The title pretty much sums it up. It seems plausible to me that an assumption that a question about a book is liable to contain spoilers is enough reason to not use spoiler markup. I wanted to ask and be sure, though.

  • 1
    Why not both? If you're avoiding spoilers about book X, don't click on questions about book X, but at the same time spoiler tags are a common courtesy and don't hurt anyone.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:05
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    Interesting. I wasn't expecting such a split in answers' opinions.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:09
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    By the way, I'm assuming you mean spoiler markup. Spoiler tags are bad... period.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 21:31

5 Answers 5


Honestly, I'm a big fan of M&TV's policy:

No Spoilers in Titles

Most answers will contain spoilers to someone. There's no way to draw a line that will make everyone happy.

If the OP is asking for advice about a book they have not read, answers should be considerate of this and consider putting major plot points in spoiler markup.

I don't want to have a bunch of questions and answers that only look like:

text text text text text text

and then they

text text text text text text

I'm sorry but this is useless to everyone involved.

  • 14
    Agree with this so long as it doesn't make the title useless in the process; if folks end up duplicating the same question because they can't recognize that it's already asked, that'd be a good sign that the title might need, if not spoilers, at very least details.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 22:07
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    Sure. A great point. This has always been a bit of a struggle on M&TV but usually we manage it pretty well. Hopefully, some of that expertise can be utilized here.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 22:08
  • One small caveat: one other rare occasion when there should be a spoiler block is if for some reason you're talking about a plot point in another related work, for example, "The author of this book often uses X plot device in this way, for example, in The Other Book [explain what happens in a spoiler block]" Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 9:56

I would avoid excessive spoiler markup. Most of the question about a book will naturally talk about its content and story and thus potentially contain spoilers (not to speak of the subjective notion of what a spoiler actually is). Not only would trying to consistently police them and add spoiler blocks be a maintenance mess, it also often makes the questions downright incomprehensible and a formatting mess.

I would thus propose that spoiler block usage be kept to a minimum and the question (or answer) should definitely make sense even when ignoring the spoiler blocks. The only case where spoiler blocks seem reasonable would be when talking about spoilers from works that are not apparent from the question itself (e.g. books the questions didn't explicitly ask about).

Where I would, however, strongly avoid spoilers is the question titles, since they are apparent to all users browsing the front-page and before looking into a question you need to know if it potentially spoils you or not.

While not necessarily important for the policy on this site, it is worth mentioning that this is the currently practiced spoiler policy on Movies & TV. For the relevant meta questions see this and this.


It is in the nature of this site that both questions and answers may contain spoilers. It is sometimes possible to write submissions in a way that minimises spoilers, but sometimes there is no way around it. My two arguments against spoiler markup are the following:

  1. It is reasonable to assume that readers are intelligent enough to know that content on this site can contain spoilers.
  2. At the time of writing, spoilers are inaccessible to keyboard users.

I would even go a step further and state that spoilers should not be visible in the preview.

My best guess is the main site preview shows around 200 characters and the search preview shows around 400 characters. However, search preview also shows the relevant sections of answers that contain the search terms, which means that a spoiler can be revealed through search preview.

I suppose what would be nice is a spoiler markup reveal option at the top of the page which allows disabling all of the spoiler blocks on a given page to improve readability for those who are not concerned with spoilers, but that is likely not an available option, so something else?

Just to point out how lame the policy is, here is a spoiler. We can see the striking effectiveness of not placing the spoiler in the title, but still having it visible in the preview:

enter image description here

  • 1
    I can appreciate people's disagreement, but how about some discussion? Is there something fundamentally different about the reading of a spoiler in a search preview instead of reading about a spoiler in a title?
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:01
  • I find that hiding spoilers in the body of questions/answers disrupts my reading of said questions/answers. I didn't leave a comment because my reasoning is essentially the same as the upvoted answers in the question.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:13
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    @Hamlet This doesn't answer my question about what is the difference between reading a spoiler in a title and reading a spoiler in a preview.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:17
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    People read titles before they read descriptions.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:55
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    @Hamlet I do not see how this addresses my question. Whether they read the title before the preview, the result of reading the spoiler is the same.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 17:07
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    if you want to avoid spoilers, you read the title, see that the question is about something you haven't read, and then stop reading.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 17:24
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    @Hamlet Perhaps if I want to avoid spoilers, best to just avoid the site altogether?
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 5:52

Yes, yes, yes - spoiler them.

What else is there to say? It's just rude to not spoiler-markup something that could spoil something for someone.

If we have a feed in chat, like Sphinx or Obie, that would provide spoilers to all the people in chat also.

  • I'm pretty sure that spoiler tags don't prevent stuff from showing up in oneboxes.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:02
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    @Catija they do. See this chat message: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/198?m=34816358#34816358
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:03
  • @Catija the onebox will just skip over anything that's inside spoiler markup. It often makes the onebox content look really silly, but its not spoiled. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 11:44

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