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Is the word "spoiler" sufficiently known outside the online-community so that "Wikipedia contains spoilers" is enough of a warning? I don't know English popular culture enough to decide.

I believe it's obvious enough, personally, though like you I can't say for certain.

Isn't adding the spoiler warning only to articles where there is a significant plot twist to spoil a spoiler in itself? I.e. seeing that The Crying Game has a warning while The Lord of the Rings has not, I'd watch the former with some paranoia, but be assured that Frodo won't be overcome by the Ring. --Robbe

I have no objections to spoiler warnings appearing on book and movie entries without any particular need for them. As a side benefit, it lets people get familiar with the policy. --Robert Merkel

I don't have as strong opinion, but this is certainly something we should talk about and try to reach some consensus about. How do other encyclopedias handle this?

It's not such an issue for print encyclopedias AFAICT, as they are so out of date by the time they are printed it's hardly likely to spoil somebody's enjoyment of the latest summer blockbuster. Additionally, they don't give the emphasis to contemporary popular culture that the Wikipedia will. Given all that, though, I've still never seen a spoiler warning in any other encyclopedia :) Robert Merkel


I would say that whenever a plot summary is given, if the summary contains spoilers (as I think I agree, it should, to be completely helpful qua encyclopedia article), we should have a simple notice, something like this: "The following, like all Wikipedia plot summaries, may give away plot surprises." Since people will arrive at Wikipedia articles from many different sources, and because they evidently don't always immediately understand that it is an encyclopedia, I think this would be well-advised. But, like the writer above, I don't actually have a strong opinion on this! --LMS


There are in fact movie encyclopedias such as by movie critics or cinema academics. IIRC, the former provide a spoiler-free synopsis not unlike what you'd read on the back of a video cassette, whereas the latter assumes knowledge of the ending and makes no qualms about spoiling it, if it is relevant to the point being made (which is often the case). I suppose the reason is that the movie critic encyclopedia's goal is to expose people to more movies that they might want to see, whereas the latter is more educationally focused towards understanding the movie. So then the question for Wikipedia may boil down to whether our objective is to present a listing of movies with the intent of encouraging people to go see them, or if it is to educate *about* the film, filmmaking or circumstances around the film. -- BryceHarrington

FWIW, I think the purpose pretty clearly ought to be the latter. --LMS

I'm in favor of telling people as much as is relevant about a film, but I don't think that your question above is "the question" at all; the problem is that some people come to the site and don't immediately recognize it as an encyclopedia and so don't know what to expect. That is why I am in favor of disclaimers to film entries which have spoilers, followed by as much discussion as various wikipedians care to add. --KQ


I think that a link to this page, Wikipedia contains spoilers at the begining of each movie or recent book article should suffice. The name is descriptive enough, and the detailed explanation could be found here. -- AN


To make this entry more true, I added entries for The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, and Psycho. Feel free to flame. -- The Cunctator

That, good sir, was simply ridiculous. -- STG

Yes, it was simply ridiculous, but when I saw it, I laughed out loud.  :-) The Cunctator has a sense of humor. --Jimbo Wales


I like this solution... But if we're going to go with it, we should move the discussion to a /Talk page and explain why Wikipedia contains spoilers on the Wikipedia contains spoilers page. --LMS Done Robert Merkel


Somebody put a more extensive warning at the top of the "2001: A Space Odyssey" page. I changed it to a simple link to the "wikipedia contains spoilers" page. RM

I actually kind of liked that longer warning, but I don't much care if you removed it. --LMS

It is interesting to note that this attitude is relatively new, probably only the case after the birth of the modern cinematic "thriller".

Removed this. Any avid fan of Sherlock Holmes or Sir Walter Scott knows it's false. Scott's and much other 19th century popular fiction contained plenty of "surprise" endings. Even Jane Eyre depends on this sort of plot device.

Fair enough RM

-- Yeah, imagine the bard just getting to the point where Odysseus is washed up on the Phaeacian shore and some yo-yo piping up, "Hey, I've heard this one!! Doesn't he make it safely home and kill all those guys who've been bugging his wife??" (Jeez, just checked and damned if the Wikipedia page on the Odyssey doesn't do exactly this. Added the link to Wikipedia contains spoilers 27 September 2001.)

However, adding such warnings to each and every article in the Wikipedia would interrupt the flow of articles, and, as discussed above, should not be necessary.

I removed this. I didn't think that was the "consensus." I don't think we arrived at a consensus on that. Again, there's an excellent reason to have at least a simple "spoilers ahead" notice, viz., people who stumble across Wikipedia won't automatically be able to guess this enunciated policy that spoilers are allowed. --LMS

Yep, should have removed that one myself. RM


We might want spoiler free versions of pages. --drj

We do. See for instance The Body with no spoilers. --Pinkunicorn
While I wouldn't stop anybody adding alternate "spoiler-free" pages (even if I had any power in the matter), I personally don't see any point in doing so, as it's effort that could be better put elsewhere (though if somebody wants to expend the effort, go for it). As I've said previously, I don't see Wikipedia as another movie review site - it's an encyclopedia trying to explain to people about movies (and everything else). RM

xyzzy contains a spoiler for the text adventure adventure. --drj

I will add a spoiler warning then. Next time, just add the warning yourself RM (I didn't add it because I didn't think it was appropriate. It was just food for thought on the spoiler discussion. --drj)
Hmm, we may need that on the Adventure page, which now links to xyzzy. This is bordering on the silly however, as giving away the secrets of a 25 year old computer game should not be too big a concern. --BlckKnght
Agreed. I mainly did it just to set the example for the future if somebody else finds an article that in their opinion needs a spoiler warning (ie, just add the warning). For instance, I worked on an article about Deus Ex, which mentions the ending. If somebody gets to it and adds a spoiler warning, well and good. --RM

Re the related rule on rules to consider:

Counter-argument: A complete and critical discussion of artistic works cannot be done without mentioning of crucial plot points. If you're writing such an entry, you shouldn't have to be worrying about adding a spoiler warning. People who don't recognize that WikiPEDIA is an encyclopedia deserve to be punished.
Counter-counter-argument: With brand name saturation at its current levels, people tend not to think much about what a name means anymore: "Integra?" what is that? Integrity cut off before its prime? "Bayer"? Will this put hair on my chest? Honestly, haven't you ever met someone who didn't put it together that "Frigidaire" == "frigid air" or that a "freenet" would provide access to the internet for free? If that's your attitude, I think you can look forward to punishing a lot of people (but hey, maybe that's what you want). ;-) --KQ

I removed the following from the parent article:

Please also consider making it explicit that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and that discussions of plot will take place in the article.

Do we really want a definition of Wikipedia on every article that could possibly contain a spoiler? How much more warning do people really need than Wikipedia contains spoilers? Even if we do, could we have a little more consensus before making the change to this? --Robert Merkel