Forum:What can ATT do to distinguish itself from TVT?

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Topazan (talk) 04:05, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Sure, it's great to have mods that aren't assholes, and the better wiki technology is nice as well, but visitors who aren't editors don't encounter either of these things.

Tvtropes has a bigger community, and thus more content. What can we tell people to convince them to use this site? I was on tvtropes for almost a year before the mods really became insufferable to me, so it might have been difficult to convince me to leave on the basis on moderation alone.

I'd like to hear what you guys think before I give my thoughts.

Well, we have a few problems preventing us from getting broad base appeal. First TV Tropes is the premier troping community, and the closest rival they had for awhile was a tiny offshoot on Wikia with a fraction of the content that up until a year ago was run by incompetent amateurs. Second, we are really new, and even though we plan to stick around for quite awhile, a lot of people don't seem to think we are that serious about being a viable alternative troping community. Second, TV Tropes burned a lot of bridges back in the day, and even though we are trying not to make the mistake of being dictators and not censoring stuff, a lot of people are gunshy of getting near us, especially since Fast Eddie has banned people for being on rival sites like Something Awful. Finally, we don't have a serious amount of grassroots support outside a dedicated core of people (like at the Drunkards Walk forums). There may be other reasons working against us getting tons of people to show up, but that's my opinion on why that is so. GethN7 (talk) 04:14, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Those things are probably factors as well, but my main point is that the site, as it is, is trying to be exactly like tvtropes, which is a losing bet since we already have tvtropes. Again, not to deny the difference that better moderation can make, but I think to really take off this site needs to somehow go in a different direction. Topazan
Good point. What do you suggest we do to make us differ from TV Tropes that would draw more people to our site? I'm drawing a blank idea wise, so I'm willing to consider anything at this point. GethN7 (talk) 04:36, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I'm not to sure myself, to be honest.

Before I found out about this project, I had an idea to make a competing wiki that removed the focus from tropes. Rather, it would try to be a gigantic reference encyclopedia of fictional universes, placing more emphasis on things like transcripts, creator info, and trivia, kind of like imdb. Rather than putting everything under the umbrella of "trope", things like fictional uses of a technology or character/setting archetypes would be listed seperately.

One of the complaints I hear about tvtropes is that it's too focused on listing things rather than analysis. I'm not really sure how easy it would be to change that, though.Topazan

Well, it's a wiki about writing conventions, so the listing tends to happen by design, but I understand what you're getting at. In fact, one thing I felt TV Tropes utilized very poorly was their Analysis subpages, which we could probably do a better job with. We will also be implementing a reviews and hopefully even on-wiki liveblogging soon, so those venues could be for in depth analysis of works in ways beyond listing stuff. Add in the fact we don't force a "No Negativity" policy, and we might be able to encourage more in depth analysis of works via essays and live blog posts in a less academically restrained manner than TV Tropes. GethN7 (talk) 05:32, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
I hope so. Like I said, I don't really know how to address those criticisms.

Now that I think about it, maybe we can change the way we organize things somewhat. Tvtropes started to use a different namespace for "characters", maybe we can take that a step further, and have a special section for "setting", "technologies", "organizations". It might help people who are coming to the wiki for a specific purpose to be able to either ignore or focus on hairstyles of different shows.

Then again, I guess the indexes already kind of do that.Topazan

There are some ways we're already different from TV Tropes:

  • Software is the biggest difference, as we have many more ways to create and format content.
    • And I can always add more features, either by writing code myself, or looking to the larger Mediawiki community.
  • Most wiki features are available without admin approval.
  • We generally trust that our users are doing the right things first -- and if not, well, anyone can revert a page (see above).
  • We believe in academic freedom and multiple points of view, and encourage them in pages, even if it means natter.
  • We believe that generally, more content is better than more adherence to rules.
  • We have a license that's compatible with Wikipedia, which means that we can use their content as a starting point. Certainly not in the end product, because we want something different, but it sure improved the Subtext page.

Things I'd like to see:

  • More on Analysis pages. They're useful, and we can go much further in depth than Wikipedia can. That is, we can go deeper than an encyclopedia should, because we're not just about an overview of a topic.
  • More descriptions of characters, settings, plots, etc. Recap is another underused set of subpages. I get the feeling that descriptions are seen as distracting from the content at TVT, not sure why.
  • A bigger community (obviously). More tropers == more better, even if it does increase the amount of moderating.

I have a couple of thoughts, not sure if they're related yet. Back in the mid 2000s, maybe 2005-2008, Wikipedia was a go-to source on all sorts of anime. I mean they had a whole page on Inuyasha's sword, Tessaiga. And this was deemed by the higher-ups to be a Bad Thing, because it's not notable and all. So pretty much, they moved all the content to Wikia, and became a bunch of splinter wikis. Said page moved to the Inuyasha Wiki.

Something about that saddens me. That particular example still looks like an active wiki -- hell, they have 3 editors doing most of the work! That's actually a lot for wikis like that. I like Inuyasha, but I'm never going to bother to register there, because there's no point in putting in effort in such a tiny community and a tiny readership. But I drive-by-edit on Wikipedia every once in a while, because I just happen to know a fact that should be added. It's cool that The Wiki Rule exists, but community fragmentation is a huge problem.

Larger wikis not only have access to more community, but pooling the content also helps. So that you're never reinventing the wheel or interwiki linking when you want to reference another piece of content. It also helps greatly with syncretic works like Mega Crossover fanfic, which would be pretty hard to document otherwise -- a good portion of my goal for this wiki was my quest to improve Undocumented Features/Characters.

I'm not sure if I'm suggesting that I want every detail of every work here. I know that an early idea for the website name, from JabberWokky, was "Story Wiki", because ultimately we're about the structure of stories. That didn't pass well with the other tropers, but I've kept the idea in mind.

Because ultimately, the end state of "troping" is to break down a story into its constituent components, and to dissect all plots and characters. To turn all of the alchemic magic of story telling, and turn it into simple chemistry with constituents and formulas. It's at the very height of deconstruction, and the major cause of Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. See, we even have a name for getting jaded from our own efforts! So no wonder some creators hate troping while others love it -- it frequently depends on how much they like deconstruction and reconstruction.

I guess the answer then is obvious, if ill-defined. I want ATT to be a reconstruction. To take all of the best things we can find out there. I suppose it was obvious -- I am a post modernist. I want to pull in every idea, and if it's good, throw it in. Wikipedia-style categories, sure. A YKTTW equivalent sounds good too. Maybe we could even put a rose border around all shoujo manga pages? Maybe 0-10 point poll-reviews, like all sorts of sites have? We should definitely look at works as a whole in addition to looking at all the parts -- which means more analysis pages.

What I want most of all is creativity. So send your ideas in a self-addressed stamped onvelope to this page, or anywhere on the wiki.

Anyway, I'm going to go hide now, because whenever I write one of these long things no one actually cares to read it. Vorticity (talk) 08:41, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

I think we need to be patient when it comes to the user base. Not complacent, but patient. We put links in any forum where it seems appropriate, and we will attract the users. After all, it took TVT years to acquire its Troper Critical Mass -- when I joined there were only about 60 tropers, and that was about six-eight months after it was created. We're already closing in on that number not even two months after starting ATT.
That said, I like the idea of having reviews for any work, not just fanfics. I'd like to see more analysis, too.
Maybe we can set up a system of user titles or badges to reward people for adding to the original content? (By which I mean creating whole new pages, not tweaking existing ones.) They'd effectively be just for the bragging rights, but hey, people have done more for less "real" reward. One of the main problems I had with the later TVT was (egotistical or not) a lot of Dude, Where's My Respect? I'd put in years of troping, had a watchlist approaching 300 pages long, acted as a roving grammarian/spellchecker, and helped establish some of the earliest wiki policies, but outside of a small circle of core tropers no one knew that -- I had no way to establish/prove my bona fides, and in some cases because I didn't use the forums there were people who thought I was inactive. As an admin I don't need most of that now, but there will be editors to come who will. Let's reward them with something that will acknowledge their hard work and let other tropers know that they're mavens in their chosen areas -- that they are worth listening to a bit more closely than the "hurrr I rote an xample on a page bout this one movie - I are a reel troper" types.
Looney Toons (talk) 14:08, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, for badges and awards, I was thinking ATT could have Userboxes as a free alternative to badges tropers can decorate their user pages with, and Awards for troper recognition. GethN7 (talk) 14:38, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
Awards are exactly what I had in mind when I said "badges" -- I was completely unaware of TVT's buy'em badges until you mentioned them while rolling out the userboxes. Which are fun, too. Looney Toons (talk) 00:07, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
"Re: Inuyasha wiki" Actually, that's the kind of thing I was trying to get at. Instead of focusing exclusively on tropes, we can bill ourselves as a universal fiction data repository. We could have a page describing a character's sword, which would also include a list of tropes relevant to it. Basically, we could try to unify all the various universe wikis out there (Memory Alpha, Wookiepedia, etc) into one place. Topazan
Memory Alpha and Wookieepedia are probably the only two I'd not consider, because their communities are large, and they predate the Wikipedia separation. Memory Alpha predates Wikia, I believe. That's the idea I wanted to avoid -- trying to take over established communities is not cool. The idea would be to help the tiny communities, and to be able to try to grow this organically. Vorticity (talk) 19:12, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
That applies to tvtropes too, you know. Besides, I'm not suggesting we go over and assimilate them at gunpoint, I'm just pointing to them as examples for what direction we can take this site.Topazan

Ok, now that I've had some time to think about it, here's my full proposal:

  • Redefine the mission statement to focus on works, rather than tropes.
  • Works pages should be made more encyclopedic, with information about the creators, publication date, etc.
  • Long lists of tropes on works pages should be discouraged. Rather, they should be moved to the pages detailed below.
  • A whole new category of page: "world element" or something like that. This can be a character, a setting, an artifact, a fictional scientific principle, a fictional species, a language, and so on. Each of these will be tied to a single franchise. Each of these pages will have a list of relevant tropes. Basically, instead of having "tropes relevant to Star Wars", we'd have "tropes relevant to The Death Star", "tropes relevant to Ewoks", and so on.
  • A new namespace for "transcripts", and greater usage of the recap namespace, and one for "plot".

Each work page will consist of a description, publication info, and a series of links to indexes of all the "world element" associated with the franchise.

Basically, many of the tropes are basically worldbuilding trivia rather than story elements. Admittedly, it would kind of go against those who think the wiki should place less focus on "listing" things, but perhaps by creating a seperate space for each type of analysis we could allow them both to grow without choking each other out.


While I do not expect you to agree to every suggestion I make, some conversation or at least acknowledgement would be nice. Topazan (talk) 09:36, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, you got Warnocked, and not because your ideas are bad. Let me see if I can give you some feedback.
  • ATT:Goals addresses the first point already, I believe. Not very in depth, but it does. For me we should try to mirror Ward's Wiki. People, projects, and patterns -- i.e. creators, works, and tropes. Covering all three is a priority for me.
  • Encyclopedic is both good and bad. I'm not opposed to linking out to Wikipedia for some of this stuff. Amassing all of the information on the actors, writers, dates, etc. sounds actually quite difficult -- and have a whole model of that information, and we'd just be copying theirs. Not that I'm inherently opposed to getting this kind of information or anything -- it would probably be useful -- but I'm not sure that the effort would be well placed here.
  • World elements stuff: Really unsure here. I'd like to see it tried in practice before I wanted to discourage people from editing the way they always have. If there's a work you really are a huge fan of, feel free to try something like this. Either sandbox it, or put it in your user space, and we'll see.
  • I'm not sure how "plot" is different from "recap", really. "Transcripts" gets into problems of copyright ownership, that I'm not sure I want to deal with.
The major split here is between "listing" and "analysis" -- or, as I mentioned on All The Tropes:Wikizen Introduction, the issue of whether we're a wiki:ContentCreationWiki or a wiki:ContentClassificationWiki. (In fact, that Wikizen Introduction was probably my reply to you, but I forgot to actually link it here.) Being a 3P wiki like Ward's Wiki, you'd think we'd be into Content Creation (analysis) more than Content Classification (listing), but we're obviously not yet. I mean, have you ever even seen Central Theme linked on a page? In fact, Thread Mode, which is a basic constituent of content creation, is actively deleted as "Natter" on TVT. So we're starting from a mostly listing-mode dataset.
I want to have it both ways, natch. And so do you -- you want dates and facts, and a whole bunch of in-universe pages and analysis. I think there's a right balance to be had, somewhere between "Lit Crit Wiki" and whatever list of concepts TVT is becoming. But I don't know what that balance is, which is why I didn't reply until now :) Vorticity (talk) 10:24, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

Hm, you have a good point in that a lot of what I proposed would be repeating effort made by other sites. I'll have to check out Ward's wiki and some of the other things you mentioned.

When I have some time, and I figure out how, I'll start testing the concept of "world elements".

For the record, I'm more on the listing side than analysis. I just brought up analysis because the emphasis on listing is a criticism of tvtropes that I often see on other sites. Topazan (talk) 01:13, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

So, how do I make pages in the sandbox? Or my own user space? Topazan (talk) 13:19, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Left a message on how to do that on your user talk page. GethN7 (talk) 13:26, 5 February 2014 (UTC)