Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Purpose of this Blog

Three years ago I happened upon a site called TV Tropes. You may have heard of it. For those who haven't, TV Tropes is a wiki that deals with the archiving of tropes, the rhetorical devices used in fiction to tell stories. It's a very broad definition- chances are just about any event or character you've ever seen in a work of fiction manifests multiple tropes. The site's purpose is to define them all- no simple feat, as there's far more tropes in fiction than we can at this point realistically count. It's quite literally unknown territory. This is the reason why TV Tropes still has strong editor contributions on a daily basis adding new and largely unedited information- the site is the first place to define many of these things. Contrast Wikipedia, where much of the contributor angle has devolved into fighting over scraps of new information, since so much of the notable world has already been defined.

The purpose of this blog is not to discuss tropes, at least directly. One thing I'd been keenly interested in every since I joined the site was where it came from and where it was headed. A clear explanation of the early history of TV Tropes has not been compiled in an easily findable space- my own understanding of the timeline is quite hazy. But somewhere along the way, something queer happened. While the baseline of the site (it's about tropes) is unchanged, there's been a great deal of action behind the scenes that defines how the wiki is moderated. I myself was responsible for much of this- I spearheaded many of the early renames, crowners, and page action decisions. I pushed for the creation of Trope Repair Shop and had a hand in most of the modifications that brought it to its present form- Trope Repair Shop is actually about the sixth name and purpose that was crafted for it.

I've realized that having contributed so much to TV Tropes that I myself have become an authority on its history, at least over the last three years- and I am quite possibly the only one remaining with much of an interest in explaining what exactly brought it to the place it is today. Most of the other tropers involved in this process were either only present for some of the modifications or have since become moderators themselves. The former only hold an incomplete picture of what happened, and the latter, well...

One thing I wish to make clear is that this blog is not about gossip or blaming people. I'll be upfront on one fact- I do not like the direction that wiki repair procedures took. I regret that I acted as I did in pushing for changes in the past, because I believe many of these ideas were badly flawed and have resulted in an ineffective infrastructure that is unresponsive to most of the wiki's real problems. This includes an unwillingness to acknowledge the fact that Trope Repair Shop is a source of resentment for many casual tropers and that most of us want to see a serious effort to reform repair protocols.

This is why I feel it's necessary for me to start writing about what happened to the site- people have a right to know. Most of the old discussions relating to the issues I plan to discuss in this blog were deleted some time ago for bandwidth reasons. Few remember what was discussed in these posts, and even fewer have considered the idea that the directions these discussions took may be of interest. If anyone besides me has a recollection feel free to speak up, as it's entirely possible I'm not remembering the whole picture myself.

The blog will try to distinguish between history and editorial. My opinions on the direction of TV Tropes are somewhat infamous, and need to be taken in mind when reading my posts. Be that as it may I will try, to the best of my ability, to avoid claiming that other tropers used such-and-such reasoning to oppose such-and-such point in a subjectively negative manner. I hope my decision to not give the names of any tropers (aside from my own, of course) will assist in this endeavor, though I will confirm the identities of anyone who correctly claims to be part of any group who I describe.

That's what I'm starting out with. Future posts, I promise, will be more clearly written with the title of the blog in mind.


  1. Why are you taking it so seriously?

    You aren't....mad, are you?

    1. Elfour: are you sure you're not taking things too seriously? The individuals who've written about, and by extension, left TVTropes, are usually trying to piece together what has happened, after they had sunk so much time into the community.

      I'm not sure if you've been following, but SomeGuy was banned from TVTropes after June 30, 2011. He was left to deal with the ban, having sunk nearly four years of time into the site with the aim of improving it, and tried to express his frustrations here because in effect, he had spent time towards TVTropes that might otherwise be spent doing something productive.

      Presently, SomeGuy has left next to no trace of his former activities, and although I'd like to get in touch with him to speak further, I imagine that probably won't happen.