# What's our current stance on “spoiler-only edits?”

Most of the answers on these questions seem to indicate we should consider this to go against the answerer's intent and/or too minor:

There's never really been a consensus on how spoilers should be utilized in answers, but the answers suggest when it comes to edits we lean strongly in one direction: that edits which merely introduce spoiler markup should be rejected. Yet, from what I've seen, such "spoiler-only edits" seem to almost always get accepted in review.

Meta and main site paint two very different pictures in this regard. Is this something we need to revisit?

• My opinion remains that spoiler-only edits are bad, and the people who approve those edits are being bad reviewers for doing so. – Joe Z. Jun 23 '16 at 5:11
• @JoeZ. I may be missing something here but what is bad with approving them ? The edit improves the quality of the site and f I see an answer without spoiler I edit it myself. So why should I reject them ? – Fabich Jun 24 '16 at 8:32
• The edit doesn't improve the quality of the site, though. I regularly revert spoiler-only edits to my own questions when I notice them, just because I think it's such a bad idea to be editing them for that reason only. – Joe Z. Jun 24 '16 at 13:20
• Are you reverting them because you think that a spoiler-only edit is a bad idea, or are you reverting them because you think adding spoilers is a bad idea? If the former, you're just being spiteful and that is a bad edit review. – Ian MacDonald Jun 27 '16 at 12:27
• @IanMacDonald A bit of both, really. And I'd consider it spiteful if I did it to anybody's answers other than my own. But for the ones I do revert, I do in fact believe that the spoiler does not improve the answer at all, and that I'd prefer to have it unspoiled. – Joe Z. Jun 27 '16 at 14:38
• (I meant "my own answers", not "my own questions". Sorry if that made you think something else.) – Joe Z. Jun 27 '16 at 15:42
• When I read the title I thought that the site finally managed to make spoilers standard rule and is going to edit all answer to add them.... Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is vice visa. Why, why on world would you revert/edit out spoilers tags on a puzzle site? and consider this a minor change? This is HUGE change to any answer. If I opened a question to read the puzzle and investigate it on my own, the worst thing can happen to me is spoiler-tag free correct answer, there is no way to revert my knowledge of puzzle solution... – klm123 Jun 30 '16 at 11:32
• @klm123 I know that if we somehow managed to agree that spoilers should be put on all answers and I woke up to find that all of my puzzle answers had been edited to include spoiler tags, I'd be asking for my account to be deleted and all the spoilered-up answers anonymized. – Joe Z. Jul 3 '16 at 6:25
• @JoeZ could you explain why in an answer? – WBT Jul 3 '16 at 14:56
• @WBT There you go. – Joe Z. Jul 3 '16 at 19:21

Spoilers are available for a reason. One person's idea of "obvious or common knowledge" may totally ruin the future enjoyment of a mental puzzle or story for others long after the original questioner or answerer has moved on.

If spoilers are likely to be needed by future readers, this is a useful edit. It serves the site to have people enjoy the user experience, instead of wondering what plotlines or puzzles will be ruined for them next.

And, if the absence of the spoiler makes the answer drastically different in effect, this is not a minor edit.

As such, if the addition of a spoiler tag is justified by the fact that it hides information which may need a spoiler, it should be accepted as an edit.

This is by no means a new question — the first question you linked was asked by me, over two years ago, about the exact same topic. My personal stance remains that the decision to include spoilers should generally be left to the answerer themself, and edits that are only meant to insert spoiler markup without improving any other aspect of the question should be rejected.

I generally have personal internal guidelines for when to put a part of my answer in spoilers. They might have evolved over time, but in general I follow two rules:

### 1. I only put something in spoilers if it's not the entire answer.

This means that if the entire answer or effectively the entire answer excluding some auxiliary framing text would be placed into spoilers so that the answer wouldn't make any sense without them even as a hint, I will leave the whole thing as is. This precludes answers such as "The answer is [rest of answer under a spoiler]" or even "We have [spoiler] and so we can deduce that [another spoiler] to arrive at the conclusion that [final answer spoiler]".

You might mention this answer or this answer as a counterexample, but in both of those cases, I put the final answer on top, and the explanation under spoilers, because it's really the rule that the sequence follows or the reasoning behind each word that's a challenge for people to find out — the answer itself is just to check if your rule is correct.

So far people have been good about not making edits to put an entire answer behind spoilers just because they think it's a good idea to spoiler everything that explains an answer. And I don't edit people's answers who do do this to use smarter spoiler formatting, because I understand people have different norms about this stuff.

### 2. I only put an answer in spoilers if the formatting of the answer affords it.

This is one place where I might insert spoilers contrary to badp's policy.

One categorical example of questions that do afford a spoiler-by-default format are questions containing a series of mini-questions in a list (a few of which I've answered here). Those ones, I don't mind putting spoilers on because it's natural that you might only want to see the answer for a few of them at once.

For other examples of things that might be spoilered that aren't list questions, take a look at this edit that I just made to an answer of my own to insert spoilers. That part of the answer was already isolated in a quote, to draw attention to it, so that can be put into a spoiler.

However, some of the edits I've seen have literally just taken the single answer for a question and put it on its own line to spoiler it out, like this:

We have some interesting explanation here, and the answer is blah, as we expected before.

turns into

We have some interesting explanation here, and the answer is:

blah

as we expected before.

This ruins the formatting I intended for that answer, all for the sake of hiding the answer from somebody who may or may not want to see it.

• We really need in-text spoilers. Perhaps we could use !blah! for this. That would fix one of your issues. – haykam Jul 4 '16 at 1:30
• We'll discuss that when and if it ever gets implemented. In its absence, my point remains as stated. – Joe Z. Jul 4 '16 at 3:14