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Administrivia / Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Language

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In a nutshell, write about how things are (descriptive), not how you think they should be or wish they were (prescriptive).

Descriptive language seeks to describe what is happening, what happened, or what will happen. It enumerates facts without making value judgments.

Prescriptive language seeks to prescribe behavior or attitudes. It takes a point of view and attempts to convince or persuade the reader of that point of view.

  • It is not necessary to tell readers whether a trope is a good or bad thing in Real Life, nor that it is subjective, nor that there is controversy about it. You wouldn't put up with that in a story, so why should we have to put up with it on the wiki?
  • Other people may have different opinions about the quality of a work or a creator's work; they may even like something or someone for qualities that you find objectionable. Leave room for differences of opinion when you write about media.
  • The wiki does not, as a matter of policy, have an opinion on any social or political topics. We may disallow certain kinds of content on the grounds of not being suitable for our intended audience and/or not being permitted by our advertising sponsors, but that's not an excuse to bad-mouth these things on the wiki.
  • The wiki may ban discussion of certain "hot button" topics in media. This is to keep the users and staff from having to put up with the incessant arguments that develop whenever those topics arise, and to prevent the wiki from being used to advance an agenda.


See also: Righting Great Wrongs, Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment, Watsonian versus Doylist

Alternative Title(s): Descriptive Vs Prescriptive Language, TV Tropes Is Not Your Soapbox, Prescriptive Vs Descriptive