Sunday, December 4, 2011

Internet: TV Tropes

This post is about one of the greatest, most entertaining time-sucking voids I have ever encountered. The name of this infinite source of entertainment and time-wasting is TV Tropes. It really is surprisingly addictive. I don't even want to think about how many hours I've spent trawling through webpage after webpage. The very nice google search option for the site only makes finding something interesting all that much easier.

TV Tropes is a wiki full of things called tropes, defined on the site as "devices and conventions that a writer can reasonable rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations" when encountering a story. These are ideas that aren't just present in books: many tropes are present across all types of media. This website catalogs, explains, and gives examples of tropes in every type of storytelling medium you can possibly imagine, up to and including real life.

This can be interesting both from an audience-member, "wow, look at all these narrative devices! I never realized XYZ was so prevalent!" point of view and from an author/creator "So this is a legitimate narrative device? And this is how it translates to XYZ type of media? Hmm- useful to know" point of view. I like to do some of my own writing, and I've found that Trope pages themselves will often spark a completely different idea in my head, or clarify a point about convention for me.

There is definitely an element of humor in many of the entries, though more mature ideas, like those relating to violence and abuse, are discussed in an equivalently mature fashion. The site is also committed to being, in their words, "family friendly," so no raunchy/explicit articles, a less-than-liberal use of strong language, and no nude pics. For the most part, you won't have to worry about what your parents might think if they unexpectedly appeared behind you while you were browsing the wiki. Usually.

The site isn't just a giant trope dictionary. It also has pages for hundreds of different books, TV shows, webcomics, anime and manga, western comics and animation- you name it, they probably have it. And if they don't have it, it's entirely possible to make a page. If fanfic is your thing, they have pages comprised of troper-recommended fanfic for many of these hundreds of books, TV shows, webcomics, etc etc. Did you miss an episode/equivalent of your favorite TV show? You can pop over to the recap page and look it up. These recaps also include a list of the tropes present in that particular episode. Have a favorite actor/author/artist? TV Tropes has a wide range of creator pages for your browsing pleasure. Did you encounter an example of a trope in your own life? Well, once the Troper Tales wiki is fully completed, you'll be able to add your stories and browse the hundreds already there. TV Tropes also has its own forum. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to while away the hours on this site.

In fact, Troper Tales is not the first example of a series of pages that had to be moved off into its own little independent site. The Fetish Fuel examples tended to wander too far into mature content for the likings of the site, so it got its very own little wiki to help keep the site as "family friendly" as possible.

Since this is a widely-editable wiki, you will want to take what you read with a grain of salt, especially about things pertaining to the real world. But since if you're on TV Tropes you probably have internet, you are perfectly able to fact-check what you find out, and even add it the corrected information to the website if you so choose.

The organization of the wiki encourages wandering over onto other pages. Articles and entries are littered with "potholes," links to other pages within the text itself. These potholes are used both for informative and humorous purposes. A section of text relating to another work or trope will be potholed to that work or trope so that you can get more information on it. A section of a text featuring something that is obviously untrue or sarcastic will often be potholed to "Blatant Lies" or "Sarcasm Mode" for a humorous effect. The longer you spend on this site, the more likely you will be to hover your mouse cursor over in-text links on completely different pages and get confused when a TV Tropes page doesn't pop up. Yes, I have actually done this. Several times. Don't judge me.

The Index system also gives browsers a nudge toward beginning a "Wiki Walk" (look it up!) of their own. Articles are most often indexed into categories, and the bottom of a page will feature the category or categories it is indexed in, along with the two articles above and below it in alphabetical order if you're curious about other similar pages.

There really is only so much one can say and convey about TV Tropes, so my recommendation is that if this sounds like something that would interest you, try wandering over to the site itself and selecting a couple tropes at random. Just make sure you have some snacks and a couple of hours to spare!

TV Tropes can be found here:

Don't say I didn't warn you!

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