Misused: The Not Secret

Deadlock Clock: 24th May 2013 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [29]
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Definitely not a weirdo
This is sort of a shared repair effort for The Not Secret and Open Secret because it's kind of hard to address one without addressing the other, and much of the misuse is confusing one for the other. Not helping the problem is the fact that the descriptions of these two tropes disagree on precisely what the difference is.

Basically, as I see it, there are three concepts between the two tropes, and a bit of confusion as to which idea is which trope:

First there is a situation where a character has a secret that they decide to reveal for whatever reason. Upon the reveal, both they and the audience discover that everyone already knew the secret. This is basically the current description of The Not Secret, although it's not quite as clear as it could be due to the Example as a Thesis.

Second of all, there is a situation where a character has a secret that they clearly aren't very good at keeping. Everyone knows the secret, and it's clear to the audience that everyone knows the secret. However, the secret keeper treats it like a real secret. This is usually done to show that the character is a bit out of touch. This is the current definition of Open Secret, although there are a number of examples of this case on The Not Secret. In addition, The Not Secret gives a definition of Open Secret that is different from this.

The third case is a situation where something is stated to be a secret, but everyone knows it, and the secret keepers are fully aware that everyone knows it. There can be a number of reasons for this, be it outdated laws, or whatever. The description for The Not Secret claims that this is the definition of Open Secret, although Open Secret claims otherwise. There are examples of this case on both pages, including the page image for The Not Secret.

I think that part of the confusion between the two is due to unclear names. What I propose is to re-write the description of The Not Secret to make clear that it is the first case I described while renaming it to something more indicative like Everyone Already Knew The Secret. I also propose renaming Open Secret to something like Heavily Leaked Secret, and better making clear that it is about the second case I described. Finally I would like to send a new trope through YKTTW named Secret In Name Only, or something similar, about the third case I described.

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3 SeptimusHeap19th Feb 2013 09:44:37 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
I can think of keeping the tropes separate, but only if we can find names to separate them. And I am currently at a loss about that.
At the very least, the part about a trope incorrectly defining another can be fixed without discussion, right?
5 SeptimusHeap19th Feb 2013 10:07:49 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
So is it safe to assume that the definition on Open Secret is correct, and that the description on The Not Secret of Open Secret is wrong?

edited 19th Feb '13 11:50:54 AM by Leaper

Definitely not a weirdo
I believe that's a save assumption, yes.
The Not Secret page says the difference is in Open Secret the secret keeper knows people know. If that's not the correct distinction, then what is?

The Open Secret page doesn't mention at all whether the secret keeper knows the secret is out, only that they "act as if" it's a secret (which to me suggest they know it's not but pretend it is, for whatever reason).
Definitely not a weirdo
The correct distinction is whether or not the audience knows that everyone is aware of the secret prior to the reveal.
[up] That seems okay to me. It's an application of Dramatic Irony that turns one Reveal into two Reveals.

Is there a lot of duplication of examples between the two? That would be good evidence to get me worried.

edited 20th Feb '13 8:31:11 PM by troacctid

Rhymes with "Protracted."
Definitely not a weirdo
There is actually a surprisingly small number of examples that are on both pages. However, that is made up for by the large number of examples that are on the incorrect page. It's mostly examples on The Not Secret that should be on Open Secret, but there is a little bit of the reverse. As usual, the biggest problem is with the real life section. There is significantly more overlap there, and The Not Secret really shouldn't have a real life section considering that it requires the audience to be unaware of the fact that the secret is out. Considering that the closest thing real life has to an audience is the same people who by definition are aware of the secret, this clearly doesn't work very well.
If there's not much duplication of examples, it's a good indication that editors are seeing some difference between the two. If this is the pattern you're seeing, I think it's more likely we have the distinction wrong.

Maybe The Not Secret is actually about the moment of revealing it, only for the person revealing it to find out that everyone already knew? Open Secret would then be the general state of lots of people knowing something that's supposed to be a secret.

Or maybe it's like The Not Secret says, and your reading of Open Secret in the OP is incorrect. I think this is possible. Probable, even. Open Secret doesn't explicitly say that the secret-keepers don't know that everyone else knows, it only says they act as if nobody else knows. "Open Secret" is a pre-existing term, and this would be the stance where it lines up with its pre-existing meaning. It lines up with the laconic too, for whatever that's worth.

Now that I think about it, I'm almost sure that's the case and your original interpretation of Open Secret was off the mark. There's no requirement that the secret-keeper(s) be unaware it's not really a secret.

Looking at the examples and at the original YKTTW drafts, I think The Not Secret is defined more by the screentime the character(s) spends trying to keep the coverup going before eventually getting deflated. There's tension and resolution and it's pretty much a plot—or at least subplot—on its own. Making it also part of The Reveal that everyone else already knows is part of the trope because it allows for drama; the trope can exist without that, but it can't really be taken seriously, so those examples are pretty much exclusively Played for Laughs. Whereas Open Secret is...pretty much the same as its common usage. An open secret. There's my theory.

If I'm right, I think The Not Secret should be renamed.

edited 20th Feb '13 11:49:56 PM by troacctid

Rhymes with "Protracted."
Definitely not a weirdo
That sounds right. No matter what the case is, The Not Secret needs to be renamed, as no matter the definition of Open Secret, The Not Secret is attracting misuse. We should probably also re-write the trope descriptions. It really shouldn't take this much reading into things. I'll come up with some drafts soon enough.

Also, since we're almost certainly going to have to rename The Not Secret, does anyone have any suggestions? I know I said Everyone Already Knew The Secret in the OP, but that was really just a placeholder, and it's a bit on the bulky side. Keeping An Escaped Secret?

edited 21st Feb '13 1:16:39 AM by CompletelyNormalGuy

14 StarSword23rd Feb 2013 06:55:23 PM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
I could get behind that, if we're renaming.
Rhymes with "Protracted."
Definitely not a weirdo
That sounds good. It's clear and to the point.
17 StarSword4th Apr 2013 11:55:43 AM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
Bump. Should we do a single proposition pseudocrowner to rename?

edited 4th Apr '13 11:56:06 AM by StarSword

18 SeptimusHeap4th Apr 2013 11:58:26 AM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
Hmm...there are two tropes under discussion and one merge proposal.
Definitely not a weirdo
I don't think Open Secret requires much more than a bit of description tweaking for clarity and some example cleaning. I do think that The Not Secret needs a rename.
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21 Spark921st May 2013 06:30:42 AM from Castle Wulfenbach , Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Gentleman Troper!
People have made a strong case for renaming or merging earlier in the thread (in particular, substantial amounts of abuse and the fact that the current names are synonyms), so we should have a crowner for that.


edited 21st May '13 6:33:18 AM by Spark9

Special trousers. Very heroic.
22 AnotherDuck21st May 2013 09:18:00 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
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Definitely not a weirdo
I'm honestly not sure which one is better.

I'm trying to clarify and shorten the description a bit. Is this better or worse than the current, and is there anything else that needs to be changed?

A character is ready to reveal their secret. Maybe they're gay, maybe they're a vampire, maybe they're a superhero, or maybe they're the one who stole the cookies from the cookie jar. All that matters is that they've kept this a secret for a while, and now they're ready to come clean. However, when they finally tell the truth, there's not a single surprised look. Everyone already knew.

Transparent Closet is a common subtrope, where a character's sexuality isn't as much of a secret as they think it is. See also Open Secret where it's painfully obvious from the get-go that no one is fooled by the secret.

edited 21st May '13 12:53:14 PM by CompletelyNormalGuy

24 StarSword25th May 2013 01:49:19 PM from somewhere in deep space , Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
[up] That's a heck of a lot better. While we're at it, I'm inclined to pull the current image since it looks more like a lampshaded Open Secret rather than this trope.
Definitely not a weirdo
Yeah, I was waiting until we were done here to start an image picking thread.

Page Action: The Not Secret
21st May '13 6:31:55 AM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:

Total posts: 29
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