Spoilers are a scourge of the Internet age: Between social media and entertainment sites, it can be tough to avoid learning what happened in the latest Game of Thrones before you watch it. Making things even more complicated, a Wired survey finds that people have very different views of proper spoiler conduct: Some 34%, for instance, say TV plot details can be revealed "a day or two" after airing, while 20% say you should wait a few weeks, and 11% say it's never OK to reveal them.
There's also disagreement on whether it's the responsibility of those who've seen the show to avoid revealing spoilers—or the responsibility of those who haven't seen it to avoid learning them. In an effort to calm the madness, Laura Hudson provides a guide to spoiler courtesy. Among its highlights:
- You can talk about sports and reality show endings right away, but hold off a few days for scripted TV and a week for a movie.
- If you're going to be upset about live-blogs of a show, simply don't go on Twitter during the show.
- Don't read articles about shows you don't want to ruin. But those writing the articles should avoid putting spoilers in headlines shortly after an episode airs.
- If you love it, just watch it: "The only way to be truly safe from spoilers is to transform them into something else: information you already know."
Hudson is, of course, just one voice among many: At Vulture
in 2008, Dan Kois offered his own guidelines for when spoilers should be allowed in headlines (three days after a scripted TV show airs) and when they can appear within articles specifically about a show (the day after an episode airs). The New York Post
and the AP
have also made some suggestions—the Post
says seasons or series that go out with a bang can be freely discussed within 24 hours of the finale, while the AP talks to an expert who points out that no one has a right to "spoiler alerts."