A good example should explain how it is an example.
When reading a trope's description or working on a work's page, sometimes one may think of an example that fits so perfectly and seems so obvious that it doesn't seem all too necessary to explain how it fits; the editor can just provide the name of the work/character (or trope) and quickly move on to something else. Short, sweet, and to the point, right?
Providing only the name of a work/character or the name of a trope does absolutely nothing to actually explain the example. Remember, examples are supposed to explain how (or why) a trope is used and provide a rough idea of where within the work itself the trope appears. Citing only the name of a work/character or trope doesn't do thatnote ; after all, there are a lot of people who aren't familiar with the work/character and who don't understand the trope.
Thanks in no small part to Word Cruft, there are many ways these citations can commonly occur:
- "[Name]. Just... [Name]"
- "[Name]. And HOW!"
- "[Name]. Full stop."
- "[Name]. 'nuff said."
- "[Name] loves this trope."
- "[Name]. That is all."
- "[Name] all the way."
- "[Name] is this trope." ("trope incarnate", etc.)
- "[Name] is the biggest offender."
- "[Name]. Self-explanatory."
- "[Character] from [Title of Work]."
- "[Link to a youtube video that has been taken down for copyright infringement] by [Name]."
- "Any scene with [Name] in it."
- "The entirety of [Episode]."
- "Every single thing [Name] says."
- [Name] did a lot of stuff completely unrelated to the trope but this example is going to ramble on about it with tons of Word Cruft anyway and never even mention anything related to the trope.
- "[Character] has his moments". ("shades of this" etc.)
- "[Character A] is this/does this to [Character B]".
This is by no means limited to trope pages, however, and can also show up on work pages, with "[Name]" often replaced with "[Trope]" in this regard. This may in fact be even more common on work pages, because many that add examples there automatically assume that anyone who reads it must already know everything there is to know about the work in question and so don't bother putting in any amount of detail.
As for the examples where no explanation is given because it's all right there in the trope name, remember if it really is that simple then it probably won't take you long at all to type up the explanation. It is neither redundant nor a waste of time to do so.
Another variant that sometimes crops up is stating when an example occurs without explaining how it occurs. The how is what's important. A related mistake is using one of the various Playing with a Trope tags by itself. Some examples of these are below.
- "In episode 5, [Name] does this."
- "[Name] does this. Lampshaded by [Other Name]."
- "[Name] subverts this trope."
There are also a few varieties that can be sufficient explanation in rare cases, but are considered bad style just the same:
- "[Trope]: [short line of dialogue]" (Quoting dialogue usually only helps those who've already seen the work; it's meaningless to everyone else.)
- "[Trope]: The Trope Namer (Trope Codifier, Ur-Example, etc)." (It's okay to mention a Trope Namer on its own merits or on a Trivia page; just remember it doesn't explain an example.)
- A variation that is endemic to work pages is to only provide a trope link on the work page and leaving the explanation of the trope being used in the work on the trope page, in a way both fully writing out an example description while still creating a Zero Context Example all the same. Please don't do this. Examples should be listed on both pages, and it saves the reader the extra trouble of having to look somewhere else to get any context.
Any trope examples found on a page that fit the description for a Zero Context Example should either be moved to that page's discussion space, or, if this represents a much bigger problem throughout an entire page, brought to attention in this Special Efforts thread dedicated to fixing these issues.
Frequently these examples are commented out with the %% markup so that editors visiting the page know to correct them.
See also Not Self-Explanatory for other faux-pas.
For the image equivalent, see Just a Face and a Caption.