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Administrivia / Trope-Namer Syndrome

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Sometimes editors place a little too much importance on creating a new Trope Namer.

Make no mistake: We're perfectly happy to coin terms for literary phenomena when it's clear no one else has done it for us already. Some of those terms reference a specific example of such a phenomenon. We have quite a few Trope Namers spread across the wiki and, frankly, these witty postmodern pop-culture references used to be one of TV Tropes' unique attractions.

But now that the wiki has entered (relatively) mainstream appeal and popularity, the old days of sitting around in closely-knit circles of postmodernist nerds and naming tropes directly from our favorite works of fiction are over. Sure, we're still a circle of nerds (and proud of it), and we still like to plug our favorite shows and characters here and there, but out of necessity, the wiki had to adapt to be comprehensible to the mainstream audience who have no prior knowledge of what we are talking about. This Very Wiki had to adopt a more modernist, scientific stance not unlike that of Wikipedia. So now, pop culture references are disfavored, and "Clear, Concise, Witty", while not enforced as a strict rule, is the trope-naming mantra to live by.

This is not to say that we don't want any new Trope Namers, period. There are occasional exceptions where a trope is best described by a specific example thereof. But this is very rare and extremely difficult to do, as it would require a reference to a work or character who's not only practically universally known, but also universally associated with that trope. And it's also difficult for Tropers to visualize what the world at large will be familiar with because of their own biases. In other words, it's easy to mistake something that you know and love for something everyone knows and loves; we call this Fan Myopia.

Trope Namer Syndrome primarily manifests itself in the Trope Launch Pad, the workshop where we pound out names and descriptions for new trope articles. It's easy to spot the occasional trope (er, proto-trope) where an editor is trying a little too hard to create a Trope Namer, at the expense of developing a good name and definition that everyone will "get". These tend to get immediate responses and tags of "Needs a Better Name", or "Pages Needing A Better Description", or even just a plain "Bad Trope Namer".

Trope Namer Syndrome has a wide range of symptoms. All of them are minor faux-pas by themselves, but if several appear in the same draft, it becomes a real problem:

  • A general insistence that some work of fiction "deserves to be" a Trope Namer.
  • A name that conveys only its connection to the Trope Namer. The worst manifestation is where the trope name is indistinguishable from the name of a work or character, meaning it will likely attract wicks meant for a work page. The next worst is where the name is just "The [Trope Namer]" or "The [Character]", requiring the reader to know in advance not only which work or character is meant, but also which aspect of it relates to the trope. Tropes named "[Character] Effect", "[Character] Syndrome", "[Character] Moment", or the like have the same problem.
  • A page image or page quote that conveys "This is the Trope Namer" without properly illustrating the trope's definition or how the Trope Namer is an example.
  • Listing the trope-naming example before actually defining the trope. Or worse, not presenting any definition at all beyond, "Remember that moment in the Trope Namer where...?"
  • Fewer than three examples beyond "The Trope Namer is an example." It goes double if the trope-naming example doesn't explain how it's an example or isn't actually an example of its own trope.
  • Being in a hurry to get the trope launched in exactly three days, problems or not.
Fortunately, all of these symptoms are curable before launch. Just take a moment to listen to suggestions from your fellow Tropers, especially if several of them agree on the same point (regardless of whether or not you agree with it).

Ninety percent of attempts to create new Trope Namers get sent straight to our Trope Repair Shop forum for fixing, and the worst cases simply get deleted and sent back to the Trope Launch Pad all over again, in which case all the time you spent campaigning for your favorite Trope Namer will have come to naught. You can save our overburdened forumgoers some work by distancing yourself from your favorite work of fiction and discussing the matter with your fellow editors at Trope Launch Pad first.

For more information about how to come up with a good name for a new trope, see the guidelines listed on Naming a Trope. To learn more about Trope Namers in general, check out the Trope Namers page.

Alternative Title(s): Tropes Are Not Quotes, Bad Trope Namer, Character Named Trope