Sunday, April 3, 2011

History: Trope Repair Shop

The main initial issue with Trope Repair Shop was over what we should call it. Though there were multiple titles and nearly all of them were given a brief trial period as the "real" title while we tried to figure out what fit, I can only remember two. "Trope Fixin'" was rejected as a title because some thought it implied that any trope that appeared in its annals was somehow broken- many objections to other titles were over the same implication. Another titles was very long- something along the lines of "Discussion Place where we decide whether Tropes do or do not need to be acted upon". That's probably not even close to what the title actually was, but the name wasn't important so much as it was supposed to be an example of a perfectly described name. Which everyone naturally hated because it was really, really long.

In truth there's really not much to discuss about Trope Repair Shop's beginnings. The founding principle was simply the request I made in regards to The Dark Knight Trilogy- make a forum where multiple solutions can be considered. Aside from the implications that the final title had on Trope Repair Shop's authority, no one saw much purpose in trying to define what exactly Trope Repair Shop's authority was in the first place.

What's more relevant is the subtle changes made to the wiki that had made the idea of Trope Repair Shop being headquartered in the forums more palatable. One of these is metaphorical- when I first began making edits to the wiki, Janitor was the main admin who handled wiki moderation. Janitor primarily frequented the discussion pages, and as authority shifted away from discussion pages to the forums, her role became less visible. I can't remember ever actually seeing her after Trope Repair Shop was created, though her opinions were occasionally mentioned by Fast Eddie, the remaining admin who was more frequently seen in the forums.

Trope Repair Shop's creation also happened in the midst of the broader forum's development as a community where people came, not necessarily to discuss tropes, but merely whatever was on their mind. This led to the promotion of the wiki's first forum-centered moderator. Previously there had been admins, who held power over all the wiki, and Cut Masters, who held power over the Cut List. The new moderator held sway only over the forums. This may not sound so fantastic, but bear in mind that until this point all tropers were considered equal, and capable of moderating each other's behavior. The increasing size of the wiki had forced this belief to yield way to the practicalities of dealing with typical forum drama.

Over the several months after arrival at the forums and before Trope Repair Shop's final name, there had already been much turnover in forum regulars. In between the expansion of the forums and the wiki's greater traffic, many users simply grew tired of the debates held over trope renames, and moved on to other, more interesting parts of the wiki. This fact didn't seem important to me at the time, as I was willing to discuss renames with anyone, but has become important in the broader terms of the wiki's history as I became part of an ever dwindling group who knew the full history of the procedures.

Also over this time, the backlash against renames had grown, and was stronger then than it ever had been before. As one of the reasons for moving rename discussions into the forums had been that the process would be more transparent, and thus people would not have so much cause to get angry, this was becoming an increasing cause of concern.

Overall, though, the main important change had nothing to do with the content matter. The site was just becoming more popular. More factions were created, and existing factions splintered into smaller fragments to deal with more specific wiki issues. Trope Repair Shop, as its name came to be hated, was unaware of all this. For that matter, so was I.

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