All The Tropes:Examples Need Context

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Policy shortcut:

Laconic version

Examples Need Context is a wiki policy intend to keep reading the wiki more informative for everyone. A Zero Context Example is an example with with insufficient explanatory text, even if it isn't entirely absent.

While editing, you need to keep in mind that not everyone reading the page is going to be as well-versed in the work as you do. If you're editing the page, you're probably a fan, after all -- or at least a very involved troper. Pop Cultural Osmosis Failure can and does happen.

This is why it's important to always write something about how the work applies to the tropes, or how the trope applies to the work. The more context you provide, the better, but we're always happy for your contributions. Avoid bare offsite links, lone links to images, bare trope subtype labels, and short affirmations -- take the time to explain how your trope or work qualifies for the page and add that stuff afterwards. You can still be pithy and funny, as long as we get some idea of the example was added.

This doesn't apply to simple categories, like media types (Film, Comic Book), unless there's some doubt. They either apply or they don't in most cases.

Improving Zero Context Examples

Policy shortcut:

If you see an example that needs context, but don't know the answer yourself, go ahead and tag the entry with {{context}}. This makes a little button like this [context?], which lets people know that this would be a good spot to expand the entry. If the user has been editing recently, you could even leave a nice note on his page asking for expansion.

Note that we are not Wikipedia -- we don't require citations -- but we do want explanations. And remember, a Zero Context Example is simply an example waiting to be expanded. As always, There Is No One True Way.


The classic Zero Context Example

On a work page, this conveys essentially no meaning. Even if there is only one redhead in the story, at least go ahead and label the fiery-haired one.

This classic Zero Context Example is barely acceptable in certain places where the context is obvious, like on a character sheet. But really, wouldn't it be much better if you gave an example of how fiery she actually is? Provide context wherever you can -- even if it's not that great of an example, people can fix it up later.

The policy dodge

An actual trope example from this very wiki, it's awful in about every way. "Trope: This Trope Happens" is actually worse than "Trope", because a reader has to read more words that convey no additional meaning.

This kind of example is not acceptable anywhere.

The lazy policy dodge

An example that was rejected in moderation here. It's awful in every way that the "policy dodge" example above is, and it says that the troper hasn't actually done the work yet.

This kind of example is not acceptable anywhere. If you're going to write the example later, then write the entire example later; don't leave people hanging.

The Shaped Like Itself work

This is even worse on a page like Crazy Awesome, which is subjective anyway. It may well be a superlative example, but if the reader hasn't seen it, he has no way to judge if you're correct or not. Best to pierce the heavens add a longer example.

There are other variants of this, like "Self-explanatory" (nope), or "and HOW!!" (how exactly?), "egregious offender" (how offensive?), "a textbook case" (All The Tropes isn't a school), "That is all" (no, that's nowhere near enough for people who aren't familiar with the work), or "in general" (please be specific), which provide equally little context on their own.

This is also not acceptable anywhere.

The example that's missing vital information
  • While fighting the reborn Emperor and his forces, the Skywalkers came across a cyborg Jedi Knight named Empatojayos Brand who had survived the Purge (barely). He followed them and helped defeat Palpatine, but, as the Sith Lord had transferred his soul from cloned body to cloned body to escape death, he launched his spirit at the infant Anakin Solo. Brand interposed his damaged body in between Palaptine and Anakin and used the Force to bind Palpatine to him as he died, thus ridding the galaxy of the Emperor forever.

The above was listed on "Heroic Sacrifice/Comics", and discovered by a mod while that page was being prepared to be split into "Heroic Sacrifice/Comic Books" and "Heroic Sacrifice/Newspaper Comics". The problem with this example is that it doesn't say which work it's from - Star Wars had both comic books and newspaper comics back in the day. And if it is from one of the comic book runs, which one? As a result, "Heroic Sacrifice/Comics" could not be cleaned up without identifying this work first.

Examples that don't identify the work that they're from are not acceptable anywhere.

The Wiki Walking Stick
  • MacGuffin: A Type 3 example, with a hint of Type 2.

In theory this says a great deal, but it forces the user to click to see something else if they don't have Eidetic Memory. Just go ahead and explain what the Internal Subtropes are, if you're going to use them. Also avoid image or offsite links -- people shouldn't have to click to get the general idea of the trope. Instead of showing off your mastery of trope categories (or image macros), just take the time to explain it in a few words.

Also, if somebody re-writes the trope page to name the subtropes instead of numbering them, "Type 3", "Type 2", and similar cites become worse than useless. (MacGuffin is an example here; it has no numbered subtropes on its page, but it has a long list of named subtropes with their own pages.)

Barely acceptable on the page that classifies the examples; otherwise not acceptable.

The bare essentials
  • Fast Roping: The clone troopers in Episode III employ this trope.

Okay, this tells us something, but not much. Still, it's enough to justify its continued existence on a page. You can definitely do better!

Not acceptable on subjective pages -- particularly on YMMV trope pages and subpages. Because those examples inherently need a justification, you're going to have to explain why you believe the trope is justified. Otherwise, some editor might come in after you and decide that you were completely wrong.

A good example
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The Jedi wear brown robes while the Sith wear black. Stormtroopers wear distinctive white armour and Imperial pilots wear black uniforms, emphasizing their sterility and lack of humanity, while Rebels soldiers wear various green and grey tones.

Finally -- multiple points of reference, and even a bit of explanation of what the trope means. Looking good, buddy.

Acceptable everywhere.

A great example
  • Genius Ditz: Mirai Morisato. Although she initially gives every impression of being nothing more than a fashion-obsessed airhead, as of the events of Code-Name Ultra it's clear that Mirai is a genius at public relations and managing media -- to the point where her airhead persona may actually be little more than Obfuscating Stupidity.

A clear example, a reference to a particular part of a work, and connections with other tropes. A++++ editor would read again!

Acceptable wherever tropes and works are taken.


Policy shortcut:

As mentioned above, places where the context is immediately obvious, even to people with no exposure to the work, are not required to have examples. Character sheets are the best example of this, because one can infer that X character from Y work is an example. Setting pages may also qualify.

Genres are also exempt, as they typically are represented by a collection of tropes -- which is the rest of the page. Also, some tropes like Porn Without Plot -- maybe we're better off not knowing. It's probably a genre anyway.

See Also

And needing to be reviewed: