For an initial data analysis of TVTropes.org, I chose to take a snapshot of the discourse surrounding one of the websites expressed concerns. In the example I will discuss here, the moderators of the site interact with the members or TVTropes and come to consensus (or at least seem to be on their way to consensus) on an issue of usage and spatiality. The use of space on TVTropes is important for a number of reasons. Frist, the site is used for improvement by writers as per the introductory statement, which says that the wiki is for learning “the tricks of the trade in writing fiction” and not for railing or “bashing things.” TVTropes takes itself seriously, and therefore readers and interested learners feel confident in exploring the site with confidence.
Within the brief data set I collected, there are a number of interesting things going on. First, the affinity space at work here are quite clear; the site is for the celebration and dispersal of interesting tropes and idioms that span many works of art. The audience clearly takes this seriously, as “Catbert” shows in his unasked for policing of the site and the use another member has put it to: Catbert’s comment is that “opinion on creepiness is not what the discussion page is for” because the bylaws and spatial agreements on TVTropes provide separate spaces for different types of interaction, and the discussion page within works’ pages (in this case the work is “Vocaloid”) is strictly for, as “Kuruni” helpfully tells us, “[talk] about the article itself.” An interesting note here is that the moderator initially dismisses the original claim, because discussion pages are opinion-based areas, whereas pages themselves are strictly informational and should be fact-checked and impersonal (though wittiness is encouraged).
Through the back and forth discussion, however, this data shows that the TVTropes moderators are simply members with experience, and each person interested has a say. The conversation takes on a level of debate after the moderator chimes in, and the decision on what use the discussion page is meant for seems to be decided in favor of the original poster (OP).
Another interesting piece of this data sheet is the use of code mashing. In Fraiberg’s definition, code mashing is the multi-use of literacy practices in teaching and research. This definition fits well when looking at TVTropes forums (and the entire wiki), especially in the use of specialized language in different forms. HTML language, trope naming, and the specific language of the site are interesting to look at as keys to understanding the literacy practice of TVTropes. The HTML coding for hyperlinks to specific tropes, pages, or users is a necessary literacy practice for being deeply involved in the site. Further, trope naming and understanding what it means when someone refers to a trope like “uncanny valley” is helpful in tracking both conversations and summaries of either works or tropes within many works. And finally, knowing the language uses of the site (troll, specific meaning of discussion page, etc.) are needed basic literacy as well. So, a new member such as myself needs to create a “constellation of literacy activities” (Black 277) that will form the basis for literate practice within TVTropes.org.
Terms of note:
Spatiality—the ways interactions can become orienting or can push readers in specific ways.
Affinity Spaces—“spaces that cohere around a common affinity for a certain topic, passion, or endeavor rather than say, those features that more traditionally define a given community such as social class, gender, location, or age.” (from Rebecca Black, “Literacy in Virtual Worlds”)
Code Mashing—“the complex blending of multimodal and multilingual texts and literacy practices in our teaching and research.” (from Fraiberg, “Composition 2.0:Toward a Multilingual and Multimodal Framework”)
Disclaimer: I apologize for the probable lack of coherency in this post, but its very late and I am very sleep deprived! :D
I will be happy to answer any clarity questions anyone might have.