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Memory Alpha  AboutPolicies and guidelines → Point of view
Memory Alpha
This page describes one of Memory Alpha's policies and guidelines

Please read through the policy below to familiarize yourself with our common practices and rules.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please post them on the talk page.

Memory Alpha is written from several points of view (POV).

In-universeEdit

Memory Alpha's primary point of view is that of a character inside the fictional Star Trek universe – an archivist at Memory Alpha, the Federation library planet.

Star Trek universe articles should be written as if the described person, object, or event actually existed or occurred, exactly like in a normal encyclopedia, but with an omniscient writer. Think of Memory Alpha as an encyclopedia that exists in the Star Trek universe.

Use:

"... Spock was a half-Human, half-Vulcan, who served as science officer – and later first officer – aboard the USS Enterprise..."

Instead of:

"... Spock is the famous half-Human, half-Vulcan of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS)..."

TenseEdit

Because Star Trek stories take place in many different eras, from the beginnings of life on Earth to the 31st century and beyond, and because forthcoming stories may even expand beyond that, it is important to write all articles from a single perspective: i.e. that of someone looking back at the past. This helps to keep Memory Alpha consistent and understandable. A specific point in time has not been defined, but if it helps, pretend that we're writing and viewing this data archive at the end of time, long after the Star Trek universe as we know it has ceased to exist.

This means using the past tense in almost all instances. An exception to this are purely definitional statements on articles about a concept (which can be considered "eternal") - these may be written in present tense. For example, an article about any specific planet should be written in past tense from beginning to end. An article about the concept planet, however, could start with a definition that is written in present tense ("A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star"), before changing to past tense for the remainder of the article.

If it helps with the prose, further statements can be qualified with a time setting to place them into context and to allow putting them into past tense (example: "In the 23rd century, Federation scientists were able to create planets using the Genesis device.").

Some examples of how tense should be used for in-universe articles:

"The Enterprise was a starship in the 24th century."
"Penguins were waterfowl indigenous to Earth until at least the 21st century."
"The Constitution-class was a class of starship used by Starfleet in the 23rd century."
"The Andorians were one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets."
"Pluto was a major planetary body in the Sol system."

The tense that should be used is simple past tense. Usage of the conditional is incorrect, such as:

"Later, Voyager would encounter an automated missile that Torres had reprogrammed while she was still in the Maquis."

This sentence should be structured as:

"Later, Voyager encountered an automated missile that Torres had reprogrammed while she was still in the Maquis."

The proper, and indeed only, use of the conditional is with an if-then type syntax, such as:

"The new prototype that Torres created would have allowed the Pralor robots to win their war against the Cravic robots."

In that example, the robots "would" have been able to do something, if something else had happened – in this case, if Torres had allowed them to.

Citing sources and background informationEdit

Due to its nature, background information, apocrypha, and citations of the sources used naturally occurs outside the POV.

Background information and apocrypha is considered to fall under the "real world" POV and, as such, should be restricted to the appropriate sections. See the Manual of Style for more information.

See Cite Your Sources for information on how to cite your sources in episodes.

Undisclosed informationEdit

There are some cases in Star Trek stories in which it was made clear that certain information is highly classified, or entirely unknown due to memory wipes or similar plot twists. While, in theory, these things are not known to anyone within the Star Trek universe, Memory Alpha's POV is all-knowing, just like the television viewer.

Conflicts in valid resourcesEdit

If there are subjects that have conflicting references in the stories, simply add all the given information, and optionally add a background note explaining that there is a conflict.

Similarly, if two subjects have very similar names, that conceivably could have been meant to be the same (eg trititanium vs. tritanium), create both articles and hint at the similarity in background notes.

Production point of viewEdit

The production or "real world" point of view applies to articles about the Star Trek franchise and production (eg. articles on books, episodes, series, comics, actors, staff, etc.), which naturally are not part of the Star Trek universe.

All such articles should have the {{realworld}} template at the top. Tense should be the same as a standard encyclopedia in the present day.

Some examples of how tense should be used for production articles:

"Gene L. Coon was a writer and producer for Star Trek: The Original Series."
"Star Trek is a science fiction franchise comprising six television series, twelve films plus numerous books, comics, games, and collectibles."

Episode articlesEdit

Articles concerning Star Trek episodes and films are a special case. Although they are covered by the production point of view, summary sections are written from an in-universe point of view and may be written in either present or past tense. Other sections, including the sidebar and background information sections, should be written in a standard production point of view.

Use:

"In her ready room, Captain Kathryn Janeway listens to Cadet Icheb's presentation."

Instead of:

"The episode begins with Captain Kathryn Janeway sitting in her ready room listening to Cadet Icheb's presentation."

Maintenance pagesEdit

Articles concerning the functioning of Memory Alpha fall outside of either point of view. These include the Main Page, pages in "Memory Alpha:", "Template:", "Help:" and "User:" namespaces, and all talk pages.

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