This is about exactly the thing it says on top: please do not say openly and directly in comments, the things in an answer which were spoiler-tagged.

There are good reasons for this:

1. It makes the puzzle harder to solve for other people. When you say "X is a good attempt" or "Y is really close, think a bit more about the clues" you spoil the novelty for latecomers, whose thoughts will focus on the subject you restate - consider don't think of the pink elephant as an analogous of why this is a problem.

2. It is rude to the answerer (whether or not they think so). They took the time to learn about, and then put in spoiler mark-up. Whyever they did so, you've changed that choice for them, without their input and quite possibly to their detriment.

3. It ruins the puzzle for the future visitors. Similarly to point 1, seeing other answers or even the correct answer before being able to think through the puzzle, takes away the challenge and much of the fun. Anybody can read the current proposals by hovering; nobody can unread them by not hovering, if your comment said it too.

For people who aren't familiar with spoiler mark-up, this helpful Q&A will do well. For those who are, but ignore it, please be careful!

  • $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand what you're saying here. Are you saying we should never post comments on an answer which mention the spoilertagged parts of it (or only do so in an obfuscated way)? $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2016 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor I am saying, if something is spoilered, don't go and un-spoiler it. The comments that have driven me to this now, both blatantly state the proposed answer - ignoring the spoilers on them. In one case, the aspect being discussed could have been so, without mentioning the answer or even hinting at it. In the other case, there was simply no need to mention any aspect of the answer at all! $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Sep 30, 2016 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ But what do you mean by "un-spoiler it"? Edit spoilertags out of the answer? Post comments which mention the spoilertagged parts of it? Some specific examples of what you see as undesirable might help. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2016 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor "please do not say openly and directly in comments, the things in an answer which were spoiler-tagged." $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ Right, that makes sense. But in your first numbered point, you mentions comments of the form "X is a good attempt" or "Y is really close, think a bit more about the clues", which are often necessary feedback for the answerer. Comments like these shouldn't be discouraged. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2016 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Also, by the time somebody's scrolled all the way through a spoiler-packed answer ... well, if they aren't ready to see spoilers in the comments, they shouldn't have scrolled down that far. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2016 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor If the proposal is >! a chair when the solution was a divan, saying "you're close! It's a type of chair, not just any" gives away the proposal in spoilers. Also, as others have pointed out on PMeta before, it is not possible to not scroll past the answers when going to post your own, because the answer box is at the bottom of the page. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ Meta doesn't seem like the right place for PSAs, because Meta is for discussion. Questions should be phrased as discussion-focused questions, not as requests to follow your viewpoint. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2016 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


I think you'd really have to be trying to both scroll down far enough to read comments on answers and read enough of them to get a spoiler out of them. Unlike comments on questions, comments on answers aren't shown at the top of the page, and only very infrequently are displayed unless you scroll down.

Also, comments are difficult to add spoiler markup to, and the only solution we as a site have thought of renders comments gibberish to people who don't know how to read them.

However, we can't do away with spoilers in comments entirely, because they're frequently needed to discuss an answer or the question itself. The way we do things now strikes a reasonable compromise between effort on the part of commenters and effort on the part of readers, while still giving mostly the full range of comment availability.

  • $\begingroup$ The almost-ubiquitous answer format on Puzzling SE is to give first the proposal in a spoiler, and then explain each sentence or line of the puzzle with a separate spoiler box. It would not read as gibberish at all, to say e.g. "your proposal is close but not quite precise enough" or " your explanation of the third line doesn't work with your proposal/with this other line". People who are involved in that discussion will know what is being discussed because they will open the spoiler box; people who don't want to be spoiled won't know anything more than that the proposal is right-ish/wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Oct 1, 2016 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I did recently see a differently spoilered comment tag. The user essentially put the spoiler in a hyperlink and you had to hover over it the see what he said. Sadly, i'm not sure how he did it, or which question it was on. $\endgroup$
    – dcfyj
    Oct 4, 2016 at 16:58

Let's consider the (only) two cases here.

Case 1: You're trying to solve a puzzle that already has an accepted answer

Nothing wrong with this, of course! There are plenty of good puzzles here, and you haven't seen the answers to all of them yet and want to give them a shot. But you'll be able to see that there's an accepted answer right away, and if you're taking the doing of a puzzle seriously, you'll stay away from anything to do with that answer. Since you have no need to scroll down (to enter an answer, since one has already been accepted) it shouldn't matter whether comments contain spoilers.

Case 2: You're trying to solve a puzzle that does not have an accepted answer

In this case, you probably should be reading the other spoilered answers (and their comments) to make sure you're not posting a duplicate answer.

So since those are the only two cases (I think), I don't see why un-spoilered comments are a problem in any realistic case. I have no problem (at the same time) with encouraging people to be as obtuse as possible when posting comments.

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    $\begingroup$ Case 3: Scattered comments all too often contain clarifications that, though they belong with (or, better, in) the question, we have become conditioned to look for everywhere. $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Oct 14, 2016 at 3:55
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    $\begingroup$ @humn Agreed. Though it seems like its own topic. Also "hints in chat" could be addressed similarly. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2016 at 4:12

Thank you for drawing attention to the problem of unspoilerized spoilers in comments.

The points made in the post and follow-up comments are annoyingly irrefutable.

Answers’ comments not only require monk-like discipline to overlook, but often contain crucial clarifications that too rarely migrate to their proper places in the puzzle statement or its comments.

Here are two underutilized ways to considerately spoilerize a comment. Instead of something like:

Probably not just any type of chair. Perhaps an Inquisition chair.

1. Use a link to the spoiler word or phrase (such as a link to a dictionary or Wikipedia entry)

Probably not just any type of (click). Perhaps one of these.

Typed in as:

Probably not just any type of
Perhaps one of [these](http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-silicon-valley-ergonomics-20160928-snap-story.html).

2. Use hover text   (does not work so well on touch screens but may be combined with a link)

Probably not just any type of (hover for spoiler). Perhaps (hover for spoiler).

Typed in as   (/. may be replaced with a link URL):

Probably not just any type of
[(hover for spoiler)](/. "chair").
Perhaps [(hover for spoiler)](/. "an Inquisition chair").

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