Administrivia / Signal-to-Noise Train Wreck
aka: Signal To Noise Train Wreck
Sometimes, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The work page contains every single Character Trope
displayed by every single character. All the latest plot points are noted and elaborated upon. Every single scene is described in great detail, every single possible trope that comes to play at some point is noted along with all its instances, every mentioning of a trope comes complete with a few sentences to establish the context and conclude the gist of it, and every spoiler is duly whited out
A lot of work went into writing it. Unfortunately, a lot of work also goes into reading it. When what should be the clear "signal" of a page is distorted by the "noise" of excessive detail, you get a Signal-to-Noise Train Wreck.
The work's core tropes, the ones which drive its plot and characterization, are hidden somewhere between a paragraph-long well-informed speculation on the Noodle Incident
mentioned once in episode 15 and an eloquent dissertation on why the Mauve Shirt
who showed up on a four-episode-long arc is subject to an Alternate Character Interpretation
. Omnipresent Tropes
obstruct the page, complete with huge bullet point checklists that detail every trivial invocation of theirs in the work. To get to the point of an example you find yourself reading through a verbal Establishing Shot
and when you're done there's a huge disclaimer about all the other subtly different ways the event described could have been interpreted. 70% of the page is whited out in spoiler font and your wrist gets a not-so-nifty workout from highlighting and de-highlighting everything constantly.
If you've got a few hours to burn, and the motivation to do so, you can fix it.
The measures that could be taken, from least to most drastic, are:
Be a merciless editor
- Ax Natter, cap Gushing, cut Thread Mode, and delete Word Cruft. Trim examples to get to the point and be done when they're through with the point. If context must be established, do it quickly and in general terms (and if you find that too difficult, there's no shame in just saying It Makes Sense in Context). Do away with all afterthoughts to the effect of "Your Mileage May Vary".
- Purge spoilers. Remove them entirely whenever they aren't necessary. If they are necessary, or it seems the spoiler really adds an extra oomph to the example, rephrase it to hint at the event without going into specifics and take the spoiler tag off- "A certain high-profile villain has his gambit completely turned against him" is a perfectly fine way of saying "Captain Evil's ray gun of doom is set by Anna McHeroine to self-destruct" if the trope is not about ray guns of doom, Heroines or self-destruction. If that's not possible to do in a reasonable way (and most often it is), rewrite the example to stand on its own and have the spoiler tacked on at the end. Allow spoiler font in the middle of the sentence only when there is no other way. Do not allow whole paragraphs of spoiler font.
- Choose clarity over wittyness and excessive detail. It doesn't matter how funny the joke is or how cool the Example As Thesis is, or that the Infodump covers a huge amount of honestly interesting information. If it makes the article unclear or turns it into a ten screen long Wall of Text, get out the hedge trimmers.
Use the namespaces:
- Write recap pages for the work and point to them rather than summarising an episode's plot for the fifteenth time on the main page. Each example on the primary page should still stand alone and be understandable without having to refer to any other page, but in depth analysis can be moved to the examples for that episode.
- Move Characters to a character sheet. Character tropes can rapidly clutter a page, especially if there are Loads and Loads of Characters and most of them aren't the focus of the work. A single character could easily have a dozen tropes apply to them, so a cast of just 8 characters could already be responsible for 96 tropes, each of which describes nothing more than one aspect of one character. If you do this, make sure to put a note on the page saying that character tropes go in the character sheet.
- Move lengthy quotes to the quotes namespace if they aren't mindblowing standalone examples.
- Move lengthy trope analysis to, you guessed it, the Analysis page.
- A Soft Split
This is an extreme solution for pages where nothing else will work: Split the tropes/examples into categories. This has the disadvantage of breaking alphabetical order, making editing less straightforward and causing potential argument about which example goes in which category- which is why some tropers would have it that it's never an appropriate solution. Still, if a page remains a Signal-to-Noise Train Wreck after all the measures above have been taken and it seems to you that a split to categories would be a major improvement, this may be the way to go.
Some tropers prefer to split alphabetically (e.g. Tropes A-M, Tropes N-Z) to maintain alphabetical order, but while this makes editing and finding specific tropes easier, it doesn't really address the actual issue (only making the page hard to read in a different way), and making people have to think and work a little when adding an example can help reduce impulsive edits in the future. A split to categories like "Tropes in the video game", "Tropes in the Manga", and "Tropes found in all versions of the work" is often more reader-friendly, because they group related sets of examples rather than scattering them. You could also consider splitting either by events in the work's history (books, seasons, story arcs, major retools), or by the type of trope/example ("played straight", "inverted", and "subverted" for instance). The categories listed in the sidebar might be a useful starting point, but no more than that.
The discussion page and the Trope Repair Shop forum are good ways to work out a consensus of what is needed, but remember that this is a wiki, not a debate forum. In all cases, aim for the fewest well-defined categories that will still get the job done, and make the categories suit the needs of the page.
- A "hard split"
Creating sub-pages may be in order if this doesn't solve the problem. For example, a spin-off Video Game may have large number of tropes that don't apply to other games in that series, so giving it its own sub-page might dramatically reduce clutter. This is a more drastic measure, however, and should always be discussed first.
- Spin off new trope and work pages.
At the point that a hard split is enacted, it might be a sign that more than one article's content is trying to occupy a single page.
- If the page is a Trope, and many examples are a specific variant of that trope, create a YKTTW for what is clearly a Subtrope. If there are many only tangentially related examples, its a sure sign of Missing Supertrope Syndrome. Most Overdosed Tropes are supertropes, and spread their tens of thousands of examples among their many subtropes.
- If its more-or-less continuous Verse covering a manga, an anime, a live action series, multiple Spin Offs, a series of novels, and has an Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo, make a hub in the Franchise namespace and replant all the noteworthy ones in their own pages. Nobody said everything has to be covered on one page.