I asked a question recently, based on a comment from a user who commented on certain unpleasant attitudes that usually occur on websites. He used a character from literature as a reference to expose what he was feeling about these occurrences. How is this type of reference defined?

This is the text:

There are a few people who frequent the Mathematica.SE site for the purpose of soliciting extensive free program development and/or debugging services. I think of such people as Tom Sawyers, and they really bug me. So I ask: can more be done to discourage such people?

What I'm thinking of is making a new reason available as a choice for closing a post, This would appear in the pop-up window from which someone voting to close picks their reason for doing so. I propose this because I don't think any of currently available reasons quite fit this kind post. I also suggest the following wording for the item.

It appears that the only purpose of this question is to solicit extensive free software development and/or debugging services. Providing such extensive services is not compatible with the goals of this site.

Is this a good idea? If there is another, better route that could pursued to suppress Tom Sawyers, please bring it up.

I mean the fact of knowing the attitudes of the character and transforming it into a type of adjective.

  • Epitome covers it. – Phil Sweet May 21 '17 at 13:47
  • I just came across the concept of "eponymous adjective." I don't think it fits in this case, but if this person had referred to such question posters as "Sawyerian," it would have worked. – Evan May 30 '17 at 1:30

Tom Sawyer is the "archetypal" example of this sort of behavior. I would say that the user found the archetype for the askers he or she was trying to describe.

I think the usage fits both definitions very well:

the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies


a perfect example

The second is obvious, but I think the first applies as well. Probably Mark Twain didn't invent Tom's fence-painting strategy, but I'm not aware of an older popular example. I think it's probably the most efficient way to describe this behavior. If you were to say that you "Tom Sawyered" someone into doing something, many (most?) people would probably know what you meant.

Other good words would be "definitive,"

serving to define or specify precisely;

serving as a perfect example

Or "quintessential"

the most typical example or representative

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