Game of Thrones spoilers don't come much worse than Mashable's appalling effort this week.
Avoiding spoilers is always a challenge when other countries get to watch your favourite shows before you do. Game of Thrones is particularly troublesome. Even though there's only a delay of several hours on a Monday afternoon, you still need to worry about some inconsiderate jerk on Facebook or Twitter blurting out of news of someone's death in an "OMG!" moment. You'd expect the news websites to be more considerate, but apparently that's expecting too much.
Spoiler alert, if haven't seen this week's episode of Game of Thrones, stop reading now. Actually turn off your phone, shut down your computer and don't talk to anyone until you get a chance to catch up. Trust no one. You've been warned.
Flicking through the tech news headlines in my RSS feeds on Monday about midday, I stumbled across the following headline from Mashable: "Recap: 9 reasons to be sad the bastard is dead". Alongside this was a photo of [MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT] good King Joffrey.
That's a really crappy thing to do, just as the Game of Thrones finished airing on HBO on the east coast of the United States. There was no way for me to avoid the spoiler, it was right there smack in the middle of my Feedly tech news feed. Not even the word SPOILER in the headline.
Mashable was so quick off the mark that it even spoiled Game of Thrones for viewers on the west coast of the United States who are several hours behind, not to mention people in other countries still waiting for it to be broadcast. Even if you download Game of Thrones from BitTorrent you probably hadn't had a chance to watch it.
I'm not the only one who thinks Mashable are jerks. Most of the comments on the story abused the site for running such as massive spoiler at the top of the page without even writing "spoiler alert".
Mashable, you guys suck. Thanks for the spoiler. I am now removing you guys from my news feed. Thanks @$$h0l3s.
No 'spoiler alert'? just a chance to wave your big appendages around and boast how you've seen it already? Stop being d$%^s and consider your readers for once. As Ryan said, you guys suck.
wow dude wtf?! I am done with this website. What an id1ot indeed?!
Great job mashable. Not everybody lives on the east coast! Seriously, what the h3ll
The spoiler also went up on Mashable's Twitter feed to 4 million followers, many of whom hurled abuse back via Twitter. The offending tweet has since disappeared.
In an admission of guilt, Mashable tweaked the headline and changed the photo a few hours later. The headline now reads the only slightly less revealing "9 Reasons to Be Sad Someone Really Important Is Dead" and is accompanied by a photo of author George R. R. Martin rather than Joffrey.
Of course the URL still reads: http://mashable.com/2014/04/13/game-of-thrones-joffrey-dead-death/. Did I mention Mashable are jerks?
Admittedly Mashable isn't the only guilty party when it comes to spoilers regarding Joffrey's demise. Trawling through the web turns up other stories with a similar time stamp. In Britain, the high profile Telegraph ran the headline "Game of Thrones: Who killed Joffrey?" about the same time but later changed it to "Game of Thrones becomes a murder mystery", still with a photo of Joffrey. That writer also got flamed in the comments by angry readers, especially as most people in the UK couldn't be expected to have watched it at that point.
Arguments that the books have been out for years don't really cut it, people who say this really seem to be trolling rather than making a legitimate point. No one could seriously believe the behaviour of Mashable and Britain's Telegraph is acceptable.
This of course poses the bigger question: are these sites simply inconsiderate or are they taking click-baiting to a whole new level by deliberately running spoilers and then changing the headline after they've racked up the page views? That sounds like a real bastard act, but even giving away Joffrey's death by accident was an act of bastardry. Would they stoop this low just for the traffic? Will it cost them more readers in the long run?
You can be sure plenty of Game of Thrones fans have removed Mashable from their news feeds, as I have, because the site simply can't be trusted not to run massive spoilers in headlines where they can't be easily avoided. Of course many people have short memories, but if you were burned by Mashable then taking your traffic elsewhere is the most effective way to make your point.
Did someone spoil Game of Thrones for you? What extra precautions will you take in future?