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Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 12:03 AM

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I thought IMDb had a policy against overelaborate character names

So, for years now S.W.A.T. had character names that were general straightforward (even if some contained nicknames which are what the characters go by) such as "Daniel 'Hondo' Harrelson" and "Victor Tan".

This changed recently (like since the last time I watched an episode in the last couple of weeks) and now all names have a rank such as "Sergeant Daniel 'Hondo' Harrelson" and "Officer Victor Tan".

Why were these changes allowed? 

Bethanny

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2 days ago

Hi @adrian-

 

For some fans it is important to have the title for some characters' since it's police/police like titles reason why we decided to accept them, it is our policy to keep the names short but having their titles is not making the character name too long. We also only accept the changes where character names are not listed differently in the end credits, if you see this is not the case in any of them let me know.

 

Cheers!

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@Bethanny​ 

It shouldn't be about what a single fan wants. This show has been stable for 6 years. Adding police ranks is ludicrous and violates IMDb's own policy and the policy has a reason. Ranks change from season to season. Please revert these to what they have been for the last 6 years and do not accept the changes again. What is the point of having a policy about over elaborate names if you are only selectively going to follow it?

(And, you should well know that the main cast for most US TV shows are never given names in end credits.)

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Quite honestly, these policies need a refresh. They were written for movies that had end credits. They were not written with TV shows, who do not usually give character names for main and guest casts, only co-stars.

The policy should be simplicity. It should be the most common name that the character is called in the show.

For example, Shemar Moore is known as "Hondo". I can't remember him ever being referred to as Daniel in the show and rarely by his rank of Sergeant. Kenny Johnson is known by his last name is almost always referred to as "Luca". The rest is trivia and people attempting to show off at best or pad their number of submissions at worst.

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The guidelines under 'Keep it simple' at Characters include examples of TV characters who probably didn't have on-screen character names, and the examples suggests that job titles and ranks before names are not needed.

However, if you only read the section on character names in the newer Cast page, you won't see the same guidelines. Instead, there's this guideline about ranks:

If an actor played a range of characters, or held different military rankings during the history of a series, only the actual characters played or rank held for a particular episode should be entered in the character field.

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@Peter_pbn​ 

Listing military or other rankings per episode creates a polluted page for both the main title of the series and for the name page of the individual. That's why names should be listed as names without rankings and generally with how the character is referred to in the series. (Women often marry and change character names such as Rue McClanahan on Maude. There is little reason to list her both as Vivian Cavender and Vivian Cavender Harmon as she is almost exclusively referred to as Vivian.)

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Well, it would be nice to have a guideline to specify some kind of limit, so if titles/salutations are allowed for characters only identifiable through what is presented in plot itself or contexts thereof, then the titles/salutations ought to not be more than a single word long. One of the concerns with the way that some military titles/salutations can be lengthy (e.g. Master Chief Petty Officers) may have been a contributing factor for creating a salutation omission guideline like that for movie characters bearing titles/salutations but whereby the actors portraying them are only credited by their own names without the character names/descriptions being listed.

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@jeorj_euler​ 

My other problem here is that these expanded character names with rankings are generally incompatible with how people with actual character names are given.

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Yeah, I'm also satisfied with the policy of omitting characters' titles/salutations. An hypothetical alternative guideline would be to put the exact occupation after the name, for each item, e.g. "Daniel 'Hondo' Harrelson - Police Sergeant" and "Victor Tan - Police Officer", but those are even longer role designations which could get weird for high-ranking personnel who might be distinguished by unit, squad, precinct or department, with an "of", for exactness.

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2 days ago

I’m confused already. ”List the character name as it’s written in the actual credits”. That doesn’t apply anymore?

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”List the character name as it’s written in the actual credits” Of course, that still applies. The situation at hand has to do with credits sequences that provide neither a character's name nor a character's description.

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I don't know where you are locate @eboy but the vast majority of US TV shows do not list character names for the main cast and the guest cast. The end credits that list character names are generally co-stars and minor cast members of that episode.

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Ah, I misunderstood. Since this is about the character names that are not listed in the credits, then I can (also) understand that some people want to add (e.g.) ”Officer Victor Tan” instead of ”Victor Tan” (which, to me at least, doesn’t count as ”overelaborate”). I probably also would IF the ”Officer” is clearly said in the course of the episode. It depends on the episode and on the situation. 

For me the bottom line usually is: With the character name/description, you should be able to identify the actor. Sometimes ”Man in the bar” is better than ”Jim”. Sometimes adding ”Officer” is better than not adding it.

(edited)

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Well, using the character Victor Tan as an example, it would be somewhat rare for him to be referred to as Officer Victor Tan, as it would usually be either Officer Tan or simply Victor, perhaps the diminutive form of Victor (like Vic) or some other nickname. The news outlets would probably refer to him as Officer Victor Tan, and if he would testify in court as a member of the police force, he would be introduced as such, referred to thereafter as Officer Tan, whereas if he would testify in court as a civilian in general, not explicitly civilian police, then he would be introduced as Victor Tan, thereafter referred to as Mister Tan. I'm not familiar with the particular show, but I'd imagine there are lots of times when other characters refer to him simply as Tan.

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As for a "Man in the Bar" named "Jim", I would go with "Jim the Man in the Bar" or "Jim - Man in the Bar", just so that it would be clear that at some point in the show, it was made clear that at least one other character knows his name or that the narrator (if there is such) at least acknowledges the character on a personal level.

Bethanny

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1 day ago

Hi @adrian ,@Peter_pbn , @jeorj_euler , @eboy -

Thanks to all for your insights. I have sent in a request to our policy team to review all points of view and both points mentioned by @Peter_pbn as it looks like 2 different guidelines might defer between them a little. It's better to have a final say from our policy team before taking any further actions. We have also reached out to the user making the changes to stop making them while this is solved. I will, of course, keep you all posted.

Cheers!