What is a Spoiler Exactly?
Pretty much anything you read or view on the internet about an episode before it airs is technically a spoiler.
Some people prefer to completely avoid spoilers before the airing of a favorite TV show. Others draw the line with a gallery of network licensed photographs. For others, an official episode synopsis will suffice. Some enjoy a weekly teaser-style article that hints at things to come, while some want to gather as many details prior to the air date as they can.
Navigating spoilery waters, both as a fan, and as an online magazine, can present difficulties.
How much do you want to be spoiled? Where do you draw the line? How much do you trust the article you are reading not to divulge what you want to remain unknown in the short term? For many of us, the line ends in a different place.
What is ScreenSpy’s Policy on Spoilers?
ScreenSpy works in tandem with all of the broadcast networks, several cable networks, and (currently) at least 3 of the big streaming giants to provide various articles to our readers. Some of these articles are presented in the form of official photo galleries, while others offer a recap of the key moments from last night’s episode, or an opinion piece on a show, season, or character, video sneak peeks, interviews, and other types of articles. Often we are gifted with advance copies called “screeners” of upcoming episodes of a TV show. Often, we receive a bunch of episodes in a bundle. The networks give us these assets, along with all of the other assets they give us, to enable us to know in advance where and how the season is going. This helps us craft the right type of story, invite the right actor or director or producer to an interview, understand the tone of the season or series as a whole, and be able to do the job of advertising these shows more effectively.
When we receive screeners, we are asked not to reveal major spoilers that would ruin the enjoyment of the live experience. We do our best, always, never to reveal major spoilers in our articles.
In our efforts to present an article about an upcoming show, we occasionally present carefully worded previews or “teaser” articles, hinting at where the episode will go. (Often we are provided with screeners of episodes that contain major events for the specific purpose of advertising them.) Teaser articles of this type are presented to ScreenSpy readers from our “Scoop and Spoilers” column on our Home Page.
What is the Difference Between a Teaser and a Spoiler?
For some people, there is none. And that’s ok. For ScreenSpy writers presented with the task of crafting an article that whets the appetites of TV fans online, the challenge is to create an article that sets the scene, but does not reveal the major points the show writers and the network want kept under wraps. (These points are commonly referred to as “DNR’s — “Do Not Reveal” — a list of which are commonly sent to us via email from the network along with the episode. This means we know ahead of time what not to reveal to our readers.)
Minor points, the occasional funny one liner, and hints of events to come fall into the teaser category, for us. Fans will find similar details in weekly “promo” trailers and video sneak peeks for the upcoming episode.
For example: We may tease that next week’s episode of [insert fictional show title here] will be a big one for “George,” who will find himself facing a life or death situation. We will not reveal that George dies, but later comes back to life as a flesh-eating zombie. We will not reveal the nature of George’s death, or the events that led up to it.
Our teaser article lets fans know that this is a big upcoming episode for George. (It also helps us to realize that we should probably extend an interview request to the actor who plays George, so that he can break down his big moment in a post-mortem interview.) Naturally, some fans will read the article, and assume we have spoiled something big about George, while being unaware that we have been extremely careful not to divulge the actual major spoiler, which in this case is George’s death and zombified return.
Similarly, we may tease that fans of “Anna and Tom” should definitely tune in next week. We will not tease that they should tune in because Anna kisses Tom, but Tom decides he wants to go back to his ex-wife, afterwards.
Some fans may assume we have spoiled an episode by revealing it is a big one for these characters. Without having seen the episode, they might assume we have revealed that Tom and Anna are now officially a couple. They do not realize the real major spoiler the network is keen to keep under wraps is that they, in fact, break up.
These examples may not represent everyone’s idea for what constitutes a teaser, and we accept that. It is ours, though.
What We Are Responsible For
- We are responsible for letting people know, where possible, they are reading an article that contains some details about an upcoming episode, as in the examples below.
- We are responsible for categorizing articles containing what could be deemed potential spoilers by some fans in a specific area on our website — “Scoop and Spoilers.” In particular, we do this for articles that don’t contain the forewarning above (although most do, anyway.)
- We are responsible for labelling all articles that could be deemed to contain potential spoilers by some fans with the words “Scoop”, “Spoilers”, or “Exclusive Scoop.” These titles are designed to alert fans to what episode is being advertised and in what manner, and that the content is unique.
- We are also responsible, over social media — for example Twitter, and Facebook — for clearly adding wording that is in keeping with the article title. Example: “Exclusive Scoop on [insert show title here] Season 2”
This is ScreenSpy’s way of letting people know that the article being advertised contains details that some fans may deem spoilery in content.
What We Are Not Responsible For
Already Aired: ScreenSpy is a fast-paced online medium with a high turnover of content. Due to the large number of shows we cover, we cannot hold off on posting about events in shows that have already aired. For that purpose, we do not consider episodes of TV shows that have aired to be spoiler content. A teaser article may therefore (and very likely will) touch or recap on events that have happened in previous episodes before alluding to those to come in the future. If you have not seen last week’s episode, and find yourself reading an article that advertises a new episode, please be aware that you may stumble upon some discussion of past events.
US Based: ScreenSpy is a US based online magazine. We follow the US TV schedule. If you enjoy a TV show that has yet to air in your part of the world, please be aware that the US may be several episodes/seasons ahead, and some episodes will be considered “already aired” by us.
Social Media: Fans are free to share our articles over social media in any way they see fit. We are not responsible for fans who remove our article titles and replace them with their own while retweeting or sharing over Facebook, Tumblr and elsewhere. We are not responsible for fans who choose to photograph sections of our articles and share them as photos instead. We are not responsible for fans who tweet or share their thoughts, guesses and predictions about an upcoming episode and then provide a link back to our original article. We are not responsible for fans who tweet other fans a link to our website that does not contain any additional details about the nature and content of the article there.
Content on Other Online Outlets: We are not responsible for other online outlets’ content. If we reveal that next week’s episode is a big one for George, while another outlet reveals that “someone is killed next week,” we cannot be responsible for fans who put it together that the character who dies is George. However, we would like to point out that it is practically impossible to read a collection of advance previews/teaser-style articles and come away entirely unspoiled.
I Read a ScreenSpy article and Feel Spoiled … and Angry
We deeply apologize. It’s not our intention to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of a TV show. We do our best to work within the guidelines set out for us by the various networks to present a clearly labelled article that gives fans something cool to look forward to, and hopefully a space in which to trade theories, hopes and fears, about your favorite shows.
I have been Muted or Blocked By ScreenSpy for Voicing My Anger Over a Spoiler. What Gives?
We rarely mute people over Twitter, and only in instances where we find ourselves bombarded with too many tweets from the same person, expressing the same feelings in different ways, or seeking to enter into a debate or argument with us. As we are an engaged outlet, we need to be able to see new notifications coming in over Social Media, daily, and on the rare occasion that someone is repeatedly letting us know how they feel, we will temporarily use the mute button so that others can speak up and be heard. Our policy here is to wait a couple of days, unmute, and hope for the best. On a super rare occasion where someone is abusive, bullying, threatening or deeply unpleasant, or is encouraging others to behave in the same way, we will block that person. But only as a last resort, and with a heavy heart.
A Final Word
We hope this guide helps you to understand our policies regarding spoilers and other content from our magazine. We may from time to time, add to it, as needs dictate. We wish you safe and happy browsing. No Georges were harmed in the making of this article. Anna and Tom forever!
Jennifer Griffin ScreenSpy Editor