Memory Alpha
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Memory Alpha  AboutPolicies and guidelines → Retroactive continuity policy
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.

Retroactive continuity, and other conflicts in valid MA resources, present a problem when writing an in-universe encyclopedia. This policy is to establish a framework for dealing with these problems.

In writing articles, archivists should be guided by the principle that to the greatest extent possible in-universe information should be construed so as not to be in conflict, as the presumption should be that a conflict does not exist unless no other explanation is reasonable under the circumstances.

In the event that two or more in-universe resources directly conflict with each other in a manner in which there is no reasonable way for them all to be useable in-universe, the reason there is a conflict has to be taken into account. If:

  1. The episode or film was remastered, and the information presented on screen was changed, you should use the remastered information for in-universe information. For simplicity's sake, Memory Alpha uses remastered information over the original information, though both are equally valid and could be presented "in-universe". Production mistakes during the remastering process, such as the blue alert lights not being corrected from red in the remastered "Brothers", can be ignored.
  2. The producers explicitly changed information that is only discernible due to home video or production sources. Whorfin Dax, only briefly referenced on a LCARS screen, and the original USS Melbourne, with its name and registry indiscernible on screen, were explicitly retconned out by later productions, by giving a definitive list of Dax hosts and using a different model up close with the name and registry of the first, respectively. An explicit change doesn't require the production or producers to be aware that a change is being made at the time, just that the new information doesn't allow for the old information. In these cases, the valid resource with a higher precedence can, but does not always have to, be given slightly greater evidentiary weight for the purposes of writing the article from an in-universe standpoint.
  3. The reason there is a conflict is different from those presented above, either can be referenced as a valid in-universe resource, provided the other is also included in some manner in the article, and the conflict noted.

In all cases, explanations of the conflict and the reason for the selection of one resource over another should appear in a manner that is set off from the main text of the article, like in a background note.

Retcon articles and categories

In order to cover retconned material with MA's POV, different approaches are used:

If the material being covered is its own article, it should use the {{retcon}} article type banner, and any categories used on retcon articles should be disambiguated with "(retconned)", such as Category:Raymond family (retconned). If this results in having to create a new category, simply place that category in the non-retcon disambiguated version, such as Category:Raymond family, and the retconned material category. It is also suggested, though not required, that these articles should be written from an in-universe POV, since the idea is that while these articles are not considered to be in-universe as far as the rest of the database is concerned, they could have been.
If the retcon material is covered in a background note on an article, the retconned material in background category should be added to the other categories on the page. This is a hidden category, which means the category won't be visible to readers of MA unless they are signed in and have the appropriate switch set in their user preferences. This way, the retconned material is categorized, but the POV isn't broken.