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Simply put Understatement is used moreso as a "clever wiki in joke" and not as the actual trope. It could be due to the utter simplicity of the name, making it so you can comment on your own writing rather than actually commenting on the use of the trope. There have been several prior forum topics on this and it seems the general consensus is that there is a prominent need for Understatement in general as a simple literary concept, with some people arguing to keep any troper in-jokes based on Tropers Law (the argument against cutting anything that keeps the wiki informal).
My proposal is in the interest of seperating the trope from the in-joke, cause the use of the in-joke prevents the proper use of the trope. Anything that prevents the development of tropes should be fixed. Possibly make the actual trope Gratuitous Understatement and leave Understatement as something akin to It Makes Sense in Context.
Anyone want a comprehensive wick check? Well here's a check of 100 wicks.
Understatement Wick Check - 100 Random Wicks from only Main, Characters and media namespaces.
Misuse - this includes sinkholes, gratuitous linking of the word understatement to understatement (lumped in with sinkholes for explanation putposes), and any use that is not referring to someone making an understatement when speaking (also sinkholes). Also, all cases of it being used as a Sink Hole can be treated as use as a Verbal Tic.
This title has brought 11,641 people to the wiki
from non-search engine links since 20th FEB '09.
That's 94% misuse when treating all pages with misuse as one case of misuse each, or 95% misuse counting up the extras on the pages that use this trope as a Sink Hole/Verbal Tic multiple times. This is officially the worst rate of misuse I have ever seen. Consider this: with the given rate of misuse, this means that there are 8271 wicks for this trope that are using it as a Sink Hole, or put another way, just 517 uses of Understatement as a trope.
It has all of the problems of a Verbal Tic, except it's almost always Potholed. Pretty much all of the Sinkholes are of the gratuitous Pot Hole variety combined with tropers thinking they're being witty.
Something must be done, and I'm doubting cleanup alone can fix this. I'm tempted to nominate having Understatement join the ranks of So Yeah and I Am Not Making This Up in the Permanent Red Link Club. There is a legitimate trope here, but Understatement is almost never used as an actual trope. It's used as "Hey, look, I just made an understatement while writing this example!" We really ought to separate the actual trope from the misuse in some way.
Also, most of those could have been written normally, but they were written with an understatement to pothole to understatement anyways, and many probably didn't need it in the first place. For any argument that Understatement doesn't hurt the wiki, it doesn't seem to increase the quality of the wiki terribly much either.
edited 30th Aug '11 7:11:50 PM by Balmung
At least it is a trope. I don't think it is anywhere near as big a pain as So Yeah or If You Know What I Mean.
edited 30th Aug '11 6:47:56 PM by FastEddie
Of course it's a trope, then again, so was I Am Not Making This Up, and that had to be axed and the actual trope moved to "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer due to rampant misuse as a Verbal Tic. Likewise with No. Just... No being moved to "No. Just... No" Reaction. Going by the stats I found, only 517 pages actually use Understatement as a trope, and I am just about positive that it is a far more common trope than that.
edited 30th Aug '11 7:17:35 PM by Balmung
Personally, I think just renaming it to something like Comedic Understatement would stop a lot of the bad wicks. I recall Fast Eddie flatly refusing a renaming before on the grounds that Understatement is the actual name of the trope, but I'm pretty sure it's either rename or just completely accept that the trope is never going to be used properly.
Yeah, I find myself occasionally tempted to whip through a trope page with my CTRL+F, replacing Understatement and Beyond the Impossible (which is another trope that I'm worried about, for similar reasons), if only due to the rampant pot-holing.
Finding a new name for it would be a good idea.
Let's give the trope a completely accurate name that's long enough that it will be a pain to pothole: Understatement For Emphasis.
Then do a Special Efforts concerted eradication of any occurances that aren't in the trope list as a trope entry, (yes, we may clear a few legitimate potholes, but a 95% Verbal Tic rate? That can't stand).
edited 30th Aug '11 8:03:35 PM by Madrugada
On the bright side, at least when people are potholing it, it's an example of the trope. (It has very wide applications, after all.)
True as that may be, we're about documenting tropes in fiction, and it seems like people often use it as a substitute for accurately describing things and writing so they can make that Pot Hole. They could write "Work Name uses Insert Trope Here a lot" or "X happens a lot", but instead write "Work Name uses Insert Trope Here a little" or "X happens occasionally. You shouldn't let your Pot Hole do the talking for you or explain it, you should just write your example clearly in the first place. (Using the generic "you" here)
edited 30th Aug '11 8:15:22 PM by Balmung
I just burned the sinkholes and verbal tic usages in the nonpunctuated pages that start with "z". It's not much, (down to 8765 from 8788) but it's a start.
edited 30th Aug '11 8:39:41 PM by Madrugada
Another problem with the verbal tic deal is that people will describe it accurately and then use it entirely as a joke instead of the actual trope. Thus you will sometimes get things like "The guy was genocidal against all reality" when it's kind of hard to actually top that.
So lets bring it back to my original post, do we allow it to continue as an in-joke and split off the actual trope involved or do we make a monumental Special Efforts project?
edited 30th Aug '11 9:08:11 PM by KJMackley
I'm for a cleanup. Leaving it as an in-joke is not doing us any good.
And since new editors learn what's acceptable and what's not as much by what pages already look like as by reading the pages on How To Write An Example and good form (whatever that one is called), leaving it is actually hurting us, by making them think that sinkholes as in-jokes are acceptable.
I burned 23 sinkholes in about 15 minutes. Some of them I needed to rewrite a bit. It's not difficult, it's just tedious.
edited 30th Aug '11 9:12:46 PM by Madrugada
I'm for killing troper in-jokes. There is a trope under all this and instead, it's being used as a Verbal Tic and those reduce the quality of the wiki on the whole. I didn't zap the ones I found because I wasn't completely sure we were actually going to do anything after the other threads.
Also, we really need to get more tropers to read How To Write An Example.
edited 30th Aug '11 9:16:23 PM by Balmung
I'll make a post under Special Efforts then.
Special Efforts thread is here
Wick count is down by over 200 so far. This can be done.
edited 31st Aug '11 9:07:28 AM by Madrugada
But I do still have to wonder if that'll be enough or if after the cleanup is done, people will just go right back to misusing it all over the place.
Sure, we'll have to keep an eye on it, but once it's down to good uses, the misuse rate should drop. It's like pulling weeds in the garden. You can't just do it once and think it's not a problem anymore; you have to pull everything you can, then go back out every once in a while and pull the ones that weren't there last time. But each time, there are fewer to pull.
Kind of off-topic, but is there anywhere that actually explicitly says that potholing to a trope that you use while writing is bad form? It's kind of a recurring problem. We've had to do this with I Am Not Making This Up, If You Know What I Mean, This! Is! SPARTA!, whatever the page for bad puns is called, and now Understatement. We keep having to clean this kind of stuff up but I'm not sure I've ever seen where we tell people to not do it.
edited 31st Aug '11 9:18:25 AM by joeyjojojuniorshabadoo
Actually, particularly as the no-sinkhole rule is mentioned there, maybe more people should be directed to read How Not to Write an Example.
EDIT: Oh, in case people are only reading this thread - actually, I have to disagree with post 8 - we are getting plenty of misuse. People are sinkholing phrases with "incredible," "unbelievable," "extremely," "a ton of," and other absolutist words with this. That's not understatement; at best, it's correct statement. More likely than not, though, it's overstatement. And that's not even getting into cases where it's just a definite statement and cannot be under- or overstatement.
After this is done, I've got to remember post 6 and see if I can start a similar effort for Beyond the Impossible - I, too, get frustrated with how often that's sinkholed, and I think it's being used pretty much the same as I Am Not Making This Up - it has become a statement of "I have such low bounds of credulity that everything shocks and astounds me" in many cases.
edited 31st Aug '11 12:54:47 PM by 32_Footsteps
It seems inaccurate to call it an in-joke. It's not an in-joke. Understatement is a widely-used device outside of this wiki. It's not like something we made up or even an internet meme. It's in the dictionary.
The trope isn't the in-joke, it's the insistence on potholing it to deliberate understatements and things that are not understatements in examples for emphasis. This is a wiki, not a work of fiction.
If you guys are planning to sift through 7900+ wicks and remove all gratuitous understatement potholes, I've gotta say, you've got your work cut out for you trying to clean up one of the most linked tropes on the entire site.
I would also like to say that if you're going to delete all of these understatement potholes, remove the understatements as well. Understatements are not obvious by default, and any imformation new to a particular reader presented as an understatement without a pothole to mark it will be mistaken for an accurate statement.
That's what we're doing, however, most of the sinkholes are in statements that aren't understatements at all.
I've been tackling the statements themselves in a few ways, depending on the context.
Sometimes, I leave the original statement, particularly if it was neither understatement or overstatement. It helps with context of the entry in question sometimes.
Other times, I reword it, if context is necessary but the joke is pointless, to make for a better example overall.
Finally, there are times when I just delete the whole thing. No reason to say that a Crapsack World is worse than a World Half Empty - it's explicit in the definitions of each.
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