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Life, Law & Libros

Discussion: Spoiler SOL

14 comments
Should there be a Statute of Limitations on spoilers?

Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn used this phrase in one of his posts; it stood out to me because, as some of you may know, I work in a law office, and the SOL is one of the most important pieces of information. It differs depending on the type of case, but essentially, it's how long you have from the date of your (e.g.) car accident or firing in which to file a claim. If you don't file before the SOL runs out, your claim is barred and you can't file suit.

With spoilers, I guess I mean the opposite. How much time should pass before it's okay to talk about spoilers without all sorts of warnings, hidden script, etc.?

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Some people say you should never freely talk about spoilers because there's always someone who hasn't read the book. Others say it depends on whether the book is well known (a.k.a., made into a movie) and has entered the general pop culture consciousness. What about books that were published a decade or two ago? Has enough time passed that everyone who was going to read it has (and everyone who hasn't will hopefully like the sound of the spoilers enough to track it down)?

Personally, while I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free (and clearly indicate spoilers if I include them), I usually don't mind reading them. In fact, with some books I'm considering, I purposely seek them out. Thus, the Spoiler SOL doesn't bother me much.

But I know you guys have opinions. ;) What do you think is an appropriate time period for the Spoiler SOL? One year? Two? Does it matter whether it's part of an ongoing series? How do you handle spoilery discussions in reviews v. chats (e.g., Twitter)?

14 comments :

  1. That's a good question. I suppose for myself, if it's not a new book or series or something, that ... well I was going to say it didn't really matter, but I guess it depends? If it's at least a few years old, I think most people wouldn't think about spoilers as much. But some books I'm only just hearing about even if they're old hat to others.

    So I guess it depends on the type of spoiler? Like, I don't mind little things, or ones that aren't major plot points. But if it's something like *totally making this up* "Boy turns out to be long-lost twin of heroine, the one all the previous books have centered around finding. And he's been the boy-next-door all along! And that thing she found in the first chapter of book one, is actually what ends up saving the Earth! Isn't that awesome?!" Or something, I'd be irked. Because even if it's a series that's been going on a while, if I haven't read book 1 yet, that basically spoiled the entire series for me.

    But I do try to not read spoilers unless it's a series I haven't read in a while and I'm trying to remember what happened so I can read the newest book. Or if while reading the book, I just HAVE to know something. Which doesn't happen all that often...

    So I try not to do any major spoilers, and if I accidentally leak one in a review, it's usually something really minor. Or, something I consider minor at least. Since you never really know if the majority of your readers are going to want to be spoiled or not.

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    1. Great thoughts! That's an interesting way to look at it- major v. minor spoilers. I guess my follow up question would be, how do you handle spoilery discussions in non-review places like Twitter? I should add that!

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  2. Good topic! I think it depends. I *hate* being spoiled, so generally try to be vague, even when referring to things that I expect all my friends to know (plot points from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc.). I don't mind spoiling little things about big series... but anything about the ending is off-limits. Unless it is clearly labelled, of course.

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    1. Harry Potter definitely came to mind. With all the movies out, you kind of expect everyone to know that so-and-so dies. But I can understand not wanting the big things spoiled, just in case. :)

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  3. Snape killed Dumbledore. Vader is Luke's Father. Ned dies.

    Studies show spoilers don't mess with most peoples enjoyment. I do my best not to include them in reviews, I do. But if I get spoiled and I want to read the book, doing it anyway.

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    1. "Luke, I am your father." Haha, yeah, you figure everyone knows that famous line by now.

      I'm in pretty much the same boat, though I can see spoilers messing with someone's enjoyment in, say, a mystery novel...and I suppose it could undercut some of the writing in the event of foreshadowing, tension, build-up, etc. Ah well, that's why I read spoilers, not write them, right? :)

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  4. Oh I hate spoilers. I always try to avoid anything in books no matter how old. But there are certain things that are so well known in popular culture that I don't worry about, like Harry Potter. I guess if a movie's been made and has been out for a little while, I wouldn't feel bad talking about spoilery plot points.

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    1. I have no idea if this is accurate, but it feels like, if there's a meme for it (which usually pops up after the movie), it's probably fair game. Like Harry Potter- you can't google Harry Potter without coming across spoilery memes. ;)

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  5. I'm not really that bothered with spoilers. I prefer not to see/hear them, but I don't go into a panic attack if I do. But I think as a general rule for spoilers, a year after the publication is when it's not such a big deal. Series shouldn't really be spoiled until after a year of publication of the last book in the series.

    I always try not to spoil things for someone - unless they tell me they don't mind - no matter how old or popular a story is. But like you, Kel, for me personally sometimes the spoiler will get me to read a book I wouldn't normally pick up.

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    1. A year unless it's part of a series? That sounds like a decent amount of time. (Unless you're like me and constantly years behind on reading things. ^^;) But that's good that you try not to spoil stories for others anyway and aren't bothered if someone else does. :)

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  6. I just don't really like spoilers for anything, ever. I think there will always be someone who sees the spoiler who is affected by it and I hate that. I have had things ruined for me before and it just isn't necessary. I try not to spoil books in my reviews but if I absolutely have to then I make sure I say. I don't think there is ever a time period that passes making it acceptable. It's been so long since HP came out but if I was a new reader and had it spoiled for me I'd be so annoyed!

    I think if you want to talk spoilers there are ways to do it so that general readers don't get involved.

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    1. That's definitely a valid viewpoint! And you're right, there will always be someone who hasn't read or seen something. Good labeling can at least help prevent unintentional spoiling. :)

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  7. There should DEFINITELY be a Statute of Limitations on books because I get frustrated when someone who has chosen not to read a popular book gets upset when the plot is spoiled. To be fair, the SOL should be dependent on both time AND popularity of the book. For example, I think the SOL is up on Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight spoilers. If you haven't read the book by now, you have to expect that people are going to talk about it as if it is part of the collective conversation of our society. I'm not going to spoil anyone on purpose, but I'm going to be a little less tip-toe-y about it in regular conversation. It may sound harsh, but I run with English department folks who are FOREVER spoiling the entire plots of novels for me by discussing them in seminars and I've had to get over it a bit (especially because I'm probably not actually going to ever read most of those books).

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    1. That sounds like an accurate depiction of pop culture discussions today. I can still understand keeping reviews spoiler-free (or clearly labeled if not); but yes, to a certain extent, I think people realize if they haven't read Twilight by now, they better be prepared to hear spoilers in regular conversation. ;)

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