Op-Ed - DON’T SPOIL THE RESULTS IN THE TITLE 49

Entitlement in an on-demand world.

Op-Ed - DON’T SPOIL THE RESULTS IN THE TITLE

I’m not here to point fingers, so I’m gonna just call him “Peter.” Actually, I am here to point fingers, but because I don’t want my finger-pointing to be legally classified as libelous, any similarities to any real Peters, alive or dead, shall be considered purely coincidental even though this piece was triggered by true events. The e-mail title read something like “DON’T SPOIL THE RESULTS IN THE TITLE”, and yes, it was written in all-caps, the universally recognized standard for shouting in text. The message body carried on with the all-caps shouting, and although it contained more words and variations of the title theme, it failed to shine any additional light on the author’s reasons, or indeed justification, for unleashing such missives — beyond pure self-centeredness and an astonishing lack of humility, that is.

To put the incendiary inbox incident in context, I had just published an article announcing the results of the qualifying session at Red Bull Hardline, a very high-profile downhill mountain bike race that takes place at the end of the season. Whilst it’s no World Cup, it is certainly a major event on the gravity cycling calendar and as such, easily comparable to say a regular season major league baseball game or an ATP World Tour event. Announcing the winner of the Hardline qualifying round in a Vital MTB homepage post is akin to sharing who just won a semi-final at Queen’s on Eurosport.com. Or, to broaden the perspective a bit, publishing a news article headline that calls out the subject of the actual news item on an actual news site. This doesn’t sound all that contentious, but that is only before we account for the specific demands of Peter, a very entitled and opinionated person who lives on the internet.

“Man, did you see Bernard Kerr’s run at Hardline? BEST EVER!!” sounds harmless enough but now Peter’s elaborate entertainment plans are ruined forever, and his frustration builds as he stares another evening of Netflix-and-no-chill in the face.

You see, Peter wants to consume news on his terms. If, for example, Peter happens to be busy at the time of the live broadcast of the Red Bull Hardline qualifying round, Peter wants to be able to watch the replay without knowing how the race ends. Of course, we no longer live in 1998, so rather than wait for the end of the year to pick up a VHS copy of the season recap on video, Peter can just click a button and watch the race replay whenever he wants to. However, Peter also wants to peruse websites and social media platforms that talk about things pertaining to his subject matter(s) of interest – in this case mountain biking. He wants to use social media to participate in further exchange of information and perhaps even discussions about some of his favorite topics (not to mention share funny cat videos). Of course, many of those websites also happen to be news outlets, which means that Peter is now treading in deep waters. There are so many screens that could get in the way of his perfect replay-watching session. One of those pesky news sites could spoil the fun for Peter by *gasp* announcing the results on their homepage. Some idiot on social media could trample all over Peter’s carefully planned evening by mindlessly blurting out the results to all his friends. “Man, did you see Bernard Kerr’s run at Hardline? BEST EVER!!” sounds harmless enough but now Peter’s elaborate entertainment plans are ruined forever, and his frustration builds as he stares another evening of Netflix-and-no-chill in the face. By having a 24/7 news and media machine plugged straight into his daily life, Peter has put himself at the mercy of others, and he is furious.

“STOP POSTING RESULTS ON THE HOME PAGE!!!!”

Going back a few years, I can remember messages from friends to the effect of “wow, I turned off my phone and I made it home without accidentally catching a headline in some TV shop window. Now I’m going to watch the replay of the F1 Grand Prix with a crate of beer and some chips.” A personal victory obtained thanks to a minor amount of thinking ahead combined with a little bit of effort. To Peter, however, the world is an unfair place, and he is out to set things right, one all-caps e-mail at a time. Why should Peter have to make any efforts? Why should Peter have to work for it? If everything is available on demand, it is only logical that Peter should demand that his favorite websites cooperate with his plans.

Should Peter have to refrain from clicking on the homepage of one of the world’s leading gravity mountain biking news sites just because he wants to be able to watch an unspoiled replay of a race a few hours later? Outrageous. What if he also wants to read about that new MegaBoostSuperPlus solar-powered dropper post on the bus as he commutes home from work? That’s not too much to ask, is it? So what does Peter do? All-caps, engage.

The first email from Peter at 10:18 a.m. was a good laugh, worthy of a forward to peers. Critiques invade the inbox regularly and we're used to them. The good ones get passed on for giggles. The real op-ed-inspiring event followed 10 minutes later at 10:28 a.m. Maybe Peter felt entitled to an immediate response and didn't receive it, so, to make sure we would be left with absolutely no doubt as to just how full of himself Peter really is, he followed up that first e-mail with a second, even more pompous message. It starts off by suggesting that we “stop putting results in the click-bait”, which should still “get good clicks and won’t ruin the replay for me!” (graciously allowing us lowly paparazzi a little professional wiggle-room whilst not losing sight of what’s truly at stake here: Peter). The friendly note concluded with an emphatic, if by now repetitive, “STOP POSTING RESULTS ON THE HOME PAGE!!!!” The only thing missing from the one-sided correspondence was an invitation to Peter’s shared calendar where we could consult his planning to figure out when would be a good time to post various upcoming news items.

The uncle of a more frequently publicized Peter, aka Peter Parker or Spiderman, once famously said that “with great power comes great responsibility." I would postulate that in this on-demand world, the true sense of this phrase has gone lost. Is it up to all the news outlets (and social media acquaintances) of the world to acquiesce to the fickle demands of every Peter, Paul and Mary, or is it time that some of us took a good look in the mirror to make sure we haven’t completely lost touch with reality? When you send angry messages asking a news site to stop headlining the news, it is entirely possible that your entitlement meter is defective and needs a reset. There may be no “i” in “team”, but there sure is a “ME” in “entitlement”.

PEACE OUT (all-caps fully intentional)

by Johan Hjord

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iceman2058 9/18/2019 12:31 AM

49 comments newest first

It's a lot of people crying.
When I can't watch, I go all day without opening my phone or pc, and then I ask my girlfriend to replay. So easy!!! I was probably riding a bike. Go ride !!!

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So good!

Not gonna lie here, occasionally I pull a Peter and peruse the home page attempting to not see the results before viewing the replay. Sometimes my discipline and will power is just not enough for the power of a review on the new MegaBoostSuperPlus solar-powered dropper post!

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Peter should have worded it better because I feel that his point has been totally almost ignored. As you can see from the responses there's a little bit of Peter in a lot of us here.
And whilst your response is far more eloquent, for me it's just as childish, has an air unprofessionality/arrogance and a 'you read what we tell you to read' attitude. Hate to say it but you've lost a bit of respect because of it guys. Never tell off your customers, no matter how wrong they are.

I do my best to avoid spoiling the results for myself, so I avoid Vital like the plague (it is always you guys that are more prone to spoiling it than everyone else) until I've had the time to watch replays. You do lose my attention and clicks (often for a few days) because of that.
I work weekends so always miss the event live and then when I'm at home I share the TV with my wife so I have to compromise to gain my viewing fix.
To avoid RB spoiling it I plan ahead just have the feed in a tab waiting for me to click play.

However, more often than not I'll have just 'accidentally' picked up my phone/laptop for a browse, I'll come on here without thinking and ruin it for myself. Then I just don't bother watching the replay fullstop and get on with something else.

I only watch F1 and mtb races and with F1 I never have the race spoiled because its much easier to avoid. Mostly because I just don't have anything F1 in my social media, so its super simple.
But I love mtb much more so when I'm waiting for a few mins before going home after work I'll click on the site (its a habit because you have great content) and ruin my watching.

What more concerning for me is that this is one of your most commented articles. Not the actual bike stuff, but a piece about how you publish/run things. That in itself is not really that positive. When your users (customers) are more vocal than normal it could be a time to take notice.

Cheers guys. Keep up all the good work, WE DO APPRECIATE IT.

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My fave is when Redbull puts the still image of the winners on their WC replay. I've intentionally not visited Vital or PB or got on instrgram simply to keep the winner of races I couldn't watch live a mystery then I pull up the Red Bull app and voila there was a still of the winners with a big Play button in the center (forgive me, can't remember who it was, probably Loic and Tracey so let's go with that from now on)... I knew at that moment they won but kept lying to myself as I watched each rider come down the track. Maybe Troy doesn't get 2nd place or perhaps GWIN is miraculously back on form. Nope definitely lies. Loic and Tracey won and the rest of my day was RUINED. Thanks Obama.

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First - thx vital, thx Boris, thx Sven, thx Dan and all the others taking the effort to document every race weekend beginning from Pit setup, to track walk, to training to qualies to race. I soak everything up - if I have time - starting from Wednesday, eagerly waiting an updating your site on my phone. Also having kids and a job sometimes it's Sunday evening and I haven't seen anything - but still I'd like to have the build up. So reading the result in a headline why would I bother visit your awesome Slideshow anymore? Therefore you'd loose 3-4 clicks on articles by me. Recently the German website mtb-news.de has a great format with direct links to the men+woman replays as well as links to every article of that race weekend without a spoiler headline. (just Google "snowshoe 2019 Worldcup dh replay" on the site e. g.) Thats how I search every replay, which is strangely not as straightforward as you'd think just because I want to get that exact link and not a spoiler . Now that said site is my new goto at least for replays - maybe you should check that out.

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I'm a busy guy with two young kids, a great wife and a needy dog. I routinely look at the results first to see if it's something worth watching. This goes for Formula 1 (sorry Hamilton I just don't care when you win another flag to flag snoozefest) as well as downhill (not an issue this season for the pro men).

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How about making it user configurable? Have an option on your profile that says whether or not to avoid spoilers and based on that you get a custom article title. Not too hard to do from a programming perspective. I click through to most articles anyway, regardless of the title. Fomo, haha

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COMMENTS WAAAAARRR... I love that us, the readers, are so much racing fans that we feel much more compelled to comment on such an important issue than on the Shimano Micro Spline licensing topic. Maybe MTB DH doesn't have the viewership of other sports but we make it with the amount of passion ... which in my book makes DH the best sport on the planet!!! Respect the cult, long live DH!

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Typically I visit Vital and PB every day. If there was a race on the weekend that I wasn't able to watch (and sometimes won't find time to watch for a week or more) then I avoid visiting Vital until I've seen the race because I've had results spoiled on this site in headlines and winning bike article thumbnails before. I don't begrudge Vital at all because reporting things like this is to be expected, but it's a little disappointing because I love checking out the site on my coffee breaks and I miss out on that, and Vital misses out on my sweet sweet clicks for that time. I think there are better ways to report on races, e.g. PB still gets my clicks on their non race related articles during that time because it seems they make an effort to not spoil the results in headlines or thumbnails. Just one user's perspective, for whatever it's worth.

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A fun way to get some marked feedback.

I go for the strict hands off till i watch the Replay.

Dont know about the heavy defending from the iceman, it never really pays of to go into a comment war, even if youe play the integrity card. You are a news site and an intertainment site. Got to balance to two. (and a ad site, but i dont think that factors in in this predicament)

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While this is fine from a standpoint of duty (and I'm sure that Kant is incredibly proud that moral duty has entered the conversation), it's not what Vital wants to have happen. Vital wants traffic to their site, not people purposely avoiding their site because of spoilers or a sense of duty to one's self.

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haha, this article rubs the readers the wrong way... I'm 100% with Peter. Come on Vital, don't try to avoid the blame for unethical behavior. Don't feel entitled because US readers offer you the privilege of our attention.
It's a well-known rule if you are a professional journalist. Here is a little reminder for you:

YOU SHALL NOT SPOIL THE RESULT OF ANY BIKE RACE*
- The ban applies for 24 hours or 48 hours if race is on Saturday, Monday morning is fair game.
- We use PST as a framework except if the race is in Hawaii or Japan (If race is in NZ or OZ..I don't fucking know but you should because you are the smart news outlet!)
- This does not apply if the race is not broadcasted within the next few days... then we want to know ASAP so no slacking for the IXS....
- It does apply to Social Media POSTS ... but stories are ok.
- Send the memo to vital MX because it also applies to Supercross!!
- BTW, embed the link to the replay... without the results duh!! thanks.,,
* XC is OK because it's boring to watch with the exception of the Olympics AND the woman category

Any infringement of this law will expose you to bad Karma...

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It wouldn't be that difficult to make the headline read "race results here," Instead of "Bob Bitchin' wins the race," would it? I mean, that way, the various editors of the news outlets can continue to make the world a better place for Peter. And the rest of us would be clicking the link anyway.

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this is what we already do (and have done for years) w/ WC race results. no spoilers in WC race titles or subtitles. quali and timed training, we'll spoil because of human powered suicide machine's rules.

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This is true and thank you *but* the results article thumbnail is human-readable.
I have solved this incredibly minor personal quibble by staying tf off of the entire internet until I can watch the replay.

Bonus: I'm off the internet for multiple hours which is good for my soul.

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You can fiercely defend your position all you want. The reality is spoiling races is going to pull traffic away from your website. And posting an inflammatory defense of the strategy and telling us we're all babies for wanting to both enjoy the suspense of our favorite sporting event AND still get to visit one of our favorite websites just makes people want to visit even less. The only real baby in this scenario is the person plugging their ears to feedback and lobbing insults at their customers.

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If I was a gambler and MY money was on the line I'd want to know the results ASAP. Unless you're in or at the event/race who cares how the results are posted. You know where NOT to look if you want to see MTB news. It not that hard and no one is clicking on the websites except you.

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I’m in the don’t post the results in the headlines camp. I avoid Vital from race morning until I’ve gotten to watch the race, which could be days later, and visit PB instead. That way I can keep enjoying all the other bike related stuff but not have the race semi ruined for me.

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Yup. Vital posts spoilers in their headlines. Pinkbike doesn't. Which means I'll visit Vital in the days leading up to an event (because Vital Raw vids are the tits), but once the event has happened, I stick to Pinkbike until I've learned the results on my own terms.

Shrug. It's no skin off my back. Seems like a dumb strategy for Vital that they're irrationally defensive of, but whatever.

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I go through this every Supercross season... On Saturday evening, I stop looking at my phone so I can get home from work, eat dinner, and then start watching the race that is recording.. FB and the internet will still be there a few hours later...

But, in today's world, most people want the results RIGHT NOW! Some people don't seem to be happy unless their favorite site has results up before the end of the race...

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This email and comments are a bit much... Vital is a news site and it's there obligation to report the news. If they didn't report the news of gravity MTB timely, I probably wouldn't visit the site.

ESPN, Nytimes, WSJ, etc. all report the winner of major events in real-time. Shit, I get a push notification from the times and journal within 30 seconds of the Pats winning the superbowl or the raptors winning the nba title. If you're comparing to other sports, you could argue that Vital should probably do more live reporting on the results. At a minimum Sven could get some decent internet and upload the pictures faster (I'm kidding. The coverage is awesome).

Am I know going to get pissed off about the Syndicate posting an IG story about Greg on the podium after the race? This is a live event. Watch it live. I get people don't want to sacrifice their day of riding to watch, but are 8 races a year really going to blow up your riding schedule for the summer (that's about 16 hours...)? Watch it live or stay off social media and mtb news sites until you see the replay.

If you have time read, analyze, and comment on the leverage curve missteps on the latest yeti, I am guessing you had some time to watch the race...

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THIS ARTICLE SUCKS! J/K, but I do agree with "Peter" with the exception of the click bait stuff. This sport is different than most in the sense that most people who are fans, actually actively participate in the sport. I don't want to devote my day to watching an event inside. I'd rather actually go ride, and yes, then watch the replay. I can do laps all day long at my local bike park and not hear the results. I can also easily avoid PB, Vital Etc. The problem is Facebook and or Instagram. I don't want to be scrolling through that and accidently see results on that feed. Pretty simple and reasonable request IMO. I have not seen one response yet with anyone saying, "Screw Peter! I want to see the results in the title!". Obviously, your livelihood depends on the traffic brought to the site, but really, who is your competition? There's you guys, Pinkbike and RideMonkey(which isn't a news source anyways). So, instead of claiming your viewers/ customers have issues with entitlement, maybe let's not be so sensitive to the point of writing a whole story about...nothing..or maybe this whole story was just "click bait"

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"I can also easily avoid PB, Vital Etc. The problem is Facebook and or Instagram."

If it matters that much to you, why can't you just avoid Instagram and Facebook too? Do you expect the winning rider not to post about their win pretty quickly? Isn't that a spoiler too?

I agree with the points made elsewhere about Redbull making it unavoidable, they should wait at least a day before adding the winning runs.

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I'm super confused because everybody in this post has a valid viewpoint. The "See Bruni's winning run" was the worst though. I should think Vital, etc would NOT put the winners name in thr title because it would force the reader to have to CLICK the article... and take the BAIT to find out who won? So Johan, Peter (a penis name for Dick) may be on to something more beneficial to your news outlet than he realized.
I like the example @milko gave, even though he just ruined a bunch of movies for me I haven't seen. (Kidding).

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does anyone expect the results of the superbowl to be withheld by espn, nbc, pbs, hbo, nytimes, drudge report, pennysaver and the appalachian gazette until everyone watches the game? fwiw, we don't spoil WC race results in titles or even the subtitles (text that social media picks up and could spoil). we haven't for a while. and re: the winning bike comment below, we wait at least 6-8 hours until after the race to post those. the absurdity of getting riled up over a hardline QUALIFIER spoiler is pretty awesome, IMO.

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I think a big difference for us US based fans is that the Super Bowl is on Sunday at 3pm while most World Cup races air at 3am so by default a large majority of us watch the replay 6 to 16 hours later. Props for keeping the results out of the headlines and hopefully no podium pic on instagram stories, winning bike 6-8 hours later is still weak due to the reason above.

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Honestly, I love that Vital now doesn't spoil race results in the title. I honestly would avoid the website in the past because of it. To me, this isn't an "either or" discussion- there doesn't need to be a media blackout over the race results OR full disclosure in the title. Simply leaving out the winner's name from the title & image and announcing "2019 So&So World Cup Final Results" should hopefully work for everyone. I don't think the SuperBowl analogy is accurate because that event is so widespread and popular that the results of it cannot be contained- a headline will not spoil it. But in the case of a downhill world cup race, a headline will spoil it for a lot of people. Simply because a headline can spoil it, it makes sense to leave the winner's name out of the title and I'm glad you have gone down this route. I love Vital, love what you guys do, and always stoked on the content y'all put out. Love and kisses, -nerdy.

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You might think that, but our experience points to the opposite. Reporting the news with an exciting title that actually describes the news item seems to get better views than the "click here to find out who won" version. And to continue the analogy I gave in the text, under which circumstances would you not expect to find "Tiger Woods Just Won the Masters" as a headline on golf.com the very second he sinks that last putt?

And a quick word on click-bait...it's actually only click-bait if the title is somehow misleading or grossly over-selling the content it links to. In other words, a news headline that reads "Someone Just Won This Race" is not click-bait, if indeed the article goes on to reveal the winner of the race in question. It has become very popular to use the term as a way to denigrate "the media", especially when said media engages in titling hyperbole in an attempt to entice readers to click their content, but trying to pitch your content in the best possible light is not click-baiting. The competition for eyeballs is tough out there, which makes timing and tone critical if you want those "early clickers". Back to the example in question, "Kerr and Atherton Top Hardline Qualifying Session, 14 Riders Advance to Finals" gets more views than "Red Bull Hardline Qualifying Results".

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Whether your opinion is right or wrong, there are a fair number of your readers who agree with Peter. We just don't act like dicks about it...

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I think the point of the article was to point out that Peter was being a dick. Hence calling him pee pee, ding a ling, wang, wong, rod, DEEK, Richard.
@iceman2058 the info about how you title it being important to creating more views was probably more useful than pointing out how hostile for reasons only needed by the almighty "Myself" the actual email was.

Good to know people click on it based on an accurate headline. I guess ClickBait was an inaccurate term from your viewpoint as an actual accurate media outlet, not an "Enquirer" type site. Respect to you, but not Spomer. Spomer is an e-blower. heh

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Okay, this can't be even more click-bait-y, but I'll bite...

First of all, to get one thing out of the way - Peter is an ass. End of story. No discussion needed.

Now onto the real issue:
This has nothing to do with entitlement and everything to do with spoilers.
Yes, that simple. You might be a News Outlet, but the results of a race that people obviously enjoy watching might be a special case and therefore treated differently. Like a TV show for example, RedBull themselves are advertising tuning in for the Live Event and also the Reply.

Here are a few analogies:

- When you go to Netflix/Amazon/Blockbuster and pick up a title/dvd it doesn't say "Bruce Willis is dead in the end", similarly when you go to RottenTomatoes to read about films, the titles aren't "Rose lets Jack die even though there' space on the plank". Especially not near the premiere/release date.

Should we avoid going to IMDB to avoid GoT spoilers in the headlines? No, because that's taken care of.

- The library, you pick up a book and surprise - the ending isn't written on the back.
Then when you go to Amazon or Penguin or whatever, we know it's cool, the headlines aren't "Snape is a cool guy, saves Potter in the end!".
How ridiculous would that be? And can you imagine the hatemail you'd be getting then?

It's really that simple.

So, get off your high horse and STOP POSTING RESULTS ON THE HOME PAGE!!!! /s :D
(and if not...whatever, it's not the end of the world)

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Books and films are very different from a major sporting event, e.g. the ending of a book is never a newsworthy item in itself, whereas the outcome of a race clearly is.

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Yes, because we as a society have agreed that reading the book is worth more than just finding out how it ends and tend not to spoil it for each other. Especially so for highly anticipated releases.

It was absolutely awesome watching the last DH World Cup round, the suspense, the twist...finding out who won from a headline "Bruic Luni Won the Race" isn't as fulfilling.

Anyway, you have the right to word the headlines however you like, and neither Peter nor I can tell you otherwise. We should also find ways of dealing with such abuse.
Perhaps shame them publicly, why should they get the benefit of anonymity?

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The article wasn't really about shaming Peter, but more to trigger this (important) discussion. As we can see already here in the comments, people are in two camps about this topic, and will likely stay in their chosen camp regardless.

I agree, watching the race unspoiled was AWESOME. It was so good, in fact, that it's clearly worth the effort to make sure you catch it unspoiled, if that kinda thing is your thing. And therein, lies the rub...

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I understand how annoying it must be to receive emails like this. Somebody obviously ranting and not caring to properly explain their viewpoint.

On the other hand, perhaps Peter already tried to avoid social media and many websites to achieve his goal. Only to see the suspense for the replay ruined at the glance of a news outlet like vital. Ok, first world problem for sure.

But the internet brought about the chance to get a semi-live experience by watching a replay hours later. Why not embrace this new viewing profile, as something like that hasnt existed beforehand (bar the mentioned VHS tapes). There is a need to accommodate these people.

While I reject the tone of voice that Peter delivered, what's wrong in being a welcoming and understanding portal, one that let's the user decide what they want to see?

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We are a welcoming and understanding portal, that lets the user decide what they want to see. It couldn't be easier to make sure you get to watch the race without spoilers, just don't visit news sites or social media until you've seen it - it's the easiest decision in the world. My point is that it is ultimately up to the users to take advantage of all the tools and technology at their disposal to shape their experience, without resorting to demanding that the whole internet should conform to their particular viewing preferences.

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The only time this has been a problem for me is when RedBull posted "See Loic's Winning Run" video right on the page where you go to see the replay. All news sites should be expected to post the results imo.

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If I really wanted to avoid the results I'd just not visit Vital / PB until I've watched the race.

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Which is exactly what I used to do, but now RedBull post "See Loic's Winning Run" when you go on their website looking for the replay. As far as I know you can't record the live feed, so how the hell do you avoid it?
It seems Pinkbike have listened regarding spoilers, so it seems the only way now is to go to Pinkbike to get the link to Redbull's replay.
It really kills watching the replay when you know a run isn't going to win.

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Just to add, I'd never complain about free coverage, and this site is the dogs dagglies, but we need a route open for people who can't get to see it live.

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Interesting,Pinkbike actually did the same thing and now they don't post who won on their front page.If I haven't seen the race I definitely don't go to Vital because of this very reason.Never got to where I thought my opinion mattered so much I thought they should change what they do for just me.People just want to complain about any and everything.I just appreciate all the FREE coverage I get from you Vital,THANKS!

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