- ...But were too afraid to ask.
Though we hate to admit it, the concept of renaming tropes has become Serious Business on this wiki. In some particularly bad cases, debates about renaming have even degenerated into Flame Wars. For this reason, we've crafted up a basic rename strategy to answer the questions of when, and how, tropes are to be renamed.
The first part of the strategy is that a trope should never be renamed without discussion. Discussion is done in the Trope Repair Shop. The idea is to hear everyone out, consider the relevant arguments, and reach general agreement as to what should be done.
We're not big on rules, but we do have some guidelines about which arguments carry weight in the Repair Shop and which don't. If you're thinking of proposing a rename, you should first figure out whether you have a valid and concrete case against the current title. We don't change titles for no reason; all other things being equal, keeping an existing title is better. Below are the most common reasons to rename or not rename, but you are free to bring up other arguments if you think they're relevant.
Good arguments for keeping an existing name
- Renaming is not a magic solution to all of a page's problems. If some issue isn't the name's fault, there's little sense in trying to fix that issue by renaming. If renaming could help but there's another, better way to deal with the issue, that's still a good reason to try that way instead. Redirects Are Free, for example. If the main issues with a name are that it's overly long or difficult to spell, an intuitive redirect may be a better solution than renaming the trope.
- A large number of inbound links indicates that the current name is generating "buzz", being linked from outside the wiki and generating traffic for us. The higher the inbound count, the stronger this argument is. If it can be further shown that these inbound links are resulting from bona fide conversational use of the name outside TV Tropes, this means the name has gained traction outside the wiki and is a very good reason to keep it. For details, see Analyzing Inbounds.
- If the name is already an established term in the outside world, that's a good reason to keep it (assuming its outside-world meaning is related to the trope). When making this claim, it is recommended to show outside proof thereof; the strength of this argument depends on how widely the term is in use. The article should have the name with the meaning that is used by the widest number of people.
- No (or negligible) misuse in the wicks (in-wiki links) means that the title isn't confusing our editors into thinking it's something else. For details, see How to Do a Wick Check.
Some tropers believe wick/inbound checks are nigh-essential to ground the discussion in facts; other tropers believe that in some cases they are irrelevant and insisting on them is obstructive. Whatever you do, don't get dragged into "your argument doesn't count!" "No, your argument doesn't count!" Rules Lawyering meta-arguments. Those never help.
- If a name is just evocative in a way that some bland alternative cannot hope to emulate, leaving it be becomes a more attractive option. This is often due to the Rule of Funny, Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama.
- All other things being equal, keeping the current name is better - if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Lack of a good argument for renaming is a good argument for not renaming (and the converse is not true). This means that if someone brings up an argument for renaming, pointing out weaknesses in it stands on its own as an argument for keeping the current name.
Good arguments for changing an existing name to a new name
- The name is Unclear — it fails to indicate what the trope is about, and thus undermines our goal of making the trope as accessible to as great a portion of our readership as possible. This includes titles that have nothing to do with the trope, using technical terms that mean something else in everyday speech and names that rely on familiarity with a particular work to make sense/"names that suggest something unrelated to most people" (see Administrivia: Renamed Tropes).
If you think a name is unclear, remember that you are required to make substantial arguments and provide substantial evidence that the name is really unclear to actual readers, and that this lack of clarity exists outside your imagination. There are all sorts of ways to do this; you can use a Wick Check, an Inbound Check, Google result analysis or a dictionary, to name a few. Just saying "this is totally unclear" is not an argument in and of itself.
- Character-Named Tropes used to be standard, but are now deprecated and considered a form of Fan Myopia. Very few characters are iconic enough to truly personify a trope, and these are generally in the dictionary (e.g. Pollyanna); using anyone else risks Popcultural Osmosis Failure. Consider whether there are other fictional characters by that name, whether the character may have other aspects, and how old the work is that the character is from.
This is really a subset of the "unclear" issue outlined earlier. As before, explain how naming this trope after the character is unclear, and be prepared to provide substantial evidence. While a common issue, this isn't automatically a warrant to rename.
- Everything's Worse with Snowclones. Too often the, ah, cleverness of a snowclone can obscure the fact that a name doesn't quite fit the trope it's supposed to describe. If the snowclone doesn't make sense outside of the context of the original, or doesn't make sense inside the context of the original, it's misleading.
- A trend of the name being misused — as in, the trope's supposed "examples" are often not actually examples, or many of the wicks are wrong. This might be because the title suggests a trope broader than, or subtly different from, the actual definition.
- Trope Names that are Spoilers. Not only is this now considered Fan Myopia, it can ruin someone's enjoyment of a work. A good example of this would be the now renamed "Instrumentality", a massive spoiler for Neon Genesis Evangelion. The trope was renamed to "Assimilation Plot", a title that doesn't spoil the work. As of this writing, there have been three other tropes renamed because of spoilers, "The Usual Suspects Ending", a spoiler for The Usual Suspects, now known as "The Ending Changes Everything", "Thirty Five Minutes Ago", a spoiler for Watchmen, now known as "You Are Too Late" and "I Am John Smith", associated with spoilers from the Haruhi Suzumiya series, now known as "Trust Password".
- The trope is suffering from disuse—as in, it has very few wicks or inbounds. This isn't an argument for renaming per se — though it can be an indicator that the title is too obscure — but it means the cost of renaming is drastically lower than if the trope were widely used. Because the trope isn't entrenched, hardly anyone will even notice it's renamed; the transition is seamless. It also takes much less time to do the actual legwork of renaming: a small handful of wicks might take five minutes to change, whereas a trope with 2000 wicks would take a large, concerted effort. (And even if we found tropers willing to do that much grunt work, there are plenty of other projects that could better use those man-hours.)
Disuse works on a sliding scale. The lower the usage, the lower the barrier to rename.
- The name seems unnecessarily subjective—that is, it's outright spiteful or laudatory, but the trope isn't a YMMV item. Sometimes the trope itself is unnecessarily subjective; in that case, it's better to first discuss what to do with the trope.
- We no longer name tropes after a line of dialogue or a Stock Phrase. It risks editors wikilinking the phrase every time that particular combination of words occurs, whether the underlying trope actually applies in that context or not.
- "Trope" used as a placeholder word (e.g. "More [Tropes] Than God", "Gonna Need More [Trope] ") is now deprecated, as it misuses the word "trope".
- Acronym or initialism trope names. We generally prefer the title spelled out unless it has profanity (for example: the BFG trope, or Big Fucking Gun).
What to do if you think a rename is called for.
Bring it up in the Trope Repair Shop. Include your reasons for thinking it is broken in the opening post. Threads begun without reasons or supporting evidence will be summarily nuked.
Note that the Trope Repair Shop is monitored, and new threads must be approved before anyone can make a second post. We do this because when we didn't do this, we ended up with a huge backlog of threads which stalled via lack of consensus, progress or action. This means that unless you share good reasons why the page needs repair, the second post might be a mod explaining why it was sent to the Repair Shop Morgue.
What happens after you bring it up: Discussions, Crowners and Resolutions
First of all: As long as there is no consensus to rename, you should leave the name be. Consensus does not mean a simple majority. While there's no hard-and-fast rule for what constitutes consensus, for renames we generally look for at least a 2:1 ratio in favor — that is, twice as many people think it should be changed as think it shouldn't. However, an alternative titles crowner does not need any particular ratio: the most popular title with more supports than opposes wins.
Discussions and Crowners
After you post your proposal, there will likely be an influx of arguments for it and arguments against it. In the very rare cases where there is no dissent at all, people may appeal for a "process override" of sorts where we just go for it and implement the change, and a moderator may approve it; but most of the time, the proposal has its supporters and detractors, and we take a vote to see where consensus stands, if anywhere.
Starting a vote early in the thread is not advisable. Good arguments are likely to come to light later that would have influenced voting. It's best to wait until both sides of the argument have had time to formulate their points before opening the vote. Anyone can start a vote, which we call a "crowner" for historical reasons (read: To confuse you).
The first vote will be about whether to rename at all, and to start it off you'll want to create something called a single proposition crowner. A single Proposition crowner is just that: one single question that can be responded to with a Yes (Up)/No(Down) vote. Such a crowner can be created here (change "InsertSubjectHere" in the URL to the title you want for the vote). It's recommended to add a summarized list of pros and cons for the proposal. Do your best to represent the arguments for both sides as honestly as possible while sticking to the facts.
After you create the crowner, post the link at the proposal thread and press the yellow triangle thingie in the ribbon above your post. That's the holler button- it calls for a moderator; you want to ask them to attach the crowner to the bottom of the thread so people can vote on it comfortably instead of having to go through the link.
People can later edit the arguments in the crowner to improve and refine them, or add new ones, but outright messing with them is not fair play. Basically, if you support a proposal you ought to stay away from negatively rephrasing or removing arguments in the "Con" section, and vice versa.
Crowners should run until they stabilize. There is no set minimum number of days that a crowner must be open or maximum number of days that it can be open, though we usually give crowners at least three days to run out of courtesy. Once the voting has stabilized (this may mean that no new votes are coming in, or that one option has an insurmountable lead), give it another couple of days to be sure. Last minute objections may come in.
Eventually, the proposition will either go through or be rejected, depending on whether there is consensus supporting it. Note that a majority is not always a consensus. It's not simply "how many" votes; it's "what proportion" of the votes cast that matters. 14 votes out of 15 indicates a consensus. 49 votes out of 95 does not, even though it's a majority. In general, we regard a two-thirds majority as the threshold for a majority to be called a consensus, but this number is not set in stone. In particularly heated discussions where the back-and-forth continues even after the crowner has stabilized - regarding how to interpret the results, what to do with them, and so on- a moderator will have to step in and make the call.
We've decided to rename a trope. Now what?
Well, obviously, you're going to have to decide what you want to rename it to. At this point people will start coming up with suggestions, and will point out strengths and weaknesses in the suggestions already made. After the surge of suggestions dies down, it's time to start an Alternative Titles Crowner - in other words, a vote on what the new name should be. The template is here, and it works much in the same way as a single proposition crowner.
Once the alternative titles crowner has stabilized, again, either discussion will die down with everyone accepting the winner, or a moderator will have to step in and sort things out. Either way, a new title will be chosen, which means the page will have to be moved and everything having to do with the trope will have to be updated accordingly. Only a moderator can move a trope page; you should press the Holler Button◊ in the thread where the rename was discussed and post a request for a moderator to move the page. Of course, if the page is to be moved to a place not in the Main/ namespace, then you can simply apply the guidance on How to Move a Page. After the page has been moved, you'll have to update the wicks.
Oh, and one more thing...
Be civil. If people won't see your point of view, being abrasive will not make things go your way. It's just a trope, and if it ends up with a title you don't like, that's not the end of the world.
We've given you all the weapons you need to conduct yourself in a renaming proposition. Debate away! Have Fun!