All The Tropes:Everything You Wanted to Know About Changing Names

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This needs to be made more ATT-specific. There are references to TVT mechanisms like crowners below that have no counterparts here.


...But were too afraid to ask.

Though we hate to admit it, the concept of renaming tropes has pretty much become Serious Business on this wiki. In some particularly bad cases, debates about renaming have even degenerated into Flame Wars, which is plain uncool. For this reason, we've crafted up a basic rename strategy to answer the questions of when, and how, tropes are to be renamed.

The first part of the strategy is that a trope should never be renamed without discussion. Discussion is done in the Trope Talk forum. The idea is to hear everyone out, consider the relevant arguments and reach general agreement as to what should be done.

We're not big on rules, but we do have some guidelines about which arguments carry weight and which don't. If you're thinking of proposing a rename, you should first figure out whether you have a valid and concrete case against the current title. We don't change titles for no reason; all other things being equal, keeping an existing title is better. Below are the most common reasons to rename or not rename, but you are free to bring up other arguments if you think they're relevant.

Good arguments for keeping an existing name

  • Renaming is not a magic solution to all of a page's problems. If some issue isn't the name's fault, there's little sense in trying to fix that issue by renaming. If renaming could help but there's another, better way to deal with the issue, that's still a good reason to try that way instead. Redirects Are Free, for example. If the main issues with a name are that it's overly long or difficult to spell, an intuitive redirect may be a better solution than renaming the trope.
  • A large number of inbound links indicates that the current name is generating "buzz", being linked from outside the wiki and generating traffic for us. The higher the inbound count, the stronger this argument is. If it can be further shown that these inbound links are resulting from bona fide conversational use of the name outside All The Tropes, this means the name has gained traction outside the wiki and is a very good reason to keep it. For details, see Analyzing Inbounds.
  • If the name is already an established term in the outside world, that's a good reason to keep it (assuming its outside-world meaning is related to the trope). When making this claim, it is recommended to show outside proof thereof; the strength of this argument depends on how widely the term is in use. The article should have the name with the meaning that is used by the widest number of people.
  • No (or negligible) misuse in the wicks (in-wiki links) means that the title isn't confusing our editors into thinking it's something else. For details, see How to Do A Wick Check.
Some tropers believe wick/inbound checks are nigh-essential to ground the discussion in facts; other tropers believe that in some cases they are irrelevant and insisting on them is obstructive. Whatever you do, don't get dragged into "your argument doesn't count!" "No, your argument doesn't count!" Rules Lawyering meta-arguments. Those never help.
  • If a name is just evocative in a way that some bland alternative cannot hope to emulate, leaving it be becomes a more attractive option. This is often due to the Rule of Funny, Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama.
  • All other things being equal, keeping the current name is better - if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Lack of a good argument for renaming is a good argument for not renaming (and the converse is not true). This means that if someone brings up an argument for renaming, pointing out weaknesses in it stands on its own as an argument for keeping the current name.

Good arguments for changing an existing name to a new name

  • The name is Unclear -- it fails to indicate what the trope is about, and thus undermines our goal of making the trope as accessible to as great a portion of our readership as possible. This includes titles that have nothing to do with the trope, using technical terms that mean something else in everyday speech, or names that rely on familiarity with a particular work to make sense.
If you think a name is unclear, remember that you are required to make substantial arguments and provide substantial evidence that the name is really unclear to actual readers, and that this lack of clarity exists outside your imagination. There are all sorts of ways to do this; you can use a Wick Check, an Inbound Check, Google result analysis or a dictionary, to name a few. Just saying "this is totally unclear" is not an argument in and of itself.
This is really a subset of the "unclear" issue outlined earlier. As before, explain how naming this trope after the character is unclear, and be prepared to provide substantial evidence. While a common issue, this isn't automatically a warrant to rename.
  • Everything's Worse With Snowclones. Too often the, ah, cleverness of a snowclone can obscure the fact that a name doesn't quite fit the trope it's supposed to describe. If the snowclone doesn't make sense outside of the context of the original, or doesn't make sense inside the context of the original, it's misleading.
  • A trend of the name being misused -- as in, the trope's supposed "examples" are often not actually examples, or many of the wicks are wrong. This might be because the title suggests a trope broader than, or subtly different from, the actual definition.
  • The trope is suffering from disuse - as in, it has significantly less wicks or inbounds than it's supposed to. Deciding how many wicks or inbounds a trope is "supposed to" have can be a bit of a problem, so this argument is best used in clear-cut cases, or when there are other tropes we can compare against. For details, see How to Do A Wick Check and Analyzing Inbounds.
  • The name seems unnecessarily subjective - that is, it's outright spiteful or laudatory, but the trope isn't a YMMV item. Sometimes the trope itself is unnecessarily subjective; in that case, it's better to first discuss what to do with the trope.
  • If a trope has the same title as a work of fiction, except if that title is a common established term for that trope.
  • We no longer name tropes after a line of dialogue or a Stock Phrase. It risks editors wikilinking the phrase every time that particular combination of words occurs, whether the underlying trope actually applies in that context or not.
  • "Trope" used as a placeholder word (e.g. "More [Tropes] Than God", "Gonna Need More [Trope] ") is now deprecated, as it misuses the word "trope".
  • Acronym or initialism trope names. We generally prefer the title spelled out unless it has profanity (for example: the BFG trope, or Big Fucking Gun).
  • If a trope was launched prematurely from YKTTW before consensus was reached about a title and a description, it should probably get sent right back.

What to do if you think a rename is called for.

Bring it up in the Trope Talk forum. Include your reasons for thinking it is broken in the opening post. Threads begun without reasons or supporting evidence will be summarily nuked.

What happens after you bring it up

First of all: As long as there is no consensus to rename, you should leave the name be. Consensus does not mean a simple majority. While there's no hard-and-fast rule for what constitutes consensus, for renames we generally look for at least a 2:1 ratio in favor -- that is, twice as many people think it should be changed as think it shouldn't.

Oh, and one more thing...

Be civil. If people won't see your point of view, being abrasive will not make things go your way. It's just a trope, and if it ends up with a title you don't like, that's not the end of the world.

We've given you all the weapons you need to conduct yourself in a renaming proposition. Debate away! Have Fun!

And if the page is renamed...

We use the MediaWiki "DEFAULTSORT" tag on pages whose names start with "a/an", "the" or a punctuation mark to make sure they sort into the right order on category pages and elsewhere. If the old name started that way, delete the DEFAULTSORT tag, which should be at the very end of the page, below the categories. (Otherwise it's going to sort wrong!) If the new name starts that way, make sure to add one. Code them like this:

  • If the page name is like The Page Starting with An Article, add {{DEFAULTSORT:Page Starting with An Article, The}} at the bottom.
  • If the page name is like "Quote Marks" Start The Name, add {{DEFAULTSORT:Quote Marks Start The Name}}.