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Overview

The Puzzling SE community (henceforth referred to as PSE) utilizes spoiler functionality very heavily. However, it's lacking in obvious areas such as comments, chat, and titles. [1] In a post, it's easy to use a spoiler by appending an exclamation point ! to the block quote's greater than symbol >, resulting in >!:

> This is the syntax for a block quote.
>! This is the syntax for a spoiler.

This results in a box that we must click on before its secrets are revealed to us:

This is a spoiler block.

However, this functionality isn't provided anywhere but within the post content. How does PSE as a community get around this issue currently?

What is a Caesar Cipher?

For those who are unfamiliar with what a Caesar cipher is, let me begin with an excerpt from Wikipedia that explains it very well:

In cryptography, a Caesar cipher, also known as Caesar's cipher, the shift cipher, Caesar's code or Caesar shift, is one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. It is a type of substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet. For example, with a left shift of 3, D would be replaced by A, E would become B, and so on. The method is named after Julius Caesar, who used it in his private correspondence.

It's very common for the PSE community to utilize a Caesar cipher (more specifically a 13 character shift is typical) to keep comments and chat messages, spoiler-free. However, this often requires the use of external sources such as the ROT13 website, which isn't ideal for new users, nor users that are weary of external sources who might participate if this functionality was somehow provided locally.

What can we do?

Well, I want to propose this as a network-wide change. If we could get extended spoiler functionality, how would we want it to work? My current idea is centered on how Discord handles spoiler text with the use of pairing vertical bars (pipes, virgules, etc.) around the text to be hidden:

This message contains a ||spoiler||.

However, this may be less than ideal in a network-wide scenario, so I'm open to other concepts for the syntax.

Implementation Questions

There are a few questions we should probably come to a consensus on, with reasonable explanations, in order to get the ball moving more efficiently if or when this feature request is approved.

  1. How would we want it to work, e.g. what should the syntax be?
  2. Should comments support it?
  3. Should chat support it?
  4. Should titles support it?
  5. Are there additional areas we should evaluate for support?

My answers to questions 2 through 4 are yes, yes, and no, respectively.

Focal Question

Can we get extended spoiler functionality?


1: Areas are ordered by heaviest need based on community use of alternatives.

The original PSE meta discussion.

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    I believe this is useful on more than just PSE; for example, Movies and TV SE could benefit from it too. However, I'm not an expert on the entirety of Stack Exchange, so I couldn't really attest to all sites that would benefit from such a feature. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 14:20
  • 4
    Bit of a bucket of cold water here would be much of SE's markdown is commonmark and exceptions are very rare - mostly additional html tags. Working around that might be useful Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 14:57
  • @AdamLear Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 15:12

1 Answer 1

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How would we want it to work, e.g. what should the syntax be?

I believe we should keep the same syntax that is currently supported in the post body. And for inline spoilers, we can use a closing tag. That would be ideal, in my opinion. This is especially important for comments but it can still be useful in the post body too. Exmaple:

This is a comment with >!some spoiler!< in it.

That's how it's done on Reddit too, BTW.

Should comments support it?

Yes, definitely. See above.

Should chat support it?

I don't use chat much but I don't see why not. So, yes.

Should titles support it?

No/maybe. No, because there are some curation concerns here. In general, not knowing what the title is before clicking is counterproductive, in my opinion. That said, I realize that such a feature could be useful on sites like Movies & TV, so maybe it can be implemented but only enabled on sites that need it.

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    Definitely don't put it in titles. That would break so much and cause so much confusion... I don't think any place on the internet supports spoiler-features in titles and with good reason.
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 15:51

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