA commercial.)

    I can go either way, but it depends on the book/movie. If a book is out that I know I want to read, it’s up to me to avoid reviews and conversations. Otoh, I like to read reviews of unknown-to-me books and click through spoiler buttons.

    That said, once I commit in my mind to read something, I try to come to the book cold. I think, for example, reading the Attolia series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia), I got more out of the experience by avoiding the cover copy of the books.

    For shows, however, like GoT, I am happy to get all the spoilers, so I’m braced for the next horrible thing. I still haven’t watched season 3 (and only read book 1) but feel better prepared for the Red Wedding. Plus, given I’m two seasons behind, it’s on me to avoid spoilers if I feel the need to do so.

    Twitter is a bit unpredictable, so there are probably going to be times I am spoiled when I’d have rather not been. But the benefits of wide-ranging discussions far outweighs that downside for me. I do feel most people are fairly sensitive to the issue of spoilers and have no desire to force them on others, including people who like spoilers themselves. And if I really need to discuss something that I think will affect others’ reading, I tend to take it private.

  12. hapax
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 08:54:52

    True story: When waiting in line to see THE RETURN OF THE JEDI (on opening day!), one of the crowd who had seen the first showing exited the theatre loudly exclaiming [SPOILER]

    “I just can’t believe that Leia was Luke’s sister!”

    Spoiler? Sure. Thoughtless? Very. Rude? Oh yeah.

    Did it ruin the movie for me (I can’t speak for anybody else)? Not nearly as much as those furshluginner Ewoks.

    I rather like spoilers, and like others here, will often skip to the end of the book to make sure that I won’t be destroyed by the ending. I always appreciate a heads-up on problematic plot points, and can more comfortably enjoy the characters’ narrative journey if I’m not worried about them all of the time.

    But that’s me, and I can understand how different people can experience their favorite entertainment differently. But is there a “right” not to be spoiled? No, no more than I have a “right” to be warned of potential triggers.

    What there is, is a courtesy; and all courtesy and manners are a product of cultural negotiation. And since there are different reading /viewing cultures, it is both polite and safer for everyone to signal which culture they belong to: “Warning, this is a spoileriffic review”; “Hey, I haven’t seen it yet, please don’t tell me what happens”; “Here be shipping / fanwank /wild speculation, but no actual knowledge” and the like.

    But honestly, people who venture out to the interwebs (or into movie theatre lobbies, to be honest) demanding everyone else to conform automatically to their particular cultural expectations don’t get much sympathy from me.

  13. Evaine
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 09:07:23

    I avoid everything. I never read the reviews (until after I’ve read the book), here or elsewhere, nor do I read excerpts or free chapters. I like to be as spoiler-free as possible or else I find the experience is somewhat diminished for me. To be honest, I don’t understand this prevailing wish to know so much about a book before actually reading it – to me it renders the work less interesting, less powerful, less OMG I have to read the next chapter NOW! I depend on an interesting blurb, experience with an author’s work, a recommendation by a trusted friend and I also look to see what authors I really enjoy are reading and enjoying.

    I’m a grown-up, I know how this thing called the internet and social media etc… works and it’s up to no one but this woman here *points to self* to avoid the things that will ruin my reading experience. I also try and be as careful and circumspect as possible when I’m on the other end of the spoiler.

    To use the example of who Laurie ends up with in “Little Women”, if I’m talking to someone who is reading the book or thinking about it, I won’t say anything unless they ask to be spoiled, but that’s just polite, I think. In the end, I don’t think that in this world of the internet you can count on people not dropping spoilers for anything that’s more than a few hours old. *LOL* If that!

  14. Lozza
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 09:31:32

    I love spoilers. I actively seek them out for most books and I often find myself frustrated by the lack of spoilers- there are tons of books that I’ve been interested in but haven’t bought because the blurb, or a review, referenced some kind of big secret or misunderstanding, and I couldn’t find a spoiler for what it was.

    I think this is because there are certain relatively common plot elements that aren’t necessarily a problem for other people, but are a huge no-go for me. I don’t mind sexual violence, I’m usually ok with miscarriage, but as a general rule I do not read dead exes, and I do not like it when the hero has children with someone besides the heroine (particularly if he impregnates someone after he’s already met the heroine).

  15. autonomous
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 10:09:09

    I’m not too sensitive about spoilers. Sometimes I actively seek them out while other times I try to avoid them. Sometimes, knowing the spoiler allows me to adjust my expectations and I can then relax and enjoy the book more knowing what’s looming ahead. It really depends on the situation and the book, though.

    I try to use common courtesy and good common sense when I’m discussing books with people in a public place. In my experience, most people at least make an effort to give a spoiler warning before blurting out anything too major. I don’t think you can discuss books without spoilers, though. People who expect book discussion threads to be spoiler free or heavily tagged with spoiler warnings stifle discussion for those who have actually read and agreed to discuss the material. If you haven’t read the book being discussed, you enter at your own risk and accept responsibility for it.

    @hapax said: But honestly, people who venture out to the interwebs (or into movie theatre lobbies, to be honest) demanding everyone else to conform automatically to their particular cultural expectations don’t get much sympathy from me.

    I’m not too sympathetic either. Usually it just annoys me.

  16. Diana
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 10:46:56

    @Lozza: YES. I’m in the same boat as you. I always read spoilery reviews on Goodreads or blogs before I commit to a book, because I want to know if they have triggering stuff or super annoying characters.

    On the rare occasions that I do want to have a clean, unspoiled read, I just avoid discussion of the book until I’ve read it. Honestly, if you want to venture into reviews and critical discussion of a book before you’ve read it, and want to remain unspoiled at the same time… You’re asking for a lot, imho. It just takes a little self-control sometimes to not delve too deeply into the internet fray, regarding that book. I should add that I am not on Twitter (where it seems like it’s much harder to avoid spoilers), but I am on Tumblr. People are mostly respectful of spoilers there, and if not — you can always download Tumblr Savior and set it to avoid showing anything tagged with certain labels. Has worked for me so far.

    Imo, accidentally being spoiled about something is one of the potential risks you take when you enter an online community. It’s great that the large majority of people are respectful and awesome, but to expect that everyone will prioritize your reading experience above their reactions — it’s not going to happen all the time.

  17. P. J. Dean
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:09:49

    I tend to stay away from in-depth book or movie reviews. i want to read or watch with fresh eyes. Okay, they may be stinkers because I didn’t Google the Hell out of them to find out everything but, Geesh! what has happened to enjoying the journey? Hordes of people rush through stuff to the end. Don’t get it. Just gotta know all before hand. Why? Gotta know the how, the when, the what, the who before they even crack a book spine or look at a screen. Talk about no mystery or surprise. Why read it at all? Why go see the movie at all? i’m dating myself here but I went to see “Rocky Horror Picture Show” that DAY it came out in my city without ever hearing or reading jack about it. Did I know what I was going to see? No. Didn’t care. it was just a movie with the then cutie Barry Bostwick. Was I disappointed? No. But you know what? I lurved it! and that’s how I’ve approached books and films since then. It’s not for everyone but I am a journey type of girl. (Not the band, but I like them too)

  18. Sirius
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:21:35

    PJ Dean – that’s how most people in my RL reading circle (not that many – ten? twelve?) seem to think and find my reading habits kind of crazy – that I want to know how the book ends in the majority of the situations.

    Since I mostly want to know whether the character would stay alive or not, I do not feel like I am robbing myself of the journey you know? I think it all boils down to the fact that when I read for myself, my emotions are very involved and I want to be sure that the character I may fell for (not just in romances) will at least survive the journey.

    Of course there are also genre expectations and if the book is not a lit fic, I want to see that the ending is okay overall, but all I read are two three pages at the end.

    Although I am fully okay with learning other spoilers along the way.

    When I picked up “Magic breaks” for example I read the last page first minute I did that – well last page was a short story, so I went to the last page of the book.

    I was very worried that the “new direction” writers were talking about did not mean Kate and Curran breaking up and wanted to find out. No, I am not saying whether they did or did not, do not worry, all I am saying that especially in series I have certain expectations formed by the previous books. But usually I just need to know if the main character is dead (not from the old age) at the end.

    And yes, I wanted one of my friends who went to get last Harry Potter book in the store at midnight to read me the last page on the phone to find out whether Harry survived.

    She refused. I wonder why :-).

  19. Anonymous
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:22:57

    After the Red Wedding episode aired, there were so many .gifs and videos posted afterwards by the book-reading show-watchers of their unspoiled friends gasping in horror. That episode was a huge shock to all the viewers who hadn’t read the books. And yet, as a friend of mine pointed out at the time, the book in which the Red Wedding occurs came out something like *fifteen years* before that episode aired. That just doesn’t sound to me like Snobby Book People spoiling the show at all; honestly the part of the book-reading segment of the fandom deserves serious kudos for that. So I really cannot take Ms Williams’s point as seriously as she wants me to.

  20. Darlynne
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:27:37

    @Evaine: Same here. I’m the only entity I kind of control, so I avoid or barely skim reviews of books I want to read, movies I want to see, until after the fact. More than anything, I don’t want my experience colored by anything a reviewer sees as problematic in a book; many times, it’s something I might not even have noticed. So I greatly appreciate reviews at DA because everyone makes the effort to discuss at length and in detail, while allowing my reading experience to remain fresh and original. Quite a tightrope walk.

  21. cleo
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:32:05

    I’m not gif sharer, but I have to share a gif of my favorite spoilers moment on tv – the Friends episode where Rachel spoils Little Women for Joey, after he spoils The Shining for her (this gif skips Joey’s initial spoiler and starts with Rachel’s retribution).

    http://fyeahfriendsgifs.tumblr.com/post/7777333618/a-request-from-saucybex

  22. Emma Barry
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:50:10

    I’m generally pro-spoiler for myself, but I try to be thoughtful about it. I would never go into public and loudly discuss the ending of Harry Potter Book 6 even if that book and its film adaptation have been out for a while. When I talk about something spoiler-y on my blog, I post it under the fold and with a spoiler disclaimer.

    But I think the attitude that Maisie Williams is discussing–the sense that reading the books and knowing the spoilers “in advance” makes you better than someone who is watching the show–has a cognate in the stringent no-spoiler stance. This is perhaps best exemplified by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who seems to consider it a spoiler not only to announce that a certain actor is going to guest star on Mad Men but also that said actor will be playing so and so’s brother–as if the presence of a brother is in itself a spoiler. Weiner’s attitude about spoilers is IMHO patently absurd. Again, I try really hard to be respectful and not to spoil plots for others, but if knowing the broad outlines truly ruins the experience of watching the show or reading the book, there wasn’t much there. The journey is the key.

    I think what’s really needed is separate spaces on the Internet. TV critic Alan Sepinwall sometimes does rewatches of shows and when he does, he creates two discuss areas: one for “virgins” and one for veterans. Then people who haven’t seen The Wire or whatnot can discuss the episodes as they experience them for the first time, etc. As you say, Jane, this is next to impossible on the broader Internet where you can’t always anticipate where/when you’ll get spoiled, and where some people do delight in spoiling others, but it would be ideal.

  23. cleo
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 11:53:26

    @Tabs – I think your dilemma perfectly captures the main issue for me, which is how to allow people don’t want to be spoiled their surprise, while still providing useful info to people who want/ need to avoid certain topics. As someone with really specific triggers and deal breakers that I want to avoid, I appreciate spoilers, and I appreciate even more code words that give me an idea about whether I need to read the spoiler. Frex – something like “this story got unexpectedly dark in the last third” signals me to check the spoiler without giving too much away.

    In general I try to not spoil things for people, unless they request it or there’s something I think they’d want to be warned about (ie rape in a book someone else recommended to a friend of mine who’s a rape survivor).

    There’s something fun about having a shared experience and about watching people react to something you’ve already read/seen. I loved the cameraderie I felt with all my fellow Harry Potter fans the months after book 7 came out – comparing notes with friends as they finished it, not giving anything away to friends as they were reading. I love that DA reviews the latest psy/changeling book when it comes out. I carefully wait to read the review until I’ve read the book and then I gleefully jump into the comments – trying to not spoil the book for others, but still discussing it thoroughly. Kaleb’s book was especially fun.

    That said, I don’t have much sympathy for someone who doesn’t want the end of Pride and Prejudice or Romeo and Juliet spoiled. Those stories are so deeply embedded in the culture that I feel like it’s safe to assume everyone except young children know how they end.

  24. Ros
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 12:09:21

    @Tabs: Which book? I’d like to read that.

  25. Lada
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 12:27:27

    I’m curious. Is “spoiling” the same thing as “trigger warning”? The two seem to be somewhat conflated in the comments but I’m not sure I see them as the same thing.

    I think of spoiling something as revealing a major plot twist/surprise or revealing the ending of something.

    I think of trigger warnings as sharing information about a story/movie that may negatively affect a reader/viewer.

    I don’t think these are the same thing or serve the same purpose.

  26. cleo
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 12:48:50

    @Lada – I see spoilers and trigger warnings as separate but overlapping. They overlap when the plot twist / surprise ending is the thing that’s triggering, and even mentioning a general type warning can be seen as a spoiler. Frex, Tabs example where saying tw: miscarriage gives away a major plot twist.

  27. Janine
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 13:11:23

    For me it depends on the genre of book. With romances, where there is a guaranteed happy ending, I don’t want to be spoiled unless it’s a book I know I won’t read.

    Spoilers can completely ruin the reading experience for me and while I agree that there isn’t a right not to be spoiled, I also agree with Hapax that there is such a thing as courtesy, and if the book has just come out and is being reviewed, it is more courteous to refrain from spoiling for the majority who haven’t read it yet.

    Spoiler fonts and spoiler tags exist for a reason. It’s not that hard to use them.

    I’m okay with making an exception for trigger warnings. I think the right not to be triggered trumps anyone’s need to avoid spoilers.

    Another question is what is a spoiler. For me, something that is part of the premise or the first act of the novel is not a spoiler. If I want to want to know what a book is about, I need to allow the reviewer the room to discuss such things.

    Anything after at most the one third mark is a spoiler for me, and that includes quotes that are there to show a great interaction between characters. I want to come to something like that fresh, so I can actually enjoy it when I reach that part of the story. If I’ve read it before, I won’t.

    Do I, on rare occasion, break these rules as a reviewer? Sure. Sometimes it’s impossible not to. Occasionally a book comes along that is almost impossible to review without discussing the second half of the book. I challenge anyone to review Laura Kinsale’s The Dream Hunter and not mention anything that happens after the story moves to England at the midpoint.

    But 95% of the time, at least, spoiler tags can be used to hide these things in blog posts.

    On Twitter it’s a lot harder to hide spoilers; if I really don’t want to be spoiled, it’s on me to leave Twitter. I stayed away a lot during the World Cup.

    And with something like Game of Thrones or Tolkien, where the books have been out for years, a person who doesn’t want to be spoiled really has to do the best they can to avoid public conversations where spoilers might be dropped.

    However, I think books-turned-shows like Game of Thrones or Tolkien works are the exception to the rule. Most books never make it to the screen, so I don’t think these are the best examples.

  28. SonomaLass
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 14:28:43

    I, for one, would hate it if DA reviews had fewer spoilers. Your reviewers are great about spoiler tags and warnings, so when I see a review of a book I’m planning to read, I skim or skip to remain unspoiled. If there’s a review of a book I didn’t know about, I can read enough to decide if I want to add it to the list. If it’s a book I am in the fence about, the review usually has enough information to help me decide, although I may read a few spoilers in making that decision. But after I have read the book, the full review (spoilers and all) is a great way to compare my reaction to someone else’s, and the comments often become a fabulous place for discussion. I would never want to lose that.

    I can see the value of having separate conversations (those who have read and those who have not), but on a readers’ blog like this one, I think it would be a lot of work. I think you have managed a pretty good balance.

    I try not to spoil books when I review them, but I do consider that the first quarter or so of the book is fair game. Although I have had exceptions, such as Jo Goodman’s Marry Me, where a fairly early twist seemed important enough not to mention. My biggest challenge is on Twitter — I love to talk about books with others who have read them, but I know others may see those comments and have the book spoiled for them. And spoiler warnings take up Too many characters.

    For the most part, I think most of do our best to balance talking about something while not giving too much away to anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet. (Not counting assholes who blurt out spoilers as they leave the movie theater.) I definitely think that with something that’s been around for a while, though, the onus is more on the person coming late to the party. If I decide to read Moby Dick, I think it’s up to me to avoid reading what others have written if I don’t want to know how it ends.

    As a pedantic aside, though, Romeo and Juliet is an odd example. The ending is revealed by the character Chorus at the start of the play.

  29. Mary
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 15:17:27

    I don’t like spoilers-I refuse to spoil things for other people (I’m currently making my parents watch Doctor Who and they keep asking me questions that can’t be answered until they get farther and I’m like NOPE SPOILERS) and I hate having things spoiled for me.
    That being said, I knew who River Song was before I got to that part of DW and it didn’t ruin everything for me, and I don’t mind book spoilers as much as tv or movie spoilers.
    That being said, I think the GOT actress is being silly, especially as the red wedding was not spoiled at all except on very specific fan websites, and even some big moments of last season were kept under wraps. In all honesty I think the book fans have done a better job of not spoiling it than the media-my roommate is a huge fan of the books and she thought the entertainment weekly article on GOT spoiled too much but in her words “we book fans did so much to not spoil anything that it’s really annoying for them to have a cover with spoilers!”
    And really you either have to go looking for big spoilers-just avoid fan sites and looking at whoever you think will spoil things social media and you will be fine!

  30. Carolyne
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 15:22:10

    @SonomaLass: I was going to use Hamlet as an example, but went for the one with the romance-ish couple. That shows how well I remember the play, or the beginning of Hamlet for that matter. I may be misremembering how it ends, too ;)

    But I’m with you on the “assholes who blurt out spoilers as they leave the movie theater.” It’s one thing to run across spoilers if one chooses to travel the snaky tributaries of the internet. Another thing to expect others to show common decency for someone at the actual theatre only moments away from having the same experience they just had. If anything, the theatre is the one place where the “absolutely no spoilers” rule should be…well…the rule.

  31. Susan
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 15:46:20

    @Sirius: I would have read the last page to you!

    I almost always read the ending of books first. When I bought paper books, I’d read the ending in the bookstore before I even bought the book so I could decide if I wanted to commit to it or not. For books like Gone Girl, I definitely check out the internet to see what the outcome is. And my sister and I are big on telling each other the ending/twist to tv shows or movies the other one hasn’t seen yet.

    I know not everyone is wired that way, tho, so I do try to be respectful of people who don’t enjoy spoilers the way I do. I’d never purposely reveal the ending/twist to someone unless they asked. And I try not to write reviews that reveal too much.

    That said, I find some of the people who demand that there be no spoilers *ever* a bit precious. If everyone is talking about that tv show that aired last night, but you don’t want to know the details since you recorded it but haven’t watched it yet, well, you need to exit the discussion rather than demand that everyone else quit talking about it. I’m not going to tell you how the Hunger Games series ended, but you shouldn’t get bent out of shape if you accidentally come across the information somewhere. The rest of the world isn’t obliged to halt all discussion until you’re ready to join in. That’s amazingly controlling and privileged.

    And I really think the statute of limitations on Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense, and, yes, The Hobbit, expired long ago. (eyeroll)

  32. hapax
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 15:54:00

    Just for funsies, there are numerous “spoiler alert” t-shirts out there. This is one of my favorites: WARNING: SPOILERS (obviously)

    https://www.threadless.com/product/844/Spoilt

    although I do think it a bit passive aggressive to actually wear in public

  33. Lindsay
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 16:14:39

    I really enjoy the informative reviews here on DA, and if it’s for the rare book I am anticipating and don’t want spoiled, I just don’t read the review until I’ve finished the book. Or if I’m partway through a review and it sounds fantastic, I’ll stop partway and get the book! I love the thoroughness of the reviews, and really really appreciate the potential trigger/content/seriously upsetting information, even if it’s buried under a spoiler tag — this is stuff I need to know, and I want to know, and I am grateful for knowing ahead of time so I can decide if it’s something I can handle or not.

    I try not to spoil things for people, and if I’m writing goodreads or amazon reviews I tend to tag them as having potential spoilers even if I’m not sure there are any.

    For romance books especially, the plot twists are far less important to me than the emotional journey of the characters, and since I already know there will be a HEA that’s kind of spoiler-y anyhow. Except it isn’t and means I can really open myself up emotionally to empathize because it’s safe to do so, even if it takes me through the wringer a little. That’s okay. I choose that. I love the ability to make informed choices.

    If suspense/intrigue/thrillers/mysteries were more my bag I might have different feels about spoilers, but they’re generally not what I’m interested in.

  34. Ros
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 17:22:19

    I feel like the language of ‘rights’ isn’t all that helpful here. No one has a right to remain spoiler free in all circumstances and equally no one has a right to shout spoilers as they leave the movie. I think a better approach would be to use common sense and kindness on both sides.

    If you’re someone who strongly wants to remain spoiler free about a book, then common sense would suggest that you (a) read it fairly soon after release and (b) avoid reading detailed reviews of the book. And for those who’ve read the book and want to discuss it in detail, kindness would suggest that you label those discussions as spoilery for the sake of those who want to avoid them. The longer it is since a book has come out, the more reasonable it seems to me to have those discussions openly. But again, if you know there’s someone who follows you on twitter, say, who is just reading Little Women for the first time, it would be kind to lay off the spoilers temporarily.

    I don’t think simultaneous broadcast is ever going to be a solution to spoiler-free tweeting, though, since the internet is a global hangout and since so many people watch TV on catch up these days. Maybe for a weekly serial, the statute of spoiler limitations ends the day before the next episode?

  35. Ducky
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 17:31:30

    In general I like being spoiled because I am the type who reads the ends of novels first to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises in store for me. Though sometimes it’s nice to be unspoiled – I was unspoiled for the plot twist in Spymaster’s Lady and that was fun.

    I think it’s unreasonable to expect to remain unspoiled if a book or a movie, etc. has been around for a long time. There are some folks that are spoiler phobic to the point where it makes me want to roll my eyes. If you are that spoiler averse stay off the internet and become a hermit. You can’t expect everybody to dance to your spoiler phobic tune.

    On the other hand I would never on purpose spoil anybody. When I have conversations with people about books and movies etc. I always ask first whether they have read/watched whatever I am talking about before getting into spoilers.

  36. Jo
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 19:31:12

    I’m not sure with social media & the internet you can ever truly avoid spoilers. I’ll admit sometimes I go looking for them in fact I haven’t read the GOT series so when Red Wedding popped up, I googled and yep I was shocked, still didn’t stop me from watching the episode though and as the show goes on I spoil myself, admittedly that’s to prepare myself cos some scenes….Christ Almighty. GOT some day I will quit you*sigh*
    I don’t mind spoilers in book reviews, some reviews I read have a warning at the beginning so it’s on me if I keep reading and when I visit DA I have the expectation that the reviews will be detailed, that what I like about them.
    @Tina I also remember when The Crying Game was released. I decided to watch it so off I went by myself not knowing anything about it, I think I was around sixteen or seventeen and yeah, I was more than somewhat shocked :-) but I did enjoy the movie.

  37. K.L.
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 21:32:10

    This has me wondering if it was in my nature not to mind spoilers or came out of my fields of study in college (lit and film). Especially in film studies you just can’t be sensitive about spoilers, because most of the books will refer to many, many films, and it’s not possible to have seen them all – even now with Netfilx and film libraries making it easier. Most film history books will have to give a plot synopsis and in the past (pre-wikipedia) the worst was always those that tried to not talk about the ending, yet discuss the themes of the film – and then the student was left not knowing what happened (especially if it was an obscure and/or foreign film). It never came up in my lit classes either – because you often had profs refer to other texts and then have to explain parallels by filling you in on plots – again, no student can have read everything going in. So far from minding these potential spoilers, I just forever had a long, long list of books and films to watch because they sounded interesting. Also because I noticed that often a synopsis didn’t really sum up the film/book I ended up seeing/reading.

    It’s odd that I can’t remember anyone in my group of friends that would get upset about spoilers – though people were usually polite about asking if you’d seen/read something first.

    This has totally had me looking around to see if there’s a book on the history of spoilers – I have the feeling it’s all over the place if I’d check the academic journals. (If anyone has a book recommendation, let me know.) I remember discussing it in class (and in film books) about Citizen Kane – decades after it came out (1941) it was still THE joke to hint at the ending – so you have references in Warner Brothers cartoons, Peanuts, etc. about “Rosebud was…” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Kane#.22Rosebud.22 ). (And if you’re not a film student, substitute Dumbledore’s fate or Crying Game or Sixth Sense for Big Deal Spoilers.)

  38. Anna Richland
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 22:05:04

    So I’ve read Spymaster’s Lady but can’t remember the big secret (it’s been out for a LONG time, after all) and must go read the spoilers on the internet now.

    But the biggest spoiler? The only spoiler that has ever made me mad – because I too read the end of paperbacks – the 1992 Presidential election coverage. I was living on the west coast for the first time, and didn’t go to vote until after I finished classes for the day. Before I got to the polling place they were calling the Presidential election for Clinton. California’s vote — the biggest state in the country — was irrelevant. So I cast a protest vote for a third party candidate because I was SO MAD at the spoiler that had taken away my right to feel like I contributed one way or another to the democratic elections process.

    Ever since then the only thing I think should not have spoilers is elections – and I’m glad they no longer call any states until the last polls close in the west – b/c that’s kind of really infringing on everyone’s right to feel like their vote matters.

    As for books and movies, meh. I sort of feel like go volunteer, clean your cupboards, whatever if you’re THAT ticked off by a spoiler. It’s fiction. And yep, “the ship sinks.”

    (See, Jane, I really wasn’t bothered with the spoiler in the podcast from you and Sarah!)

  39. Kaetrin
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 23:10:26

    I’m a bit of a mixed bag with spoilers. If I’m confident in the author I won’t seek them out because I will trust the author not to ruin my reading experience with a crappy ending. (I haven’t read any reviews of Magic Breaks – I’ll wait until I’ve finished listening to it.)

    If I’m reading outside of romance, I often try and get a “does it have a happy/positive/hopeful ending?” – even in a crime book, I don’t really want to read if the crime remains unsolved or the criminal gets away with it – that’s just my personal preference when reading. If it’s a true story, I’ve usually looked up some information about it on Wikipedia or something so I do spoil myself – but I don’t think Apollo 13 was a boring movie for all that I knew how it ended before it started.

    As for writing reviews, that’s a hard one. I try not to give things away that happen in the second two thirds of the book (or, for longer books after about 100 pages, whichever comes first) and there are times when I’ll be vague about things that happen earlier on. In the recent Gabaldon novel, I found it really difficult to speak about the plot at any length because there were a lot of things I enjoyed finding out for myself and I’d rather not have been spoiled about. (But, when it comes to speaking about Outlander, I don’t have any problem tweeting about how Jamie and Claire have an epic love story. I mean, the series has gone on for 8 books – isn’t it kind of obvious?)

    As for quotes, I like to use them in my reviews and I usually highlight things that strike me when I’m reading and then revisit them when I’m writing the review. Unlike Janine, I don’t have a problem with including a quote from the later part of the book as long as it doesn’t give anything major away – sometimes I’ve redacted a name for example. I like to read reviews which include quotes because it gives me a sense of the writing and I value that highly. Because that’s what I like to read in reviews, that’s how I do it myself.

    Some books just can’t be discussed without giving away spoilers and there, I just try and give a warning and the reader reads on at their own risk.

    Generally, I think what most people are saying above is right. It’s okay to discuss things but try not to be a dick about it.

  40. Willaful
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 23:44:03

    @Tabs: I have a deliberately vague GR shelf for this very reason. It’s something like “fertility or reproduction issues.” I consider it a “warning: this book may or may not contain a miscarriage or other stuff that might make you cry” sign.

  41. Willaful
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 00:01:32

    @Emma Barry: You reminded me of a time when I was watching “North by Northwest” with a group of friends and I commented on one aspect of the plot and someone who had been in the bathroom or something completely flipped out. I tried explaining that this was information that *we had been told in the film already* to no avail.

    I have another friend who considers *any* information about a show or movie she’s considering seeing a spoiler, even *whether or not you liked it*. What can you do with such a person?

    I do take spoilers pretty seriously; in fact, I had to unfollow someone I like very much because she just would not stop spoiling everything she was reading. I try to be sensitive to them as a reviewer, and make use of the tags option.

    Where I draw the line is, “is the revelation of this information a meaningful surprise?” If so, it doesn’t really matter if the reveal is on the second page or the book is 100 years old. I don’t want to potentially ruin someone else’s reading experience.

  42. mina kelly
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 10:12:29

    When Fellowship of the Ring came out I was already a Tolkien fan, and a member of several Tolkien websites. What got old really fast was how many movie fans came to the book websites and complained about spoilers they came across. The worst thing was they had to have specifically sought out the spoilers in the forums, ignoring all the notifications that this was a fansite for the books and the movie forums were for the book readers to discuss the films. It meant every time you wanted to check the threads you had to scroll through half a dozen “how dare you!” posts first.

    I think the internet has changed since then, though. I notice fewer people behaving like that, and fewer people doing the opposite as well. You still come across some slightly oblivious websites (like when I was looking up pronunciation of certain terms in Hemlock Grove, and the wiki listed the killer from the first season in the character name) but I think the rise of the website template has helped changed this for the most part – it’s easier for people to figure out how to code for basic spoiler text, tagging tweets, and not putting spoilers in post titles. This courtesy is reciprocated by those who don’t want to be spoiled avoiding sites like twitter at ‘peak spoil’ and not seeking out material they know will be spoilery.

    I used to be all about the spoilers, especially when I was heavily into US TV fandoms. With over a year’s wait to see the shows in the UK it wasn’t worth avoiding every fic and fanart until I saw the episodes. Now stuff is much better balanced I usually avoid spoilers, though my curiosity about book/tv differences with GoT means I’ve spoilt myself a few times by accident. Now I just bug my friends who’ve read the books, and usually get widely varying answers (including disagreements about who’s meant to be dead!).

  43. Twila Price
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 12:06:46

    I’m an end of the book reader myself. I always seek out spoiler reviews for any movie I might be considering, and my family usually asks me for spoilers if I mention I’ve seen one (in something they’re reading or considering watching). It just makes me more comfortable to know what’s going to happen and to relax into the story as it unfolds. I am not a big fan of twists or surprises, and I enjoy my media just fine with that outlook. I realize that others are not as comfortable with that as I am, so I do try to restrain my squee when I’m the person who read the book first, but it is so hard.

  44. Janine
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 12:45:23

    @Kaetrin: To clarify, I like to read reviews with quotes too, I just have a strong preference that the quotes come from the first third of the book.

    Years ago, I read a review that had a quote from late in a book that spoiled what for me had been the most romantic moment of the book, which was one of my favorite books of the year. Luckily I had already read the book before I came across that review. After that, I was very careful to avoid all reviews by that reviewer if there was a chance I might want to read the book.

  45. hapax
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 12:57:59

    @K.L.:

    This has totally had me looking around to see if there’s a book on the history of spoilers – I have the feeling it’s all over the place if I’d check the academic journals. (If anyone has a book recommendation, let me know.)

    This isn’t a “history” per se, but an interesting study that came out a few years ago, that suggested that rather than “ruin” things, spoilers actually *enhanced* the reading experience: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-psychology-fiction/201110/spoilers-dont-spoil-stories (this link is for a popular account of the study, I can’t seem to find the actual paper itself except at pay sites)

    There’s been some pushback on the conclusions, but I don’t know of anything that has actually contradicted the results.

    As for reviews… well I was assigned ALLEGIANT to review last year, and it’s practically impossible to talk about that book honestly without addressing the end. I think I finally came up with something like “the tragic climax will infuriate some fans, but others will find it an honest and appropriate conclusion to the themes addressed throughout the trilogy.” Which is pretty bad boilerplate, but at least I didn’t spill the details or ignore the controversy completely.

    The thing is, knowing that a book / movie/ whatever even has a “twist” — without knowing exactly what it is — is much more “ruinous” for me than a straight up synopsis. Otherwise, I spend all of the time I should be immersed in the fictional world thinking, “Is this the twist? Is it THIS? Naw, THAT can’t be the twist, can it?”

  46. Evaine
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 13:19:25

    @hapax said.. “The thing is, knowing that a book / movie/ whatever even has a “twist” — without knowing exactly what it is — is much more “ruinous” for me than a straight up synopsis. Otherwise, I spend all of the time I should be immersed in the fictional world thinking, “Is this the twist? Is it THIS? Naw, THAT can’t be the twist, can it?””

    And I realised that I expect EVERY book I read to have some sort of twist, so I don’t suffer from the same thing. If I don’t get my ‘twist’, then the book, for me, is predictable and for me that’s not a good thing. :)

  47. Willaful
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 13:43:53

    @hapax: Yes, the expectation of the twist can really mess up the experience. I remember a friend mentioning something about The Sixth Sense, and I assumed it was the famous twist, and boy was I confused when actually watching the movie.

    I do look back on The Crying Game and laugh. I guessed that puppy instantly and couldn’t believe anyone was actually surprised. Pretty sure I would’ve guessed even without knowing there was a twist.

  48. Sirius
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 15:28:37

    Susan, thanks :-). That was something I could never understand. I of course completely understand protecting your own unspoiled experience of the book or movie, or people who asked you not to spoil them. But if I specifically ask you for a major spoiler and telling you that it is *OK* with me, that I really really want and need to know, why the heck would you want to tell me that you will need to read or see to find out. Gah, drives me crazy that response :) from some people in my RL reading circle.

  49. Willaful
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 16:59:46

    I’m currently listening to the audiobook of We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves and realized this is a case where a spoiler may indeed be beneficial. There’s a piece of information that isn’t revealed for quite awhile — I’m not actually even to the reveal yet — but some of the reviews were not careful about spoilers. (The *professional* reviews — the amateur reviewers were quite careful!)

    Since I already know it, parts of the text that would probably have gone right past me are now filled with significance. It’s like getting a re-reading experience on the first read. Which is kind of handy, since I never re-listen to audiobooks.

    On the other hand, it might have been great to not have known and then reread the book with the information. Oh well. I’ll never know now.

  50. Kaetrin
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 19:37:50

    @Janine: Yes, I understood that. For me, quotes from the later parts of a book which demonstrate something about the writing or an interaction are okay so long as they’re not obviously spoilerish. Where we differ I think is that you view basically anything from the later part of the book as off limits and I don’t. (But we managed to compromise just find when we jointly reviewed Moth & Spark! :D)

  51. Kaetrin
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 19:41:12

    @hapax: oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean. I really prefer if someone tells me there’s a twist, to tell me when it is so that I can focus on the rest of the book/movie without constantly thinking “is this it?”. So, if someone says, there’s a twist at the end, that’s fine because I don’t spoil the rest of the movie by worrying whether I’ll pick it up.

    (Slightly off topic: When I read Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught I saw all these online references to a rape scene and I was feeling really bad about completely missing it in the book and beating myself up for being so oblivious until someone said that the book was changed to delete that scene and I had the newer version! LOL)

  52. Bona
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 06:00:22

    I wouldn’t talk about the ‘Right’ to be spoiler free. If you don’t want spoilers, I think you can avoid them not reading reviews in the Internet before you see the movie or read the book.
    If it’s a review about a history that was published years ago -as it happens with Game of Thrones- I think there’s no problem to talk about it. Don’t go where you know they will spoil it.
    If it’s the review of something new, recently published, then I think the majority of reviewers try not to speak too much about twists of the plot. When I write a review I try not to say anything that happens beyond one third of the book, or I talk about it in very general terms.

  53. cleo
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 07:22:45

    @Kaetrin – lol. I had a similar experience with the 2nd ed of Whitney My Love. I read the original when it came out and hated, hated it. And many years later, I saw WML in a bookstore and I flipped through it, wondering if it was really as bad as I remembered, and then wondering what the hell, what happened to the crazy spanking scene? Did I make it up? Confuse it with another book? It took me awhile to figure it out.

  54. Rachel
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 20:01:27

    I’ll admit to getting quite annoyed (in my head) at a TV critic a few weeks ago who mentioned on Twitter a giant plot point of a show, right after it aired. I’m always behind, so I don’t expect people to never talk about something until I’ve watched/read it, but surely it’s only polite to wait, I don’t know, a day? Especially somewhere like Twitter, where there’s no way to warn for spoilers.

    Personally I like being surprised. But, like I said, I’m always behind, so to a certain extent I take the onus on myself – I don’t read reviews if it’s something I already know I want to watch or read, I avoid think pieces until after I’ve finished, and I appreciate being given a spoiler warning. And multiple times I’ve gotten spoiled just by putting a couple of reaction comments together, which is no-one’s fault. But I do think there are people out there who delight in spoiling things, which I just don’t understand. And I think it’s only fair to leave spoilers out of headlines/give spoiler warnings for at least a certain amount of time after something comes out.

    At the extreme end, I had a friend get really mad at me for posting an opinion of a Harry Potter book (it was something innocuous like “That was fun!”, with everything else behind a spoiler cut) a week after it came out. She said she was spoiled by that comment knowing my opinions of earlier books. I said she should have stayed right off the internet if it was that important to be completely unsullied by *anything*.

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