Saturday, June 18, 2011

History: CROWBAR

I had realized that much of TV Tropes quality control protocols and policies were not working. Unfortunately, any attempt I made to seriously broach these topics in the forums met with failure- before any discussion could even start as to whether to fix the problems, most of the time forumites simply refused to acknowledge that any problems existed. At best they would acknowledge the problem, but simply assume it was a problem that would always exist and thus there was no way of stopping it. In an effort to try to force some sort of action on the wiki's issues I tried to develop an in-wiki organization called CROWBAR.

CROWBAR (Coalition for the Restoration of Original Wiki-Based Article Repair) was based on the same basic principles as SPOON (Society for the Prevention of Overly Original Names), an old wiki-based organization whose members made a proactive effort on YKTTW to discourage non-intuitive names from being used for titles. CROWBAR was envisioned, like SPOON, as having no real power, and would serve primarily to show that a broad variety of tropers did not like the often arbitrary enforcement of trope repair protocols.

The single greatest obstacle to making any headway in the forum is the dogged insistence by forumites in general and moderators specifically that no real opposition to the quality control protocols exist. Every time I or anyone else wrote something to the effect of "lots of people on the wiki are real cheesed off about the way Trope Repair Shop operates", proof would be demanded that such tropers existed, since they did not participate in these forum discussions. A membership list I could point to and say "here is a list of people who want change" was about the only response I could think of that would satisfy this demand.

Now, it must be noted that the moderators were not so dense as to claim that no opposition existed- criticism of the wiki exists outside it, and every so often a disgruntled casual troper creates an accusatory thread in Wiki Talk. These dissidents were dismissively labelled as "sour grapes". This term came up so often and with so little explanation I think it's likely another product of clandestine moderator conversations.

Unfortunately, my plan ultimately failed. The first, and main obvious reason for this was a failure on my part to accept basic troper psychology. Not everyone knows very much about what exactly goes on in Trope Repair Shop- indeed, many tropers primarily blame Fast Eddie for the wiki's problems, when in reality most of his decisions (or lack thereof) take their lead from discussions in the forums. Beyond that, I've already mentioned how many tropers have no idea any problems exist because they only visit one part of the wiki where (as far as they know) no problems exist.

There was another darker element to my failure as well. Many of the individuals I asked refused to sign up for CROWBAR because they were scared of being banned. These were primarily forumites- not in Trope Repair Shop, but in the more communal forums like Yack Fest, It Just Bugs Me, and Roleplaying. Try as I would to convince them that such a fear was unreasonable, that no one had been banned for openly discussing wiki direction, some valued the community too much to take that risk anyway.

Incidentally, these reasons are why this blog does not mention any wiki handles save for my own. If tropers are really scared of reprisals, I have to respect their wishes. Admittedly, I had already been banned once, and I knew I was taking a risk trying to recruit anyone. I wanted at least a couple dozen troper handles signed up before I made a page simply to insure that the whole enterprise wasn't dismised as "sour grapes". I never made that quota- finding dissident tropers to contact was difficult enough, but I also still dedicated most of my TV Tropes time to trying to edit pages into a more readable form. I was increasingly getting the feeling that if I didn't do this work, no one else would.

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