TV Tropes and the descent into madness

A lot has changed since my first TV Tropes blog post, which I notice is con­sis­tently the most pop­u­lar post on my blog (to my dis­may, actu­ally).  I was crit­i­cised by some­one defend­ing Troper Tales as “some­one on or in seri­ous need of seri­ous med­ica­tion”. I’m not kid­ding. Feels good mang.

Troper Tales was a part of the site where edi­tors could post where tropes applied to their life. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it even­tu­ally devolved into socially awk­ward peo­ple and their power fan­tasies, and in gen­eral creepy shit. An infa­mous page that I tried and failed to get deleted was the page for “rape as com­edy”. Let that sink in for a moment: there was a page in which trop­ers could post where they sex­u­ally assaulted peo­ple for fun. In effect, it was a page where trop­ers could post “I squeezed my friend’s boobs, aren’t I funny?”. It was still wrong.

Enter Crazy­Goggs and Some­thing Awful.

Back in Decem­ber 2010, the YouTube user Crazy­Goggs started a series called This Troper, in which excerpts from TV Tropes, mostly Troper Tales, were read in amus­ing voices. It’s an easy con­cept and it works well as com­edy.  At the moment, it’s at about 105 episodes, with the author half-facetiously claim­ing that new episodes are com­ing out slower because it’s too emo­tion­ally drain­ing. At the same time, the Some­thing Awful forum had a thread which would do the same: Goons would post dif­fer­ent excerpts and make dis­parag­ing, or even depressed com­ments about said excerpts. Myself included. The point was to high­light that, really, TV Tropes has a shitty community.

Troper Tales was even­tu­ally taken off the site a few months ago because of this. It was more of a “sav­ing face” ges­ture, as the com­mu­nity there still has notice­able flaws:

TV Tropes forum post

In which being anti-lolicon makes you com­plicit in “thoughtcrime”.

This user in par­tic­u­lar has been banned, but the cur­rent Some­thing Awful thread con­tin­ues to bring up gold­mines. Now, I’m aware that every online com­mu­nity has its out­casts and peo­ple the oth­ers don’t want to be asso­ci­ated with. But the prob­lem is that the admin­is­tra­tion doesn’t warn them that they’re out­side soci­etal norms.

In fact, they embrace them. In a thread about racist ele­ments on the forums (and we’re talk­ing white supremacist-level racism here), a mod­er­a­tor made this com­ment in offi­cial capacity:

Report­ing a post you find ques­tion­able won’;t get you smacked for “dog­pil­ing” Dog­pil­ing hap­pens within the thread, when a num­ber of posters all start turn­ing their posts from what some­one said/believes to how bad (s)he is for saying/believing it.

This is a thread about some­one who quoted Storm­front in a dis­cus­sion. The moderator’s line is that you should report infarc­tions instead of telling some­one that they’re an arse­hole. It’s a per­ver­sion of the prin­ci­ple of free speech, the mis­con­cep­tion that free speech means free­dom from crit­i­cism (hint: it doesn’t). As a Goon said, “They have a rule for gang­ing up on the racist. But not for being the racist.” This comes from the fact the only com­mu­nity rule is “don’t be a dick”, which is an ages-old Wikipedia rule used when it was free-culture geek project. Even Wikipedia doesn’t really use it as a rule any more.

Even Fast Eddie just Doesn’t Get It. Which is obvi­ous from read­ing any­thing about how TV Tropes works. This is a per­son who vio­lated the car­di­nal rule of his own wiki, that there is no such thing as nota­bil­ity, because he didn’t want to “adver­tise for that gap­ing ass­hole”. Yep, you heard that right. A man in his 50s can’t take peo­ple mak­ing fun of his site so he bans men­tion of it. Which really doesn’t work. Even the dele­tion was opposed on TV Tropes. The pages for Some­thing Awful and Ency­clo­pe­dia Dra­mat­ica were locked for sim­i­lar retal­i­ta­tory pur­poses. Users were banned for ques­tion­ing this pol­icy. Refer­rals from Some­thing Awful were blocked. And then…

Fast Eddie locked the page for “Let’s Play” and deleted a link to Some­thing Awful. This is a form of video game com­men­tary that Some­thing Awful unde­ni­ably pio­neered. And why? Fuck knows. Even the lone sane mod­er­a­tor, Bobby G, halfway admit­ted that it was for retal­i­ta­tory rea­sons. Let that just sink in for a sec­ond: the owner of a well known site (well known enough to have its own Wikipedia arti­cle) is vio­lat­ing the core con­cepts of a wiki because he wants to stick it to some peo­ple who are laugh­ing at his own incom­pe­tence more than any­thing. It’s sad, if you think about it, as what could’ve been a good con­cept way back in the day has, despite warn­ing after warn­ing, careen­ing head-first into being the laugh­ing stock of the internet.

One comment

  1. […] It’s rel­e­vant, I promise.  My first post delved into the ideas of “sub­jec­tiv­ity” on the wiki, and my sec­ond about the com­mu­nity. In ret­ro­spect, those two barely scratch the sur­face; this’ll be a bumper post […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: