Originally Posted by HDMe2
Now... where things get nebulous to me... what about shows that are no longer on the air? I mean... how long do I have to not make comparisons between Falling Skies and episodes of Lost in Space, for example? Lost in Space has been long gone... but arguably there will be people who haven't watched that show. That's the grey area. I don't know what the "rule" is regarding shows not on the air any longer.
How long does a show need to be gone before it is ok to spoiler it? IF the answer is "never" then we'd be severely limited in what we can talk about, wouldn't we? So surely there is some convention that if a show has been off the air XX years, it is ok to spoiler it?
Well, my take on would be this:
There's a major difference between comparing something like Falling Skies to elements of Lost in Space (especially in the Falling Skies thread) and discussing a major plot point within a show in another show's thread, especially one still in production.
Even if a show was made decades ago, spoiling a major turning point for a show (like who actually shot J.R. or where the 4400 really went), even if it should be "known" by this point, should still be avoided out of courtesy to those who may have missed out on the show the first time around. At the very least, put spoiler tags on it to prevent stumbling on it. While that doesn't help people who get update alerts (since the spoiler isn't hidden), it at least minimizes the issue. The death of an important character or some other game-changing element should be handled with caution.
Another example of a spoiler that everyone here may already know, but it's still a good idea to avoid spilling the beans is on a movie with a twist ending. While nearly all of us have seen endings of Planet of the Apes and The Sixth Sense, it's still courteous to avoid revealing what was (at the time each was released) a surprise ending - even in the threads for the film. Some people may be experiencing these films for the first time on home video and are finding out if the disc presentation is any good or getting opinions on whether it's "blind buy" material or not.
We sometimes forget that we're not all the same age here and haven't all seen the same movies and TV shows. The problem is, these things live on forever, especially on home video. we can pick nearly all of them up at any time an experience them for the first time.
People should certainly feel free to seek out spoilers if they like (if you want to know the awesome way Newhart ended, it's right out there on YouTube). However, common courtesy dictates that you use care around a mixed audience that may be wanting to start enjoying the film or TV show fresh like you were able to.
There's just too much stuff being made out there to be able to keep up with it all. In this day and age, there is no such thing as appointment TV with all the viewing options available, from DVRs, to streaming, to VOD to home video media. We have the luxury of setting our own schedules and shouldn't be penalized for exercising that right.