“Maybe it’s time we all stop trying to outsmart the truth and let it have its day.” -Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight Rises
At 1435 on Sunday, August 14 in 2011, the TV Tropes administration closed the vote that was to decide whether or not Troper Tales, an infamous component of TV Tropes, would be retained or moved off-site. The section had long attracted individuals with self-aggrandising tendencies, providing them a place to illustrate to the world how their lives supposedly satisfied criteria set out by a particular trope. Their removal had a major impact on the site: the visitors and contributors who came solely for the Troper Tales found that their community had suddenly been taken down. Subsequently, some of these individuals left the site in protest, leaving behind little of their presence, while others challenged the administration concerning the Troper Tales and were subsequently banned for sabre-rattling. The week it took to reach this decision is known amongst a few as the One-Week War, after a similarly exhausting event in the Universal Century. The event had succeeded in dampening individual’s interests in Troper Tales across the internet even to this day, although it marked the beginning of the end for the original community at TV Tropes.
Presently, TV Tropes is one of the largest aggregations of psuedo-intellectualists online: contrasting legitimate intellectuals and academics, psuedo-intellectuals aim to use academic methodologies for the intent of intimidating or commanding respect from other individuals about often-trivial topics (especially anime), rather than following academia for the sake of attaining new knowledge. In other words, such individuals seek nothing more than personal gain through their pretensions, striving for respect by deceiving others into believing that their opinions hold a greater weight than they actually do. This issue has plagued TV Tropes since the end of the One-Week War, although its origins extend a ways beyond the consequences that had arisen from the One-Week War.
The removal of the Troper Tales represented only the beginning point for the issues that would come to light regarding the TV Tropes community. The site had reached its apex in summer 2010, acting as a place where individuals could talk about a diverse range of matters in the company of largely well-read individuals. Discussions remained civil and productive for the most part, contrasting many other communities online, providing a more relaxed atmosphere. One of my friends, NinjaClown, was a part of this community during this era, and had introduced me to TV Tropes as a witty time killer that distinguished itself from other sites. I myself delved into the editing community and provided substantial contributions to the site, while NinjaClown participated in interesting discussions with other community members. However, by October 2010, the First Google Incident broke out after some of the materials at TV Tropes caused Google to withdraw advertisements from the site. The aforementioned materials had arisen as a consequence of the growing presence of unsafe materials considered by anime fans to be relevant to a work. The community had tolerated that under the hopes of maintaining an open community, but the prevalence of such materials eventually led to violations, resulting in Google’s decisions. Between October 27 and November 9, while I was busying myself with organic chemistry and data structures, TV Tropes’ administrator and moderator team worked around the clock to bring the site up to standard. They eventually succeeded: TV Tropes appeared to had survived a trying time, and it was around this time the administrators began implementing stricter controls on what content would be permissible with the site’s objectives in light of the questionable contributions some anime fans felt to be necessary. However, before even a month following this incident had elapsed, one of the most controversial decisions had been made: while there are currently no records of the event, somewhere during December 2010, the It Just Bugs Me (IJBM) subforum was removed after a closed-door discussion between the moderators and administrators. NinjaClown was a participant in the IJBM community, a close-knit group that conversed on a diverse range of materials. While the community was not perfect, and some controversial posts occasionally had arisen, the sense of community had been strong amongst the subforum’s participants. A group of individuals feeling particularly hostile towards IJBM eventually began a concerted operation: coordinating their efforts via IRC, they flagged hundreds of posts in the IJBM subforum indiscriminately, which in turn drew the moderators’ attention.
- For readers short on time, this article can be summarised as discussing the events that lead TV Tropes to reach its present state, and that the current community’s faults and shortcomings are a direct consequence of incapable moderation staff and a community whose existence seems little more than validation of other’s opinions. These limitations in the current community therefore preclude any possibility of considering the site’s contents to hold any value.
After short-lived deliberations, the moderators decided that the effort to maintain “order” in IJBM was too costly and, without consulting the community, agreed to quietly shut it down. The move had fractured the community: many had viewed such an action as unilateral, and several well-known IJBM members, including NinjaClown, would spearhead the formation of It Just Bugs Me (IJBM), an off-shoot of the original TV Tropes community. The removal of IJBM from TV Tropes proper, followed by the removal of several other site components between January and April 2011, led some members to leave in protest, and resulting in other members being banned permanently. These moves were controversial, with some being beneficial (dissuading anime fans with perverse interests from returning), while others proved detrimental to the community (most notably, IJBM). While some members of IJBM continued to be active posters at TV Tropes, most of the former IJBM members found a new home at their off-shoot site, where they continued to enjoy discussions in relative peace. While this peace was occasionally interrupted by former TV Tropes members arriving and complaining about this and that, IJBM proved to have largely retained the sense of community from its past at the TV Tropes forums.
- Individuals before NinjaClown and myself have experienced similar problems with TV Tropes. A private conversation with NinjaClown led to this post formulating: he wished to emphasise that this post exists because the world needs to know the truth about TV Tropes, even if it doesn’t deserve to. Thus, NinjaClown requested that this post was to be created to summarise our experiences.
The administration cited that the number of large deletions and removal of parts of the community were made in the name of making the site more family-friendly: these changes had given moderators the power to suppress discussion and remove elements from the site at will. While the administration and moderators can be seen as draconian, it is important to note that these changes had arisen from the uncivil conduct perpetrated by new members in the community. These new members are thus responsible for the directions TV Tropes have taken; by June 2011, new members with delusions of grandeur began contributing a substantial number of troper tales. These tales were beginning to reach the ears of other communities, resulting in ridicule and giving rise to the notion that the average troper was self-satisfied, complacent and thoroughly believing that their opinions and lives were somehow relevant. The increasing number of troper tales also pushed the wiki away from its original purpose. Despite the implementation of a new system, irrelevant troper tales kept on being submitted.
The One-Week War
Troper tales was originally a subsection of TV Tropes that permitted its contributors (tropers) to share and read personal anecdotes about how some trope descriptions fit in with their experiences. On paper, this was a fairly simple concept: people generally have interesting stories that they enjoy sharing, so troper tales could be thought of as TV Trope’s equivalent of swapping stories over a coffee. Indeed, some tropes can be applied and result in some interesting stories, but other tropes engender a unique set of problems. The troper tales were a source of contention within the TV Tropes community, compounded by other communities considering that side of the site to be on par with other infamous websites in terms of notoriety. The administration turned a deaf ear over to requests to remove particularly troubling stories from the section, citing that tropers had every right to talk about their lives. However, the increasing number of unbelievable, inappropriate entries in troper tales would lead numerous communities to brand the TV Tropes contributor as a troubled anime fan with superiority complexes. The associated negativity discouraged visitors from joining the community, and existing members of the TV Tropers community increasingly felt that the site’s reputation should not be dictated by one bad section.
- The post itself has somewhere around 3620 words minus the figure captions and is a long read. I’ve interspersed some pictures here and there to liven the contents up without introducing too many as to disrupt the flow of the passage.
On the evening of August 7, 2011, the opening shots of the One-Week War (OWW) were fired. Members of the TV Tropes community created a poll to determine whether a majority of the community were interested in removing all of the troper tales in one stroke, and along with it, the egotistical and inappropriate entries that had long plagued TV Tropes. Countless other members of the community concurred with this branch of thought; a vote was started to determine whether or not troper tales should be removed. The vote began overwhelmingly in favour of removing troper tales, but parties interested in retaining them soon made their opinions heard. During the course of the OWW, the vote changed directions multiple times, during which tropers supporting both positions presented their outlooks on why their positions held weight over the other. Members of IJBM saw an opportunity to remove the problematic elements (and individuals) from TVTropes, returning to assist the voting efforts and discussions. Those supporting its removing cited that there were too many inappropriate, poorly written stories to moderate and manage, while those wishing to keep them maintained that they were all in good fun and removing them would defeat TV Tropes’ purpose. This brutal, time-consuming, week-long debate saw the participation of hundreds of contributors and a greater number of voters; those involved in the forum discussion spent countless hours tirelessly backing their positions. On August 14, 2011, after an utterly exhausting week of debate to convince other members that the removal was beneficial, the administration stepped in and determined that, in light of the results, troper tales would no longer be hosted on TV Tropes. Individuals who wished to continue discussing their lives were asked to direct their attention towards trope talk in the forums, where personal anecdotes would be permitted.
- Letting the truth have its day means trying to illustrate that TV Tropes isn’t the great community it once was. It means pointing out that the present community consists largely of immature, illiterate individuals who lack essential communication skills and demand that their opinions be treated as fact, while blindly accepting the opinions of those around them. It means being careful about their opinions and not giving them more thought than is necessary.
The removal of troper tales had a profound effect on TV Tropes. Virtually all of the troper tales proponents realised that TV Tropes was no longer accepting of their content and left the site in protest. A handful of individuals remained, challenging the decision and asked the administration to overturn it: their discussions were locked and the individuals in question were banned. TV Tropes had succeeded in removing these individuals’ will to put themselves on a pedestal. Moreover, by banishing these individuals’ stories from the site, they had no more reason to visit TV Tropes and left for good. However, while other sites hosted archived troper tales, now that they were no longer present at TV Tropes, troper tales supporters suddenly found that their stories were simply not reaching any audience, defeating their purpose of posting them. The only means to obtain that audience is at another online community, but they are decidedly less friendly to their members boasting of their exploits in the ‘real world’, meaning that the concept of troper tales has more or less been extinguished from the internet. Despite being a week-long effort that exhausted all of its participants, the deletion of Troper Tales marked a promising direction for TV Tropes. By this point in time, all of the questionable elements in the site had largely been removed or suppressed, and the members who propagated these materials had left.
Fallout of the One-Week War and New Problems
The removal of Troper Tales would prove to be a Pyrrhic victory: while the original proponents of Troper Tales and their handiwork had been removed, the administration would nonetheless stand by their original claims that that tropers had every right to talk about their lives and as such, did not make any effort to halt future attempts to do so. Individuals were barred from doing so in the wiki, but the forums would become the new grounds for conversations driven by the self. TV Tropes had largely failed to direct conversations away from the self back to the fiction it so claimed to celebrate. Thus, tropers continued to talk about themselves and their supposed exploits, rather than the aspects of fiction they had encountered and their significance. The OWW had not achieved a victory at pushing emphasis towards fiction and its tropes, but before a year had passed, the community fractured even further in January 2012, after some individuals grew weary of TV Tropes’ moderation practises. Several well-known individuals left TV Tropes, and owing to how close some of the community had become, other individuals followed suit, knowing that discussions wouldn’t quite be the same. Additional individuals felt that the site was fragmenting and followed suit. This was compounded by a group of unknown origins: in April 2012, they reported content to Google, triggering the Second Google Incident. Official TV Tropes documentation claim that a single individual made the complaint, but as with the effort that led to IJBM’s removal, this was a concerted effort from a group; their simultaneous reports to Google would ultimately catch their attention, and Google responded. While their motivations are not known, it is possible that they felt their proposed changes to be representative of the community’s best interests and went ahead with it, not realising that their actions bore heavy consequences. Following their report to Google, Google immediately withdrew their advertisements, forcing the administration to remove the page in question, establish new content policies and renamed many pages to minimise their impact. In the fallout, additional bans were issued, and the already-unstable community disintigrated further.
TV Tropes Today
The TV Tropes community reached a new equilibrium after the Second Google Incident. By this point, a large majority of the original community NinjaClown was a part of had either been banned or silently left without looking back. By this point, new members that had arrived following the fallout from the Second Google Incident were now strongly established in the community. In other words, they were where NinjaClown and the others were back in 2009, beginning to establish a new community. These new members, however, lacked any of the self-awareness and maturity found in the previous community: they were unable to perceive anything beyond terms of black and white, being thoroughly convinced that TV Tropes exists solely for them to discuss their favourite works in whatever manner they pleased, having taken the informal guidelines to be a confirmation that they were allowed to eschew standards of written English (clearly, they’re not).
- Neither NinjaClown or myself are bitter, sad, confused or hurt at the current state of events and circumstances that led us to leave. However, as I’ve mentioned previously, both NinjaClown and myself feel that this post is probably a good way to summarise our experiences and pass along an unbiased, clear account of what happened to TV Tropes.
Present-day members of the TV Tropes community lack any communication and reading skills: aside from misunderstanding even the simplest of phrases, members insist on following their own interpretations of the English language. The end result is nothing short of disappointing: forums once home to reasoned discussion now festers irrational, irrelevant ramblings about media that lack any meaningful rationale. As such, readers coming into the forum for the first time will find rambling content about some individual’s favourite series and scenes in their favourite series. Those patient enough to read through will find that these individuals praise their shows based on superficial, visceral factors without considering the other factors. TV Tropes presently no longer hosts the same interesting discussions it once did, and in fact, does not appear to have the capacity to even enforce its own policies regarding convention and etiquette. On the wiki side, the site’s users insist on their own brand of English as though it were a prestige dialect. Basic grammar and punctuation are not observed, and editors force their idiosyncrasies into their writing. Editors also add technical details into articles to “justify” entries that do not necessarily fit the definition of a trope. The end result is that wiki articles are largely unreadable, being filled with broken sentences, misinformation and personal analysis that ultimately, offers readers with very little substance as to what a work is actually about.
- I still browse the wiki presently (even if the frequency has dropped) and believe that the wiki is the only side of TV Tropes that should matter to unregistered viewers. While I’ve previously noted that members were either banned or left, there have been numerous cases of members being banned for opposing a decision, and their friends subsequently leaving to protest the ban. This trend recently occurred at IJBM: after moderator Clockwork Universe (formerly INUH) left to protest their perceived lack of enforcing the rules, several other members in solidity with him left, as well. Why some members follow others in leaving continues to remain an unexplained phenomenon.
Moreover, the new community members have begun taking everything to do with TV Tropes very seriously, treating everything as credible and valid without giving it a second thought. These members also hold the expectation that visitors from outside the community must also take them seriously. Perusing the discussions, it is quite clear that a vast majority of these new members have never left their computers and seen things as they are in the real world: their own perspectives on science, art, economics, politics and society contradict what has been said by experts in their aforementioned field. These members have a bizarre insistence on the equality of opinion, dismissing expertise and professionalism as elitism. In this apparently egalitarian environment, the community genuinely believes that their discussions are groundbreaking and important, despite lacking any qualifications to discuss more complex matters. The solution is not simple: telling these individuals that they are wrong, or else trying to argue with them will result in the moderators stepping in and suspending the individual for rocking the boat. Reports to the moderators about the offending content will fall on deaf ears, since TV Tropes’ mission is supposedly to celebrate fiction, even if it means allowing incorrect or even dangerous ideas to propagate.
We now turn towards looking at how TV Tropes fell from being a respectable place for hosting media discussions to a site that could not even enforce its own rules. There is a reason that egotistical, narcissistic individuals now find TV Tropes to be their preferred community, and this reason begins at the very core of TV Tropes’ philosophy. TV Tropes’ mission statement is to collect tropes (elements of figurative convention and other devices used in works) into a single location, meaning the entire site can be abstracted as a large list-building and sorting exercise, drawing together elements that may share only the most remote of similarities. The original community had fully understood this, taking amusement in connecting works that only shared remote similarities purely for enjoyment. The combined displacement of the original community and their replacement by the new community members, however, has transmuted what was once a fun list-building community would into one that took tropes as serious elements in fiction.
- The post was so-titled because a lot of the present-day members of the community believe that any fictional work can be reduced to its component tropes. This approach is absurd, counterproductive and thus, pseudo-intellectual, since the intrinsic meaning in a particular piece of fiction is such that the sum has greater value than the parts. In other words, a proper analysis cannot be focused on analysing the minutiae in a work, since many of the elements in said work will interact with one another to produce a specific meaning.
Whether it be due to inexperience or narcissism, newer members of TV Tropes find themselves constantly at odds with one another: moderators oftentimes settle their petty disputes by telling them to take it to the discussions, and it is here that things get interesting: because there is discussion about whether or not elements fit, contributors must “analyse” particulars to determine whether or not an event satisfies the definition outlined by a trope. These activities seem to have convinced the new members that what they are doing must have intellectual value, since they are investing time into defending their favourite works. However, the member’s defense of their actions are not performed with TV Tropes’ interests in mind: most contributors act with the intent of proving to their community their intellect and thus, attaining respect from other members. They also act to convince the community to antagonist those who do not agree with them. The current community believes that its actions have academic value and has thoroughly deluded itself into believing that all fictional works are composed necessarily of these tropes, which in turn raises the misconception that understanding the tropes in a work result in understanding the work itself.
- Reflecting the time I spent on TV Tropes, I most enjoyed editing articles so they bore my personal touch when I finished, and I least enjoyed sparring with other contributors for correctness on articles. NinjaClown compares the problem with Gundam 00‘s Katharon trying to take on the A-Laws, although to make a difference, we’d need the equivalent of a CBNGN-003 Union Flag Celestial Being Version with GN Sword II Kai to make a difference (i.e. moderator powers). Of course, the fight against the other contributors is a zero-sum game in that we’ve nothing to gain by winning, making it pointless to invest in the time to actually do good.
The new community’s sense of self-perceived intellectualism (in actuality, pseudo-intellectualism), paired with the loss of the original community and the administration’s rush to make the site more family-friendly, has left TV Tropes as a place for the socially inept individuals seeking vindication of their beliefs and hobbies in an environment where criticism is neither present nor tolerated. The unique tenants of the site, paired with the administration’s new efforts to promote a confrontation-free environment, allows self-proclaimed critics to vocalise their opinions without criticism or feedback. Engrossed in their pseudo-intellectual pursuits, and without anyone to remind them that their approach was misguided, the TV Tropes community has decayed. Anything resembling intelligent discussion is absent now: individuals insistently believe that everything they have to say is important, and that by talking with other individuals, they are somehow contributing greatly to the field of media. Instead of meaningful discussion, there is a forced consensus and mindless agreement: contrary opinions are quickly suppressed by the moderators, removing any opportunity to present alternate viewpoints.
- One important thing to note is that NinjaClown and I chose to leave TV Tropes of our own accord, not because we had to – this distinction makes all the difference in the world. I am also looking forwards to leaving the TV Tropes community behind me; the long summer days spent picking up after other editors and playing Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead 2 in my down time have been arduous, and it will be a breath of fresh air to do the sorts of things where I know tropers will not be found in great numbers.
From the events that have transpired, a few points become apparent: TV Tropes has only ever been a project about categorising different aspects in media, and its main value lay within the community that created it. The responsibility in maintaining the community is a joint effort between the moderators and members. The initially open policies at TV Tropes led its members to get away with increasingly questionable materials, and by the time the administration stepped in to regulate materials following the First Google Incident, the community had already become divided in opinion. The fractures in the community led some members to become banned, and others simply left out of protest or for their own reasons. Future events resulted in further site policy changes and divided the community further: these change has done TV Tropes a very great disservice, discouraging the open discussion that made once TV Tropes a good place to hang out and talk about various matters. These changes did not happen overnight, instead, culminating as a result of the community’s own actions, leading the administration to push for a more family-friendly site. Of course, doing so encouraged the membership of youth with little experience in the real world and even less courtesy, driving the site further away from its original objective of maintaining an informal, breezy place to talk about media. TV Tropes marks the first time the both of us had witnessed a site go from hosting honest discussion to acting as a place for the socially inept to find acceptance. While this was disappointing, this was inevitable given TV Tropes’ subjective nature; furthermore, this trend is not new. Online debates, the so-called “internet drama”, have long plagued larger news sites and YouTube. The comments there are notorious for their poor quality and lack of value, bought on in part by a similar lack of moderation.
The changes that have occurred at TV Tropes appear to have followed from a similar policy in that, while the administration initially hoped to maintain an informal atmosphere, they also neglected to enforce the rules, allowing TV Tropes to appeal to less savoury individuals. The end result is what we presently see. These trends have been known for other former TV Tropes participants for quite some time, who have departed well before I drafted this post for similar reasons: the time is ideal for both NinjaClown and I to follow suit. Today, the sun is shining brightly now as it did two years ago: it is mid-day, and there aren’t many clouds in the sky. Two years have passed since TV Tropes’ administrator finally decided to close the polls to end the OWW, although it would mark the beginning of a new set of problems for both the administrator and the team of moderators. However, I’m not spending any more time towards repairing vandalism and reporting individuals engaged in destructive behaviours: it’s a nice day out there, and I fancy a walk.
Thank you for this article. I have long enjoyed TVtropes (I mean the wiki, I don’t usually pay attention to the forums) these past months: it has shaped the way I view certain things in fiction, the first coming to my mind being that ‘”darker and edgier doesn’t always mean better.”
As such, I was somewhat appalled to discover that it seemed to have quite a few haters, to the extent where there’s an entire tumbler dedicated to bashing TVtropes, from its moderators, to its content, to its users. Everything probably has its share of detractors, of course, but it’s still bothersome.
With this in mind, it was nice to read a more even-sided article from someone who doesn’t seem to hold too great a grudge against the sight. It helped, I suppose, to give a more human face to TVtropes, looking at its flaws while noting the good it has (or had), and also showing why a great many people dislike the sight. So again, thank you for the article.
Seriously. Thank you.
On the whole, I find that, while TV Tropes’ forums are admittedly disappointing, the wiki still remains mostly readable (I still read articles from time to time).
At the end of the day, there isn’t too much to really hate about TV Tropes, even if some of its contributors and entire moderator staff are lacking as people. The decision to stay or do somethig else is mine alone, and so, I’ve moved on to doing other things, such as keeping this blog going, amongst other hobbies 🙂
As someone who joined TV Tropes a little after the incident where Troper Tales was removed, I found your observations to be rather telling. I’ve seen and had some thoughtful discussions on the site. I’ve also seen a phenomena where certain posters, by dint of their eloquence, repeated times posting on a certain subject, or other reasons, seem to constitute a hivemind of sorts, where any poster who disagrees with their (often negative) views, regardless of how they express themselves, is antagonized, viewed as a “fanboi” or someone of lesser intellect, while they oftentimes pass their subjective impressions off as reasoned criticism.
Seeing your post really crystallized the issues that I’ve been having with this sort of behaviour.
Thank you for writing it.
I think that the whole “no negativity” policy that TV Tropes enforces ultimately prevents opinions deviating from the established norm from arising, regardless of whether or not these “deviants” are intrinsically correct or not. In other words, the opinion that gets written first is the one that individuals must conform to.
Just recently, some individuals were banned for challenging TheHailStormer’s claim that “Chiharu Yamamoto” was “real”, even though evidence exists to show that no such individual exists. It’s an unfortunate nature of the beast, but as noted in another reply…ultimately, I can choose not to visit TV Tropes or deal with its userbase/staff.
ITT: TVTropes discovers that unless you enforce the place as an informative wiki with content standards, people are going to attempt to turn it into a social club, a personal blog, a fan page, or a political soapbox. A.k.a, what Wikipedia found out about a decade ago.
TVTropes doesn’t need a “community” anymore. You need the million monkeys at their typewriters when you’re building the framework, and then once you have it, 999,0000 of those monkeys are now a liability who can’t let go and want to keep creating, even when the stuff they’re creating isn’t shit that any Google searcher cares about or wants to see. They get pissy, they leave for the next big start up crowdsourcing project, and the cycle begins again.
Relax your angst. Nobody cares why you took your ball and went home. The site is still there, and is still great. You’re suffering from a terminal case of Blogger’s Disease.
Whereas you, Arshin Carnifex, are suffering from a terminal case of unwarranted self-importance. You seem a little too hasty in making a conclusion about me, and in this haste, you do not appear to have to devised even a rudimentary argument against mine. Granted, I realise that my writing style is somewhat intimidating, but I will also extend the courtesy of hearing you out: since you took the time to comment, that is the least you can expect (of course, if you genuinely didn’t care, you would not have responded).
I dare to say that, when I “took the ball and went home”, the game ends outright because people like me had the only ball. I was active three years ago, and was the kind of contributor they needed. Contrasting current contributors, I at least knew where the shift key, space bar and punctuation keys are on my keyboard. This is rather important: much of the current community cannot even compose a simple sentence without losing their intent, hence the unending fights between one another and the moderators. The site is still there, yes, and there are still parts that remain readable. However, take a moment to explore the forums. The “Troper Dating Service” thread is a good place to start; tell me how great the community is there, especially regarding the whole “Chiharu Yamamoto” incident. The “Edit Banned” thread is equally amusing, as is “Ask the Tropers”. I’ll skate over your incorrect analogy to the infinite monkey theorem (I presume you heard about it via popular culture rather than mathematical sources): whereas that thought experiment assumes an infinite number of monkeys, TV Tropes’ community is finite in size. It simply won’t apply here, so there’s no need to discuss it further. Similarly, TVTropes isn’t a startup company and cannot be compared to such.
I will close off by providing a correct summarisation of the post: owing to shifts in enforcement of site policy and the lack of awareness in the current contributors, TV Tropes is, more than it was previously, unfit to be considered a media analysis site. If you’re wondering why this article exists, it is purely to provide a more detailed history of how the community reached its present state and the implications of said state. People do wonder why the TV Tropes they know today is different to the community they once knew. Admittedly, stronger rules and enforcement of said rules would have helped the site, but ultimately, it’s the individual’s decision as to whether they wish to stay or not. All I’m aiming to do is present the argument that, as things presently are, there simply won’t be media analysis of any kind at TV Tropes, and it is unlikely that there will be media analysis in the foreseeable future. If one is not seeking meaningful analysis of media from TV Tropes, then there should be no problems at all.
This entire post and comment section is irony at it’s finest. You’re all guilty of the very thing you accuse others of. I do believe tvtropes aren’t good but you guys aren’t any better.
This leads me to ask, what of it? When I wrote this post a decade earlier, my goal was to share an alternate perspective of a community that was otherwise being praised by media outlets, like the LA Times, as having academic merit. I concede that this post is quite dated and may not reflect on my current thoughts, but at the same time, your vague, non-committal remark is unlikely to convince anyone that I’m wrong for having written it. If I am supposedly guilty of what I observed at TV Tropes, as were those who expressed agreement, then you need to put in a more considerable effort to explain why. Incidentally, TV Tropes’ userbase believe that on the authority of their reputation, they should be agreed with even if they don’t put in any effort and leave behind only terse, pointed comments. If you don’t offer any additional context behind your words, I see no reason to agree with your assessment of myself, or those who did find this post helpful.
I highly laud and appreciate much of your criterion and criticisms directed towards TV Tropes. While at first, the site was once a place to divulge in various articulate discussion and reasonable analysis, it has ultimately diluted into a hive of pedantic egotism and self centered power hungry people that lack compassion or humanity, regardless of knowledge and edification.
Another issue of mine would have to come from the various lack of or amounts of misguided criterion that many of the site’s users tend to bring, most of which comes from a site called That Guy With The Glasses. While the site has its merits, many of their so called “reviews” are not what you would call serious analysis and discussion, with many of these so called reviews centered on overviewing movies, and essentially undergoing snark and adding in jokes. I’ve had a cousin of mine be interested in something similar to this, he called it “Rifftraxing”. I’ve sat down to a couple of screenings of a show called “Mystery Science Theater” with him, and back to back, they are awfully familiar.
Following further into this subject, translating into text reviews, I can see where many of its users have gained their egotism and “know it all” attitude. Very little has gone into the review of actual media’s composition and entertaining value; rather, instead, many of them judge merely on the emphasis of what is “cool”, a value of reviewing that bears either great or little fickle influence due to cultural influences and trends of the times, and another aspect of “reviewing” TGWTG tends to emphasize and influences criterion of others with.
I will also note that much of their reviewers, to not offend however, mainly come from regions of the western world, such as the United States to New Zealand. When confronted with different media of another cultural perspective, it is not hard to say that good and bad translate no matter what language, however, there are still cultural hurdles and potholes to fill. I have seen many “anime reviewers” on that place as well take this approach, rather taking their hobby and proceeding to pseudo-professionally review works as if they know the cultural context and values by heart, while instead imposing a belligerent perspective, as if it makes them look lame or stupid if they are caught watching, reading, or enjoying it. I don’t know what to call this, but the closest I can call it is “ethnocentrism”, and it gives the idea that simply sitting around and watching Japanese anime makes one a certified individual to properly judge said media with impunity.
As far as I’ve seen, there are quite many contributors to TV Tropes that also follow that idea that TGWTG is a legitimate form of reviewing, by and far, which is not, and that engrossing in trivial self serving things, such as nitpicking, giving the idea that one’s opinion isn’t just an opinion, but a truth, and that if one doesn’t understand it, ignorance is justified to classify it as a negative trait.
I hope this edge allow gives you a bit more insight on some of the minds that lie there and what impetus they have in order to rationalize their own interests while imposing and engaging in smug elitism. I have been around these crowds a bit a while myself, and you’d be surprised at how much of a congregation they have at TV Tropes and how they also influenced the various infamy on that site too. Thank you for listening and I also hope to meet you out on that sunny path as well. Cheers.
I highly appreciate you taking the time to provide valuable feedback 🙂 Your insights on why things turned out the way they did have helped me grasp more firmly why things turned out the way they did at TV Tropes. I’m not particularly familiar with The Guy With the Glasses or Mystery Science Theatre 3000, so it was perplexing to see such frequent allusions to those two programmes at TV Tropes: your explanation has done much to help me understand where things come from. One of the more recent trends at TV Tropes are the slew of forum posts written precisely in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000-esque manner: for instance, some individuals have taken it upon themselves to write these bizarre bullet-point summaries outlining their shows and what appears to be their thoughts on it. There’s no insight or analysis, just summaries. I was wondering why they would engage in something so inconsequential, but with your explanation, it’s not unreasonable to assume that these people believe that the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 approach is analysis.
Regarding anime, if you’ve explored around this blog, you’ll have noticed that I myself do a lot of anime reviews. I do not profess to be an expert on anime or Japanese culture at all, even if I have a slight background from related coursework. As a result, most of my reviews are focused on looking at the different parts of the anime that makes it meaningful for myself and viewers with similar interests. I certainly don’t believe that watching anime makes one an expert on Japanese culture any more than eating Dim Sum makes one an expert on Chinese culture.
Once again, I appreciate your taking the time to comment and provide these insights. Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future 🙂
Not sure if you’ll see this, but whatever.
This was an interesting insight on Tv Tropes’ fall. Like a lot of people, I saw Tv Tropes as a nice place to look up various tropes and media. To tell you the truth, I’m, sort of, a part of the community now (joined a few months before this post, actually). Sort of because I use my brother’s handle sometimes. I was totally unaware of the unsavory parts of the site until I saw some forums and that tumblr account sometime last year, which were eye openers.
Despite that, my brother and I still participate in the forums (primarily the anime and videogame forums) and post there frequently. I noticed that discussions in some anime threads are just tropers giving episode by episode summaries and that’s it, but I didn’t think of it as being egotistical and self-important, or is it something else I’m missing?
On a side note, I visited your blog once before when I read your Super Sonico review (via the Sonico forum on Tv Tropes, no less!). It was nice.
I hope don’t mind my ramblings.
I forgot to ask; What do you think of the site now that it’s under new management (That’s if you still visit sometimes)?
First off, feedback is always welcome here! I was indeed able to see your comment, so I can answer it fully 🙂 I originally wrote this on a suggestion from a friend who had expressed a desire to “show that TV Tropes wasn’t the great community it once was”, and I shared those views. As such, when I refer to the community “at present” in the post, it refers to the community that began taking shape after old members had rage-quit after 2012, including those who post the anime summaries. I cannot speak accurately of the members that joined recently (say, within the past two years), so it is more than likely that there’ve been a mixture of constructive and destructive members joining. It’s quite heartening to hear that you’re not familiar about the more distasteful side of TV Tropes: it exists, but quite honestly, I think only a small number of people will actually find it a problem, such as those dedicated Tumblrs. As long as one views TV Tropes as a place for fun, rather than treating as a serious resource analysis, they’ll find TV Tropes to be alright.
Regarding the numerous individuals who post those bullet-point summaries of episodes, some view this behaviour as egotistical because those individuals presumably post to review the episode or anime, without fully exploring their rationale for why they have that viewpoint (which is the review’s purpose). Thus, in assuming that the readers have the same perspective as they would, this would imply a degree of self-importance (i.e. “I know the world one way, and that’s good enough for all people”). Posting these summaries after an episode has ended might also be seen as egotistical behaviour, suggesting that the poster believes that they have some sort of duty to sharing the summary with others on the basis that everyone else cannot access it for themselves.
From a personal viewpoint, the individuals who post episode summaries everywhere at TV Tropes probably are treating the forum as a micro-blog: this behaviour is seen in other forums, as well. A friend once inquired the posters at TV Tropes about this: they replied that “it’s fun” and that it also “allows them to comment on what happens in an episode as it happens”. I would tend to believe that most of them are probably treating the forum as an informal blog and as such, have no malicious intent. Of course, this doesn’t stop me from wondering why they have so much time to keep up with more than ten series a season (I myself struggle with even just three), much less spend so much time at TV Tropes. With that being said, it’s their life and time, rather than mine (although I do poke fun at them from time to time in my own posts).
I’m happy that you enjoyed the Super Sonico posts I’ve written. I noticed that this blog’s been linked to in some anime-related pages at TV Tropes, and it’s nice to know that the content here is moderately helpful for those who seek it.
As for the last question, I would welcome the change in administration, as it means that a certain power-hungry admin won’t have the unilateral power to ban folks on a whim.
Don’t forget how politically correct it’s become. It’s so full of leftist bullshit that on a thread about sexism in anime, you get banned for trolling when you’re comments were about the sexism against males in anime and how we just let these sexisms that happen in real life continue to invade everything. All because you gave a voice to the other side on a thread were they never once mentioned sexism against males and only talked about how bad it was for females.
This is when you know not only the forums, but the anime community in general has become cultural Marxist retards.
Realising that this article was published more than two years ago, it surprises me as to how quickly time flies. I’ve always been a sporadic user of TVTropes and so, have very little idea of how the community is at present.
It’s taken the same turn most forums are taking today. Political Correctness gone mad. I hardly spent much time on the forums other than lurking. And it took only one day of discussing MRA issues on a thread called Sexism In Anime for me to get Google Banned. I’m actually quite proud of myself.
Your remarks piqued my interest, so I decided to go back and see for myself the state of the forums. As it turns out, I myself had also been Google-Banned by
FastSlowEddie himself (the reason appears to be having linked to this post, which constitutes negativity). This article must of struck a nerve, then, but it is not my job description to worry about the feelings of folk who cannot take criticisms.
Like I said, political correctness gone mad. The PC types are always trying to censor opinions that don’t meet their agenda.
thanks, this is interesting.
i went to college and did not really peruse tvtropes. When I went back a year-two years ago or so/ recently, I was very confused as to what was wrong with the pages.
Suddenly, a whole bunch of pages I went to had people complaining about bad fanfiction tropes (since when are we elevating the dregs of fanfiction so much?!), disclaiming constantly ‘not all [subgroup]’ and became very politicized and Serious Business or ‘this trope is bad because it is feminist/whatever political view bleh’. I am still trying to figure out what happened to my favorite Just For Fun website.
This may have been something from two years ago but I think that it is relevant (since it was about two years ago or so when the pages are no longer… eh… normal.) and possibly helps explain what happened. I am appreciative of the history and hope i can get more insight on what is going on.
I’m glad that this older article was helpful for you; I’ve not been to TV Tropes for quite some time now, so I have no idea what the state of the site as a whole is, but your remarks, in conjunction with those made by some of my friends, suggest that TV Tropes is very much serious business these days. If I had to guess, I’d say that TV Tropes’ ability to reach a non-trivial number of people and the fact that it seems to be accepting of individuals of all sorts makes it a haven for those who have agendas to promote, accounting for the trends that you see.
For a post crying about pseudointellectualism this is filled with pseudointellectual grandstanding with a strong air of “i am so much better and more smarter than the silly new tvtropes community strawman I cooked up in my head”
you shifting blame on the users making bad troper tales as the singular responsible party for its downfall is honestly insane. moderation did not have to nuke all of the troper tales, they were just too lazy to clean it up properly or prevent it from getting as bad as it did in the first place. That you would absolve the administration of responsibility for not doing their job, and then pulling tvtropes into a censorious environment to compensate (while simultaneously complaining that they didn’t censor enough) is a level of mental gymnastics I can’t even comprehend.
You also dishonestly frame the “ebil perverted anime fans infesting tvtropes with their filth before the mods bravely drove them out” when that’s not what happened. Fast Eddie didn’t care about the actually creepy and problematic elements of the site until Google threatened to cut their ad revenue, and all he did was delete anything related to NSFW material and then establish a council which had unilateral rights to strike down anything they declared “porn/pedoshit” regardless of whether or not it was (criticizing their decisions would, inevitably, get you tarred as a pedo apologist or pervert). All The Tropes formed specifically as a response to this decision, which has given them the unfortunate and unfair reputation of being a perv den that only focuses on salacious material (because I guess they got them mixed up with the fetish fuel wiki) despite them being a very good alternative with much less censorious policies and a lot more of the breezy, free-wheeling atmosphere the old site used to have.
Your complaint about muh bad english near the end honestly made me double over laughing. There is no greater display of pseudointellectualism than trying to act like you’re more intelligent and mature because you type more eloquently on the internet. That has been the non-argument of choice for people with no redeeming intellectual value pretty much since the internet began.
I’m sure you’ll point to some grammatical error in my comment or use whatever other straw you can grasp to deflect my point, but you’re definitely better than those pseudo intellectual tropers right?
Please understand that this is not an attack on you. I don’t hate you, I hate your blog (to plagiarize MC Frontalot). It demonstrates a phenomenal lack of self awareness that, ironically, highlights the mentality of the average tvtropes user the most. IJBM was a den of self aggrandizing narcissism too, arguably more than troper tales, it was just couched in different phrasing. But someone IJBM getting shot down without community input is an injustice, while the destruction of Troper Tales apparently shouldn’t have had input from people who supported it (which is implicitly framed as a wholly wrong position in this post, removing absolutely all nuance from the debate’s context).
I could go on, but this comment is already too long, and I don’t expect a genuine reply to it anyway.
Since the definition seems to be a sticking point for you, “intelligence” is defined as possessing the cognitive faculties to be creative and adaptive with what one knows, as well as possessing the ability to communicate clearly. In being able to elicit a response from you, I’ve done a clear enough job of conveying what I make of TV Tropes, then. At any rate, I hope the weather in Lombard finds you well. Bearing in mind this article is over seven years old, I’ll aim to answer your questions as best as I can on a point-by-point basis.
1) As a general note, memes like “crying” aren’t tolerated here. They tend to reduce nuanced discussion into insult-slinging. The issues that plague TV Tropes are real enough: a glance into the forums and their Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style reactions of anime episodes is enough to demonstrate a brazen lack of analysis there. People are convinced that their bullet-point reactions equates legitimate analysis of an anime, but reacting to something isn’t the same as evaluating it and drawing relevant conclusions from it.
2) Troper Tales was the symptom of TV Tropes’ issues. There’s a congregation of individuals there who believe themselves experts despite lacking legitimate experience in their topics of interest, and Troper Tales acted as a platform for the individuals who desperately wanted to prove themselves to be experts on something. There are no mental gymnastics here: the combination of self-proclaimed experts and a platform to self-aggrandise created the problem of Troper Tales.
3) Pick a perspective and stick to it. I’m not making any accusations here about which individuals caused TV Tropes to expunge explicit or questionable materials from their site. What you have said is identical to what I’ve said; there is no disagreement here.
4) My comments regarding a respect for grammatical and syntactical correctness is to demonstrate that TV Tropes’ users, in refusing to observe existing conventions, are the ones who want to come across as being intellectually superior by defying current standards. The point of consistent grammar and syntax is to minimise ambiguity and maximise clarity.
5) I originally argue that the process for removing Troper Tales saw goalposts moved several times once it became clear a majority of users wanted it removed, giving those in favour of keeping it an advantage. While it’s a consequence of laziness from the admin, that’s not democratic by definition.
With this being said, I do not have anything new to offer regarding TV Tropes for you. If you are confident that your argument holds weight, you would not have resorted to crude attempts at an insult: a common trend for people with no self-awareness is the act of calling others out for it, and typically, I’ve found that those who can only make grievances about someone’s style is a sure indicator that they had nothing to reliably act as a counterargument. As much as I’d hate to say it, you’re the one lacking self-awareness: not only have you failed to provide a convincing justification for why TV Tropes is a venue of meaningful discussion, but you’ve spent the whole of your comment slinging ineffective insults.
Consequently, I am disappointed that you had nothing of note to add to the discussion. if you’re here to disagree with the other materials this blog deals in, one hopes you can put up a better showing than this. I highly doubt you’ve actually read the other materials I write about, which vary from work experience to life lessons. Generally speaking, I’m happy to hear people out regardless of whether their thoughts line up with mine, but only if one can do without the Twitter, Reddit or MyAnimeList level of immaturity. The breadth and scope of this blog is intended to highlight things like empathy, patience and resilience, all of which are things that Tropers lack. Unfortunately for you, this blog also has a sizeable readership, of people who find my writings useful and meaningful, too. You are merely one of hundreds of thousands, and at the end of the day, I’m not going to lose sleep over what one individual thought, merely because ideas you disagreed with are being agreed with by numerous others.
Your doing exactly what your accusing TV Tropes of in here. Don’t try using the bandwagon fallacy because I disagree with almost everything you wrote here as well. Your nitpicks are barely even a problem since the problem isn’t as big as it seems. It can’t be applied to TV Tropes as a whole and probably only falls in the anime category which is understandable since the whole community is problematic and that’s coming from a person who doesn’t even watch anime. It could be because of the passing of time from when this article was written, but your claims don’t hold true now.
The merits of an article nearly a decade old are, of course, debatable, but then again, so are the merits of critiquing said article. You are correct in that, when this discussion of TV Tropes was written, the world was quite different; the notion of armchair experts acting as though they were authorities on things like politics was largely confined to places like TV Tropes. I cannot speak for the community in the present day, but I can speak to the fact that behaviours at TV Tropes, based on observation, have were a symptom of a much larger problem. The TV Tropes I remember of a decade earlier, from a certain point of view, can be seen as the precursor to the constant stream of misinformation resulting from Twitter because people equate retweets to personal validation, and endless, cyclic Reddit arguments on whose political opinions are “right”, so I will leave you to make of that whatever you wish to.
I’ve not been to TV Tropes for years: what you will have to remember is that this article was written based on observations made a decade earlier. A lot can happen in ten years, so I’m not going to be so callous as to assume the site and its user-base have remained static for ten years. With this being said, there is such a thing as respect – you are free to disagree with my observations and thoughts, but opening with fallacious accusations of my supposedly falling into an informal fallacy, you run the risk of closing the door to discussion (the tu quoque approach, if I may, is even weaker than the bandwagon fallacy!). I therefore present a question of my own: what was your original intention with this comment?
Thanks for this post. I just discovered it, and it opened my eyes up to what TV Tropes had been before the change in ownership in 2014; a playground full of pseudo-intellectualists where more emphasis was put on anime than literature (and the admin of the site, Fast Eddie, had the gall to call Lolita, a genuine novel, “pedoshit”, as well as delete entire swaths of the wiki because Google was seizing his ad revenue.) That’s not even getting into the issue of the P5, who are more of a censorship committee and less of an actual group.
I’m not going to pretend that I knew what happened following IJBM’s deletion, because I won’t. I joined TV Tropes in 2017, and left of my own accord in 2020 in disgust of what the site has become. I can’t say that I witnessed Troper Tales, or IJBM, or other controversies of old, or the reason why the site switched over from phpBB to their own forum. There are a million things that I’ve discovered in retrospect, but I can’t claim to witness any of them because I wasn’t there.
There are a few things I can definitely see, however. I can definitely see why your friend, NinjaClown, was upset at IJBM’s deletion, and I feel sympathy for the other tropers who enjoyed it only to have it nuked entirely. And I can see why Troper Tales was such a mess; the admins were lazy enough to leave it stagnating until they became creepier and creepier.
Out of all the problems you mentioned in your post, not one of them has been actually addressed or solved in a positive way by the new site administration. On the contrary, in fact: the moderators (particularly Fighteer – have you heard of him?) are even more power-hungry than before, banning people once they reach 3 strikes regardless of circumstance, more and more tropes are being renamed in view of political correctness et. al., and any attempt to question the site’s policies is either met with thumps (when posts are overwritten entirely, something that should be reserved for serious offenses and not Orwellianism), and the “no negativity” clause means that any review not praising the series is immediately deleted and locked. They’re also on panic mode because of ban evaders. Many a tale has gone by in which a Troper signs up only for their account to be rejected.
So, I’m very grateful that you took the time out of your day to make this post. Even after I discovered it six years later than I should have, it really gave me info on what the site was like back in the olden days.
(One more thing before I go. Apparently, there’s an exploit in the search function which allows you to search posts in the “Mod Jabberings” forum, which is supposed to be private. In fact, this exploit has existed as far back as 2012, yet neither Fast Eddie nor the new admins bothered enough to care. Someone actually made a post about it in 2019. No response. That alone should let you know how much the admins care for the site.)
I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback and share your story, as well. From what you’ve told me, the site has not changed since I left back in 2013. It would appear, then, that the site’s owners and users continue see themselves as a bastion of intellectual and meaningful discussion in literary analysis and pop culture’s role in contemporary society now as they did back then, as opposed their original mission of being a place to recommend series based on the traits that different works shared with one another. It’s a shame, really, since TV Tropes was how I came to find some of my favourite works around back in the day.
On the moderation team, especially John “Fighteer” Aldrich, I am very much familiar with him, having heard the stories. Fighteer has had a particularly nasty track record of banning people at the drop of a hat for arbitrary reasons, and holds the view that his is a thankless, necessary task. During my brief time at TV Tropes, I was fortunate to be sufficiently low-profile as to have avoided him: it was Fast Eddie who banned me personally, after he’d caught wind of this post in 2013. That a simple WordPress post resulted in such an extreme, adverse reaction is evidence enough to show that there is some truth in what was recounted here.
Finally, I have also heard about this particular flaw: the glimpses of the conversations I’ve read show the moderator team as seeing themselves above everyone else. It is amusing to see Fighteer and the other moderators take themselves so seriously even nine years later. A lot can happen in nine years, and if they’re still stuck in the summer of 2011, that’s something I’ll have to leave them to!