For many questions/answers where I wish to provide background, explanation, mildly extraneous detail, etc., I would really like to have that little arrow thingee that one sees in the FAQ:

arrow expand to show more

To partially mitigate all of the TL;DR comments (note there are quite a few -- even on meta), I feel that this could significantly improve the readability of the higher quality questions.

Use cases:

  1. Questions which include background/motivational information such as:

  2. Answers which have logical divisions between compartments of information:

  3. This could also be used to temporarily hide large screen shots or large blocks of code, but I'm hesitant to even suggest this because I really don't want any excuse for posting more than 25-30 lines of code.

  • In some forums "spoiler"-tags are (ab-)used for this. Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 7:56
  • 3
    Is there a case you can point to where a spoiler would be preferable over simple brevity? I could see a use for it here on MSO for the FAQ questions and answers, but I don't really see where it would be useful on SO.
    – user50049
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 8:07
  • 3
    I don't like the idea of hiding content, it makes peer review harder.
    – cularis
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 8:10
  • I agree that this could make peer review harder -- if you want to limit it to only higher rep users, I'd agree <- a simple way to accomplish this would be to only permit its use within the inline editor (available at 2K rep). But also, pragmatically, is it really a problem if poorly formatted code or badly worded extraneous detail is hidden from view?
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 8:24
  • @Arjan, I really know nothing about Javascript, AJAX, markdown, etc. It could be? How is it implemented for the faq pages?
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 8:34
  • (I've edited my answer: there's already something on the mobile site. I also cleaned up my comments.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 12:47
  • No thanks. I don't understand why content in your answers should be hidden. Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 0:54
  • Please note -- I really don't like the spoiler idea. I would much rather have the arrow. Here is a marginally good example of where I'd desire to hide some content -- initially -- so as to downplay the lack of clarity in my stream of consciousness
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 2:41

2 Answers 2


I'd love to see the existing spoiler be enhanced for that. The syntax is:

>! Spoiler text

Lacking a proper hover on some devices, the new mobile sites render this as:

Click to show spoiler on mobile site

On the regular websites, one still needs to hover the hidden text to reveal it. This includes tablets like the iPad, where not everyone knows that hovering is initiated by tapping first. And it shows many blank lines for long spoilers. Like:

Moon languages rock!

From http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/moon_language
moon language (plural moon languages)

  1. (slang) Text written in an incomprehensible script, especially Japanese or Chinese.

(Multi-line spoilers need Markdown double-spaces to get a newline. Automatic lists, headings, et cetera are not supported.)

I'd like something similar to the mobile sites on the regular sites too, but:

  • Labeled "Click to show hidden text" (rather than "spoiler").
  • Maybe a single link to show all hidden text? (That might not be too nice for real spoilers.)

On the other hand: beware that the handling of Markdown within the spoilers is very limited. One cannot easily change an existing block into a spoiler.

(Click the "mobile" link at the bottom of this page to see the mobile rendering in a regular browser too. To switch back, click "full site", though that does not look like a link.)


I am looking at posting a question that will need to include, or link to, the contents of a sizable-ish log file. There's certainly sites like pastebin that I could use, but linking to the data with it placed on any external site means I'd run the risk of the question still existing at some time in the future but the linked data no longer being accessible.

This could be a problem if said data was required by some future person looking at the question to determine if the issue they're having is the same as the one I did, and hence whether the answers might also help them.

So I'd like to post the log data on the particular stackexchange site along with the question - but would like someone to be able to have an overview of the question - without all of the log data shoved in their face - and decide whether this is a question that they want to try to answer (or if the answers to it might or definitely would not be helpful to them), before then being able to cause the text area storing the (initially hidden) log data to expand and display it if they decide they want to see it.

The >! spoiler thing mentioned in Arjan's answer is something I wasn't aware of, and is interesting, but obviously not usable for this issue, for the reason he/she outlined - it's not expandable/shrinkable, so there would be a great big blank area in the middle of the answer.

One could simply reference the log date in the question itself and place the data at the bottom of the question (like a footnote), but people would still need to scroll through it to get to the answer section if they wanted to i.e. see if someone had already given an answer that they'd thought of.

Of course there might be similar cases where the log data (or whatever other type of data it may be) is crucial to having any real understanding of the question at all, and others where poster thinks the log data may or may not be relevant at all, and everywhere in between, and in some of these cases it might be preferable to simply have the data permanently displayed inline, but I think it's fair to state that there are at least some legitimate use cases for an initially hidden, expandable text region.

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