Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha

What does "in-universe" and "supplementary" mean exactly?[]

Memory Alpha's point of view for content derived from the television series and the theatrical films is "in-universe", which means that the information will be written from the point of view of an archivist at the Memory Alpha library facility. This information is the total extent of the canon on the site. "Supplementary" information would be the info derived from other, Memory Alpha approved sources. "Supplementary" information will be written from a "real-world" point of view, and while it may be considered "non-canon" on this site, it does add to the overall richness of the Star Trek franchise.

Why just the TV shows and films?[]

Memory Alpha wants to ensure the greatest possible reliability for all readers and contributors. This means restricting the kinds of articles we accept as "in-universe" to those that are the most familiar - and for the Trek universe, that means the television series and theatrical films.
In Star Trek fandom, there are many, many differing opinions, to the point that even the term fans should use for themselves is debated. To be helpful to all fans, common ground had to be found.
What Star Trek is changes depending on who you ask, and the franchise has been controlled by a number of different people over the years, with different ideas about what is or isn't canon. The information Memory Alpha considers "in-universe" is, for the most part, what the studio considers canon. This content is also the most accessible Star Trek material, because Star Trek is primarily a television and film franchise, and it's this material that will most likely be used for future series and films.

What about The Animated Series?[]

According to Voyages of Imagination, the Animated Series was declared "apocryphal" by the studio in 1988 at Gene Roddenberry's request.
Gene Roddenberry said that if he had known there would be more live-action Star Trek in the future, the animated series would have been far more logical and "canonable," or he might not have produced the animated series at all.
Memory Alpha considers TAS to be too important to simply ignore though, as it was created by the same people as TOS, and is certainly not completely incompatible with the live-action shows.
With the release of The Animated Series DVD collection, in 2006, the studio reversed its decision, and included The Animated Series, even "not-appearing-in-the-show" Pavel Chekov, as part of the "canon" database at [1] This means that according to both Memory Alpha and the studio, The Animated Series is canon.

What about conflicts and retcons?[]

Not everything stated in the series or films should be believed when it is not consistent with the rest of the information we have. We don't have to buy everything and make up twisted explanations where logic and common sense fail. The 79 decks of the Enterprise-A in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, for instance, are in conflict with everything else we know about refit Constitution-class starships and their layout, so that information is only noted in a "real-world" background note, instead of "in-universe".
Retroactive continuity, for example the changes introduced when a series is remastered, present a different problem from a stray, conflicting fact. For simplicity's sake, Memory Alpha uses remastered information over the original information, though both are equally valid and could be presented "in-universe".

Why don't you distinguish better what information comes from the series and films and what was made up?[]

For the time being, ALL information included in Memory Alpha that pertains to the Star Trek universe must be from the series and films. Speculation is limited to very obvious conclusions and always explicitly marked as such – please adhere to the systematic use of the subjunctive, of "could, would, might be" and little words like "if" or "perhaps." Unlike most other websites and especially other databases, we don't make up any information, even if this leaves wide gaps in the lists and charts.

Why is this article in past tense? The article's subject still exists![]

Although it may seem odd to read that "Humans were a species" or that the "Federation was an interstellar republic", it is necessary for Memory Alpha's point of view.
Because Star Trek stories take place in many different eras, from the beginnings of life on Earth to the 32nd 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. If it helps, pretend that we're writing and viewing this data archive long after the Star Trek universe as we know it has ceased to exist.
This means using the past tense in almost all instances.

Why not just use the term "canon" instead of "in-universe?"[]

For eight years, Memory Alpha had a Canon policy, which wasn't, for the most part, even about "canon," and the result was useless discussion after useless discussion about the term canon; about the value of canon; about the authority of Roddenberry, Okuda, Abrams, Paramount, Pocket Books, et cetera; about books which should be considered canon because they are written by Jeri Taylor; about Colonel West and the Starfleet Marines; about how this game should be canon because someone at CBS said it should; or this reference work because someone at Paramount worked on it; and so on. Since we're tired of such discussions, Memory Alpha will only present what content we decided should be presented in-universe as such.
That said, we encourage anyone to include whatever they like to their personal view of the Star Trek universe. We would never want to suggest that you should miss out on the licensed and fan-made stuff from all around the world, because it really enriches the universe. Memory Alpha isn't here to decide what is or isn't canon, we're here to help you decide that for yourself by being the common ground most, if not all, fans can agree on. Everything else is left to our imagination, and hopefully, mutual understanding.