Spoiler free discussions

An Iron Blogger wrote about a Netflix show called House of Cards. Someone mentioned that Dave wanted a way to have spoiler free discussions about stuff. Links everywhere!

Anyhow, I have experimented with this. I’ve made forums that linked to a database of episodes that had an order, and wouldn’t show threads that had references to episodes you had marked as seen. I’ve done it in WordPress, Drupal and MediaWiki. In my experience, it doesn’t work.

There are multiple reasons. First of all, it is a commitment. You have to be on top of your own cultural absorption to make it work. That might be handled in the near future as we use AI to track our personal lives and are able to aggregate meaningful data from it (like what we have watched or read).

The other big problem is that conversations are not hierarchical nodes, threaded in a logical order. People extrapolate, scaffold, make external and internal references. And we do it intuitively, it is very human. We like to think that people talk in paragraphs, but when we write we are already trading off a bunch of signals from movement and intonation for typographical marks like emoji and text structure. Adding a spoiler-free layer on top of that is like en/decrypting in our brain, it is an exhausting effort. Hence, it is much easier to just preface your message with, “Spoilers below for Awesome Show s02e03” and let folks decide if they are going to risk it.

I am still playing with systems like this, but I’ve turned my effort towards long-term conversations in the form of using wikae to discuss nodes of culture. It is probably because I don’t read old content is newer stuff is available in fora (threads covering episodes for instance). It is nice to have all the history for reference, but also to have a collaborative snapshot that is ever developing.

This will make more sense in time.

Oh, there was also a New York Times story that said something about the Netflix show format being anti-social (NYT can’t be bothered to have their site scraped, so I can’t be bothered to read it). I disagree; the anti-social pattern here is how companies control culture through copyright, and imply that fandom is permission-based. I can’t use Netflix because I don’t use any of their approved devices. If I watch House of Cards, it will be off The Pirate Bay.