Spoilers. A divided subject in the book community. On the one hand, they take away from the joy and excitement that a person may have for a mystery box, ruin the surprise in a book, or ruin the fun of finding out who the killer is. On the other hand, limiting someone’s freedom of speech is not okay, and telling people they can’t post spoilers is not something that can always be dictated by others. I’ve seen some interesting arguments regarding spoilers, but I think it’s important to look at them and determine what is a spoiler and what should classify as one.
A spoiler, in my own words, is information about a topic or item that is not obvious public information and effectively ruins the surprise of arriving at that moment. For example, someone posting about how sad they were a character died, when it is not common knowledge this character dies because the book has just been released. Typically spoiling occurs when an item or information is brand new and not many people have had the chance to view it yet. But this is where it can get a little less clear. When does a spoiler end?
Different people have different opinions on when something is no longer a spoiler. Some people say a month, others say six months, some say a year, and some say never. This divide on when information is no longer a spoiler is tricky, and one of the biggest issue in the book community.
In most of the book groups I’m currently in on Facebook, moderators put a one month spoiler ban on new releases, meaning no reactions/reviews/memes/nothing can include information about the current book. After a month, the spoiler ban is lifted or modified. For some groups, spoilers can be shared freely now. In others, there is a warning that is required for others who may not have had a chance to finish what they are reading, informing them that the information shared is a spoiler.
One of my biggest pet peeves with spoilers is what I call the “I don’t give a fuck” or “idgaf” period. This is the period of time immediately after the release of a book where most people are currently reading it or have not read it yet, and others who have read it early or quickly suddenly spoil large moments with no regards for anyone else. This “idgaf” period is typically in the first two weeks range of a book releasing where most people haven’t even had a chance to receive the book yet. Seeing spoilers on a book or book box during this time is honestly irritating for me and many other people.
After a certain amount of time though, when does information stop being a spoiler? For me, I would say three months. That gives people a good amount of time to receive their book or subscription, crack it open, and see what’s going on. In three months, the people who are anticipating reading or seeing it will have a chance to actually do that, especially since not everyone has the free time to read whatever they want, whenever they want.
So if it’s common knowledge not to spoil information immediately after release, why do people do it? Well – I don’t know. It could be because they are excited to share their opinions, they don’t care that others have not read it yet, or they could be oblivious and not realize it’s a spoiler. Whatever the reason, these moments suck for many of the readers who haven’t had a chance to experience the moment for themselves, and taking away that moment is a crappy thing to do.
Now, here’s where the problem comes in: if there is no set timeline on when a spoiler is no longer a spoiler then confusion is bound to happen and so is aggression. This comes about in aggressive comments by people who are upset or personal messages sent that someone is upset they were spoiled. Now if a certain amount of time has passed, these remarks are no longer valid and the person who is upset is unnecessarily aggressive – and this is where the problem lies.
The spoiler band wagon can be overly aggressive, especially when a good amount of time has passed from the release and should no longer be a spoiler. If the book community sets a timeline, then we can avoid confusion and hostility about spoilers and promote a more positive reading experience for everyone.
Now lets talk etiquette.
When coming across a spoiler, especially in the “idgaf” period, it’s important to let the person know that what they’re doing is wrong, but in a non-aggressive way. Yelling at people, calling them names, or being utterly rude is not the way to go about the situation. Not only does that make the other person defensive, but it can create a mob mentality and others will join in. Being upset about a spoiler is okay though, but being abrasive or rude is not.
When it’s after the “idgaf” period, we enter the “beware” period. This period is the remaining two and a half months after a release when a person may encounter spoilers and can still justify being upset. In this period, it is still other people’s responsibility to be courteous to others about spoilers, whether by not sharing them or giving a warning. At the same time, the closer to the two and three month mark, the responsibility should shift onto the reader who wants to avoid them. If that means avoiding certain pages or groups who might share spoilers, then avoid them.
If it’s after the three month grace period then the spoiler worry is no longer on the sharer. People are allowed to post reactions, memes, jokes, photos, and more regarding to the books that are out and it is not their job to warn others or avoid spoiling others anymore. While some may still be upset at being spoiled, it is no longer their right to complain about them – except in certain situations.
- Someone is aware you are currently reading a book and spoils a big moment for you either on purpose or on accident
- Someone posts a spoiler for a series in a group that is focused on one topic (ex. a spoiler for The Wicked King in the ACOTAR group).
- Someone spoiling a book in a group chat/comments where a person is asking for opinions/thoughts on if they should read said book
Those are the only situations I would warrant upset regarding spoilers after this grace period. Besides that – it’s fair game.
Now, this is all my opinion. There are people who warrant longer or shorter grace periods, depending on their reading habits and consideration of other people. This is where the consistency should come in. The book community should come together and decide what is the “idgaf” period, the “beware” period, and the “free game” period. Without these time constraints, it is difficult to justify and end this debate.
Overall, spoilers suck and being malicious in sharing them immediately after release is a crappy thing to do. But being rude to other people, even when upset, is also a crappy thing to do. And getting spoiled after a certain amount of time no longer is the person posting’s worry, but the readers.
I think it’s important to open up the debate, so let me know what your opinions on spoilers are and the timeline and etiquette you think is far!