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Basic Trope: Forcibly changing a subject under discussion (or a group's goals or plans) away from one topic or objective either against the will of the participants or by persuasion, toward one desired by the person changing it.

  • Straight:
  • Exaggerated: Bob, unable to win any points with his arguments, turns into the Garbage Post Kid and Spammer, finally causing that discussion and any other discussion like it to be shut down simply because of his Nausea Fuel and triggering images until he gets banned.
  • Downplayed: Someone tries to derail a discussion but their post is ignored or brushed off, with no one really caring about their post or what they had to say.
  • Justified:
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    • The original discussion has reached its logical end and the derailing is more due to the Left-Fielder showing up and getting bored.
    • The topic that was derailed onto was actually an important topic in and of itself that developed out of the original discussion.
  • Inverted: A reasonable person comes to a venue infested with Trolls, Sock Puppets, Meat Puppets, and all types of The Shill to discuss a controversial issue, staying on topic and refusing to get distracted into a Flame War. The residents are so shocked with the on topic and intelligent commentary that it stays relatively peaceful.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob's derailing attempt and his postings to the discussion only served to show just how creepy some fans of rape fantasy fiction who go out of their way to support it can be.
    • The angry, racist pro-police Troll in the Police Brutality discussion gives people a far more negative opinion the police than they had before he showed up to defend them.
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    • Alice is rightfully called out for her hypocrisy which only proves the point the original poster was making, seeing as she clearly thinks female victims are more important.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied: Whenever a poster makes an obvious troll topic, another poster says something along the lines of "This topic sucks. It's now about trains!" Cue the other posters discussing everything they know about the railroad industry.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • The derail itself is derailed.
    • Something in the derailing attempt connected to the topic, so it only half succeeded - only derailing to a different facet of the original topic. Then somehow that gets derailed to something entirely unrelated, and THAT gets derailed to something somewhat approximating the first point of the original topic.
  • Averted:
    • Comment moderation keeps the discussion on topic.
    • The majority of the posters downvote obvious derails with self-moderation.
    • People refuse to take the bait.
  • Enforced:
    • "No topic" discussions, spam forums, 4chan, and other places where off topic posting is encouraged.
    • As a way of dealing with Trolling in some places.
    • For PR professionals and sometimes as advice in dealing with Internet Counterattack.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Was there even a topic to be on here?"
    • "You're derailing. Please stop".
  • Invoked: "I think Bob/Alice is derailing this discussion".
  • Exploited: All uses of derailing played straight are also exploited.
  • Defied:
    • When Bob arrives in the discussion with his first post, it is called out as derailing. When he argues back and starts flinging misogynistic insults, he is promptly banned.
    • The Police Brutality discussion had, in the first posting, a rule that anyone outright defending police brutality or using racial slurs would have their posts deleted and they would be banned. When the Troll posted, his post was reported and this happened. The discussion went on relatively peacefully afterward and nothing of value was lost.
    • As in subverted #3, Alice is rightfully called out for her hypocrisy which only proves the point the original poster was making, seeing as she clearly thinks female victims are more important. When she argues back and starts flinging misandristic insults, she is promptly banned.
  • Discussed: "If we ever have a thread on Controversial Topic X, let's specify what behavior we expect of the posters and post a link to Derailing for Dummies".
  • Conversed: "It looks like we have a Troll in here trying to derail this thread. What should we do?"
  • Deconstructed:
  • Reconstructed:
    • Despite Bob's issues, he did actually have some very good points about freedom of speech and freedom of the press - he just expressed them very badly and in the wrong venue. In a later discussion about legally banning the new manga "My Bastard Boyfriend" over its scene with the titular character unironically using the "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization, he makes a very cogent argument over why the manga should not be banned by law.
    • The Troll posting to the Police Brutality discussion just happened to be reflecting the thoughts of his entire police department. The Internet Counterattack this time takes it to the national media, and some people end up actually thanking the Troll because without his abusive, angry, racist postings, no one would have known about the massive case of Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop for which he became the unwitting spokesman.
    • Despite Alice's issues, she did actually have some very good points about how women still suffer oppression- she simply neglected to mention/chose to ignore that it happens mainly in third-world countries. In a later discussion about women's near-nonexistent rights in Muslim theocracies, she makes a very coherent argument about why feminists should focus their efforts there.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob's girlfriend is angry at him. Cue an "Oh look Babies!" attempt by Bob to change the subject. It works.
  • Played For Drama: Bob is making an impassioned plea in front of the corrupt court to save his village from famine. But the corrupt officials just laugh at him and start a petty argument on the low quality of today's cupcakes in front of a powerless and disillusioned Bob.
  • Implied: In a messy, unfocused thread, a user comes back and posts, "I thought this was about rape in fiction/police brutality/battered men?"

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