Opinion: Spoiler alert!

A couple of Sundays ago, Jonathan Rea won his fifth straight superbike title at the French round, and we dutifully reported the news on the Monday morning. “Jonathan Rea wins fifth straight World Superbike title,” read the headline, with a photo of a happy Rea on the podium.

This didn’t go down well with reader Geoff James, who saw the story on FaceBook.

“ !@#% spoilers. Goodbye CMG,” wrote James, and then followed it up. “We live in the age of video on demand and dvrs… Those that watch the races don’t need the media to tell them the results, and spoiling the championship DOES spoil the race, in part if not in full. There is such a thing as ‘live championship’ standings during the race as well. Unfollowed.”

He’s got a point. Another reader, Tim, sent us a similar comment. “Can you guys please put spoiler alerts or remove the race winner from the home page title of an article? Nothing worse than reading the morning news and seeing who won before we get to watch the recorded race. Autoblog is the worst for this and now we are seeing it here. Please make it so you have to click through to the article to see who won so we all can still enjoy our recorded races and then come back and read the article. ”

We haven’t changed the way we do things or report racing news, but none of us like spoilers – not for movies or TV shows or sports games, and especially not for bike races. So we took this feedback seriously.

Last weekend, when Marc Marquez scored enough points at the Thai MotoGP race that he clinched the championship (as Rea had done), we considered holding back the news until most people would have had a chance to watch the recorded race. We don’t want to spoil anybody’s suspense for the race, but we also don’t want to ignore it, so we chose instead to not give anything away in the headline, and to run a spoiler alert alongside.

We ran a headline that soft-shoed the result: “Epic race for Marc Marquez at Buriram,” and we wrote a description that said “Spoiler alert! Here’s what happened at Sunday’s Thai MotoGP.” We also ran a stock photo of Marquez on his bike from an earlier race – not the podium shot.

Reader Bruce R was not impressed with our effort. “The ‘Spoiler Alert’ is a little too late given the title don’t you think?” he wrote in the comments. Well no, I didn’t think so – just because Marquez rode an “epic race” doesn’t mean he won, but it seems it just wasn’t subtle enough. So we’ve cried uncle on the whole thing.

“You know, we just can’t win with the spoiler alerts,” I wrote in the comments as a reply to Bruce R. “We thought about holding this story back until everyone had seen the race on PVR, but that would be a bit pointless, especially since the results are already reported openly elsewhere. We thought about just coming out and stating what happened in the headline, like the good old days of sandwich boards and newspaper hawkers, but in the end, we went with an innocuous headline that didn’t give away any details. And it seems we still can’t win. So from now, we’ll forget the spoiler alerts. if you haven’t watched the race and don’t want to know the results, don’t turn on any screens. You’ve been warned!”

Zac agrees with me on this. “Why should the rest of the world go around on tiptoes because somebody can’t be bothered to watch a race?” he said.

Just a small scrape, but Marc Marquez clearly feels the same way that we do toward spoilers.

These days, spoilers are everywhere. Our phones tell us news, with sports and election results, as immediate alerts through the day. They have to be deactivated to stay mum on information we don’t want to know. However, the nature of the web is that many people find our news from Google searches, and those searches don’t work if the headlines don’t include key words. I thought we’d gotten around that with the “epic race” headline, but apparently not.

So this is where we’re at. From now on, if you don’t want to know the race results, don’t go looking at Canada Moto Guide until you’re ready to find out, and stay away from FaceBook and Twitter. Just don’t wait too long, because the news is going to get out sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, we’re accepting that we can’t please everyone so we’re just trying to do the best job for the most number of people. Do you agree with this policy? Let us know in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “Opinion: Spoiler alert!”

  1. I certainly get annoyed when results show up on my Facebook feed but if I haven’t seen a motorcycle race I wouldn’t be poking around a motorcycle website, just like I wouldn’t go on TSN website if I hadn’t seen the big game or I wouldn’t go on TMZ if I hadn’t seen Kardashian ……. uh, do stuff.
    You can’t be protected from womb to tomb people.

  2. No one can out dance the strafing from information channels continually shooting at us. Choose your compromises and adapt.

    Reminds me of the lyrics in Garden Party “Ya can’t please everyone so ya got to please yourself”.

    Keep up the good work Mark et al. CMG Rocks.

  3. I just do my best to avoid these things until I’ve watched it /shrug. Not everyone records stuff etc. & may want results ASAP 😉

  4. Tues evening is the earliest to report such things. We cable cutters have to wait for the race to finish , a viewer to record it , then edit and up load as a torrent. Enough seeders then have to latch on to make a download possible. It’s all very complicated but allows for the best coverage and banter from BT Sports out of the UK. As such I’ve taken CMG and all other motorcycle feeds off my FB during race season.

  5. When I watch a race, its to see the drama of the whole race, not just the last 3 seconds to see who crosses the line first. If I don’t have time to watch the race, I go to someplace like CMG to find the results. If I want more in depth analysis, I go to sites like A&R who do that. Good thing there is something for everyone. Mark, keep doing what you are doing.

  6. What is so hard about using “Amazing Race results from whatever race!” How hard is to not put the name of the guy who won the race in the title? “We can’t make everyone happy” sounds like laziness to me. I don’t hear anyone saying “i wish you put the race winner in the title….i don’t have time to click through.”

  7. Wow, I REALLY struck a nerve with this and I had commented in the original article yesterday after getting honorable mention in the weekly email bag.
    I won’t rehash those comments here because it truly doesn’t matter! My smart-arsed post was pointing out the irony in having a spoiler alert in the headline followed immediately by the race results…. Despite what you say above , stating “Epic race for Marquez”, can only mean one thing for a guy who hasn’t finished less than 2nd for most of the season.
    This is of course easily managed by race fans who do not want to see the results by not going online until they’ve seen the race which I normally do, and did in this instance. For those who do not want to see it in their email inbox this is also easily solved by unsubscribing to new posts as to not get the race results emailed to them before catching the race. This also unsubscribes them to all other posts which seems to be counter productive to growing or maintaining your audience but it really makes no difference to me.:)
    The easy solution, and one used elsewhere is to post “Thailand Moto-gp Results” as your headline for 48 hours and the initial email. Then after that modify the title to what you will…
    In the grand scheme of things it doesnt really matter to me, and if my smart ass comments mortally wounded you, ill just have to chalk it up to as “sometimes people experience things differently”. Lol.

      1. Then make me click for it. You don’t put your review in the headline. “Let me save you the click….the new Honda is a piece of shit.” “We review these new boots….spoiler alert they leak!”

  8. If you try and please everyone all the time, you’ll end up pleasing no one. Keep doing what you’re doing (a good job–thanks). There is a segment of the population that if you fix everything on their whine list, they’re gonna find something new to whine about.its the way they’re wired…

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