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what it is about?: Butterfly Nets get usage counts

 1 T Beholder, Sun, 19th Feb '12 4:48:51 PM from chthonic safety
Our future is a madhouse
There's an Example as a Thesis and then ranting around, but no good definition.

I managed to figure out only one version from this: "In Spite of a Nail, but big and justified". If it's not this, could someone who currently is sober, isn't down with common cold and understands what this is about please write a description that would be actually... descriptive? Thanks.
...And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense - R.W.Wood
As near as I can tell, this is a fandom term from Alternate History.com

It is described here at the Alternate History Tropes Wiki.

I have no idea what this trope wants to be, and the lack of any clear examples doesn't help.

The trope has four wicks, an index, one is itself, one is an instance of the trope not being used and one is about a literal butterfly net...

Cut and send to YKTTW, if we can find out what this trope is.

I'm posting the definition from AH Tropes Wiki here:


Now you've done it. You've found a Point of Divergence that radically changes the course of history. Congratulations; you should feel good. Especially when you look at the work load you've imposed on yourself. Everything you know about the world is wrong. There are generations of people who were never born. Entire populations' worth of cultures and politics to design from scratch. How are you supposed to contain this? With the judicious use of Butterfly Nets.

Butterfly Nets are self-imposed restrictions on how far and fast Butterflies are allowed to spread. Just put them up, and you won't need to wonder about how your Po D affects things like tiny little kingdoms in Southeast Asia you've never heard about, or Papal successions, or whatever. Beyond the Butterfly Nets, you can simply assume that the changes haven't had an impact yet, and history is allowed to evolve convergently. Is it simple? Yes! Is it elegant? Yes!

But is it plausible?

Somewhat so, actually. Butterfly Nets can be pretty plausible, as long as you're very clear on how far they extend and how long they last. If you're writing a medieval European ATL, almost everybody will give you a free pass to set up Butterfly Nets around the New World. (At least until it gets discovered.) Once the changes start interacting with the world beyond, though, the famous people start increasingly turning into recognizable people In Name Only, and keeping the Butterfly Nets up becomes less plausible (and much harder) than letting them fall.

edited 19th Feb '12 5:03:44 PM by Catbert

So a butterfly net is a reason you can give why a change in history didn't influence certain parts of the world? Like before Europeans discoverd America a change in American history wouldn't influence European development?

 6 Madrugada, Sun, 19th Feb '12 5:50:52 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
a butterfly net is a reason you can give why a change in history didn't influence certain parts of the world
That sounds like a very succinct and clear statement of the trope.

So our definition should be something like

"In Alternate History works and other works that rely on time travel, even a small change in one place can create massive changes everywhere, as the changes to the timeline cascade. This can cause a problem for both the author (who has to make all the changes work) and the audience, (who has to keep track of them). A Butterfly Net is a reason given in the work that explains why this cascade effect is limited to only the areas that the author chooses.

The trope name comes from the Alternate History community, where such widely cascading changes are referred to as "The Butterfly Effect". So, how do you stop a butterfly? With a Butterfly Net."

How's that for a start?

edited 19th Feb '12 5:52:11 PM by Madrugada

'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
Based on the examples and the description on the AH Wiki, it seems more like artificially treating a particular geographic area or historical phenomena as being isolated from the rest of the world and therefore major changes there don't effect stuff outside the area. This can be well justified (like American events not effecting pre-Columbian Europe) or less justified.

I wonder if there is an easy way to get someone from the AH Wiki to contribute to this conversation.

Given the one mistaken wick mentioned above, is there any danger of anyone wanting to create an actual trope about actual butterfly nets?

Is there a trope about literal butterfly nets?
Becky: Who are you? The Mysterious Stranger: An angel.
Huck: What's your name? The Mysterious Stranger: Satan.
Dragon Writer
So (after reading the AH wikipage) the title is a metaphor based on Butterfly of Doom?
Cure Candy
[up][up]Bug Catching.

edited 19th Feb '12 8:04:39 PM by Raso

Not An Avatar
[up][up] Butterfly of Doom is a trope whose name is inspired by the Butterfly Effect, as is Butterfly Nets.

The description could do with a little less use of "butterfly" as a forced term for changes in history.

edited 20th Feb '12 6:37:02 PM by Treblain

We're not just men of science, we're men of TROPE!
It also needs to drop all the PoD stuff. We don't need to be using fandom specific initialism that are never explained as part of our trope definitions.

edited 20th Feb '12 7:03:10 PM by Catbert

 14 Madrugada, Mon, 20th Feb '12 10:15:20 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
Or just spell out "Point of Divergence". That would be simpler than trying to re-explain the concept every time it applies, or trying to write the description to not mention it.
'He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way' sounds like he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. 'Sit, Hard Manhood!
It also appears to be a time travel exemption for any real historical figure you want to include, whose existence and/or life history should changed by the historical divergence you introduced. If your point of divergence is "What if the West Roman Empire Never Fell?" then you probably need a Butterfly Net to justify putting Napoleon Bonaparte in your story.

The description is poorly written for sure, but the trope is valid.

edited 21st Feb '12 8:43:10 AM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
 16 T Beholder, Sat, 3rd Mar '12 11:04:06 AM from chthonic safety
Our future is a madhouse
@#2 Catbert> As near as I can tell, this is a fandom term from Alternate History.com

so... it's essentially a Fan Speak entry?

@#4 Catbert> a butterfly net is a reason you can give why a change in history didn't influence certain parts of the world

So it is exactly "In Spite of a Nailbut big and somehow justified", right?

edited 3rd Mar '12 11:04:24 AM by TBeholder

...And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense - R.W.Wood
 17 ccoa, Tue, 3rd Apr '12 11:47:21 AM from the Sleeping Giant
With Mod Hat On
Clocking this due to lack of activity.
Waiting on a TRS slot? Finishing off one of these cleaning efforts will usually open one up.
Not An Avatar
I'd define the trope as "handwaves or justifications to excuse In Spite of a Nail by an AH writer conscious of the Butterfly Effect". That's distinct enough from In Spite of a Nail in theory, but our In Spite of a Nail page is quite comprehensive in its examples, so Butterfly Nets is sort of unnecessary.
We're not just men of science, we're men of TROPE!
[up]I'm inclined to either make this a "fanspeak" defintion only page, or merge it with In Spite of a Nail and include in the description of In Spite of a Nail the fact that some in the Alternate History fandom community use this term.

 20 lebrel, Tue, 3rd Apr '12 1:37:44 PM from Basement, Ivory Tower
Tsundere pet.
I think In Spite of a Nail is "Alternate History will only change the things the author wants to write about", whereas Butterfly Nets is "the Alternate History changes only affect certain geographical areas". If people think these aren't sufficiently separate, then I'd support having Butterfly Nets as a fanspeak page, since it does seem to be used by AH fans.
Calling someone a pedant is an automatic Insult Backfire. Real pedants will be flattered.
 21 ccoa, Sun, 8th Apr '12 6:28:08 AM from the Sleeping Giant
With Mod Hat On
Crowner soldered to thread.
Waiting on a TRS slot? Finishing off one of these cleaning efforts will usually open one up.
 22 Spark 9, Fri, 20th Apr '12 7:02:37 AM from Castle Wulfenbach Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Gentleman Troper!
Bump for votes.
Special trousers. Very heroic.
 23 Deboss, Sat, 21st Apr '12 12:31:45 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Question: since "fanspeak and move examples" is more inclusive than simple merge, should "Merge with In Spite of a Nail" be modified to not include that?
 24 lu 127, Mon, 21st May '12 8:22:26 AM from the Capital of Light Relationship Status: Loves me...loves me not
This needs more votes.
何も恐れる事わ無い
World's Toughest Milkman
Butterfly nets are also what the men in white coats often use when they're "coming to take me away, ha-ha, to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all day long." This is an old visual gag going back I-don't-know how far.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.

Page Action: Butterfly Nets
8th Apr '12 5:44:30 AM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:
Total posts: 28
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