Administrivia: Everything You Wanted to Know About Changing Names
aka: Everything You Wanted To Know About Changing Titles
- ...But were too afraid to ask.
Good arguments for keeping an existing name
- Renaming is not a magic solution to all of a page's problems. If some issue isn't the name's fault, there's little sense in trying to fix that issue by renaming. If renaming could help but there's another, better way to deal with the issue, that's still a good reason to try that way instead. Redirects Are Free, for example. If the main issues with a name are that it's overly long or difficult to spell, an intuitive redirect may be a better solution than renaming the trope.
- A large number of inbound links indicates that the current name is generating "buzz", being linked from outside the wiki and generating traffic for us. The higher the inbound count, the stronger this argument is. If it can be further shown that these inbound links are resulting from bona fide conversational use of the name outside TV Tropes, this means the name has gained traction outside the wiki and is a very good reason to keep it. For details, see Analyzing Inbounds.
- If the name is already an established term in the outside world, that's a good reason to keep it (assuming its outside-world meaning is related to the trope). When making this claim, it is recommended to show outside proof thereof; the strength of this argument depends on how widely the term is in use. The article should have the name with the meaning that is used by the widest number of people.
- No (or negligible) misuse in the wicks (in-wiki links) means that the title isn't confusing our editors into thinking it's something else. For details, see How to Do a Wick Check.
Some tropers believe wick/inbound checks are nigh-essential to ground the discussion in facts; other tropers believe that in some cases they are irrelevant and insisting on them is obstructive. Whatever you do, don't get dragged into "your argument doesn't count!" "No, your argument doesn't count!" Rules Lawyering meta-arguments. Those never help.
- If a name is just evocative in a way that some bland alternative cannot hope to emulate, leaving it be becomes a more attractive option. This is often due to the Rule of Funny, Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama.
- All other things being equal, keeping the current name is better - if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Lack of a good argument for renaming is a good argument for not renaming (and the converse is not true). This means that if someone brings up an argument for renaming, pointing out weaknesses in it stands on its own as an argument for keeping the current name.
Good arguments for changing an existing name to a new name
- The name is Unclear — it fails to indicate what the trope is about, and thus undermines our goal of making the trope as accessible to as great a portion of our readership as possible. This includes titles that have nothing to do with the trope, using technical terms that mean something else in everyday speech and names that rely on familiarity with a particular work to make sense/"names that suggest something unrelated to most people" (see Administrivia: Renamed Tropes).
If you think a name is unclear, remember that you are required to make substantial arguments and provide substantial evidence that the name is really unclear to actual readers, and that this lack of clarity exists outside your imagination. There are all sorts of ways to do this; you can use a Wick Check, an Inbound Check, Google result analysis or a dictionary, to name a few. Just saying "this is totally unclear" is not an argument in and of itself.
- Character-Named Tropes used to be standard, but are now deprecated and considered a form of Fan Myopia. Very few characters are iconic enough to truly personify a trope, and these are generally in the dictionary (e.g. Pollyanna); using anyone else risks Popcultural Osmosis Failure. Consider whether there are other fictional characters by that name, whether the character may have other aspects, and how old the work is that the character is from.
This is really a subset of the "unclear" issue outlined earlier. As before, explain how naming this trope after the character is unclear, and be prepared to provide substantial evidence. While a common issue, this isn't automatically a warrant to rename.
- Everythings Worse With Snowclones. Too often the, ah, cleverness of a snowclone can obscure the fact that a name doesn't quite fit the trope it's supposed to describe. If the snowclone doesn't make sense outside of the context of the original, or doesn't make sense inside the context of the original, it's misleading.
- A trend of the name being misused — as in, the trope's supposed "examples" are often not actually examples, or many of the wicks are wrong. This might be because the title suggests a trope broader than, or subtly different from, the actual definition.
- Trope Names that are Spoilers. Not only is this now considered Fan Myopia, it can ruin someone's enjoyment of a work. A good example of this would be the now renamed "Instrumentality", a massive spoiler for Neon Genesis Evangelion. The trope was renamed to "Assimilation Plot", a title that doesn't spoil the work. As of this writing, there have been three other tropes renamed because of spoilers, "The Usual Suspects Ending", a spoiler for The Usual Suspects, now known as "The Ending Changes Everything", "Thirty Five Minutes Ago", a spoiler for Watchmen, now known as "You Are Too Late" and "I Am John Smith", associated with spoilers from the Haruhi Suzumiya series, now known as "Trust Password".
- The trope is suffering from disuse—as in, it has very few wicks or inbounds. This isn't an argument for renaming per se — though it can be an indicator that the title is too obscure — but it means the cost of renaming is drastically lower than if the trope were widely used. Because the trope isn't entrenched, hardly anyone will even notice it's renamed; the transition is seamless. It also takes much less time to do the actual legwork of renaming: a small handful of wicks might take five minutes to change, whereas a trope with 2000 wicks would take a large, concerted effort. (And even if we found tropers willing to do that much grunt work, there are plenty of other projects that could better use those man-hours.)
Disuse works on a sliding scale. The lower the usage, the lower the barrier to rename.
- The name seems unnecessarily subjective—that is, it's outright spiteful or laudatory, but the trope isn't a YMMV item. Sometimes the trope itself is unnecessarily subjective; in that case, it's better to first discuss what to do with the trope.
- We no longer name tropes after a line of dialogue or a Stock Phrase. It risks editors wikilinking the phrase every time that particular combination of words occurs, whether the underlying trope actually applies in that context or not.
- "Trope" used as a placeholder word (e.g. "More [Tropes] Than God", "Gonna Need More [Trope] ") is now deprecated, as it misuses the word "trope".
- Acronym or initialism trope names. We generally prefer the title spelled out unless it has profanity (for example: the BFG trope, or Big Fucking Gun).