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Administrivia / Self-Fulfilling Spoiler

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This is the particularly aggravating practice of using spoiler tags that make it quite clear what they're concealing by their length and/or position, or the wording of the surrounding sentence. This, of course, defeats the entire point of using them at all. Often, even if they can't tell the specifics, it can lead the reader to have a fair idea just from the fact that there's something spoilery there.


Sometimes people don't seem to be aware of which words should be spoilered in order to make the sentence both understandable and non-spoilery to people who don't want to be spoiled. For instance, it goes without saying that examples on the Luke, I Am Your Father page all have a certain kind of spoiler, so rather than saying:

...where you are attempting to hide details already obvious by the fact that you are on a page named "Luke, I Am Your Father", you can make it:

  • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker finds out that Darth Vader is his father.

Which explains why the example is on that page, but doesn't give up the details (though admittedly, the details of this one are long since spoiled anyway, hence why it names the trope).


Doing it this way:

  • In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker finds out that Darth Vader is his father.

is also not helpful, because it hides the most important part of the example — the name of the work. With that hidden, nobody can tell if the example is safe to read!

The best workaround in a case where a Self-Fulfilling Spoiler seems necessary is to rephrase it until it isn't. For instance, if a character's gender turns out not to be what the viewer/reader/player was led to believe it was, it doesn't do much good to put the correct pronoun in spoiler tags. But "the time her arm was injured provides a good example of this" can be changed to "the arm injury provides a good example of this". This can require some creativity; if possible, you don't want readers to notice that the pronouns are deliberately being avoided. Alternatively, just using they/them pronouns can avoid this - however, sharp readers may still catch on.


In the same vein, spoiler tags where "Character X seemingly died" give away that something about the "death" scene isn't as it appears, leading to the obvious inference that Character X might still be alive, or might come back to life.

Be particularly careful with short names: If you say "In Harry Potter, Ron does something that's a really big spoiler", it's pretty obvious there aren't many characters whose names will fit in a spoiler box of that size, which will make it relatively clear which character you're talking about — this goes double for any character with a One-Letter Name. To make the name harder to guess, try using the character's full name (Ron Weasley), or adding a brief description of the character's role (Harry's friend Ron) to pad things out.

Some tropes, such as The Hero Dies, are inherently spoilers — their very presence on a work page is a spoiler in and of itself. If it seems that way, leave it out. It is not like it is absolutely necessary to document every conceivable trope in a work. If the trope is too important to leave out, or there are too many spoiler tropes, it might be best to declare the whole page to be Spoilers Off and add a bold warning.

Character pages are especially prone to this, since it's impossible to hide who the spoiler trope applies to. If you add "The Mole: This character secretly works for the bad guys" to a character's folder, people will still know what plot twist to expect regarding said character, no matter how much text you hide.

A particularly vexing issue is when people add spoilers for a completely separate work. You might be completely familiar with Work A and not mind seeing any spoilers for it (since you already know them all), but if somebody adds spoilers for Work B (which you were planning on watching later) to its page, there's no way you could have expected and avoided them, especially if Work B's title is hidden beneath the spoiler markup. So please, don't write anything like "The main character is betrayed by his best friend and mercilessly killed, resulting in a Downer Ending. Are we talking about Bob, or Dennis from Work B?" Even if you leave Work B's title visible, readers may figure out that both works share some similarities, which might be a spoiler in and of itself.

And then there's the question about what we do with The Mousetrap. The only real solution here is to not even mention the work in the article, since the work name itself is a giveaway to people who know of its Spoil at Your Own Risk nature. Go to The Other Wiki if you want to spoil The Mousetrap.

This page is a subset of our Spoiler Policy.


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