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FanPreferredCouple: several issues that need to be addressed separately?

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Nazetrime from Some obscure French suburb Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Mar 13th 2019 at 1:16:29 AM

My few-month-old idea of giving a go at fixing Fan-Preferred Couple is re-emerging. However, I’m aware it won’t be much use re-opening the discussion about Fan-Preferred Couple if it just ends up having the issues that led to the failure of the attempts to fix it from 2017 all over again. In hope of preventing this, I took the feedback that I could from the discussion in which I participated over 2018-2019 Christmas vacation and the threads from 2017. The more I look at them, the more I get the impression that Fan-Preferred Couple doesn’t actually have one, but three different issues, that are in a deadlock to each other, yet are maybe best dealt with as separately as possible.

Number 1: Fan-Preferred Couple’s “core” definition and description issues

Fan-Preferred Couple is supposed to be about cases where a fan pairing is more popular than the Official Couple formed by one member of the fan pairing and a third character. Because of both the title and the way the definition is written, some people have mistaken Fan-Preferred Couple for meaning “the fandom-wide favorite pairing”, with no regards to whether the pairing requires breaking up an Official Couple, or even becomes an Official Couple at some point. Because of this, it is generally agreed that both a rewrite of the definition and a cleanup are needed.

In addition to the general need for a better description, Fan-Preferred Couple has a couple of definition issues:

  • There are four criteria to keep it from being “just everyone listing their favorite ship”. One of them is “only list one pairing per character (the most popular one) unless there is a good reason to list more”. This means that the current actual criteria for being listed is not “more popular than the Official Couple”, but “most popular pairing among the pairings more popular than the Official Couple”. Its wording also looks like it could be a factor in the misuse, but I consider this part of the general rehaul the description needs anyway.

  • To what extent does a couple need to be official for alternate fan pairings (including contenders for Fan-Preferred Couple) to break it? I’m thinking for example, of cases that are only implied in canon and/or confirmed by the work’s author.

Number 2: The overlapping misuse of Fan-Preferred Couple and OTP/One True Pairing

On the internet as a whole, OTP/One True Pairing is a Fan Speak term that means the favorite ship of an individual fan, or a small group of them at best. This earns it the objective right to have a page on the wiki defining it, but no examples. However, in practice, many use it as an entry for “fandom-wide favorite pairing”, regardless of whether or not it’s an Official Couple, or includes a character that is part of an Official Couple, on YMMV pages. In other words, it gets misused in ways similar to Fan-Preferred Couple.

My personal take of this is that any misuse cleanup of one of the two tropes will need to take the other into consideration. However, an eventual Fan-Preferred Couple cleanup is currently made difficult by the definition and description issues above, as it would be best done with a solid definition and a clear description.

Number 3: The issues with a hypothetical “fandom-wide favorite pairing” trope

One option for solving issues Number 1 and Number 2 would be making a new trope that would cover the “fandom-wide overall favorite pairing” situation. However, this seems to be a can of worms of its own.

First, there is the question of whether this is something tropeworthy. And each possible answer comes with a problem of its own:

  • If we answer yes, the trope's page runs the risk of becoming a battleground for fandoms in which the Ship-to-Ship Combat has gone nasty, and a maintenance nightmare for the moderators and whoever else decides to oversee it.

  • If the answer is no, there will be no place to put the misuses of Fan-Preferred Couple and One True Pairing as “Fandom-wide favorite pairing” that have been able to live peacefully on their work’s YMMV page thus far. In other words, the eventual cleanup will mean outright deleting them. On a personal level, I was vehemently against that option just a few months ago. My current attitude now leans towards “okay, if there really is no other solution”.

Even if we find a way to make a not-too-problematic and tropeworthy version of the “fandom-wide overall favorite pairing” trope, there comes another issue. Should it be its own thing, or an expanded version of Fan-Preferred Couple? I think this question belongs here rather than in the Fan-Preferred Couple “core” definition and description issue, because it won’t actually need an answer if consensus ends up being that we don’t want to make “fandom-wide overall favorite pairing” a trope in the first place.

The wrap-up

My brain has come up with a battle plan of sorts, but I have limited perspective on its actual chances of working:

  • Make a topic focused on defining Fan-Preferred Couple and rewriting its description in such a way that its intent (fan pairings liked better than the Official Couple involving one half of the pairing) is conveyed better. From what I’ve read, this should be done on Trope Talk.

  • Make a topic focused on the eventual “fandom-wide favorite pairing” trope, including whether it’s something worth having on the site, and writing it if the answer ends up being “yes”. I’m not sure where we would put that, only that the topic may need some preliminary work before an eventual go at the Trope Launch Pad.

  • Only discuss whether those two tropes should be kept separate or be made one and the same after both their definitions (or even existence for “fandom-wide favorite pairing”) are settled and they have clear descriptions. And do a cleanup once that it settled. A clean-up thread for Fan-Preferred Couple was created back in 2017.

Does addressing things this way look like a good idea? Another non-resolution waiting to happen? Did my personal biases result in me missing anything that you think should be addressed if Fan-Preferred Couple gets discussed again? Or make me put too much emphasis on something that is actually a non-issue?

Edited by Nazetrime on Mar 15th 2019 at 8:06:45 PM

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