Malazan Empire: Spoilers or no spoilers that is the question - Malazan Empire

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Spoilers or no spoilers that is the question Rate Topic: -----

Poll: Use of Wikis (18 member(s) have cast votes)

How have you used Malazan wikis? Ticks as many answers as are applicable.

  1. Never (3 votes [4.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.76%

  2. Used only now and then (6 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  3. Used frequently (7 votes [11.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

  4. Used mostly during early books (3 votes [4.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.76%

  5. Used mostly during later books (2 votes [3.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.17%

  6. Used mostly after last book (2 votes [3.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.17%

  7. You were aware that there might be spoilers (13 votes [20.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.63%

  8. You were not aware that there might be spoilers (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  9. You were bothered by finding a spoiler (6 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  10. You were not bothered by finding a spoiler (6 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  11. You have contributed to the content (8 votes [12.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.70%

  12. You have not contributed to the content (7 votes [11.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

Preference about how you would prefer a wiki to deal with spoilers.

  1. One high profile spoiler warning on main page only and presenting information as non-spoiler friendly as possible (5 votes [27.78%])

    Percentage of vote: 27.78%

  2. Additional spoiler warnings throughout wiki and presenting information as non-spoiler friendly as possible (9 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  3. Don't care, just want tons of information (3 votes [16.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.67%

  4. Not applicable as you do not use wikis anyway (1 votes [5.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.56%

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#1 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 03:29 PM

Having just started contributing to the Wikia, I have noticed that there are differing attitudes with regards to spoilers amongst the contributors. I thought that it would be a good idea to have a discussion about it here and maybe formulate something that can be posted on the Wikia so we all sing from the same sheet.

My own view is that the whole point of a wiki is to be a comprehensive source of information. How can one achieve that if one withholds some things.

What do you think?

EDIT: HAVE ADDED A POLL ;)

This post has been edited by Egwene: 10 February 2014 - 09:01 AM

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#2 User is offline   worry 

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:47 AM

I agree with you. I would suggest making the homepage as spoiler free as possible, but include a strong warning that all books are on the table as far as entry pages go, and then do what seems natural information-wise from there. Spoilers on entry pages really come down to how you want to organize information (eg multiple section headings by book?; making Karkhanas Trilogy Revelations its own section lower on pertinent entry pages?).
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#3 User is offline   D'rek 

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 05:18 PM

Since the Malazan books' published and suggested reading orders are not chronologically continuous, but many encyclopedia pages you will want to be chronological (ie character and nation histories), the only way you could achieve full non-spoiler-ability would be if there was a filter feature - like at the top you have a menu where you pick what book you are up to, and every paragraph on a page is tagged with the last book it spoils. Then, if you, for example, select Deadhouse Gates in the spoiler menu at the top, a paragraph that has spoilers for Midnight Tides will be blacked out and only say "spoilers for Midnight Tides" in its place.

If there was some software add-on to the encyclopedia software you're using that could do that, it'd be awesome, but otherwise I think it's best to just go full-on spoilers with, as Worry says, a disclaimer in the front pages.

View Postworrywort, on 14 September 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I kinda love it when D'rek unleashes her nerd wrath, as I knew she would here. Sorry innocent bystanders, but someone's gotta be the kindling.
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#4 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 08:57 PM

Glad to hear I am not the only one to think that one should do away with spoiler warnings other than on the home page. I posted this topic because I saw a message from one user who was unhappy about the content on the page of a character, saying that it contained major spoilers for him/her. I don't think one could cater for every reader who has got as far as book 3, 6, 8... or whatever. It would make it pretty unworkable. 'Read with care', I guess and back-paddle the moment you see something you don't want to know :)
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#5 User is offline   Jade Raven 

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 03:59 AM

There is a another option too, which is that any pages that have information from a book that has been newly published would have specific spoiler warnings at the top of the page. The warnings would be removed at say 60 days after that books general release date. This would be in addition to a general warning on the main page.

Personally I'm strongly for getting rid of the current "system" which haphazardly has small spoiler notices around many major events, such as character deaths, etc. It's not implemented in any systematic way though and IMO mucks up the page. I checked a random page and it shows the effect well.

A filter system would be great, but I don't know how to create one and even if I did every paragraph on every page would have to be checked and sorted with 1 of at least 21 tags and that's just for released books. It might be possible to do in the future, but for now I think that it is best to focus on making the wiki a useful reference tool for readers who have finished the books first.

Another thought I just had would be to try to generally keep the article summary section (ie: the first section at the top) as free of spoilers as practicable.

Thoughts?
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#6 User is offline   Stormcat 

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 05:18 AM

I think if you purposefully go to the encyclopedia you know there is going to be information there. I stay out of forums for books I have not read. When I go to the encyclopedia I know I am going get all of the information about whatever I look up. So.. Yeah spoiler warning then all the correct up to date information is what I think.
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#7 User is offline   Jade Raven 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 05:14 AM

Well I count 5 voices against specific spoiler warnings and 1 (indirect) voice for them. So I'll give it one day more and then begin the removal of the specific spoiler tags.
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#8 User is offline   Silencer 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 06:03 AM

If I had to suggest:

It is not particularly hard, imo, to segregate one key section out on all pages. Deaths.

Any casualties of battle, any unexpected death, can just go under the end section for the character or event. Bottom of the page kind of deal.


However, with regard to spoilers, I'd advocate looking at TV Tropes' setup. It is not particularly hard to tag and hide names or short paragraphs that may be spoilers for people who are not as far into the books as others. As long as the system is consistent and sign-posts well, it is not hard to implement and does not detract from the usefulness of the wiki, nor from the availability of it.

Making it "reader beware" - much like the Facebook group - is a bit unfair. Someone wanting some refreshers on a certain character has very few alternatives to visit. They hardly want to go in search of a reminder about who a character is to see "dies at the end of the book you're reading because Kallor stabs them", sort of thing.

But a lot of that depends on what the Wiki's focus is meant to be. Is an encyclopedia of events, only for those up-to-date with the latest of the latest book? Is it only for those so dedicated, that they are 100% up to date with both SE and ICE and the novellas, etc? Or is it for anyone, for those who want more information, or some explanations, or some form of quote-fu for their Facebook status? Or is it something in the middle?


Personally, I find the former to be quite elitist and restrictive, while the latter can lead to an unreadable mess of spoiler blocks. I agree with the issues around chronology vs. book release, but I think there is a happy middle ground you can aim for which makes the wiki newbie-friendly, while also not destroying its usefulness. It just takes some judicious use of common sense and cautious editing judgement.


But really, before you can address the question of spoilers, you should focus on the question of purpose. Because that more or less can make your decision for you. :)
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#9 User is offline   Kruppe's snacky cakes 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 07:43 AM

Yes. Ditto pretty much everything Silencer said. Wiki information, by definition, is going to be most useful to newbies, not veterans. I've been irritated more than once to find "killed by" information at the very top of a character's wiki page. At a bare minimum, the most spoilerific information should go at the bottom of the page, with basic stuff like characters' physical descriptions, etc., at the top.
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#10 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 02:12 PM

I would really look forward to seeing all those random spoiler warnings disappear :)

New reader or old reader... if you log onto a wiki, you are looking for information that you do not currently have. It is unrealistic to expect to find a site which will only give you exactly the bit that you are after. Trying to avoid giving spoilers may only result in many other readers not finding the answers they are looking for.

Whilst I sympathize with those who are new to the series you only have to look at any given entry to work out that not giving spoilers is pretty impossible. Take Cotillion for example... the intro is quite general, but some new readers might be unhappy to find the information about his alter egos. Where do you draw the line? Hiding sections is not the answer as you simply do not know which bit the reader regards as spoiler and it is incredibly annoying to everyone else.

One of the best reader wikis out there that I know, is The Wheel of Time Encyclopaedia
Take a look at what they have written with regards to spoilers on their welcome page.

Regarding character's deaths... I agree with Silencer that this should not be something the reader is told in the very first line when it concerns main characters. For some of the minor ones, it is almost all we know about that character and thus it will be there. Adding a spoiler warning to something like that would make no sense.

Those who are allergic to spoilers really ought to stay away from any source of information like Wikia and Wikipedia. They would be better off asking their questions on the forum under the relevant section where there are strict spoiler policies. Why not alter the spoiler warning on the front page of Wikia to include that bit of advice and a link to the forum. The main spoiler warning could do with a bit more prominence in any case, just to make sure that people do see it.
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#11 User is offline   Kruppe's snacky cakes 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 12:03 AM

View PostEgwene, on 07 February 2014 - 02:12 PM, said:

One of the best reader wikis out there that I know, is The Wheel of Time Encyclopaedia
Take a look at what they have written with regards to spoilers on their welcome page.


By contrast, see Chronological listing of characters encountered in The Eye of the World, wherein spoilers are impossible, due to the chronological format.

The frustrating thing about the current Malazan encyclopedia is that it gives the illusion that a reader will be able to avoid spoilers, but then will sock you in the jaw with a doozy. See, for example, the article on Kallor. The quotes at the bottom half of the page are separated by book, making it appear that a reader can simply avert his eyes from the MoI portion, if he so desires. And yet, Kallor is revealed to be the slayer of you-know-who at the very top of the page!!! Having spoiler warnings everywhere would be overkill, I agree. But a little organizational common sense, to avoid the type of blunder in my Kallor example, would be appreciated. It is unrealistic to expect people to read the entire 10,000+ page series prior to cracking open the wiki.
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#12 User is offline   Silencer 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 06:47 AM

View PostEgwene, on 07 February 2014 - 02:12 PM, said:

I would really look forward to seeing all those random spoiler warnings disappear :)


That's great, but it's a lot better to have proper spoiler blocks, and if they are done consistently, they won't be "random". XD

Quote

New reader or old reader... if you log onto a wiki, you are looking for information that you do not currently have. It is unrealistic to expect to find a site which will only give you exactly the bit that you are after. Trying to avoid giving spoilers may only result in many other readers not finding the answers they are looking for.


Well, no-one is advocating NOT including information. Just spoilering it. That won't prevent anyone from finding anything.

And while you may be looking for information you don't currently have, you might also be looking for information that you have read before - not necessarily new information! All I (and a couple of others) are suggesting, is restraining the level of spoilerific content through proper placement, and to make sure that big revelations are not going to be thrown in anyone's face. Honestly, the behaviour on the Facebook page with regards to spoilers is sickening. "Don't read the page if you aren't 100% up to date" is the epitome of snobbish elitism that this site alone has to fight to avoid a reputation for. Imagine if we made it reader-beware of spoilers for all books?!

Quote

Whilst I sympathize with those who are new to the series you only have to look at any given entry to work out that not giving spoilers is pretty impossible. Take Cotillion for example... the intro is quite general, but some new readers might be unhappy to find the information about his alter egos. Where do you draw the line? Hiding sections is not the answer as you simply do not know which bit the reader regards as spoiler and it is incredibly annoying to everyone else.


As I said, take a look at TV Tropes. Things that are integral to the character, that a general reader might be expected to know? Those aren't spoilers. Things that are plot-relevant, massive twists, or are only revealed as a late-game surprise? Those are spoilers. Especially deaths. Or betrayals. Even then, it can be handled *in general*, with specifics spoiled.

Quote

One of the best reader wikis out there that I know, is The Wheel of Time Encyclopaedia
Take a look at what they have written with regards to spoilers on their welcome page.


That's pretty much exemplary of the kind of attitude that puts people off communities, however. While it appears they have made efforts to mitigate spoilers in their chapter summaries (which is laudable), I think it would not be hard for them to work the character pages so that, while maintaining chronological order, the introduction is at least spoiler-free, or properly sign-posted. This would allow people to get quick reminders on character traits and attributes ("we first meet Anomander Rake...") without plunging people headlong into spoilers or locking out anyone who isn't at 100% completion...

Quote

Regarding character's deaths... I agree with Silencer that this should not be something the reader is told in the very first line when it concerns main characters. For some of the minor ones, it is almost all we know about that character and thus it will be there. Adding a spoiler warning to something like that would make no sense.

Those who are allergic to spoilers really ought to stay away from any source of information like Wikia and Wikipedia. They would be better off asking their questions on the forum under the relevant section where there are strict spoiler policies. Why not alter the spoiler warning on the front page of Wikia to include that bit of advice and a link to the forum. The main spoiler warning could do with a bit more prominence in any case, just to make sure that people do see it.


Which means a whole bunch of people asking "can I have a quick reminder as to who Mott is?" and then having to wait for a patient forumgoer to respond. As opposed to ducking into the page in ten seconds, finding out, and moving on.

I'm not saying people can't or shouldn't do that, I'm just saying that generally the forum is for questions which *don't* have easy answers, or for discussion of topics beyond simple facts. Of course, we get straightforward questions to, but I have to ask: what is the point of a wiki if half the people visiting can't read it?

Why is it so hard to be spoiler-conscious on a wiki, but not on a forum? It's not about leaving information out, it's about removing the gory details from public viewing, for the protection of people who actually like finding stuff out. Saying "those people shouldn't go to wikis then!" is just perpetuating the belief that wikis are only for the "One True Fans" who have read the books since release and already know 90% of information - in which case, I ask, why are they even visiting the wiki? - rather than for people who want refreshing on the basics, or who want a *little* bit more info around a certain character.

IMO, it just locks off the wiki to people who are willing to ruin any suspense or surprise in the books, and those who are completely up to date. That's...not nice. It shouldn't be a private completionists playground.




***


Anyway, my point is: the discussion here is more than just "spoilers or no spoilers" - it's about what the wiki should be. Functionally, that is of course entirely up to the contributors and the motivators rather than the users like myself (though the last time I went on a Malaz wiki was...ages, lol). But if the discussion is being had, I think it should be done properly. Rather than just talking about spoilers, this debate encompasses what the function of the wiki is, how the pages should be laid out, and so on and so forth.

Part of the problem here is that just talking about spoilers isn't useful if the format doesn't allow for good spoiler practices, while a good format can render the spoiler debate redundant. That's why I think the discussion needs to be broader than just about spoilers...
***

Shinrei said:

<Vote Silencer> For not garnering any heat or any love for that matter. And I'm being serious here, it's like a mental block that is there, and you just keep forgetting it.



"For the record, I'm pretty sure my mind was shouting 'CLICHESTORM' over and over again during the opening of Skyrim...just putting that out there.." - Me.


~Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.~
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#13 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 11:27 AM

Of course it would be good to have discussions on all aspects of the Wikia, but I started this topic because as a user, I found the constant spoiler reminders pretty irritating and I believe one can discuss them without going into the other stuff.

If someone has not yet read tCG for example, then it is up to them to stay away from those chapters. Why should that chapter have an additional spoiler warning? "Don't read the page if you aren't 100% up to date" is not the epitome of snobbish elitism but a warning along the lines of "this product is made in a factory that also makes products containing nuts". Because you simply can not guarantee that it is 100% spoiler-free (or nut-free respectively).

There is a need to be sensitive about not giving away the main plot in line one. Giving information in chronological order will also help. I do believe that on the whole people are trying to contribute accordingly. Obviously, sometimes they get it wrong and if you see that, do have a go at editing yourself, or bring it to the attention of one of the regular contributors. Nobody is trying to intentionally spoil it for others.

The trouble with those additional spoiler warnings is that you simply can not cater for every reader and thus these warnings are not only random but cater for a random reader. It can also result in spoiler-paranoia where people put warnings on facts that aren't spoilers at all by anyone's standards.

Taking out those odd spoiler warnings may actually result in making contributors more focused on writing spoiler-friendly in the first place. :)

EDIT: I am referring to Wikia with all my comments, not the now retired Wiki here.

This post has been edited by Egwene: 08 February 2014 - 11:36 AM

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#14 User is offline   Grief 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 11:43 PM

What use is a wiki that is spoiler heavy and doesn't hide or segregate spoilers, regardless of how efficiently it chronicles the books? If it is only useful to people who aren't worried about spoilers, who is it useful for? People who have read all of the books, and also want to find specific information from them? Essentially it makes it useful for checking things for forum discussion and for people doing a re-read who have taken a break from the re-read and want a reminder of something.

You may not be able to cater for every reader with a spoiler warning, but not having such warnings seems even more random to me. It leaves every reader who hasn't completed the series taking a random gamble on whether they will encounter spoilers or not.

Personally I feel the layout of the wiki should be aimed as effectively as possible at preventing spoilers, with efficiently presenting information coming second. If a piece of information about a character isn't learnt until TTH, it should come under a section something like "TTH information", or something like that.

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#15 User is offline   Imperial Historian 

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 11:55 PM

I would agree with that. Though most of the contributors are hardcore read all the books multiple times so spoiler warnings are irrelevant, most users are the less hardcore who thinks they may have forgotten who someone is on book x of the series and wants to check, looking up gesler for example in book 4 as opposed to book 10 you want very different information. And its not unreasonable for a reader of house of chains to want a reminder of who gesler is without having his entire character arc spoiled. Spoiler warnings were certainly not enforced (as the encyclopaedia thus far was more of a hobby project for various fanatics). But if the discussion is to be had I favour breakdown by book with spoilers, especially for major events, but I think a blanket spoiler policy is easier to work with.
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#16 User is offline   D'rek 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 12:10 AM

Given the many different opinions, maybe some research should be done into what possible spoiler systems are available for the wiki software before it is decided? The TVTropes is a good example of one that doesn't get in the way of the way the article is written. If we could do that in the Malaz wiki, it'd probably be the best compromise between the views expressed here.

View Postworrywort, on 14 September 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I kinda love it when D'rek unleashes her nerd wrath, as I knew she would here. Sorry innocent bystanders, but someone's gotta be the kindling.
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#17 User is offline   Jade Raven 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 08:20 AM

I've had a look a quite a few wikis today. The vast majority either don't have spoiler protection at all or have only a minimal time-based protection of anywhere from 30 days after publication to until when the next book is published.

TV Tropes system is good in theory, but I dislike it for technical reasons. I haven't ever seen it implemented in the MediaWiki software that Wikia uses and the only way I can think to do it would break compatibility between the two skins. There may be a way around this, but I don't know how to do it yet.

Of the very few I found (only 2 from memory) the only one that has a different system is the Inheritance wiki (it's ok I haven't actually read the books!). If you look on the linked page you will see boxes at the top right that indicate which books the page has spoilers from in it - in this case all 4 books.
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#18 User is offline   Silencer 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 09:21 AM

It's due to the foundation on which most Wikis are based - Wikipedia.

There aren't any "spoilers" for real-life information, be it historical or theoretical. The website was never designed to be for media. Most people then don't even think it's something to consider, or something that is done. The reason TV Tropes is such a great example is because it's SO media-focused. Everything it does is related to media, and they really appreciate the nature of spoilers. Heck, Tropes doesn't even do chapter summaries or reviews - the ONLY reason people go there is to read the Tropes, and they still take care with spoilers, because they appreciate that some Tropes are inherently spoilers, whereas others are purely broad and informative.

Similarly, it doesn't make sense to spoiler things like chapter summaries - they are what they are, and shouldn't, by their nature, refer to future events.

I think the biggest problem we have with Malazan is thus: most events which are "off-screen", and only referred to, we have very little knowledge of at all. Everything else happens "on-screen", and is therefore a potential spoiler for readers. Most of the history of the world, which is not particularly well covered, if one considers there is at least 300,000 or so years worth of the stuff, is only hinted at, or else is discussed as some character's memory or what they've been told.

This makes the majority of information "spoilers" to some people.

But this isn't the kind of information I'm advocating to be covered by spoiler warnings (or, preferably, spoiler tags). Rather, things which are inherently plot-relevant or involve character-defining moments.

E.g.

MOI
Spoiler


That's a MASSIVE spoiler for someone not up to MOI, yes?

I think it is simple enough to prevent readers being spoiled thus:

Consider an article on "The Siege of Coral". This can be prefixed by "the below events occur at the end of the book 'Memories of Ice', and therefore contains large spoilers for that book and the characters in it" or something. After that, it is mostly a free-for-all on the content. However, I'd suggest keeping the introduction vague. It might mention a certain betrayal, for example, but not the massive death spoiler that leads to, out of courtesy to people who visit the page and go "oops" but still read fast enough to see something like that.

Whereas the article on the character in question can have a sub-section (chronologically, at the end of the page, or near it, given subsequent events in the books) titled "Death". It doesn't have to mention when, how, or where until the reader actually starts reading the section. It should be obvious enough to most people that anything under the "death" heading is going to contain death spoilers.

Post-death articles would, ideally, simply use a system similar to Tropes' for blanking the names of important characters who have died, should their deaths need to be referred to. I appreciate that system may not be practicable on the software being used, however I think it's worth taking a look at from a technical standpoint if we can. Getting it sorted now would prevent headaches in the future.

Is it not possible to simply set the text to the same colour as the page background? Click+drag mouse to reveal is not hard on the end-user and hides things nicely. A note can be added with superscript to define the content of the spoiler e.g. MOI Spoiler Or you could say Major Death Spoiler if it's not context-obvious that it's someone's death.


I guess I've been spoiled (haha) with TV Tropes. They're really good about it there, and the site has a wicked spoiler system (and also a cool superscript-clickable 'note' command that can show text when clicked but otherwise hides it away - completely compacted, no white space). I know it adds more work to be spoiler-conscious, but I do seriously question the reason for an open-spoilers wiki to exist. Who is the wiki for? Who will read it? What is its purpose?

*shrug*
***

Shinrei said:

<Vote Silencer> For not garnering any heat or any love for that matter. And I'm being serious here, it's like a mental block that is there, and you just keep forgetting it.



"For the record, I'm pretty sure my mind was shouting 'CLICHESTORM' over and over again during the opening of Skyrim...just putting that out there.." - Me.


~Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.~
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#19 User is offline   Egwene 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 11:22 AM

I have added a poll to maybe get a better picture of how readers use a Malazan wiki and what preferences might be.

Reading the comments, most arguments are more about making the site more spoiler safe, rather that having lots of additional warnings. I feel that to that effect, it would help for more people to give feedback on where specific improvements could be made. Not everyone wants or can get involved in editing. How about a dedicated sticky thread where those problems can be brought to the attention of a regular contributor and have someone designated to check that thread and implement changes where necessary and possible.

If certain basic rules are applied - like for example, not having the death of a character in the initial character summary or before the book where it happens - then I do feel that we can do away with most of the current additional spoiler warnings. As Silencer said: if the chapter is headlined 'death' readers should know what to expect. Same if an article is headlined 'The Crippled God' then readers should expect to find spoilers if they have not yet read that book.
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#20 User is offline   D'rek 

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 10:12 PM

That Inheritance Wiki spoiler system is pretty cool, I wonder how they did that?

Something else I thought of today - do we ever do linking from one article to a sub-section of another article? Some Malazan articles can certainly get quite long. Having spoiler warnings only at the top of a page wouldn't help someone who is linked to a paragraph halfway down a long article and they only keep reading from there downwards.


My feelings are a bit wishy-washy on this whole thing right now, but mostly my preference right now would be if we could have the spoilers extension on the wiki, which does hidden-text style spoilers
Spoiler

and that we apply these to all major spoilers, but don't worry about minor spoilers (major spoilers being events that happen in the books' narrative and that have some emotional impact or big revelation - we should be able to fairly easily make a list of these). The 'show/hide' text for these spoiler boxes would say, for example: "This paragraph contains major spoilers for MoI".

View Postworrywort, on 14 September 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I kinda love it when D'rek unleashes her nerd wrath, as I knew she would here. Sorry innocent bystanders, but someone's gotta be the kindling.
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