Though inspired by an incident involving foul language, the Pseudo-Redacting Spoilerer was developed in part because commenters liked the idea of having an alternative to the somewhat cumbersome “rot13” method for concealing “plot spoilers.” With rot13 (at least under current circumstances), a user has to paste text into a cypherer to produce gobbledygook, or use a de-crypter on gobbledygook to get readable text. Revealing Pseudo-Redacting Spoilerated text will be quicker (virtually instantaneous) and easier for a reader, even easier than applying rot13 functionality via a browser app, and about as easy as using a clickable “spoiler.” The underlying text treatment also couldn’t be much simpler to apply by a writer or commenter. If you care to review the relevant exchanges, you can visit the sub-thread in which I improvised “redaction” of a comment containing a certain naughty word, the one that happens to consist of a peculiar conjunction (referring to another kind of conjunction – a usage whose historical origins are unclear, but which were once commonly associated with a certain idea about the sexual lives of slaves and slaveowners). Before any discussion could develop of comment guidelines enforcement and desirable treatment of foul language at the site, Commenter Brandon Berg announced a brainstorm, in the form of a request:
Also, you can read the blacked-out text just by highlighting it. Actually, could you apply that style to some rarely-used tag and let us use it in comments for spoiler text? Seems like it would be more convenient than rot13.
The idea was soon seconded and thirded and fourthed by others. In an email, an editor at the site returned to the original intention and use, and approved it for the same reason: that it’s easy to read beneath the “redaction,” since any highlighting (or copy-pasting) of the blacked-out area will immediately reveal the obscured text.
Where a comment may or may not cross the line, deleting it is kind of a death sentence that also leaves the commenter potentially confused (or at least able to claim confusion) as to what they did that was wrong. With the blackout, the comment is just shamed and it’s immediately clear to everyone what is alleged to have been over the line.
Otherwise, in comparison to clickable spoilers, I like this blackout version because a) it’s amusing, since it looks, as OG Likko pointed out, so FOIA-irific, and b) it’s really easy to use and also to remove. The rest of this post will consist of a quick tutorial on how to use the Pseudo-Redacter Spoilerer as well as some format-clearing buttons that might work with it. (I’ll later present the code on my own blog.) After: …or “HTML tags enabling a CSS class,” to be more precise. I added basic HTML <em> (“emphasis”/italics) opening and closing tags to the sample to demonstrate the awesome yet precise tag-clearing functionality also now available: Voila!: Results after pseudo-redacting :
The Gifts of Gab Jr box above is what shows for comment excerpts. Still thinking about how to handle this sub-sub-function, but full comments in Gifts of Gab and State of the Discussion will show the basic redacto-bars. The point is that, when you’re commenting on the (apparent) fate of Jon Snow, or on the condition of the character Bruce Willis was playing, or on Charles Foster Kane’s favorite toy, just go right ahead and no one will need to suffer spoilation at your hands – as long as you pseudo-redacto-spoilerer yourself first.
USAGE NOTES FOR EDITORS AND AUTHORS
The toolbar looks pretty darn similar when you decide you, as an editor, want to black out part or all of a comment (after using the “Edit” link that appears next to the comment date, not the one on the timer): The editing toolbar you get when you’re writing a post and using the “Text” panel will also resemble the above. When you’re on the “Visual” panel, you can click the new black box when you’ve highlighted text. To change your mind, use the same old format-eraser button that some of you have probably never noticed or tried, even those of you who have opened the lower row on the visual editor (click the “kitchen sink” button if you see only one row).