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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. 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 what with how the wiki entered 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 suppressed, and "Clear, Concise, Witty" (while not strictly enforced) is the trope-naming mantra to live by.


So, naming tropes after characters or examples in fiction is a thing to avoid, but all this is not to say that we don't want any new Trope Namers, period. There are occasional exceptions where a good new Trope Namer that still manages to be descriptive can be created, but this is very rare and extremely difficult to do, as there are very few universally-known works or characters out there and chances are people don't remember them for the same reasons that we do. 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 the 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" and/or "Pages Needing A Better Description", and may also be criticized as "Bad Trope Namer".


There's a wide range of symptoms to Trope Namer Syndrome — all of them minor faux-pas by themselves, but be on watch if several occur simultaneously in the same draft:

  • A general insistence that some work of fiction "deserves to be" a Trope Namer.
  • A name that conveys only its connection to some Trope Namer — names ending in the words "Effect", "Syndrome", and/or "Moment" are especially at risk. Names starting with the word "The" are also at risk, as this creates ambiguity between an example of the trope and a reference to its trope namer.
  • A page image (and/or page quote) that conveys "this is the Trope Namer" without properly illustrating the underlying definition.
  • Listing the trope-naming example before the actual definition, or (worse) not presenting any definition at all beyond "remember that moment in the Trope Namer where...?"
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  • Fewer than three examples beyond "The Trope Namer is [X]..." (which goes double if the trope-naming example doesn't even explain itself 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 you see several people agreeing on the same point (regardless of whether you agree with said point or not).

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 spend 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