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triv·i·a

:/ˈtrivēə/

noun
details, considerations, or pieces of information of little importance or value.
"we fill our days with meaningless trivia"
synonyms: minutiae, minor details, petty detail, niceties, technicalities, trivialities, trifles, trumpery, nonessentials, ephemera; More

Today I'd like to talk a little bit about trivia. We've been seeing a lot of it added to pages recently, and I know many of you are wondering why I've been a little draconian about removing it. I thought I might share with you my thoughts about it.

Consider the following points:

What do all of these points have in common? Well, for one they are all facts about the various buildings and troops within Clash of Clans, and each and every one of them is true. The other thing they have in common? They probably all made you say "uh, so what?" when you read them.

The point I am trying to make is that just because something is true doesn't mean it's something we should be adding to the trivia sections of our pages. What I just wrote above took me about 15 minutes to write; I am sure I could come up with twenty times that many given a few hours, and with everybody brainstorming we could probably fill entire volumes of completely true, completely useless information. But we don't want to do that. Why not? Because we make our pages less readable, and therefore less valuable, if we include too much useless information.

Wikipedia actively discourages trivia sections in its articles for the simple reason that it's difficult to know when to stop with trivia. How 'trivial' does a fact have to be before it becomes 'too trivial' for the trivia section? We obviously aren't Wikipedia, and I don't think we need to eliminate trivia altogether because there is some interesting information in there, but I think you can all see why it becomes a very slippery slope.

So what makes a good trivia section? I've been doing some research on the subject and have found that many wikis have a policy on what should go in trivia and what shouldn't. What is out there typically boils down to the following points:

  1. Trivia must be true, and verifiably so. No conjecture or rumor ('it is said that').
  2. It must be not otherwise available in the rest of the article ('Cannons take up a 3x3 space').
  3. It must not be obvious to anyone who has played the game for at least a reasonable period of time. This one is a bit more subjective, but it is intended to weed out trivia like 'When you first begin the game, your village is filled with rocks, trees, logs and shrubs.'
  4. It must be interesting to the reader. Also subjective, but this is the filter by which we eliminate a lot of useless facts. Most of the bullets at the top of the page would fail this test. Other wiki policies use phrasing like "must make the reader say 'oh! I didn't know that.'"

Do all of our current trivia points meet all of these criteria? Probably not. I'm undoubtedly guilty of adding some myself that fails at least one of them. But recently I've been seeing a lot of trivia being added to many pages (and no I am not singling anyone out here...this is many different people over several months) and frankly most of it is awfully close to the stuff I listed up above. I realize people want to contribute, and sometimes it seems like all there is to do here (when there isn't an update) is add trivia, but in the end we're not making better articles doing that. We'd be better off spending time removing the junk and then trying to think up really good trivia than continually adding (and very likely deleting) useless information that doesn't help anybody.

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