Game of Thrones fans are some of the worst in giving spoilers away. These are mainly the followers of the TV adaptation, not the books. Fed-up with thread lockdowns and social media surprises, Story Of Books spells out a few simple rules in nerding respectfully over popular fictions, without spoiling the fun for everyone else.

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Game of Thrones fans are the worst in giving away spoilers. Since Season 8 began, leaks have been thoughtlessly shared on social media. Addicted to the instant gratification of likes and shares, these fans don’t have the patience – or discipline – to share screen grabs, comments and videos on a gated online forum. They just want to share all now.

True, the TV series and the books feed on the oxygen of fan speculations, much like Star Wars. But Game Of Thrones fans aren’t as restrained as those of Marvel’s Avengers Endgame.

Nerding is meant to be a happy social collusion

The r/Marvel thread on Reddit went under a temporary lockdown for the first two weeks after the film’s opening date to stop spoilers from being shared. Fans shared the hashtag #DontSpoilTheEndGame on Twitter to remind others not to leak the ending. Reddit mega-threads on the film were opened to fans only after the lockdown was lifted. The Russo Brothers who directed the film have announced that the spoiler ban will be lifted on Monday, 6 May 2019.

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Star Trek Discovery (DISCO) fans, meanwhile, took care to retweet GIF animations mainly supplied by the Star Trek Discovery series. We all knew the fate of Captain Pike way before Season 2 began anyway. The Reddit sub-thread dedicated to DISCO takes care to mark posts as “Spoilers” if endings are to be discussed. Fans make an effort to defuse arguments on forums before the moderators step in because trolling is not in the spirit of Star Trek. DISCO fans petitioned to have Captain Pike and Spock return in Season 3, with online signatures ballooning to 25000 within two weeks in April. They’re highly organised and coordinated when mobilising.

Why aren’t Game Of Thrones fans as mindful?

Because they’re tourists. They’re not real fans.

The majority of the TV show fans don’t read the books or the short stories related to A Song Of Ice And Fire. They don’t go to comic cons. They don’t speculate on online forums. They’re just the hoi polloi wanting to be seen to be following a popular TV show so they can talk about it at work or brag about it on social media. They troll George R R Martin when the poor man takes his time to finish his last book of the series. They follow Game Of Thrones because it is habitus – it signals their status and ‘discerning’ taste in popular culture.

How to be a good nerd

So is there an etiquette in nerding over fantasy and sci-fi genres?

Well, if you apply the framing that anthropologist Anne Fox used when she studied drinking games as social bonding in the British Army (her masters seminar that we attended at UCL was titled Shitfaced), then yes, there is a ritual and a set of etiquettes associated with nerding over these genres:

  • You don’t just watch the films or the TV series. You read the books, follow the fan forums and attend the cons. Cosplay is optional.
  • You don’t give away spoilers. Not on social media. Not at work. Not when socialising.
  • You don’t sneer at new fans who don’t know much about the work or the genre. You give them useful pointers when they ask which book or short story to start with. Be useful.
  • You don’t need to know the greeting “valar morghulis-valar dohaeris”, “live long and prosper” or the battle cry “Heghlu’meH QaQ DaHjaj!” (“today is a good day to die”). If you can share this with fellow nerds, great. If tourists don’t get what you’re on about, leave them be.
  • You create a fan art and share on DeviantArt. But you’re mindful of copyright infringement. Please check with original creators first.
A fan art of “Reylo”, that phenomenon based on fan speculations over the fate of Ben Solo / Kylo Ren and Rei. Credit: ©Verauko / DeviantArt
  • You give upvotes to fan arts, fan fictions, speculations (no matter how bizarre) and video clips that fans share on forums. If you don’t like them, you don’t troll them. A downvote will do.
  • You don’t troll the authors, illustrators or editors that work on the book. Before you say their works are shit, read the books, watch the screen adaptations – and ask questions at book launches, comic cons and so on. A lot of efforts and sacrifices go into the making of a book. Or a film. Or a TV episode.
  • It’s absolutely fine to collect merchandise or have a themed wallpaper. This is how you show appreciation to creators.
  • Creating a petition page on Change.org to resuscitate a character that that you hold dear is acceptable. Remember, the key thing here is to be organised. Also see BTS Army.
  • You do not inflict violence on those who give away spoilers. It’s speculative fiction, after all.

Nerding and social bonding, an anthropology

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