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Is there ever a good time to talk about spoilers online?

Talking about media is just as ingrained in contemporary culture as consuming the content itself, whether its movies, television or the vastly growing industry of video games. This makes the internet an unforgiving space when it comes to spoilers, but at what point do people feel it’s acceptable to divulge details online?

This question is more important now than ever, as fans indulge in the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame – conclusions to two of the biggest franchises seen in our generation. Since it’s impossible to rely on the etiquette of others, there are a number of tools that people can use in order to protect themselves from spoilers, such as browser extensions and Twitter’s built-in Muted Words feature located in the settings.

For those working with incompatible browsers or traversing the internet beyond the shielding that Twitter provides, it can be helpful to know when people are likely to spill the beans. According to a pool of 687 people, at least 17% warn that it’s fine to talk spoilers immediately after a television episode airs. 41% hold their tongue at least until the end of the week and 33% are troopers that manage to wait until an entire series/season has aired before publicly disclosing information.

Twitter user @PhilronGM states that once a television show airs, a movie hits the cinema or a video game is released, information can no longer be considered a spoiler as it is in the public eye. His advice is for users to stay off the internet where possible or risk treading the online minefield at their own peril. Some others, such as content creator RageDarling, believe that a 24-hour window is courteous enough before it becomes the individual’s own responsibility.

Many people enjoy the social side of media, feeling a sense of community by discussing what happened and how they were affected by the narrative. Any amount of waiting possibly diminishes this, but some argue that the wait time is necessary for others to have the same spoiler-less experience.

David Eastwick is one of many that consider the working person, stating that excited people should perhaps wait until the end of the week as “not everyone gets the time to watch the same day or even the next.” This also takes into account the disparity of releases across the world, with some countries and services gaining access before others.

Developer Crankage Games, who is largely responsible for sourcing the majority of participants here, believes that it’s best to never post spoilers for anything. This sentiment is shared by a number of others, with many believing that it’s easy enough to have the same conversations in private.

Overall, no matter which way people voted, it was general consensus that a message containing story-sensitive details should be preceded with a spoiler warning. Some platforms such as Twitter and Discord have made strides in this department with their spoiler-avoiding features, but these are still heavily reliant on people tagging their spoilers beforehand. People also collectively chastised the targeted attacks of trolls revealing details, which don’t serve any purpose but to hurt others.

Of course, all of this is subject to the definition of a spoiler, which is an entire conversation of its own. Is the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father still considered a spoiler in an age which often quotes the cinematic masterpiece? And if not, does it have to take decades for people to accept that?

KitGuru Says: It’s worth remembering that there are no right answers here and everyone’s take on spoilers is equally valid. Still, I’d like to ask everyone to be mindful and put a warning if their posts could be considered a spoiler, just so that others can have the same experience.  Where do you land on the discussion of spoilers? Can it ever be “too soon” and is there a cut-off where it becomes completely acceptable?

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