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This question asks about a leaked card from Aether Revolt. (In this case it turns out that Wizards has officially published it, so it's not a perfect example anymore.)

Obviously, we are not Wizards of the Coast, and we don't necessarily have to take their view or to ignore information that's already out there. At the same time, we might want to consider being considerate to readers who prefer the excitement of the planned preview season and don't want early spoilers, and we could consider not contributing to spreading leaks.

We also are already a bit mindful about answering rules questions about previewed but unreleased cards (in particular with new mechanics); leaked cards are no better in that regard.

So what should we do about questions about leaked cards? (That is, specifically unauthorized leaks, not just the usual pre-release spoiler season.)

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    Note that card has been officially spoiled by Wizards. source – diego Dec 8 '16 at 17:55
  • @diego Hm, not seeing the full-art version from the question on Wizards anywhere though - is this possibly something that was an unexpected leak, then they went ahead and officially published? In any case, there definitely was a leak (acknowledged here), so something for us to think about. – Cascabel Dec 8 '16 at 19:04
  • It looks like the card was part of a leak with a few other promo cards, but they have since been officially spoiled. I don't know if the promo arts have been officially released yet – diego Dec 8 '16 at 19:12
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    After sleeping on this issue I've posted some thoughts on it in BGSE chat. – doppelgreener Dec 9 '16 at 12:56
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    I made sure to wait for wizards to reveal the card though :p the picture was even from their site (I didn't use the regular version because I couldn't find it at the time). The cards was definitively revealed here 3 days prior to me asking. The present question still stands though. – Autar Dec 10 '16 at 21:39
  • @Autar Huh. I somehow missed that article even though I use their RSS feed, then once I saw it in their official card image gallery but with normal art I looked around including reverse image search and still didn't find it, so I assumed it what they referred to in the recent daily update where they said there had been leaks. – Cascabel Dec 11 '16 at 16:33
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I don't think we should close all such questions. However, I think we should be very mindful of how we handle them:

  • Use spoiler block quotes (>!) - at the very least for card text/images. (Images can also be linked instead of embedding.) Card text is especially unfortunate: a snippet of every question is displayed on the main page, so even people who would avoid actually clicking on the question will see it.
  • Avoid spoilers in titles - this will usually be pretty easy. Card names will usually be fine, with the exceptions being things like really obvious plot events or unexpected characters. "How does {card} interact with trample?" doesn't give anything away, but "How does Nicol Bolas' Triumphant Entrance work?" is a wee bit spoilery. A little common sense goes a long way here, and if a title is temporarily a little vague, that's really not a high price to pay.
  • Clean up - for the hopefully rare genuinely unanswerable questions that we would close regardless of spoilers (e.g. asking for unavailable rules details about new mechanics), consider deleting after closing, since there's little to no Q&A value to preserve. This could certainly happen, though: leaked cards might well have new mechanics without full rules definitions. For example, when Kozilek, the Great Distortion was leaked, we did not yet know how cost reduction effects and colorless mana costs interacted.

Many individuals actively seek out spoilers (or at least don't mind them), and they're part of our community, so answering their questions and keeping them happy is a good thing. However, many individuals don't want spoilers, and they're part of our community too, so we should be just as ready to look out for them.

I'm also only suggesting this for unauthorized leaks, not the official preview season. The official previews are all planned (one of Wizards' analogies is a movie trailer) and happen with plenty of time before release, so it's definitely a fun way for everyone to find out about a new set. The unauthorized ones don't follow that plan, and are prone to making less sense out of context, and sometimes ruining fun surprises, both in terms of mechanics and lore.

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    We may also need to keep track of these questions, if we do this, to de-spoiler them after release. – doppelgreener Dec 9 '16 at 3:41
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    @doppelgreener Yeah - I don't anticipate it being all that common, though, since there aren't usually that many leaks. – Cascabel Dec 9 '16 at 4:18
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We should be able to freely ask and answer questions about leaked cards.

The desire of some people to avoid spoilers is understandable and valid. However, while I am considerate of these people, the pragmatic value of Stack Exchange's mechanisms should not be held secondary to a portion of the population's desire to separate themselves from readily available information of public importance. We cannot be a no-spoiler-cards zone.

Spoiler season brings up important rules questions, and there will be people seeking to evaluate cards ASAP. There are real stakes hanging on these people being able to get serious answers — people may be putting money on the line with card preorders, or seeking to better understand the new cards and the new meta in advance of pre-release tournaments and the pro-tour, and they need information about new cards which we can and should endeavour to provide.

You also seem to suggest (in your third paragraph) there's reason to be wary of evaluating cards to soon, but when cards like Yehenni's Expertise exclusively use well-understood pre-existing mechanics, we can almost certainly provide a fairly reliable answer. Should the rules happen to change in some way during release which invalidates our advice, that sucks and we'll do an after-the-fact correction, but even if our advice turned out wrong given new information, a 95%-reliable best estimate of what will happen is far better for people needing that advice than getting no evaluation at all.


One thing we could possibly do to make ends meet here (between the need to ask & answer about leaked cards, and the desire of some people to not learn anything about them) is to make questions about leaked cards spoiler-safe. I don't have a suggestion for how to successfully implement this here, but it is an option that other sites have made available.

On sites like Scifi SE, if a Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince question was asked shortly after release with this title:

Why did Snape kill Dumbledore?

it would get edited to this title instead:

Why did Snape kill this person?

with the spoilery details in the question body put in spoiler quotes (>!).

There may be some version of this practice that will work on this site, but I don't know what it is. (Not all question titles can simply refer to unreleased cards as "this Aether Revolt card".)

Maybe we could have a set tag (e.g. or ) for people who want to ignore spoilers to ignore?

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    A friend of mine who runs a bot ring on MTGO says that when spoiler season is ruined by tons of leaks, it dramatically affects the sales of cards. This is not covered in your answer, and in my opinion, this is the most compelling reason to not allow the spread of leaks. That said, it is not compelling enough for me, because as you suggest throughout your post, answering questions is our primary goal. – Rainbolt Dec 8 '16 at 18:28
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    @Rainbolt Right. "Protect the economy of people buying and selling cards" is not within Board Game Stack Exchange's mission statement. It's just as you said -- our mission is answering questions. – doppelgreener Dec 8 '16 at 18:29
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    I guess my point was that even though we agree on allowing it, the answer missed the most compelling reason not to. It's still a good answer either way IMO. – Rainbolt Dec 8 '16 at 18:30
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    @Rainbolt Having spoken to such an individual yourself, I think you're better equipped to address it than me. Would you like to post your own answer? All I know is one guy running a bot ring (is that a legitimate or illegitimate activity..?) mentioned spoiler season getting "ruined" somehow by leaks (isn't spoiler season about leaks?) and how it "drastically affects" cards -- but I don't know if that's for the better or worse of buyers or sellers. Surely more information is better for everyone? That's not something I can address. – doppelgreener Dec 8 '16 at 18:34
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    Overall Stack Exchange is also about making communities better by making expert guidance available; I do not think spoilers negatively affect the community, and we are not here to protect the interests of various merchants to the exclusion of enlightnment of the general community. – doppelgreener Dec 8 '16 at 18:35
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    Whether or not you believe the overall effect is negative, there are clearly individual people for whom the effect is negative. So the spoiler tags, and avoiding revealing titles, seems like a bare minimum. – Cascabel Dec 8 '16 at 18:38
  • Fair enough. I gave you nothing more to work with than "My friend said so.", and I don't know what I expected to come out of that. I went ahead and wrote my own answer. – Rainbolt Dec 8 '16 at 18:51
  • @Rainbolt I feel like that comment I posted explaining my situation might've been a bit harsh, but yeah, I don't have much to work with from any source (including background knowledge) to handle that. – doppelgreener Dec 8 '16 at 18:56
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    What?!?! Snape kills Dumbeldore?!?! Why didn't you put that in spoilers? (Only joking, I read all the books a while ago. Though I've pretty much forgotten most of the last 2 or 3 books. Including that Snape kills Dumbledore...) – AndyT Dec 22 '16 at 17:31
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I have something to add to doppelgreener's answer.

A friend of mine who runs a bot ring on MTGO (which is a legitimate activity if you follow the rules) has reason to believe that leaks hurt the sales of cards. Wizards of the Coast pays hundreds of people to build up the hype for each set. There is only one reasonable explanation for this: hype increases sales. And as WotC suggests in the linked article, leaks negatively impact hype.

Is this reason, in addition to the others mentioned in doppelgreener's answer, compelling enough for us to deviate from our primary mission of answer answering questions? Not in my opinion. Let's allow questions about leaked Magic cards.

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    I would also keep in mind that hype means the excitement of members of the Magic community, including members of our community here, so even if we don't care enough about sales to do anything, we might still care about the hype and excitement in and of itself. Probably still not enough to outright close/delete such questions, but perhaps enough to be strict about spoiler tags and spoiler-free titles. – Cascabel Dec 8 '16 at 19:14
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Wait, can we answer the questions correctly at all? (Yes)

Prerelease is a big deal to a lot of players, so we need to be ready to answer questions about cards — and procedurally complex mechanics like double-faced cards — before prerelease.

Most of the tools for answering questions authoritatively are provided by the set FAQ that is released around the same time as the full spoiler.

Before that, I think the questions/answers get a bit more "speculative," but I've only seen a couple of questions where I felt this was a problem. So let's assume we're fine for now

"Spoilers" in titles

The name of a card is unlikely to be a spoiler in any meaningful sense, even if it's something like a planeswalker. Talking around it weirdly just makes the title uninformative. These questions will age very poorly, for no appreciable payoff in the moment.

Use specific, clear question titles regardless of whether a card is new or old.

Spoilers in questions/answers

The point of a question is to get answer. The point of answers is to answer the questions. Someone who's asking a question about "spoiler" content — leaked, official, whatever — is accepting that they'll get a response that talks about that content.

I understand that some folks like to browse questions just for fun, but I think their interests are secondary. It's on them to decide whether to look at a question or not. And if they decided wrong, it's on them to decide to stop reading.

There's only so much we can do here, especially since it's not just a "yes spoilers"/"no spoilers" thing but a complex set of preferences about leaks, rumors, translations of foreign cards, all kinds of stuff.

If something is spoiled in an SE question, it's probably... a single card? Two cards? The rules discussion of a set mechanic? Nobody's going to be posting an entire sheet of mythics here.

As long as questions are intelligibly structured, spoiler-averse users have plenty of ways to "bail out." We don't need special rules.

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  • This question is about unauthorized leaks, at a time when we most definitely do not have the set-based rules FAQ or tournament guidelines or anything else. Still, I certainly agree that we can answer questions. However, I'm a bit confused by your leap from us not relying on Wizards to us not fussing about spoilers. There are people who genuinely don't want spoilers, and ignoring their desires is a disservice as well. – Cascabel Dec 8 '16 at 23:14
  • @Jefromi rewritten – Alex P Dec 9 '16 at 0:42
  • The "questions" view on the home page shows both titles and snippets, so it is very easy to find things out without actually deciding to read a question. Even if we consider those people's preferences to be secondary, we should still consider them, which makes this kind of thing less than ideal. (Or would, if it didn't turn out that Wizards officially published this one.) – Cascabel Dec 9 '16 at 0:51
  • @Jefromi I think the entire Questions view is less than ideal, to be honest, as all "title + some blurb of text" UIs tend to be. But it'd be trivial to add some text so the card rules are slightly "below the fold," in that example. This is the kind of edit it's totally okay to make without needing special spoiler guidelines for it, imo. – Alex P Dec 9 '16 at 1:36
  • Well, it's the UI we have, so let's figure out how to be friendly within it. I'm not suggesting that we do anything crazy, just that we don't dismiss people's preferences as "no appreciable payoff". It's pretty trivial to use spoiler markdown (which will cause it to be hidden from the home page view), and be mindful of what's in the title. I'm not trying to suggest these kinds of guidelines by way of permission, but rather to encourage more people to be proactive about it. – Cascabel Dec 9 '16 at 1:45

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