Since Doctor Who and its various spinoffs are released globally, it's important to try to define which of the various regional releases of a story mark the point at which we can freely write about that story.
At Tardis, the organising principle is the moment of "official release".
We consider something officially released when it is made available to the general public, in venues that are ordinarily and legally used for that particular medium.
For Big Finish audios, the moment of public release is when a story is made available to download by the official Big Finish website. For those audio dramas not made downloadable, the moment of release is whatever date the company sets on its website for the CD release.
For comic books, official release happens on the date it actually hits comic stores, or the date it's made available on a company's official digital comic reader application, whichever is first. (Be careful when doing your research, though: this is frequently different from the solicitation date — a proposed date of release that often persists on the internet long after the actual release date has changed.)
Though publisher's delays push back the date of official release, distributor's delays generally don't. Distribution snafus can mean that a comic has hit some comic stores, but not every comic store. The comic is nevertheless deemed to have been officially released.
- Example one: An issue of Don't Step on the Grass is delayed to comic shops west of the Mississippi in the United States. (No, really, it happened!) The "day of official release" was therefore deemed to be the initial day on which distribution was successful east of the Mississippi.
- Example two: The comic is generally delivered around the country, but doesn't hit your local comic store. The "day of official release" is unchanged. If you don't want to be spoiled, don't go to our article on that issue.
For games, official release is time at which its "testing", "preview" or "beta" period has ended, and it has been released in whatever the publishers are publicly announcing is its final form. Often, but not always, this is the moment when the publishers start charging for its sale, or accepting in-game micro-purchases. The flow of money is a good indicator that we can start an article about a game. In the case of video games, beta access often comes with legal strings that would potentially bring consequences if we were to post almost any info you could add to the article by playing the beta version. If you want to talk about a pre-release game, please do so at the publisher's forum, not this wiki.
- Please see this forum discussion for an excellent case in point.
For prose fiction, release date is whatever is given by the publisher as the release date. Even if you get a copy before that date, you cannot write about that story here until the date the publisher gives as the official launch date.
For televised episodes, time, not just date, of release is fairly crucial. Never, ever, under any circumstances start an article about an episode until its premiere transmission has clearly ended. By clearly ended, we mean that you should wait, out of an abundance of caution, until the top or bottom of the hour after the end credits roll on the global premiere broadcaster's initial showing of the episode, on their primary broadcasting channel.
- Example one: The latest episode of Doctor Who is set to end its first BBC One airing at 1915 BST. You cannot start editing the article about that episode until the bottom of the hour, or 1930 BST. Or, if the episode is due to end at 1950 BST, you can't start editing the article until 2000 BST.
- Example two: Torchwood: Miracle Day episodes premiere at 2200 EST (0200 UTC) every Friday night. Articles about those episodes can be edited starting at 2300 Friday nights, EST (0300 UTC). On a related note, TV: The New World was actually made available online, by Starz, prior to 2200 8 July 2011. However, as primarily a television episode, The New World was not open for general editing until after Starz' announced television premiere at 2300 on 8 July.
- Example three: Class episodes premiere on BBC Three at 1000 BST/UTC every Saturday morning. Even though they air on BBC One later on, the online release on BBC Three is the premiere broadcast. As episodes are 45 minutes long, articles about those episodes can be edited starting at 1100 on Saturday morning.
- Example four: You attend the British Film Institute's screening of TV: Death of the Doctor, in mid-October 2010. The event is officially sanctioned by the BBC. Nevertheless, the date of official release remains 25 October 2010, the date of first broadcast on CBBC. You can begin editing the article at 1730 British time on 25 October.
For theatrical performances of live stories, official release is the first performance open to general admission in the first city on a tour. Therefore, if you attend a dress rehearsal, even at the behest of the production company, you have not attended a global premiere.
- Example: A new, two-hour piece called Doctor Who: The Play's the Thing is going on a 10-city tour, starting in Edinburgh at 1900 BST on 1 August and ending in London on 20 September. The article on this story, as well as those articles about elements from this story, may be edited beginning at 2100 BST 1 August. If you hold tickets to the Leeds performance on 10 August, you'll have to avoid the article on The Play's the Thing until the 10th so you're not spoiled.