As I noted in an earlier question on meta, blockquotes starting with a "!" are rendered as spoilers. It happened in this question on the parent site before I edited the post and changed the blockquote to a code block. Here I don't want to talk about when to use which of these two; that's the topic of another question on meta. For those who wonder why I ask a very similar question as in my previous post: The question in that one is effectively locked by the "status-bydesign" tag.
For completeness I repeat the "spoiler" effect here:
! LaTeX Error: File `hypernat.sty' not found.
You see that the text only shows up when the mouse hovers over it, and that the "!" has gone: This is a new feature that "!" introduces a "spoiler". In the above example, the "spoiler" effect clearly is not desired. So I'd like to know if others agree that we want the feature turned off on tex.sx. Personally, I see no reason why we would want this feature.
In the comments to his answer to my earlier question, Kevin Montrose wrote that I
will need a corpus of posts demonstrating that this feature is an actual problem, and not a theoretical one.
He noted himself that I won't find many posts where this is an issue. My point is: I think that the one example I gave is quite sufficient; it took me some time to find out what happened, and is was a "naturally occurring" thing as TeX error messages always start with a "!". And I'm sure it will happen again that users post error messages in blockquotes. I think we don't want our users to learn all the features of the software before they can format and post a decent question, so even if a blockquote isn't optimal for error messages, it's OK for an inexperienced user to use it.
There are two possibilities of turning the feature off:
Turn it off completely, so using
>!won't cause the paragraph to be marked as "spoiler" class at all.
Change only the CSS of our site, so the html still shows that the paragraph is "spoiler" class, but let it be rendered like a usual blockquote. This has the drawback that the "!" gets eaten, but I think that's not a big deal. One will still immediately see that the blockquote is an error message.
What do others think about this?
!is unlikely to cause excess confusion. I think that the argument that we should have site-wide consistency is weak: I'm much more concerned about new users. If we're just a convenient backwater of SO to put those annoying TeX questions so that they don't clutter up the main page, then there's no reason for us to exist. If our mandate is to attract new users and build a new site, then we should make things easy for them and minor mistakes in formatting shouldn't have such dire consequences.