December 18th, 2005


Spoiler Expiration Dates

[There will be no actual spoilers in this discussion. Please refrain from posting any real spoilers of your own.]

In my last post, I discussed the impact that the death of John Spencer would have on the TV show The West Wing. As part of my discussion, I made reference to plot elements that took place last season and in the opening episode of this season. Although it's mostly led to a few replies regarding my speculation, one reply got me thinking in a different direction. One friend politely suggested that I should put the "spoilery bits" behind an LJ cut:

i'm very slowly working my way through West Wing (having just acquired Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD a couple months ago), and i've been trying to avoid hearing too much about what happens in later seasons...

Which leads me to open up a question I've been considering for a while here -- what's the expiration date on a plot point being a spoiler?

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Which leads me to yesterday's post. As noted above, I casually referenced an event that took place last season on The West Wing. The main spoiler I mentioned in passing came from the beginning of season 6 of the show, and we're now deep in the middle of season 7. In other words, my friend quoted above feels that plot points from an episode broadcast in October 2004 -- a full 14 months in the past -- should still be placed under a spoiler warning. what point is it my responsibility to keep spoilers hidden, and at what point does it become your responsibility to avoid spoilers? After one season? Two? Three? What's the current culturally accepted norm? I'm genuinely curious.