Naming a trope can and should be fun. Although a pastime in its own right, trope naming also serves a purpose beyond showing off our cleverness. The more brief, clear and witty the name is, the more it is used by people.
Here are some general guidelines:
- No lines of dialogue. Tropes should have names, not titles. We are naming a thing, not titling an article. A line of dialogue is not a name; it's a line of dialogue. We used to have a lot more dialogue-titled tropes, but we noticed that they get very little adoption off-wiki, which is one way we can judge whether a name is good. Without off-wiki use, it just becomes a circle-jerk — Tropers talking to other Tropers in a language only they understand.
- Be clear. Unclear names attract misuse like you wouldn't believe. Sometimes they're hard to understand, sometimes they're difficult to remember, and sometimes they're ambiguous and make you think of something else. Unclear names include acronyms, direct references to a work, phrases with multiple meanings, and non-English phrases (unless it's commonly used in English off-wiki, or otherwise originated in non-English media).
- Be concise. Shorter trope names are easier to remember, type, and integrate into a sentence. Clarity comes first, but conciseness has real value.
- Be descriptive. Trope names are easier to remember if they actually mean something.
- Be clever. Portmanteau words, alliteration, rhyming, puns, and cultural references are not only fun, they can help make a name more memorable (again, as long as it's not at the expense of clarity).
- Use redirects. Sometimes the most awesome name isn't the most intuitive. You can have your cake and eat it too, though, by using the awesome name with a redirect from the intuitive name. It's not unheard of for good redirects to eventually replace the original trope name. Just please read Creating New Redirects before asking the mods to create a redirect.
- Don't imitate existing trope names. We call them "snowclones", and we don't like them. All too often, naming tropes after other tropes only makes sense to devoted Tropers, and the wiki is for everyone.
- Avoid "Trope-Namer Syndrome": Don't name the trope after a fondly-remembered character, work of fiction, or plot device. The wiki, as a whole, tries to appeal to a wide variety of people. Tropes named after specific characters have a tendency of falling flat even to people who are fans of the works which said characters appear in. The vast majority of them end up as rename proposals in the Trope Repair Shop. So, please, save us all some time, and try to come up with something using the preceding tips.
- Check for pre-established terms. Some tropes have a long history of usage, and somebody else may have coined a name for it already. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. If someone knows the trope by a long-standing off-wiki term, that's the first place they'll look for it here.
- ...but don't use just any pre-existing term. Some pre-existing terms are admittedly opaque, require knowledge of a certain Trope Namer, have been forgotten by the public consciousness, or just never caught on in the first place. In cases like these, it may be better to just invent the name ourselves — the proverbial wheel might need reinventing.
- Don't use the word "trope" as a placeholder. "Trope" is a real word and it has real meaning. It makes about as much sense to use "trope" as a placeholder as it would "pie" — less sense, even since most articles are inherently about tropes in the first place, so it's even less obvious that the word is being used as a placeholder. Basically, if it's not a form of Playing with a Trope, use "X" or some other appropriate placeholder term.
- Avoid Verbal Tic bait. The trope name should not be something that could be used as a verbal tic, especially at the end of a sentence. (That's why we deleted a trope named And How!)
- Avoid Pothole Magnets. If it looks like something Tropers will be unable to resist linking to from all over the wiki, it's probably not worth it. Tropers will inevitably start copying each other, we won't be able to contain the wicks, and the trope's definition will drift so far as to be meaningless. One way to spot a Pothole Magnet is to look for names that Tropers can use to talk about themselves; while "I Am Not Making This Up" isn't much different from "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer, the name change to the latter did wonders because the former name was easy for Tropers to pothole as if they were saying the phrase themselves, whereas the latter can't be used that way.