WikiPOBia:Spoiler warnings

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Spoilers give away details related to plot, including endings, or characters that diminish the experience of reading a book or story for a first time reader. Although spoilers are inevitable in a work like WikiPOBia, contributors should be aware that readers of WikiPOBia may not have read all of the author's work and you are strongly encouraged to give spoiler warnings, similar to this example,

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "The Jet Black Sea"  follow.

where applicable, following the guidelines in this article.


When should I give spoiler warnings?

You should give spoiler warnings whenever the content of an article discusses:

  • Plot or ending details
  • Unexpected revelations or events related to characters
  • Details of how a book relates to other of the author's or other's books or stories

The first two circumstances are fairly straightforward and obvious but the reasons for spoiler warnings in discussions of relationships with other books and when this warrants a spoiler warning may be less so.

Simply writing, for example, that \"Post Captain is the immediate sequel to Master and Commander\" doesn't require a spoiler warning since this won't detract in any way from the readers experience of reading first one and then the other. However, telling readers, in a plot summary of one book, that a particular situation is finally resolved in some other book gives away information that a reader of that plot summary might not be expecting to encounter. Likewise, writing, in a discussion of a biography or companion book, that some detail found there explains some event from a novel or story would give away information about another work that the reader of your remarks may not yet have read.

Spoiler warnings may also be appropriate in articles related to biographies of the author, even when the article does not specifically discuss how the information relates to other books or stories. In this case, it is recommended that the people mentioned in the biography be treated as characters in a novel and their life stories as plots, and decisions on spoiler warnings should be based on the guidelines outlined above.

How can I minimize the impact of spoilers on readers of WikiPOBia?

One of the goals of WikiPOBia is to make the site as useable as possible, independent of the extent of the readers acquaintance with the works discussed. In keeping with that goal, contributors are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines related to the inclusion of spoilers:

  • Include spoiler warnings in advance of all spoilers.
  • Identify the works the spoilers are related to.
  • When possible, organize articles and sections so that spoilers occur after more general material that does not contain spoilers and include spoiler warnings at the beginning of the section(s) that contain spoilers
  • Consider placing spoilers in a secondary article and keeping the main article spoiler free.
  • For spoilers related to plot or character development over several works, place the spoilers in articles on the later works so that readers who have only read the earlier works will not encounter them.
  • For spoilers of relationships between books in a series of related works, place the spoilers in articles on the later works so that readers who have only read the earlier works will not encounter them.
  • For spoilers related to overall thematic or other discussions covering multiple works, consider creating a separate article that is clearly labeled as containing spoilers for the works discussed.

What information should I include in a spoiler warning?

An article may contains spoilers related to several works and it may not always be clear from the title of the article what works to expect spoilers for. To let readers know whether or not an article contains spoilers for works they have not read, the following contributors are encouraged to follow these guidelines:

  • Include specific information about which work(s) the spoilers relate to:
    • Give, at least, the title(s) of the work(s).
    • If a spoiler is for a specific chapter or the ending of a book, you may wish to identify this explicitly. For example:

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "the ending of The Thirteen Gun Salute"  follow.

  • For spoilers related to one or more works, identify each of the works. Example:

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "The Thirteen Gun Salute and The Commodore"  follow.

  • For spoilers related to multiple works that follow each other sequentially in a series, a warning such as the following is acceptable:

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "The Yellow Admiral through Blue at the Mizzen"  follow.

  • Spoilers for an entire series may be identified generically. Thus, in a general discussion of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, a warning such as the following is acceptable:

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "the Aubrey-Maturin novels"  follow.

  • If you edit an article and add or remove spoilers, check the spoiler warning to ensure that it still accurately identifies the works that spoilers in that article are related to.

Where should I place spoiler warnings?

Generally, spoiler warnings should immediately precede sections or articles containing spoilers and contributors are encouraged to follow these guidelines:

  • For an article that contains spoilers throughout, include a spoiler warning at the top of the article, before any text.
  • For an article where spoilers are confined to one or more sections, include a spoiler warning at the beginning of the first section that contains spoilers.
  • Only include one spoiler warning per article but make sure it references all of the works referred to (see above).
  • If you add to or reorganize an article, check the location of the spoiler warning to ensure that it still follows these guidelines.

How do I insert a spoiler warning?

To simplify the process of including spoiler warnings in articles and to ensure that spoiler warnings have an expected, uniform appearance throughout WikiPOBia, contributors are encouraged to use the standard, site-wide spoiler template.

Using the standard spoiler template is similar to inserting a link or image in an article:

{{spoiler|<spoiler identifier>}}

Note that, rather than the square brackets – [[...]] – used to insert a link or image, curly brackets – {{...}} – are used to specify and include the template.

The spoiler template is identified by its name – \"spoiler\" – and a vertical bar – \"|\" – separates the template name from the information identifying what spoilers are present in the article – represented in the example above by \"<spoiler identifier>\"

The spoiler identifier can contain any wiki text markup necessary, allowing, for example, book titles to be displayed in italics and for various other combinations of text and formatting to be used. So, typing the following into an article,

{{spoiler|''Master and Commander'', ''Post Captain'' and ''HMS Surprise''}}

produces this spoiler warning:

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Master and Commander, Post Captain and HMS Surprise"  follow.

Note that the text \"SPOILER WARNING: Plot or ending details for\" that precedes the spoiler identifier you provide and the text \"follow.\" that comes after it are part of the spoiler template. Note also that all of the text in the spoiler warning will be displayed bold and applying bold formatting to the spoiler identifier text you provide is redundant.

Following the guidelines on where to place spoiler warnings (see above) the spoiler template code should be placed immediately before the content it applies to.

  • When placing a spoiler warning at the beginning of the article and there is an image at the top of the editable text, place the spoiler template code after the image but before the text.
  • To place a spoiler warning at the beginning of a section, insert the spoiler template code immediately following the section heading but before the text of the section.
  • Place the spoiler template code on a line by itself with a blank line following it and, if it is not at the beginning of an article or section, a blank line before it.

These guidelines on spoiler template code placement will optimize the display of the spoiler warning in readers' browsers and will make it easier for other contributors to locate and modify the spoiler template code as necessary.

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