Administrivia / Naming a Trope
Naming a trope can and should be fun. Although a pastime in its own right, trope naming also serves a purpose beyond showing off our cleverness. The more brief, clear and witty the name is, the more it is used by people.
Here are some general guidelines:
- No lines of dialog. Tropes should have names, not titles. We are naming a thing, not titling an article. A line of dialog is not a name. It's a line of dialog. We've been focusing on selecting names lately because we notice that all of the old items that got dialog-like titles got very little adoption off the wiki. Adoption off the wiki is key. Without it, it is just us talking to us. A circle jerk.
- Be clear in the name. Few things have attracted misuse like unclear names. Avoid acronyms, as they are hard to understand and difficult to remember. Also avoid direct references to a work, foreign language titles (unless it's a preexisting term, or a trope that came from foreign media) and phrases with many meanings.
- Be concise. Shorter trope names are easier to remember, type, and integrate into a sentence (as long as this doesn't interfere with clarity).
- Be descriptive. Trope names are easier to remember if they actually mean something.
- Be clever. Portmanteau words, alliteration, rhyming, puns and cultural references are not only fun, they can help make a name more memorable (again, as long as it's not at the expense of clarity).
- Use redirects. Sometimes the most awesome name isn't the most intuitive. You can have your cake and eat it too, by using the awesome name with a redirect from the intuitive name. It's not unheard of for good redirects to eventually replace the original trope name, but read Creating New Redirects before choosing to create a redirect.
- Don't imitate existing trope names. All too often, naming tropes after other tropes will only make sense to devoted readers of TV Tropes.
- Avoid "Trope Namer Syndrome": Don't name the trope after a fondly-remembered character, work of fiction, or plot device. The wiki, as a whole, tries to appeal to a wide variety of people. Tropes named after specific characters have a tendency of falling flat even to people who are fans of the works which said characters appear in. The vast majority of them end up as rename proposals in the Trope Repair Shop. So, please, save us all some time, and try to come up with something using the preceding tips.
- Check for pre-established terms. Some tropes have a long history of usage, and somebody else may have coined a name for it already.
- ...but don't use just any pre-existing term. Some pre-existing terms are admittedly opaque, require knowledge of a certain Trope Namer, have been forgotten by the public consciousness (or just never caught on in the first place). In cases like these, it may be better to just invent the name ourselves.
- Don't use the word "trope" as a placeholder. Trope is a real word and it has real meaning, and it makes about as much sense to use that as to use the word pie, less sense even, and since most articles are inherently about tropes in the first place, there's even less to help indicate that this is being used as a placeholder. Basically, if it's not a form of Playing with a Trope, use "X" or some other appropriate placeholder term.
- Avoid Verbal Tic bait. The trope name should not be something that could be used as a verbal tic, especially at the end of a sentence. (That's why we don't have a trope named "And How"!)
- Try to avoid a Pothole Magnet name. If it looks like something tropers will just slap everywhere, you likely should consider another name.