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April 17, 2014 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Apparently created in a schism over a TV Tropes policy of content restrictions imposed by their advertising contract, All The Tropes covers much the same ground in a more conventional wiki inteface (Mediawiki). posted by Herodios (55 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know. Just glancing through, it seems like they've spent a long time referencing past scuffles with TV Trope's editorial staff as "censorship" by the "moral guardians" and "media watchdogs" with some veiled corporate conspiracy stuff.

I'll keep poking around, but it seems like this is at least partially from the 'silenced all my life' set that is part of every large userbase.
posted by Think_Long at 9:59 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Why we left The Other Tropes Wiki

TV Tropes began a policy of censoring pages in early 2012, in response to pressure from Google AdSense. We felt that we could make a community that would be free from commercial influences, and more responsive to the concerns of the community. For the nitty-gritty, see History.
Nitty-gritty, eh?
All The Tropes:History

There is currently no text in this page.
Well then.
posted by cjelli at 10:05 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


We run all web traffic through SSL.

Whew!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:11 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


And, of course, the AdSense crackdown just happens to coincide with Google's $.5B payout to the US government over AdSense...
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:11 AM on April 17


Screw This, I'm Outta Here!

Damn, there's a trope for every situation!
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:12 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I do remember a purge on TV Tropes a while back where they just completely removed all pages that were even remotely risque (sometimes just from a word in the title) but I thought that was more of a one-time overreaction rather than an ongoing censorship thing.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:16 AM on April 17



To be honest, what interested me here was not the schism, the advertising, or the 'censorship' angles so much as the possibility of getting what I go to TVTropes for through a far less noisey and twitchy interface that might be easier to escape.

 
posted by Herodios at 10:18 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Nitty-gritty, eh?

Linked in "The Situation", which explains what happened with tvtropes and is a copy of what the original site put up to explain why suddenly quite a few pages had been removed or altered.

Short story: tvtropes had a lot of pages about things like lolicon and other somewhat dodgy material, depended on Google advertising, Google found out and cut off ads, admins paniced and cleaned up and tvtropes got a lot more restrictions than the user base was used to.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:22 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Some discussion of the 2012 controversy over TVTropes excising rape tropes in this piece from The MarySue.

Icky but sometimes useful-as-a-reference site Encyclopedia Dramatica has a roundup of TVtropes "drama" over the years. BE WARNED SITE IS NSFW, HAS NSFW ADS. link
posted by Wretch729 at 10:23 AM on April 17


The Geek Feminism Wiki has more details about the page and maybe some of the Trope pages, I believe (I'm on mobile so no link). IIRC many/all pages about rape tropes were removed or renamed without the word "rape."
posted by nicebookrack at 10:26 AM on April 17


huh, this is interesting. I was heavily into tvtropes about 6 years ago. It was basically my main source of finding sweet new things to read. After a while, I started getting diminishing returns - the more I read, the less I found new content.

Maybe forking the community will create a mirror universe where tropes become interesting to me again.
posted by rebent at 10:33 AM on April 17


Maybe forking the community will create a mirror universe where tropes become interesting to me again.

An earlier fork: the Tropes Mirror Wiki.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:35 AM on April 17


"Yeah, well, I'm gonna start my own tropes site! With blackjack! And hookers!"
posted by steveminutillo at 10:47 AM on April 17 [13 favorites]


So sites with "UGC" as we say in the business (user-generated content) are always problematic in conjunction with monetization through AdSense. AdSense has pretty strict policies about sexual material, specificlly:

"AdSense is a family-safe network. Our policy regarding adult or mature content may include any material that is not appropriate for all audiences. " (from here)

If you want to generate money from AdSense, site admins have to be pretty diligent about removing this kind of content or the publisher's entire account will get shut down.

Tv Tropes is not the only site to deal with this issue, even major newspapers deal with it all the time.

I'm sympathetic that there's lots of potentially valid material for TV Tropes that would not be considered "family safe" but AdSense is a good source of revenue for sites like this and there isn't always an alternative that will generate the same amount of money.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Neither side comes off well here, but this turns into a kind of amusing lesson in 'yeah that Creative Commons icon actually means something when you stick it on your site, folks':

TVTropes "But you're plagiarizing our site!"

AllTheTropes "You CC-licensed it. That's what CC-licencing means."

TvT "But -- but you're costing us clicks!"

AtT "We only forked content that is allowed by the license you put on it."

TvT "But that's a dick move!"

fin
posted by ook at 11:00 AM on April 17 [28 favorites]


i don't get how FastEddie doesn't see that
posted by rebent at 11:12 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


We have a website that supports multi-level namespaces, and where any character can be in the title.

And they just lost me. If the titles aren't restricted to Roman letters, I won't be able to find them with searches.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:12 AM on April 17


I was going to say the following, but on the About page it looks like they did exactly that and people didn't like it:



Why couldn't tvtropes just not put adsense on the pages that adsense objects to. They could just not have ads on those pages or alternatively use a different ad provider for those other pages.

If linked pages would need to be hidden because of the title, have them hidden so that when the user clicked to load the links, adsense would be removed from the page and the new content would be loaded.
posted by HappyEngineer at 11:32 AM on April 17




I'll keep poking around, but it seems like this is at least partially from the 'silenced all my life' set that is part of every large userbase.

I suspect that set is a much larger percentage among the TV Tropes crowd. They were trying to put into practice policies like There Is No Such Thing As Notability and thus people who were frustrated that Wikipedia kept deleting their "Wood in popular culture" article would flock to TV Tropes instead.
posted by RobotHero at 11:39 AM on April 17


thanks for the link Divabat. TVtropes makes it sound like they are cutting sexy stuff because (a) think of the children! (b) eww deviants. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this experiment - will the new one be overrun with deviants?
posted by rebent at 11:52 AM on April 17


As long as they're creating a new trope wiki, I wish they'd address some of the other problems with TV Tropes: the fetish for "clever" trope names (which often give no indication of what the trope is actually about, and often depend on familiarity with a specific work to make any sense); the digressive writing style that takes several paragraphs to get to the actual description of the trope; the laundry lists of "related" tropes that aren't...

I mean, it's a fun site. But I swear, the main reason I end up with 30 tabs open is that Trope A is always explained in terms of Tropes B through Z, whose clever names rarely offer any clue to their meaning, so you have to look up all of *those* tropes, only to find the same problem. I get that they're trying to express sometimes complex ideas in a few words, and that they aren't trying to be a "real" encyclopedia, but a *smidge* more of an encyclopedic approach would benefit the site, I think. Right now it's more a tangle of in-jokes and insider references.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:26 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


Note that Divabat's link is from 2012. This fork is inspired by stuff that has simmered since then, even since before then, but it's obvious that TVtropes has continued to function relatively smoothly since the 2012 controversy.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:32 PM on April 17


Yeah, but it's TVTropes. In-jokes and insider references is like 99% of what they do, yanno?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:33 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:39 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


I love the clever names! One of the best: Ice Cream Koan
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:40 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but it's TVTropes. In-jokes and insider references is like 99% of what they do, yanno?

"I wish the Nazis would stop killing Jews."

"Yeah, but they're Nazis, y'know? It's what they do."

I'm just saying that I'd like TV Tropes to stop doing some of that, or for an alternative site with a slightly different approach to come along. Which is a textbook example of a first-world problem, of course. I suppose I'll survive.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:54 PM on April 17


"I wish the Nazis would stop killing Jews."

"Yeah, but they're Nazis, y'know? It's what they do."


This troper says: That escalated quickly
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:01 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]




As someone that has been slapped down by the Adsense Policy team, there's no reason to "purge" pages from TV Tropes, you simply make those pages ad-free. They're identifying pages one by one, they certainly could just code up a way to strip Google's Ads from those pages, so everyone gets all the information possible, plus nothing violates Adsense policy and the site can continue going on making revenue off all the other pages.

We do this here at MeFi, sex-related questions at Ask MeFi are ad-free using a variety of methods. I find the policy dumb and annoying when related to text of adults talking about sexual health, but understand it's really made to discourage ads next to sexually explicitly images and videos on a page.
posted by mathowie at 1:07 PM on April 17 [10 favorites]


It's also because AdWords makes promises to advertisers about what sort of pages their ads will appear on. There's a significant portion of advertisers who don't want to advertise on pages with sexual content.
posted by GuyZero at 1:14 PM on April 17


So, does that mean I have to refer to Wikipedia as The Other Other Wiki now?
posted by ckape at 1:16 PM on April 17


While not a complete and total answer, this paragraph sounds like a fairly decent reason for this new Tropes website to exist:

While we're a lot less formal than a scientific paper, we believe that there is value to be had in looking at the tropes in famous works like Deep Throat, La Blue Girl, and Lolita (yes, even that was briefly banned). These works may be popular with some, but they address an important part of the human condition.

IMDB now lists porn stars, IIRC. Maybe the time has come to stop pretending there's an insurmountable and unmistakeable demarcation between "legitimate" cinema and the rest.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:20 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


> there's no reason to "purge" pages from TV Tropes, you simply make those pages ad-free.

It sounds like they did that in 2010 (The Google Incident) by putting up a "curtain", but more problems occurred in 2012, The Second Google Incident
After The Google Incident, the problem with Google Adsense was thought solved: Adsense was disabled on pages contrary to Google's policy, and some alternate advertisers were found to reduce the wiki's dependency to it. This proved not to be enough when somebody complained to Google about the Naughty Tentacles page (which already had Adsense disabled), and Google pulled the plug again.
also what Wretch729 said.
posted by morganw at 1:39 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


As a long-time troper, this is fine with me. The whole censorship topic aside, TVTropes moderation has for several years pursued a policy of stripping out flavor in favor of SEO. They're not very competent about it, but it's been enough to deaden my taste for it. Maybe a place less dependent on clicks will foster a more interesting body of content.
posted by darksasami at 1:43 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Please do not get mad at Google. It won't help the situation, and could make it worse. They have no legal or moral obligation to support this site.

I'm going to go ahead and get mad at Google anyway. "No legal or moral obligation" doesn't mean free to be jerks.

IMDB now lists porn stars, IIRC. Maybe the time has come to stop pretending there's an insurmountable and unmistakeable demarcation between "legitimate" cinema and the rest.

So, here it is 2014 and we've finally caught up with the 70s.

We do this here at MeFi, sex-related questions at Ask MeFi are ad-free using a variety of methods.

Huh, I did not know that! However, elsewhere it mentions that even a single reference on a page could cause it to violate the AdSense TOS, and being a wiki any user could spontaneously create such a reference. The only real solution would be to have people look at edits before they went live, which is antithetical to the wiki paradigm. Also, on preview, morganw's comment.

The whole censorship topic aside, TVTropes moderation has for several years pursued a policy of stripping out flavor in favor of SEO.

Hear hear! I'm not a troper, but I've noticed in the past several great page titles getting changed to something a lot blander. Hopefully the new site will be freer to make those little in-jokes.
posted by JHarris at 1:48 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about this site is that many pages have links to relevent Haiku.
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on April 17


I like the Laconic pages too, which are very brief restatements of tropes.
posted by JHarris at 1:55 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I wish someone would produce a fork that returns all the wacky incomprehensible names that they've been purging recently. I'm happy to have one with generic descriptive terms too, but one of the joys of life is accumulating a supply of strange phrases that refer to complex ideas. In fact, that's one of the central purposes of literature and art as far as I'm concerned. That's basically how we get new words too, for that matter. The nice thing about a catch-phrase-reference is that it conures the ur-case right inside it, like a nice etymology; and the nice thing about a website is that, unlike a bunch of exclusionary twerps at a party, there's plenty of room to look up the definition and original source and play along. In fact, I'd be surprised if the average time spent wandering the website hasn't declined with the reduction in the incomprehensible.

We could likewise replace this crazy English we speak with a rationalized Esperanto, but it would be sad to lose all that compressed linguistic history. Imagine reading a dictionary where every word was just a three-word phrase summarizing its meaning! (Wait, you don't read dictionaries...?) Anyway, I've been quite sad to see all that getting deleted on TV Tropes. At least half the joy for me of reading the site is discovering the original case that caused someone to say "ah, this is a *thing*!" Really great novelists spit out realizations like that page after page. Leave the mere catalog of cliches to someone boringer -- maybe bequeath Oxford a fork.
posted by chortly at 2:09 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


"In fact, forget the Tropes and the blackjack!"
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:33 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Stuff like kick the dog and MacGuffin originated when someone needed a term for something. And they caught on because other people felt that was something they wanted a term to describe.

I think the trouble with the cutesy names arises when the Tropers start acting like it's a competition.
posted by RobotHero at 2:35 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


I never understood TV Tropes. It's basically a list of really obvious things found in that ever-subtle medium television. And people watch shows then go online to confirm that the plot points and characterization the writers just beat them over the head with are, in fact, not at all difficult to interpret.

I'm not a snob, I'll watch TV. Heck I'll watch True Blood and I'll enjoy it. Rarely do I need it explained to me.
posted by fshgrl at 2:50 PM on April 17


And the "Playing With" links go to examples of tropes that have undergone the "Standard Transformations" list on the Playing With A Trope page.

I'm not a snob, I'll watch TV. Heck I'll watch True Blood and I'll enjoy it. Rarely do I need it explained to me.

TVTropes and like sites don't exist to explain, but to identify and categorize. They're things we've all seen, just explicated. If it's just something you've seen five different shows do, with varying degrees of subtlety, it might not ever register beyond a vague sense. To see people put a name to it and lay out, exhaustively, a hundred other places where it's also done, that's valuable, both for viewers and for later writers, who might be interested in seeing how it's been done elsewhere.
posted by JHarris at 3:11 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Yeah, there's a bit of a difference between 'they banned Lolita (briefly)!' and a slightly different explication later in the same page, about letting the lolicon go free and dismissive references to hug boxes for the TVTropes admins.

So I'm a bit between 'there was too much censorship' and 'the new tropes pages will have even more anime references and detailed examinations of the 'Mean Girl' trope as used in all the hentai'.

But I was finding the TVTropes page much, much less interesting to visit once it got to the level of 'Dog in background: a common trope in TV shows is to have a dog in the background. Here is where that happened. Here is where it was subverted by being a cat.'
posted by gadge emeritus at 4:33 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


"Here is an example of that trope where the dog is in the foreground because the poster of this example didn't understand what they were reading."
posted by rifflesby at 6:20 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I find the policy dumb and annoying when related to text of adults talking about sexual health, but understand it's really made to discourage ads next to sexually explicitly images and videos on a page.

Sounds like what the Tories in the UK did to "protect children online". Yes, I'm comparing Our Proud Leaders at Google with David Cameron. There will soon be a sub-trope for Godwin's Law that "sooner or later, all internet censorship arguments lead to Cameron AdSense".
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:24 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


fshgrl: I never understood TV Tropes. It's basically a list of really obvious things found in that ever-subtle medium television. And people watch shows then go online to confirm that the plot points and characterization the writers just beat them over the head with are, in fact, not at all difficult to interpret.

It's not just TV—it covers pretty much every narrative medium, including film, literature, video games, and more. And, as the wiki itself often notes, many tropes are older than TV (or radio, or print, or even older). To study tropes is, in part, to study the historical and cultural evolution of fiction and media.

And that's the whole point, really—no one goes to TV Tropes because they didn't understand the latest episode of The Walking Dead or whatever. They go there to explore and map out the tools that storytellers use to tell stories—because some people find that sort of thing interesting for its own sake.

Maybe you're interpreting the word "trope" to mean "cliché"? An individual execution of a trope can certainly be cliché, and some tropes are so tired or clunky that any attempt to use them is likely to be cliché—but tropes are not clichés.

Tropes are devices—a common language of storytelling conventions, symbols, forms, and shorthand that has evolved over time. The iconography of religious art is a good parallel. Tropes are simply the individual atoms from which narrative is built. Some works use them more elegantly than others, but they're always there.

Take a look at some of the tropes of Japanese visual art, which are less familiar to us as Westerners. What does the little white thing next to this character's mouth mean? Or the giant drop of liquid on this character's head? What, if anything, are we meant to infer about this character based on his epic sideburns? As a non-anime-fan, I could only have guessed—but any Japanese kid (or American fan of Japanese media) could tell you immediately. They work for fans of the genre because they've internalized that symbolic language.

Cinematographic conventions are a kind of trope—the angles that are chosen, the directions people face, the relative sizes and positions of things on the screen, the way things line up (or don't), the way shots are edited together, all encode information that helps to tell the story. Most of the time, you don't even realize the devices are there, because you're able to decipher the information effortlessly and automatically. But, again, you can only do that because you've learned and internalized the language.

Tropes can also illuminate broader cultural issues. MetaFilter has extensively covered the way that different racial, sexual, cultural, and gender groups are portrayed in the media, for better and for worse. What we're talking about there, basically, is tropes.

Even if you put the sociopolitical stuff aside, exploring tropes (and the ways in which they differ from, or relate to, reality) helps to put the nature of fiction and reality, and their relationship to each other, in perspective.

I mean, one shouldn't overstate things: TV Tropes is, first and foremost, just a bunch of nerds having fun dissecting entertainment media. But aside from the choice of works being examined, and the lighthearted tone, it's really not that different than literature nerds analyzing theme and in Shakespeare, or painting nerds analyzing the composition of Renaissance art, or mythology nerds analyzing the themes and elements of different cultures' myths. Maybe that's not your thing, which is totally cool, but I think you're misunderstanding what the whole endeavor is about.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:21 PM on April 17 [18 favorites]


gadge emeritus: But I was finding the TVTropes page much, much less interesting to visit once it got to the level of 'Dog in background: a common trope in TV shows is to have a dog in the background. Here is where that happened. Here is where it was subverted by being a cat.'

Yeah, that's another problem with TV Tropes, for sure. There are probably (oh-so-wittily named) entries for "eating French fries with a hamburger", "people sleeping in beds", and "cars that are painted blue". I get the feeling that some tropers don't really understand what the word "trope" means.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:26 PM on April 17


escape from the potato planet: I'm working on a new trope via their You Know That Thing Where system and it's a lot stricter than I anticipated.
posted by divabat at 7:30 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


My frustration with TV Tropes is one that can only come from previously being one of them. They had a stock phrase, People Sitting On Chairs, as an example of what not to do, in order to stem the tide of entries for "cars painted blue" or "dog in background."

There were people who would interpret Sitting On Chairs on the basis of frequency. So, for example, they'd think it's okay to do "hamster in background" or "cars painted pink" just on the basis that they are less common. But the people on You Know That Thing Where will call out the worst examples of that.



I believe the TV Tropes definition of "trope" at the time said "you know it when you see it." Which clearly many people do not.

If I cared enough to make a fork, my fork would have a restriction that you couldn't edit the wiki until you'd completed a quiz.
posted by RobotHero at 8:44 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I love TV Tropes, but having essentially the same thing minus the Google ads and plus the porn = me hitting overload. Oy vey.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:38 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


TVTropes: for people who think critical analysis = travel bingo.
posted by Legomancer at 5:49 AM on April 18


I never understood TV Tropes. It's basically a list of really obvious things found in that ever-subtle medium television.

It's a dictionary.

I'll keep poking around, but it seems like this is at least partially from the 'silenced all my life' set that is part of every large userbase.

Very much so. There's no reason a site specializing in risqué content couldn't cheerfully coexist with TV tropes. It didn't need to be a competitor.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:33 AM on April 18


There's no reason a site specializing in risqué content couldn't cheerfully coexist with TV tropes.

It already had been: Fetish Fuel Wiki, which seems to be a spin-off from TV Tropes to house sexytimes content.
posted by JHarris at 1:14 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]




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