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Stock Phrases: do we want or need them?:

What bothers me a bit about how this is approached is that even though we're rejecting some YKTTW ideas for being Stock Phrases, we aren't using the same basis to scrap the Stock Phrases we already have. I don't think the Grandfather Clause should give these already present tropes immunity from the same standards YKTTWs are held to.

edited 12th May '12 4:31:12 PM by HiddenFacedMatt

"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
 352 johnnye, Sun, 13th May '12 5:40:55 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
[up]Well, those are being renamed if they seem to be being misused. If they aren't, then I'd have thought they would be covered by Grandfather Clause.
Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
Dragon Writer
The pre-existing tropes are on a "if it ain't broke don't fix it" basis.

And yes, it does look somewhat hypocritical to have hundreds of them while trying to enforce a ban on them in the YKTTW.

So if you see one getting misused or basically boiling down to "character said X" instead of "situation Y happens", take it to TRS.
We never going to get rid of the old ones if people keep making new ones. First you stop the toilet from overflowing, then you mop up the floor.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty
Dragon Writer
Or you team up with somebody to do both at once.
 356 Nohbody, Sun, 13th May '12 6:15:59 PM from Somewhere in Dixie Relationship Status: Mu
Just zis guy
Strata, but you have to see the puddles first before you can mop them up, if you'll pardon further torturing that poor defenseless analogy. tongue

If they're not a problem, they don't get attention. When they become one, they get it.

[down] As do I, on both. Still doesn't negate my point. I can't mop up a spill on aisle nine if I don't know it's there to mop up. Likewise, I don't know a TVT page needs attention unless it's spotted.

edited 13th May '12 10:18:00 PM by Nohbody

Dragon Writer
I work grocery retail; I have a lot of experience with a mop.
 358 Marq FJA, Mon, 14th May '12 6:58:35 AM from Saudi Arabia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
O' Allah, save Egypt
@Eddie: And when would we reach the point of "we've stopped the overflowing, now we can mop the floor"?
Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ ḥukm al-ʻaskar
Dragon Writer
Well, we've got the guideline page advising against creation of new ones and people are aware of it. That's good enough; if you want to take a look at a Stock Phrase-named trope and bring it to TRS, be prepared to have a Wick Check in hand when you initially post it. That'll help speed the debate.
 360 Marq FJA, Mon, 14th May '12 9:02:24 AM from Saudi Arabia Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
O' Allah, save Egypt
What should I be looking for in such a Wick Check?
Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ ḥukm al-ʻaskar
 361 Septimus Heap, Mon, 14th May '12 9:05:23 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
[up]Misuse as dialog in natter, for one. Misuse as a Verbal Tic for two. Misuse for the unrelated meanings of the phrase for three.

Dragon Writer
FWIW here are some historical examples of all three types:

  1. "I Am Not Making This Up"
  2. "Or Is It?", "If You Know What I Mean"
  3. "[pronoun] Got Better"

edited 14th May '12 8:35:36 PM by Stratadrake

 363 johnnye, Tue, 15th May '12 6:56:50 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
[up]Or Is It is a perfect example of my earlier point. Neither the trope, nor a lot of the misuse of the title, were about a character in the show saying the words "or is it?" The trope was closely related to Sequel Hook, and the misuse was people bluelinking the phrase every time they used the words "...or is it?" on the wiki. It was not a "dialogue title", but it got misused in exactly the way we're trying to prevent by banning dialogue titles.

As a counterexample, I recently proposed a trope called "The Drinks Are On Me" which was eventually launched as A Round of Drinks for the House because of the "no dialogue titles" policy. I fail to see how the former would be any more open to misuse than the latter.

edited 15th May '12 6:57:18 AM by johnnye

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
 364 Septimus Heap, Tue, 15th May '12 7:30:26 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
[up]I think the other issue of Eddie was one of troponym philosophy - a dialog-like trope name doesn't usually describe the trope in the strictest sense of the name.

Nor, you will note, does it get much use at all. It fails utterly.
Goal: Clear, Concise and Witty
Dragon Writer
For certain definitions of "fail".
 367 Alex Sora 89, Mon, 2nd Jul '12 5:33:02 PM from Piedmont, Italy
Myself, as drawn by me.
I think it's time for me to state my opinion again.

General disclaimer: according to the last paragraph of Tropers Law, all disagreements on administration policies need to be backed up by reasons, which I'm going to provide in Stock Phrases' defense.

The situation here is, as far as I can tell, not too different from what it used to be: there's a group of people against the existence of Stock Phrases. Despite the fact that said group is a minority outnumbered by most tropers standing for Stock Phrases (long-term and newcomers alike), the fact our admin is the one "leading the charge", so to speak, is the main reason behind this story not having stopped at the reached consensus, namely the "No New Stock Phrases" one.

That said, if the Internet Backdraft following the hatred towards Stock Phrases didn't give it away already, there's a bunch of other reasons as of why the majority of this site's userbase defended the phrases as they did.

Fast Eddie's main reason for wanting to get rid of the Stock Phrases is "try to use a Stock Phrase in a sentence", because a stock phrase is already a sentence by itself. This problem stops acting as such as soon as anyone who has problems with that tries to get a bit more creative when it comes to Conversational Troping: for example, let's say one guy has to use "Abandon Ship" in a sentence.

The captain then appropriately pulled an Abandon Ship.

That doesn't work, right. However, if it's something a character says, the sentence can be reworded as

The captain then told everyone, "Abandon Ship!".

... aaaaaaaaaaand you're done. See? Not only it's easy, but it's the right way to use in a sentence what essentially, let's all deal with it, is a trope. Fast Eddie once argued, "the trope is behind, but we want it out front", which may or may not be a valid argument. Now, for the sake of clarity, as I said before in this very discussion, "Stock Phrases represent the kind of tropes either lampshaded with, or triggered by, a sentence that pops up often in media". Sentences such as the aforementioned Abandon Ship (which, before you ask, is far from being the only example, mind you), are tropes that would lose their identity as such without the phrase they're most commonly associated to, because that is both the phrase and the trope itself.

Besides, there's a lot of other tropes that, despite their nature as non-stock-phrases, have very unclear names, which makes them a lot more of a "the trope is behind" problem that the mostly self-explanatory stock phrases don't happen to be guilty of (case in point: "All the Myriad Ways". A noun instead of a phrase, but you'd never guess what it is about without checking the Laconic entry). Obviously, in order to avoid derailing the discussion towards this relatively off-topic subject, I'm abandoning it right now, although I thought it was worth mentioning considered what I believe to be a slight problem of misplaced priorities.

I've also been thinking a lot about Fast Eddie's "cliche hunt" argument, which is shared by other tropers as well and actually has its pros, as it might be considered the point where Stock Phrases' detractors and supporters can reach a settlement. To give "cliche hunt" some context, for those not in the know:

"Look, why don't we just cut all the stock phrases so we can put an end to the cliche hunt? The wiki is for tropes, not for finding every instance of some damned line."

"I suppose one or two of the Stock Phrases could be saved, but the majority of them are just cliche hunting."

"What I am saying is that collections of specific lines are not what the wiki is for. Collecting lines is just cliche hunting. Furthermore, it is harmful in that we miss documenting a trope because we are missing why the line was used, which is the true trope."

While "just cutting all the stock phrases" just won't fly because it'd clash with most of the tropers' community, I actually do believe that my own defense of Stock Phrases, as well as that of the phrases' supporters as a whole, must not abuse said defense in order to avoid the cliché hunting in question. I admit myself that the line between stock phrases and the whole "cliché" part (the latter already implied with the "stock" in Stock Phrases) is blurred, but this doesn't mean there's not a line in the first place. The stock phrases are devices used in storytelling, and occasionally might overlap with clichés when abused, but otherwise are actual tropes in their own right.

All in all, the goal shouldn't be getting rid of Stock Phrases because "they're just clichés". Some stock phrases got out of hand, all right. That's a sad, but undeniable, fact. Said fact, however, doesn't make stock phrases clichés, which is a further reason for not cutting what are tropes in the first place.

I've recently understood what exactly is the problem with Fast Eddie's interactions with the tropers' userbase. The reason behind this "clash" lies behind the very definition of a trope: Eddie's personal idea of what a trope is, what with trope redefinition in order to make it clearer, is exactly that - his own, personal idea. Which, no matter how hard anyone can wish for the contrary to be true, is outright impossible for everyone to be the exact same one. Some may see Stock Phrases as actual tropers, some may not. Your Mileage May Vary, in short (and YMMV about Subjective Tropes being either actual tropes or simple subjective things, as well).

Fast Eddie's goal, shared by roughly 99% of this very community, is the noble one of dedicating a wiki to storytelling devices, but, unfortunately, that's exactly the problem: each tropers has his or her own take on the concept of trope, and therefore his or her own approach towards deciding what deserves to be a trope and what doesn't. To clarify, if I ever were to Start My Own* wiki about a concept I have in my mind (stupid example, I know, but hopefully it's a good enough metaphor), sooner or later users would dedicate an article to what they feel as "fitting to the concept this wiki is about", and I wouldn't mind (unless the concept is excessively stretched) because it's an inevitable part of the nature of a wiki. I'm not complaining about the site's administration, as I'm perfectly fine with the cuts made necessary by The Second Google Incident or the disabling of strikeouts for example, but this post is mostly about how if most of the site's userbase believe something to be a trope, it is (in case you're wondering, the first three posts following the first one in this very discussion state just that: stock phrases are tropes).

Besides, I don't see anything wrong with the "No New Stock Phrases" rule either, as most of the "trope-y" Stock Phrases have already been covered under the eponymous index, anyway. And, for the record, forbidding parts of speech to be trope names is in direct contrast with the (current) opening paragraph of the Trope article, that states:

"Merriam-Webster gives a definition of "trope" as a 'figure of speech.' In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly."

As one last, "trivia"-esque kind of side note, I personally use the word "cliché" to describe tropes because the term "trope" isn't used often outside of this very wiki, let alone in my own country (Italy); because of this, I refer to Tv Tropes as "the encyclopedia of clichés" whenever I talk about this site to anyone, as I use the words "cliché" and "trope" interchangeably. I consider tropes and clichés to be one and the same with the only difference being the frequence of their appearance throughout all media, which is why I don't consider clichés to be a bad thing in the slightest.

That said, going back to TV Tropes' meaning of "cliché", I repeat once again that, while supporting Stock Phrases' right to exist, I don't believe that said phrases' defense can cross the blurred-but-still-existing line between stock phrases as tropes and a cliché hunt meant to mirror, as Fast Eddie said, "every damned line" (and every damned cliché) in existence.

Last but not least, I want to be clear about how I wish this post of mine not to have turned out to be offensive - nor controversial - in anyone's eyes. On the contrary, I'd like to read your feedback, both positive and negative alike, in order to discuss the various points I've brought up. Any troper, Fast Eddie included, is free to tell me all kinds of nasty things.

edited 2nd Jul '12 5:37:35 PM by AlexSora89

I'm from Piedmont. No relation with Piedmon, mind you!
 368 johnnye, Mon, 2nd Jul '12 5:46:58 PM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
@Eddie Well, thanks for pointing out that the trope needs crosswicking, but it doesn't even begin to address my point.

edited 2nd Jul '12 5:51:08 PM by johnnye

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
Dragon Writer
"the trope is behind, but we want it out front", which may or may not be a valid argument.
Point #2 under No New Stock Phrases; if a trope introduces itself as "a phrase said when X happens...", then it may as well be about the line — first impressions are immutable.

But the more I think about it, the more I believe it says more about the trope's description than its title.

 370 Alex Sora 89, Wed, 4th Jul '12 2:06:56 AM from Piedmont, Italy
Myself, as drawn by me.
[up] I don't understand if your post supports or contrasts mine, but still, if I got right the last thing you said, then that's my point. As long as a phrase describes well the trope, then there wouldn't - and shouldn't - be any problem with it. Which is what too many non-phrase-like trope titles currently fail to do.
I'm from Piedmont. No relation with Piedmon, mind you!
 371 johnnye, Wed, 4th Jul '12 6:46:08 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
Yeah, it's a matter of the trope's identification and description rather than title — phrases like "Abandon Ship" and "The Drinks Are on Me" are directly married to very specific situations. If someone says them, they can almost be guaranteed to be either involved in that situation (evacuating a sinking ship, buying a round of booze in a bar) or directly referring to it, which makes those phrases the obvious titles for tropes about those situations.
Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
Dragon Writer
Yeah. And Madrugada made that same point a long time ago (citing Is That What He Told You? as her keynote example); when there's a very near one-to-one correlation between an occurence of the phrase and a valid example of the trope, it's almost impossible to draw the line between mere "phrase-hunting"note  and example-findingnote .

However, if an example section consists primarily of a list of quotations, that can be a problem all its own.

I feel odd adding my thoughts to the discussion since I'm the one who did most of the legwork writing out the text for No New Stock Phrases. In my mind it is not and should not be such a stone-carved policy, but a guideline with similar strength and enforcement as People Sit on Chairs and The Same but More Specific.

edited 4th Jul '12 8:58:43 AM by Stratadrake

 373 Septimus Heap, Wed, 4th Jul '12 9:01:52 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
One thing that's missing from No New Stock Phrases has been one of FE's main arguments: It's awkward to fit a stock phrase into a sentence and that causes a relative underuse compared to non-stock phrase names (or overuse as natteroid stuff like Your Mileage May Vary and I Am Not Making This Up)

 374 Alex Sora 89, Wed, 4th Jul '12 10:49:30 AM from Piedmont, Italy
Myself, as drawn by me.
Wait, wasn't "Tv Tropes More Like Tv Quotes" a problem we've dealt with already with the Quotes namespace? Besides, if I'm not mistaken, Stock Phrases are already ridiculously outnumbered by non-stock phrases, so worrying about how "an examples section reading like a list of quotes" isn't even that useful. If it's not broken, don't fix it.

Additionally, I highly doubt there's a single work page with such an example section. Obviously, you'll surely post a list of such work pages as examples, so the next step in this is - are we really sure the only tropes present in those work pages are the Stock Phrases present so far? There's like a truckload of other tropes employed in said works, so as soon as we add them, the whole "this is just a bunch of quotes" kind of problem will stop acting as such.

Stock Phrases being "married" to specific situations, on the other hand, is exactly what takes them out of "People Sit on Chairs" territory in the first place and gives them enough individuality to be tropes.

I also greatly appreciate Stratadrake's "not a strict policy" approach, because being overly strict with certain rules won't lead us anywhere. Also, his hottip "we don't necessarily want the phrase-hunting" brings a point I haven't brought up with my Wall of Text above - as one administrivia articles (can't recall which one, was it "What Goes Where on the Wiki"?) says, "the fun and everything else can coexist as long as they don't overlap". Banning things that put the site's existence in jeopardy is one thing, while banning everything that directly contrasts with the more straightforward articles is quite another. And most tropers wouldn't take it well, period.

Septimus Heap has brought up the use of Stock Phrases as natter. But alas, Sept, keeping creating anti-natter Obvious Rule Patches also won't lead us anywhere. Maybe the problem is that we're all afraid of this site's nature as a wiki. The fact this site is a wiki means we'll fight natter with cleanups, nothing more. Rewriting examples without natter, something I've nicknamed "Example Lobotomy" (see Alex Sora 89 for details), is kind of a chore, but if it needs to be done, we all work together and deal with it. End of story.

All in all, no need to be pessimistic about this. Remember, the fact we've reached a consensus means it should stay "No New Stock Phrases". Most people here do not want "No Stock Phrases".
I'm from Piedmont. No relation with Piedmon, mind you!
Dragon Writer
^^ Working a stock phrase into a surrounding sentence depends on the phrase. Some tropes (e.g. Abandon Ship) are particularly easy to work into a surrounding sentence. Some are not, and then some are too easy.
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