Image via WikipediaSpoiler alert (n.) - A warning given to an audience that the following content or discussion will divulge plot details of a particular work of fiction. The term originated in online forums devoted to discussing movies, television shows, and books; if you have not seen or read the works under discussion, the spoiler alert warns you to proceed no further in the discussion thread lest you "spoil" the surprises inherent in any future reading or viewing experience. Tossing out spoilers without a spoiler alert is considered a serious breach of netiquette and geek civility -- to the point that Wikipedia articles describing many fictional works are required to exclude spoilers or to clearly segregate such content and mark it with spoiler alerts.
I bring it up because: The long-running plot-complex TV show Lost aired its finale last Sunday, and the web has been overridden with dissections of the series resolution. For those of us that have never seen Lost but may wish to view it on DVD or Hulu someday, the appropriate use of spoiler alerts is much appreciated, as was the case with reimagined Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, The Wire, and Sopranos finales before it. Basically, any cult-favorite show that has ended since the advent of Twitter in 2006 has been subject to a delicate balance of fan commiseration and judicious spoiler-alerting, as divulging too much via a social networking post can earn you ire and scorn from the masses, and divulging too little will miss the point. Such is the online geek paradox.