How to do a what now?
A "wick" is an in-wiki link to a page. For example, here is a wick to the "Protagonist Centered Morality" Trope: Protagonist-Centered Morality. Wicks can also be Pot Holes, where the text linked to the page is not the page's actual name, like so.
Often when a trope gets brought up in the Trope Repair Shop for being repaired or renamed, the issue of its use around the wiki will come up. Maybe someone will claim that the title is confusing editors into thinking the trope is something else, or someone will suggest that the title is lacking in the catchiness department and its proliferation is suffering as a result. To support or oppose such a point, you may want to look into how much, how correctly, and generally how a trope is being used around the wiki. In other words, have a look at how its wicks are behaving. In other other words, do a wick check.
Okay, how do I do it?
You can find a page's list of wicks here (replace "InsertTitleHere" with the actual title). If there's already a thread in the Trope Repair Shop discussing the trope, you can just press the "get usage counts" button above the first post in the thread and it will take you to the same page. Another option is to use the "related" button in the bottom right of the cluster at the top of most pages. It's a list of other pages which have in-wiki links to that page. That is, a list of its wicks.
Now, if you want to make a point about the quantity of the wicks, there's not much work left for you to do. The number is right up there - "InsertTitleHere found in X articles, excluding discussions". What this number means is another issue entirely (is the trope overperforming? Underperforming? How many wicks would you expect this trope to have? How many wicks do similar tropes have?..), but there you have it.
If, on the other hand, what you want to do is make some point about the quality of the wicks- the kind of context they arise in, whether they are using the trope correctly, whether they tend to be vague hand-waving or spot-on - you're going to need to actually go in there and look at them individually. Now, theoretically it would be best if you could just click on wick after wick and see how all of them are doing, but we do not recommend doing that if you value your sanity. Instead you're going to have to look at a representative sample.
How do I get a representative sample of wicks?
- The number of wicks you check should be either the square root of the total number of wicks or 50, whichever is larger. If there are fewer than 50 wicks, check them all.
- The wicks should be picked randomly from the list.
You can check a smaller number of wicks if you feel you're not up to the task, but unless your results are very conclusive, they will likely be challenged on the basis of your sample not being large enough to be representative. As to randomly picking wicks, this is because going in alphabetical order is more likely to run across the results of some clean-up attempt, and generally taking a wick's attributes into consideration will likely skew the results. You may want to use an integer set generator (set it to: "Generate  sets with [desired sample size] unique random integers in each; each integer should have a value between  and [total number of wicks]", then check the wicks with the numbers it gave you).
What should I be looking at when examining the wicks?
There are all sorts of properties of wicks you can check for. Here are a few:
- Does the trope actually apply to the character/situation described?
- Is there a clear, correct explanation of how and why the trope applies? Or perhaps an explanation that is Right for the Wrong Reasons, or an explanation that gives a false impression of what the trope is, or no explanation at all?
- What kind of fandom/medium did the wick come from?
- Is the trope relevant in that particular context or did someone apparently throw it in just because they could?
- Is the trope being used for either Gushing or complaining about the work?
- Is the trope being used as a Verbal Tic or Stock Phrase?
If there are significant results in any of those areas, you may be able to use them to illustrate a point you are making. For example, if you claim a trope's name is insular, your case becomes stronger if most of the wicks in the sample have to do with comic books (unless, of course, it is a comic-book-exclusive trope by definition). If you claim that the trope is neutral and does not induce Complaining About Shows You Don't Like, your case becomes stronger if you can show that most wicks are from pages matter-of-factly pointing out that the trope applies without judging the work it applies to.
How do I share my findings?
Post to the existing thread in the Trope Repair Shop, or start a new one if there isn't one. Say you did a wick check. Explain what you were trying to check. For each article where you found a wick, copy and paste the line/sentence it appeared in (this allows other users to double-check your results) and state (preferably in bold) which side of the case it weighs on. Conclude your findings with the relevant statistics.
An alternate method of posting results is to sort the results by verdict so that e.g. all "correct" wicks are organized in one list and all "misuse" wicks are organized in a second list. This makes the results easier to visualize at a glance, unfortunately it takes a lot more work to do it this way.