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Memory Alpha

What tense?

From Memory Alpha:Ten Forward/Archive 2005

I've been looking through are various policies but cannot seem to find any established rules on article tense (past, present, future). The examples I've seen used in the guidelines show both past and present, and I've noticed most articles around here are in past tense - as are the ones I typically write. I noticed that User:Mark 2000 had a concern about this, and I thought I would ask you about the scenario. --Gvsualan 07:43, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I believe a general consensus for past-tense was reached in discussion -- however, policy pages are slow to follow discussion sometime, so I'm not sure where this ended up getting added. If you and I discuss this with a few other administrators and archivists, I'm sure we can find a way to disseminate this style policy. I think Ten Forward might be the best place to do this. -- Captain Mike K. Barteltalk 07:46, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

See, I couldn't even find that discussion. Just this. --Gvsualan 10:05, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is connected to some discussions about our "point of view" that we had in the past - though I can't find a central location for that discussion, either. Basically, we're talking about events happening in three different centuries (with some special cases happening even outside that range). The only point of view that makes sense for MA, in my opinion, is one of a person existing "inside" the Trek universe and "after" the last of the events we are writing about. In this case, it only makes sense to write about everything in the past tense. -- Cid Highwind 13:51, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
What about background info, and distant future events like the Enterprise-J, etc.? --Defiant | Talk 22:17, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)
That's difficult to answer, because (in the case of Enterprise-J, for example), we're not only talking about something that happens later, but about something that might happen later, an alternate timeline. For the sake of simplicity, we might want to choose to write all articles in past tense, but it would be equally valid to write about possible future events in future tense, as someone from the 24th century would do. What do you all prefer? -- Cid Highwind 15:43, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I also read somewhere that the past tense was preferred over future and present tense but I cannot remember where. I think it had something to do with MA being a library and that in this context past tense would be preferable. That was also the reason why I changed the Nog article to past tense. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to write an episode summary like a book, in present time like you are experiencing it. As far as I am concerned episode summaries would be the only articles valid for present time. -- Q 06:39, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

We should write all articles in the present. This is what the books say to do. Alternatively, we could write everything in the future now and in the 22nd century, start changing the tense to past. By the late 24th century, almost all articles will be in the past. I prefer the first idea better. As an example, last night, I wrote in Hoshi Sato (mirror) she poisons Jonathan Archer (mirror) and becomes Empress Hoshi Sato Ⅰ. Within hours, it became she poisoned Jonathan Archer (mirror) and became Empress Hoshi Sato I.

  1. She will not do those things for 1½ centuries.
  2. ¿What is wrong with the Roman Numeral Ⅰ as opposed to the letter I?

— Ŭalabio 21:48, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)

You're looking at this from completely the wrong perspective. The perspective of Memory Alpha is that of the late 24th century - ie, several years past Star Trek Nemesis, so that all events that have happened in the regular Trek timeline have already happened. And, what books? The Star Trek Encyclopedia, the only comparable reference work, takes the same view. The only exception to the past tense rule should be things that aren't a time-specific reference, ie, saying "Phasers are directed-energy weapons..." or "Archer IV is a planet...", and similar. -- Michael Warren | Talk 22:35, 30 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The books are the writing manuals from University. Basically in fiction, one writes things happening at the now of the characters in the present with things happening in the future of the characters happening in future and things happening in the past as past. When writing about fiction, on uses the same conventions. As an example, in "The Trouble with Tribbles", tribbles over run Deep Space Station K-7 and the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

— Ŭalabio 04:43, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

Don't miss the point -- in the 2380s, the tribbles overran K-7 over 120 years ago -- and Sato poisoned Archer in the mirror universe over 225 years ago. We are writing from a point-of-view of the late 24th century -- everything up to the end credits of Nemesis happened in the past.
From the point of view of the Nemesis era, all of these things are behind us. That's the tone a normal encyclopedia reference writer would take -- we are trying to emulate a normal encyclopedia of the year 2380+. (and also, not to write fiction prose as may be recommended by writing guides, but a reference about a fictional topic. -- Captain Mike K. Barteltalk 05:17, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
So Memory-Alpha.Org has its servers on the planetoid housing Memory Alpha in the closing days of the 24th century.

— Ŭalabio 06:23, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

And another thing, from your argument we should be writing these things not in the past OR present tense, but in the future tense. If your arguement is that these things haven't happened yet then technically neither the present or past tense would be correct, only the future would be. That seems pretty obviously unworkable so the convention is to use the past tense in keeping with encyclopedic style.Logan 5 19:06, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

A big part of this, or perhaps related but separate, is just the generally poor use of grammar on so many pages. The use of past tense, especially in English, is far more standard than all the verb conjugations of the present tense. It also makes for far easier reading and standardization across articles when you have some users who are either just bad writers, or may be using English as a second language and clearly aren't familiar with the use of passives, etc in the present tense. Beyond that, I agree with the general point that encyclopedic references - and not fiction - take a historic viewpoint. No one is saying these events have already happened, but only that we are writing from the point of view as if they had already happened. It's also worth pointing out that all of the editions of the Star Trek Encyclopedia, which is clearly an inspiration for this site, used the past tense just as any Encyclopedia would.

Logan 5 18:58, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Past or Present?

Okay, I have looked high and low for policies on what tense to use in articles, be it past or present, and have only found a few discussions on the topic which don't really define it as policy. Personally, I thought we were looking at the POV of the 24th century, post-Star Trek Nemesis, and therefore, all historical articles should be in past tense except for those subjects which are currently still around or active in the 24th century. However, Q has been changing several articles (United Federation of Planets, Andorian, Tholian) to past tense. Is this right? What, exactly, is MA's policy on this? And if there isn't one, could we perhaps create one? --From Andoria with Love 11:37, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

  • Personally, I like what Michael Warren suggested in an archived Ten Forward discussion:
The perspective of Memory Alpha is that of the late 24th century - ie, several years past Star Trek Nemesis, so that all events that have happened in the regular Trek timeline have already happened. ... The only exception to the past tense rule should be things that aren't a time-specific reference, ie, saying "Phasers are directed-energy weapons..." or "Archer IV is a planet...", and similar.

That's what I thought we were doing all along. Am I right here? --From Andoria with Love 11:46, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

Consensus the last times we discussed this topic seemed to be to use past tense throughout exactly because the in-universe part of the encyclopedia is written from an in-universe POV (meaning that everything has to have happened already). In my opinion, to createe a consistent style, this should include everything and not be restricted to events having happened before some arbitrary date in the late 24th century. I suggest to use past tense for all in-universe articles and whatever tense seems appropriate for meta articles. -- Cid Highwind 11:51, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)
I personally use the following. All articles should be in past tense except the episode summaries who also might be in present tense. (some argued because they are running episodes and therefore did not needed to be past tense, which is fine by me) This means, to me atleast, that the reader is looking back from a far away future back to the StarTrek universe and is reading about the history of it. Because of the lack of a 'real tense policy' I use this as reference on which I base my edits. (hence why I changed the tense on the above mentioned articles) So as far as I am concerned "Archer IV is a planet..." should be "Archer IV was a planet...", because who says that in the years after StarTrek, the timeframe of the reader, it didn't explode or existed anymore ? The same goes for the phasers. Please correct me if I am wrong. -- Q 13:07, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

I'm not saying you're wrong (because I have no idea), but I was under the impression that we were looking at it from the POV of a few years after Nemesis, not far in the future. It would be nice to have some clarification on this, which is why I believe a tense policy should be enacted... once we find out what the policy will be, of course. :-P --From Andoria with Love 13:20, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

The usage of tense within MA always confused me, partially because of the lack of a good tense description, and still does, so I adapt as I go along. I didn't even known about the 'few years after Nemssis POV, go figure. I will refrain from changing tense in articles for the time being and see what this discussion brings -- Q 13:34, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)
  • A few years after Nemisis is what I was working from, I was wondering why the species articles were being made past tense. Jaf 15:10, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)Jaf
I think "a few years after Nemesis" is a good rule of thumb, but shouldn't be made official policy. What if there's some future series or movie set after Nemesis - do we rewrite all articles that now use present tense? What about events that "we" know of because of time travel? Do we use future tense in those cases? I think the most logical approach would be to use "far future" as our POV, which means past tense for all in-universe articles. Of course, articles about "timeless" things (for example, theories&principles) could be written in present tense, althought I don't know if that wouldn't make it confusing for readers? -- Cid Highwind 15:39, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

After some searching I found this, Memory Alpha:Point of view. I must admit it this not clarify the tense to use, atleast not to me. -- Q 15:49, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

The idea of making everything past tense is appealing to me, for the sake of simplicity. However, the "a few years after Nemesis" idea seems prevelant, as in William Riker and others that speak in the present tense when introducing the topic. Cid's point is a good one, and I agree that "far future" is the best policy to avoid inconsistencies. Q is also right about episode summaries, all of which are in present tense from what I've seen. --Broik 17:44, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)
My take, FWIW: All events should be described in past tense, from the vantage point of some arbitrary amount of time after the event itself. Future events should be described in past tense too, from the vantage point of an arbitrary amount of time after the knowledge of the future events was gained in the past (e.g., "in this future timeline, Janeway had become an admiral".)
All people should be described in past tense, even those who might be expected to live way past our arbitrary amount of time (e.g., Q, the Metron, or the Prophets).
All objects should be in past tense, but classes of objects should be described in present tense, because the class still exists even if no instances of it still exist. E.g., "Starships are" but "the U.S.S. Enterprise was".
Locations, including planets and cities, should always be described in present tense, because there's an expectation of permanence there, and it's a little jarring to hear "Earth was..." The exception of course is for those places that are known to no longer exist. E.g. "Vulcan is" but "the Genesis planet was".
Political entities should always be in past tense, e.g. "the UFP was" and "the USA was", because these are more in the realm of people, where there's no expectation of permanence, than in the realm of locations, though it will be fuzzy at the edges.
Episode summaries are ok in present tense, as these are a special type of article and it seems to work just fine.
Have at it. --9er 18:10, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)
I agree to adding a determined time-POV to Memory Alpha:Point of view, but maybe 2380 might be better than far future because writing about all the main characters (of this time) as if they are dead sounds a bit... strange. --Memory 22:22, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)
Memory, I believe the idea is to have all articles written from a POV an arbitrary number of years after the events took place, no matter when they took place, and not to name a single year and have all articles written from that POV. Doing it the second way, ENT articles would read like ancient history, while VOY eps would read like recent news.
Also, I hadn't noticed that some character articles were written in the present tense. I took a look and the TNG characters seem to be in present tense, but most DS9 character articles are in past tense. I think the TNG character articles are in the wrong POV. --9er 23:04, 18 Dec 2005 (UTC)

As a casual user of MA, let me add that I think this is the most significant problem with the entire project. Comparing MA to other comperable projects, the clear lack of consistency in POV exposes this reference to be, frankly, a work of amateurs. And debating at which year to set the POV will only exacerbate the problem. What will MA do when another Star Trek incarnation moves the timeline past whatever arbitrary year we set the POV? And setting up extremely complex rules like "planets are always in present tense" will only lead to inconsistency and continued confusion. The only way to solve this problem is to redefine the entire philosophy. Then, this new philosophy on POV should be written into the introduction, the guidelines for posting, and everywhere else prominent. It seems to me that the new philosophy should be this. All articles should be written in the past tense. All of them. Picard was not is the Captain of the Enterprise-E. Earth was not is the location of Starfleet Command. And so on. This POV is one of detached omnipresense, and is the most appropriate for a reference work like MA. Please, take this existential issue more seriously. -- 04:30, 31 Dec 2005 (UTC)

I agree with 9er. We should talk about it as best we know about it, the last time we checked in. I was favoring the post-Nemesis idea, but I like this better. As we learn more about something, it should move up the tense. If we saw the person die (or things regarding their death occured), it should be past tense, like Trip Tucker and Tasha Yar. However, to avoid everything in Enterprise and TOS sounding like ancient history, they should refer to the last we know about them. True, we know that T'Pol is long dead in the later series, but her death is never mentioned (AFAIK), so it would work to refer to her as if the ENT finale just occured. Also, with events in the far future, also past tense. For example, Captain Braxton travelled back in time, not he will travel back in time. However, this only works with biographical articles. For historical articles, the post-Nemesis thing works best. We need to retain one viewpoint for an entire article. For example, if we were describing Earth's history, we wouldn't want to talk about different people from different times like they lived together. Episode summaries are fine in present tense, like a running description. To sum this whole thing up, as Braxton said in "Relativity", "I gave up trying to keep my tenses straight years ago." -Platypus Man 05:19, 31 Dec 2005 (UTC)
How will that help either? It doesn't work for biographical references because some characters span more than one series, thus bringing up more confusion over the POV. Are we supposed to refer to Spock in present tense in "Unification I" and past-tense for "Amok Time"? Imagine having to change the tense of an article every time a new episode or movie came out... Now that I think about it, I just find it professionally unsound to use different tenses for different situations, because not all people will be aware of certain guidelines, causing mass confusion, edits, and reverts with the original editor wondering why people keep changing his tense when he thinks it's a few years after Nemesis. Also, if we go by that Nemesis idea, then we have to refer to events in the future as future tense... i.e. the Enterprise-J, Tox Uthat, etc. I say we just write up a convention that dictates past-tense only. --Madame Arsenic 22:09, 4 Jan 2006 (UTC)
I'm not saying that we change from present to past; it would stay in the past tense, but from when will we be looking will change. In your Spock example, for his bio, we would refer to the events of both episodes in the past tense, but "Unification" would feel more recent than "Amok Time." For Uhura, however, we would use the past tense from the last we saw or heard of her (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as best I know) so that her life wouldn't seem ancient. We wouldn't write her history as if she died centuries ago, but like if Undiscovered Country just happened. -Platypus Man 02:51, 5 Jan 2006 (UTC)

Well, I've read all your comments on this and gave it a try to put in words. I made a temp page of it which you can find here, Memory Alpha:Point of view/temp. I myself feel this change needs voting to make it 'official'. Please comment on the article tense. -- Q 20:22, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Hm, ok, let's take it. --Memory 21:33, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
I think that past tense is the only way to logically go. Other thoughts on the draft are on the TEMP page. Aholland 19:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

In the year 4000...

I removed the reference saying that we're editing MA from the point of view of someone living in at least 4000. I don't think specifying an exact year is necessary; linking to the far future (32nd century and beyond, apparently) should do. --From Andoria with Love 04:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Article Tenses

I find something odd in reading about species as if they are no more. Jaf 00:22, 7 March 2006 (UTC)Jaf

But let's say that in the next movie the producers go for something really dramatic and have a virus wipe out every single last Romulan. All of them. Totally gone. Having articles that say "Romulans are" would be anachronistic. They would all have to be changed to "Romulans were". But then in the next film Q brings them all back. Suddenly they are "Romulans are" again. My point is since we do not know the creative direction the show will go, do not know most of what happens between the 24th and 29th Centuries, and have to write of events from at least a 29th Century point of view, past tense is the most accurate and lowest maintenance approach. Or so it seems to me. Aholland 03:35, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

You don't find it sounds a little odd to say "Humans were a species from Earth"? And it makes us just as guilty, except this time we are assuming future non-existance instead of future existance. Jaf 13:34, 7 March 2006 (UTC)Jaf

Yes, it does sound a little odd to my ear. But I'm not sure that having an exception for species would be the best solution, creating a point of view inconsistency throughout the site. A workaround is to phrase it differently. For example: "Humans originated on Earth, and as a species were spread throughout the Alpha Quadrant by the 24th Century", which sounds fine to me but preserves the past tense. A little tweaking of text is - I think - preferable to having inconsistent points of view. Aholland 14:45, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Given that discussion on this seems to have dried up, are there any objections to it being moved to the real POV page? Aholland 04:57, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure why everything needs to be rushed around here. Patience is a definately a must on this site. As for implimenting new additions to our policies, there definately needs to be some sort of support before it can move forward. No objections doesn't necessarily mean it's automatically approved.
Anyway, I'm not sure it is wise to assume a species is extinct, or referred to in the past tense in a way that suggests a species is exist, unless there is some conclusive indication that they are indeed extinct. Past tense is not for definitions and non-time specific information, which is exactly what "Romulans are..." begins to describe.
In terms of looking at this from the "29th century" point of view: everything beyond Star Trek Nemesis is written, in most all cases, as occuring in a "possible future timeline." By sticking to a timeframe reference that corresponds with the "current" year in the TNG-base timeline (late 24th century) it keeps us in line with the perspective that isn't assuming that the "possible future timeline" is definitive, because there is no indication that is it.
With that said, I'm inclined to follow the current suggestion on approaching pov that was written by this site's co-founder last fall. --Alan del Beccio 05:44, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Patience is a virtue, I agree. However, given that change happens on this site only when someone affirmatively acts, I wanted to see if there were currently any substantive issues from anyone on the rewording of the redraft before putting it up to try it on for size. As in the FAQ: "The current policies in place have been accepted by the membership, but change to said policies is acceptable (and indeed is even expected)."
With that in mind, can you tell me which current suggestion you are referring to that you like? I apologize for not knowing, but it could be the prior version of this TEMP page or the September 28, 2005 version of Memory Alpha:Point of view or something else I haven't yet found. I think you may mean the 9/28/05 version, which would place everything in a past tense anyway; else the example wouldn't be given as such, nor would the omniscient point of view make sense. For instance, in the single policy example given Spock is spoken of in the past tense. Yet from a 23rd or 24th Century POV he exists and is an "is" rather than a "was". The policy thus appears to require that the omniscient POV use past tense as all information is known and causality requires it be in the past (at least with the limited tense structure that English has).
Another example: from the point of view of the year 2365 or earlier the Husnock would be a present-tense race; from 2366 and after they would be a past-tense race. From what perspective would you suggest they be addressed? The policy would have it as past, which makes sense to me. The alternative is to peg an exact year as the POV, but no one seems to have suggested that as a viable approach.
So it seems that the restatement - whether my take on it or an earlier version - follows the same past tense approach as in the current policy. Please let me know where I've misinterpreted something, as I was attempting to clarify what I saw as a quasi-consensus in Memory Alpha:Ten Forward rather than restructure the whole thing. Aholland 14:59, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
You seem to rather enjoy focusing on tearing apart and overanalyzing the one questionable point of any one persons comment and ignoring the rest, regardless to how valid it is. I don't come here to do what you do, I come here to write articles because this is what I enjoy to do. Leave your work at home, ignore my last paragraph/sentence, and focus on the rest. That seems to be what the discussion prior to my comment was about anyway. --Alan del Beccio 19:48, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not really sure how to interpret Gvsualan's last note; but I think we should simply focus on the question at hand. My comment above was a long way of saying: the current POV policy places everything in past tense, and the revision (not originally proposed by me, by the way) carries that approach forward. If I am wrong about my reading of the current policy, please let me know. If not, we should all be writing articles from a past tense POV, and articles not written in that way should be modified accordingly. Aholland 21:11, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm generally in agreement with the temp, as I think it would make things easier. The "in-canon" pages would be easier to maintain, and easier to read, in a past-tense point of view. This includes things like "Humans were a species..." and so forth. -- Last Thylacine 15:45, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that the temporary policy is decent, but I would recommend that episode (novel/etc) summaries are put into the past tense in the same way as the articles. That way the 'summary' section is "in-universe" POV, and the rest of the article is "real world" POV. It also makes for an easier transition when going from a present tense summary to a past tense article about a species (to cite the example used above). The other reason there is that if you allow a mix of tenses, then you'll find that when you're reading episode to episode, one may seem to take place in the past while the next doesn't. It's best to present a consistent front in my mind. -- Sulfur 13:46, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
My opinion (copied from Sulfur's talkpage): Unless you are writing about a historical event (e.g. Dominion War, American Revolution) or you are summarizing an episode/book/etc please use present tense, e.g. Romulans ARE are a species, Cpt. Picard IS the captain of the Enterprise-E... Descriptions and general information sould be written in present tense as the Romulans are still a species and, according to the most recent canon-information, Picard is still in command of the Enterprise-E. Should you find articles not adhering to this policy please correct them.
Finally, it should also be noted, that Wikipedia uses present tense in its articles, too, unless it's historical. --BlueMars 16:23, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
... but our articles are supposed to be historic. That's the whole point of writing them in past tense in the first place... -- Cid Highwind 16:32, 2 October 2006 (UTC)
Especially since we are not writing as per immediately after Nemesis, a chosen time period seems to be sometime after everything in the ST universe has come to an end (whenever that may be). Wikipedia writes in present tense because they are writing about events that are currently, actually, happening. We ain't. We'se writing about fiction, so we can make our own rules as to when our "timeline" is. -- Sulfur 16:49, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm gonna add my two cents into the discussion. I feel that all articles should be in the past tense except those about topics that would resonably be expected to be still in existence in the far future (i.e. the universe, the Milky Way galaxy, stars, planets, etc.) unless we know for a fact they don't exist (i.e. a planet was destroyed). I'm not sure about species... I could go either way (if we use present tense, then an obvious exception would be for species that were noted as extinct). Pretty much anything else should be past tense: starships, specific people, governments, technology, cities, etc. Whatever the decision, though, we need to come to a consensus relatively soon, since having an inconsistent format reflects poorly on the whole site, imo. -- Renegade54 18:10, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Other discussions

"Article tense" has also been discussed here:

General consensus of all discussions seems to be "past tense for in-universe articles", not "present tense". -- Cid Highwind 19:03, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Rather, it seems to be "past tense for specific in-universe articles" and "Present tense for things of greater premanence not known to be extinct" (ie planets, and races), thus avoiding the "humans were...", "Earth was..." problem. Seems simple enough. Encyclopedic too. -- foravalon 01:11, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
But leaning toward past tense for everything except universe elements (stars, planets, etc). Even races. As it stands, most of the race/species articles are written in past tense already, so it makes sense to keep things that way rather than rewriting them all. Especially when there's so much other stuff to fix and cleanup as is! :) -- Sulfur 13:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
After the issue first came to my attention the other night I took a quick and random look around at the race and cultures page and did not find this to be the case, I'm not sure that rational stands up. Even the current Article of the Week (on the Breen) displayed on MA's opening portal does not support this.
Almost everything in-universe, of course, should be past tense but extending that to descriptions of species makes very little sense and is misleading, as well as inaccurate, providing the implication that this race or world has been eliminated, in the majority of cases this obviously is not true. MA articles should not reflect such inaccuracy. Further this serves muddy the water when it comes to races or objects which obviously have been eliminated like the Xindi-Avians or the Husnock whose past tense articles serves to define and highlight thier extinction. -- foravalon 13:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
And see, that's one of the disagreements. I personally believe that we should stick to one tense throughout in-universe articles, period. Including in episode summaries. That makes it easier to figure out for people when they're trying to figure out what tense to write things in. Heck, we can pretend that we're viewing this data archive long after the universe has ceased to exist as we know it if that helps :) -- Sulfur 16:31, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

From Talk:Altarian marsupial

Why past tense if it isn't extinct (that we know of)? Also, every other page for (star name)-an (something) directly presumes that it's from that star, why split hairs here? See: Altair water, Aldebaran shellmouth, Aldebaran serpent, Aldebaran mud leech... -- 04:05, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Past tense is due to our point of view policy. Everything is to be written in the past tense, except for those things we know will survive. Which, strictly speaking, isn't anything to be perfectly honest. :) -- Sulfur 04:16, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

However, standard POV for "natural" things (species, planets, stars, etc) is in present tense (it is also thus on Wikipedia). Here are some semi-random pages to show this: Altair, Gorn, Quatal Prime, animal, trilithium. Also, my point stands about just saying it's from the Altair system. -- 04:20, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

First off, this isn't wikipedia. Second off, some of those pages will have to be corrected then. Thanks for pointing them out. :) -- Sulfur 04:21, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Present-tense POV for "definition"-type entries (as opposed to "historical record") is in place for the vast majority of those articles on MA, as I believe they should be. Check for yourself (for example, with the four articles I linked to in my first statement). -- 04:24, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes. Present tense is used in a number of articles. The problem is, the POV was not really determined until after a large number of articles were already put into a variety of differing tenses. Heck, there are a number of articles out there that contain a multitude of tenses, ranging from past, to present, to future, and pretty much all random oddities and mixtures you can imagine in between. An effort is being made (albeit slowly) to bring the tenses of the various articles more in-line with the intent and POV that we have chosen for the wiki. Ergo, the change back to past tense, and the change of four of the articles you mentioned to the proper tense. Past. Heck, one of those alternated between past and present in alternate sentences. Bad! :) -- Sulfur 04:32, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem with always using past tense is that it doesn't make sense for definitions, because it carries with it the implication that the definition is no longer valid. For example, would you say that biology was the study of living things, or that the universe was the sum of all matter, energy, and space? It sounds wrong. This is why Wikipedia (I know I keep bringing it up, but they do things for a reason) has the split between past-tense for history and present-tense for definition. If a consensus has not been reached on this issue on MA then the discussion needs to be opened. -- 04:36, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

You're right. Past tense should be used in any references a character makes about a reference to the particular definition, whereas the definition itself should be present tense, unless it is known to be extinct. Those articles IP referenced above follow that format.

--Alan del Beccio 05:21, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

From Talk:Gorn

Must we again have this debate? Facts that are not historical should be in present-tense. This includes all references to biology. -- Kingfisher 01:40, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Where is the debate?--Tim Thomason 01:44, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Talk:Altarian marsupial -- Kingfisher 01:47, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Kingfisher, this debate has been going on since a hell of a lot longer than you have been here, and it was decided to do things in past tense. You can't just come along and change everything for the hell of it when we have an existing practice. --OuroborosCobra talk 01:48, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The complaint he has in particular is that he is going and changing all tenses of any biological species that has not been seen on screen to be extinct to present tense, no matter their prior tense or the debate occurring at MA:POV. The problem is that there is no consensus on the matter as yet other than the fact that the encyclopedia should be written from the POV of someone in the "far future" (whenever that is, intentionally no date given). Now, one school states that planets, stars, and elements should be (thus) in present tense since they are "eternal", and that everything else should be past tense. The other school holds that, unless we see someone end, we should assume that it's all still totally and utterly current. That's the debate.
For the time being, may I suggest holding off on edit wars on these pages until such a time as the debate is settled? -- Sulfur 01:49, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Reaching a consensus is what I proposed yesterday, with no follow-up. Also, my issue includes life-forms, species, planets, stars, and anything else "natural". I still maintain that the situation of MA as an in-universe encyclopedia is no different from that of any other general encyclopedia, which have to deal the same different types of articles. The way they handle tense works, so what's the huge issue? -- Kingfisher 01:56, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Every other encyclopedia out there is dealing with the "present", and thus, there's no tense debate. Part of the issue here is that the "present" has not been determined with a consensus. Despite what any one admin may say, me included. My point is more a case of... let's just actually get a consensus before making rampant changes everywhere. -- Sulfur 02:01, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

As this page amply demonstrates, this has been dragging on for years. So in the interests of debate, here's another suggestion: take whatever article you're writing about. Move the POV forward 500 years. Is it still there? Then use present tense. -- Kingfisher 02:26, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

500 years doesn't get us past the last ST reference. Why not go... say... 500,000 years instead? :) See the problem that has arisen? The issue of why this has become a problem? That's why it's easiest to give simple guidelines as I set out (choices (a) and (b) above). -- Sulfur 02:37, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
The point is not how many years you go. The point is whether whatever you're talking about has an end that's relevant to a Human observer (i.e. Human time scale). Half a million years in the future has no meaning to any living person. And even if you used half a million years...planets would be there, so would stars, lifeforms, gravity, light... -- 02:42, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Planets, stars, lifeforms (in the general meaning of life existing, not specific species), gravity, light, etc. have already been mostly written in present tense. The problem comes up in other things, like an article about the Klingon race. It is very conceivable that in 500,000 years, that species will not exist. Look how short some species in Human evolution have existed. How about governments? I don't know of any government that has lasted even 2000 years. --OuroborosCobra talk 02:47, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Alright, let's take another tack. Say you're an observer in the last time period (disbarring time travel -- I think that should be a special case) that Klingons are known to exist, the 2380s. Is there any reason you should expect the Klingons to be gone in your lifetime? Your children's? Your grandchildren's? You can't predict the future of course, so is the prospect of the Klingons ending so remote or improbably that it doesn't have any possibility of having a literal effect on your life? In other words, does a normal person fret constantly that the United States will collapse, make preparations and such, even though history dictates that it must at some point? That's Human time scale. -- Kingfisher 02:51, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Except for one thing... the last time period we see is the far distant future anyhow. Not as far ahead as B5's furthest admittedly, but still, pretty damned far, and we have no idea what's happened since then. That's why there are the two schools of thought that I keep noting above. It's as simple as a or b. It really is. And it has nothing to do with worrying about things ending or otherwise. It has to do with, what's easiest to understand, and what's easiest for new editors coming into things to deal with. My take is that it's easiest to see everything in one tense. But not everyone agrees, and some people take the tack that we should copy Wikipedia. But, we are not Wikipedia. :) -- Sulfur 02:58, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
No matter what time it is, the POV is that of an archivist at the Federation library planet, Memory Alpha. So it is the near far-future ;). --Bp 02:59, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Like I said, time travel should be a separate case. But let's take that. What are you referring to? The end of all life in the Andromeda Galaxy as predicted by the Kelvans? The end of the universe itself? If we in an episode saw the end of the universe, that would be an event, just like every other glimpse of the future we've had in Trek have been events. Events are history, even if they took place in the future, because they've also already taken place in the past at the same time (I hate time travel). Archer's trip to the 26th century took place in 2151. And if he learned on that trip that Earth gets destroyed in 2522, then we should note that fact as "In a possible future, Earth will be destroyed" in a side passage apart from the main article. In italics, because technically it hasn't happened yet. Even though it has. -- Kingfisher 03:03, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Um, alright, there has been a parallel argument happening in the #MA IRC channel, sorry you werent in on that, King. Anyway, the position I would like to support brings a compromise. It is based on sulphur's "schools" from above:

  • A-School: "... planets, stars, and elements should be (thus) in present tense since they are eternal, and that everything else should be past tense."
  • B-School: "unless we see someone end, we should assume that it's all still totally and utterly current. "

So, I would like to make the compromise rule: A-School, with 2 exceptions for Governments and Species which will be B-School. This allows the Federation to exist, and it's archivists to be working, yet still be in the fuzzy "far future". --Bp 03:38, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I vote for Bp's proposal, as it is the only one that seems logical to me. --OuroborosCobra talk 03:43, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I still maintain that subjects that do not have a realistic probability of ending from the POV of an observer in the 23rd and 24th centuries should be in present tense. More specifically, this includes all lifeforms not established to be extinct (no Human would say "humans were a species native to Earth"). I'd also amend A-school to include words, languages, scientific concepts, continuing works of civilization (extant cities, cartographic systems, currency, etc), and technology that is defined as a type of device rather than a specific device from a specific period in history. -- Kingfisher 03:45, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, right. Thats why Humans are in the B-School with other species. They really must still exist. Also, "scientific concepts," are B-School and then "technology that is defined as a type of device rather than a specific device from a specific period in history" is also a good candidate for B-School. Things like "words, languages" and "continuing works of civilization" should stay A-School, IMO. --Bp 03:51, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh man, and I was always a C-Student too.--Tim Thomason 03:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I'll clarify that "scientific concepts" are already eternal and therefor A-School without exception. Types of devices are scientific concepts so they are also A-School without exception. "continuing works of civilization" are not, so we must decide whether to add a B-School exception. --Bp 04:08, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

It seems that most of the contention is in civilization-related things? I like the idea of using present tense for everything except for things that have ended, "ending" being the object no longer being made or the concept no longer being believed in. This way it's the same rule as applied to governments, societies, and species. Under that rule, all settlements are assumed to be current unless otherwise stated, whereas facilities will use past tense because they were constructed in a particular time frame and then "stopped". This would then be consistent with specific starships being particular examples of a technology and thus using past tense. -- Kingfisher 04:21, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Alright, thought some more about it so how about this? Articles should be in present tense unless the subject is known to have ceased to exist (does not count if it possibly ceased to exist, as a vision of the future), with the following exceptions, which should always be in past tense: individuals (unless specifically stated to be immortal), historical events and periods, and specific pieces of technology (i.e. a specific starship or device) that has a distinct start and finish. This should apply within articles as well, so that an article about DNA will talk about DNA itself in the present tense but any people or events associated with DNA in the past tense. -- Kingfisher 04:54, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I skipped the last third or so of this discussion - but what you have to keep in mind is the fact that, in the Trek universe, even "eternal" objects like planets, stars and whole species often have unexpected "ends". Who can tell that at the chosen time of writing (which necessarily has to be set at least several hundred years in the future of the series itself), a specific object still exists? -- Cid Highwind 10:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course planets and stars have unexpected ends too. But the key is "unexpected". Humans don't expect such things to happen within the timescales of Human civilization, because there's no reason for them to. Why invent facts when you don't have to? Why assume the improbable? It is beyond the purview of any encyclopedia to make allowances for every possibility. -- Kingfisher 18:46, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem is that choosing one tense over the other might be construed as "inventing facts" either way - especially if we're using different tenses to begin with. As long as we're just using one tense (in that case preferably past tense, because a good part of our information already is "in the past" relative to our chosen POV), we can rightfully claim that we're not really making any assumptions about the current status of a specific object - we're just using past tense throughout, because we're writing about past events, even if a subject we're writing about might still exist. As soon as we're starting to write down complicated rules about when to use past and when to use present, we're inevitably making an assumption on every article we're writing:
  • Should it be "Kirk is"? No, because we all see him fall from that bridge...
  • Should it be "Kirk was", but "Picard is"? We didn't see Picard die, but we can assume that he is long dead at the time of writing.
  • So, should it be "was" for all people? Perhaps, but... Hey, what about all those guys that do time-travel, or just don't die? Shouldn't it be "Q is" in any case?
I say, if we start to use tense based on something like a "most likely assumption" about whether something or somebody still exists at an pretty much undefined point in the future, we're just inviting even more individual discussion about each and every article without achieving much. -- Cid Highwind 10:01, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree, there are too many problems with these assumptions. I don't think, articles about Earth or Denobulan should be present tense, just because we *assume* species and planets don't go away so quickly (I guess, Star Trek should have told us differently). The simplest and best policy would be to write all in-universe-articles past tense, except those definition articles which don't change as long as this universe exists in its current form, so while there is still life,matter and energy; so NOT articles about specific stars, planets or species but things like atom, iron, star or cell, things which haven't changed for the past 5 billion years or so and won't for the next one, while all species, planets and stars we know of could well be gone in 5 billion years (many of them destroyed after a major war between the massive Mintakan and Boraalan empires, who knows?). Kennelly 12:06, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Kennelly: And that's "school A". :)
Cid: Yes, that's why I tried to start this discussion in the first place. So that the constant discussion could just be simply covered.
Oh... and Q could be dead. After all, at least one of them has died... why not the others? -- Sulfur 13:01, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

And just to add to the argument (because this really hasn't been discussed in depth): how do we deal with technology? It was suggested above that technology is eternal, so anything we've seen to exist still exists. But should we really talk about Constitution-class ships in the present tense, long after the line has been retired? Yes, there very well may be one or two ships around (perhaps in a huge Starfleet space museum or such), but if they're not in common use, it it "the Constitution-class is" or "the Constitution-class was"? From the Memory Alpha archivist's point of view, do telephones still exist (since you can find examples in museums, or in someone's personal antique collection), or are they ancient technology from the past (i.e. "telephones were...")? How about buggy whips? Even Tom Paris talks about cars in the past tense when he's explaining them to folks on Voyager, most of whom seem to be clueless about even the existence of internal combustion vehicles. So... what about technology? -- Renegade54 13:37, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I don't think anyone is reading the whole discussion. In A-School which would be the standard, scientific concepts/ideas are eternal and therefore present, but not specific devices/implementations/ships/things/whatever. The internal combustion engine is eternal as an idea even if everyone is ignorant about it. "Common use" of the implementation of the idea shouldn't be the determinant. Democracy is eternal, the USA had an end. Starship is eternal, The USS Enterprise had an end. As I suggested above, species and governements should be B-School exceptions, although I've come to a new understanding that species are ideas/designs and shouldn't need an exception. I also think starship classes are designs/ideas and should be present-tense even under A-School. You might say the "Constition-class is a type of starhip that was in use in the 23rd century." --Bp 14:25, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Let me again address the issue of things "ending", as it seems to come up a lot. I've seen the argument that in Trek, things end unexpectedly, so you can't assume that something seemingly permanent in the now will stay that way. I'll then use the same argument to argue the opposite: in Trek, just as things expectedly end, things unexpectedly not end. What if Picard and Kirk never left the nexus? What if Riker stayed a Q? Trek is full of avenues for unexpected things to be eternal. The Q, for example, can take any object and preserve it through the rest of time, just as conversely they can take any object and make it cease to exist, period. To say that the Gorn were a species presumes that they would go extinct. What if they don't? We have examples of immortal species evolving, it can certainly happen again and we have no grounds to say that the Gorn won't. We seem to be hung up on the idea of guessing, of presuming whether something will survive or not. But again, why bother? As far as our body of knowledge tells us, the Gorn exist. End of story. Using present tense for them is not a presumption that they will exist for all eternity, only that as far as we know, they exist in the form we saw them last. We have objects that we know have ceased to exist. We should use past tense for them. It's as simple as that. -- Kingfisher 22:44, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

You're basically making my point - as soon as we're using two different article tenses to differentiate between objects that "still exist" or "don't exist any more", we're up for a lot of trouble - because, no matter which of the two we choose for each individual article, it's an assumption in nearly each and every case. By sticking to just one article tense throughout, we can avoid making those assumptions. -- Cid Highwind 00:46, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

No I'm not, because there are two types of facts: definitions and historical events. Definitions ascribe to the argument listed above and should use the present tense unless we know that it has ceased to be, because otherwise the use of past tense would represent an unfounded assumption not based on available information. However, historical events by definition take place in the past, and should use the past tense. Because there are both "definition" articles and "history" articles, and both "definitions" and "historical facts" within single articles, one tense cannot be used throughout.

Here's another way to put my argument: to say that A was B means that A is no longer B. That's how past tense in English works; there's no getting around it. Now, if we have information that says "A is B", but no information that says "A is not/is no longer B", then to imply that "A is no longer B" by stating that "A was B" would be at best speculation, and it doesn't belong on a site purporting to state facts. On the other hand, to say that "A is B" carries no such burden, because (1) it states the fact, because as I said we have a fact that says "A is B". But also,

(2) The statement does not conflict with the reader POV. Here's a great reason why we shouldn't fix a specific POV timeframe for the site. Every piece of writing has a POV, regardless of if the author explicitly defines one or not. Here, the POV defaults to an observer in the 23rd or 24th centuries (it doesn't matter which, because the issue never arises as long as one sticks to reporting the known facts), because that's the POV that canon Trek uses. From that relatively ambiguous POV, there is virtually no conflict with stating "A is B", because the observer has seen that "A is B" and has seen no information to indicate otherwise. There is a silent acknowledgment that maybe "A is no longer B" (just as there's such an acknowledgment of ambiguity in every fact), but since that information is not available, there's no reason to state it. On the other hand, if we fixed the POV at, say, 2600, that then implies that "A is B" indicates "A is B in 2600", which would be speculation.

All that is needed to state the facts as best we know them, without adding on speculation. -- Kingfisher 02:00, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Except that you're missing one thing. The POV does not default to an observer in the 23rd or 24th century. Have you not bothered reading the actualy policy? It's someone in the far future. And far future is defined as beyond the 30th century. And the idea is... well beyond. -- Sulfur 02:18, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

First of all, the last I checked the POV was still being argued earlier on this page. But alright, then let's bring that into the discussion. Why would you put the POV in the far future? All you need for any article is a POV that assumes that the events it talks about have transpired. Attaching a moniker like the "far future" only adds a whole additional set of assumptions. And conversely, what is the advantage of setting a POV in "the far future" as opposed to what I just outlined? Time travel? Time travel in Trek is witnessed through the lens of 23rd and 24th century observers, not observers in their native time. -- Kingfisher 02:27, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

As far as past tense in English goes, Kingfisher, I'm afraid it's not quite as clear-cut as you imply (i.e. "Here's another way to put my argument: to say that A was B means that A is no longer B.") If I say I was an employee of XYZ Corp. in 2000, that does not mean that I'm no longer employed by XYZ Corp. It just means that on that date, or in that year, that's who I worked for. It says nothing at all about my current employment status. You can find many examples of this type of usage of past tense. -- Renegade54 02:38, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

So tell me, if you are a current employee of XYZ corp and you're at a corporate function, would you introduce yourself as "I work for XYZ" or "I worked for XYZ"? If you have a wife/husband, would you say "I was married in 2000" or "I am married"? -- Kingfisher 02:42, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

If someone asked me if I was the member of any organization involving aviation in 2000, I would respond "I was a member of Civil Air Patrol in 2000". This does not imply that I am no longer a member of Civil Air Patrol today, in 2007. --OuroborosCobra talk 02:46, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Ah, but that's the question asking for a specific time frame, i.e. a specific fact. An encyclopedia doesn't answer questions. It simply states facts. So I'll ask. If someone told you, without any preamble on your part, that they "had a girlfriend in 2000", would your interpretation seriously be that they're still in that relationship? -- Kingfisher 02:48, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

We are talking about a specific English rule. I have provided you with an example of how such a statement and tense would be valid. I don't have to do anything else. --OuroborosCobra talk 02:51, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Exactly... it all depends on context. If you were on a witness stand in a courtroom, and a lawyer asked you "Who were you employed by in March of 2000", you'd reply "I was employed by XYZ Corp.", which doesn't say you don't still work for that company. It wouldn't fly (nor would it make sense) to reply "I work for XYZ Corp." even if you do still work for them... you'd say "I worked for XYZ Corp. in 2000". You could say "I worked for XYZ Corp. during that period and I still work for them". But the nasty lawyer might tell you that he doesn't give a hoot who you currently work for and that you should just answer the question posed to you. ;) -- Renegade54 02:54, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

True enough, but once again, encyclopedias don't answer questions but state facts. The point of this discussion is to discuss the best way of presenting Star Trek facts in a relevant and factual manner. These examples, while perhaps technically correct, do not address that issue. So in deference to your arguments, I amend my previous assertions to say: "in the context of simply stating known information, to say that A was B..." -- Kingfisher 02:58, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

By the way, I'm not disagreeing with you... in your example, you're right. In that context, the implication is that the relationship is no longer. All I'm saying is that the use of past tense isn't as clear cut as you stated earlier... that the context changes the usage. -- Renegade54 03:00, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Understood. Hence my amendment. -- Kingfisher 03:09, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

From Talk:Relic

Well, at the risk of reopening yet another round of fruitless debate...why? Why past tense? As far as I know the definition of what a Hirogen "relic" is has not changed in the Trek universe. -- Kingfisher 15:25, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

MA:POV. -- Sulfur 22:58, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Rather than simply quoting policy to me, perhaps the question of why should be addressed...Why is past tense better? Why is present tense inappropriate? Are the policies so set in stone that there is no room for discussion or perhaps even improvement? -- Kingfisher 22:35, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Rather than bringing this up here, go spend some time with the policy page. Understand what the POV of MA/en. The POV is from "near the end of time", "far far far future". Thus... past tense is better, it allows for consistency. Otherwise, you get a random mix of past, present, and odd conditional tenses. That's why it was chosen, after several months of heavy discussion. -- Sulfur 03:42, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Hardly random...while universal past tense might be the easiest way, I propose that it's not the best way, not in presenting information in the most accurate manner. The fact is that we do have a mix of facts: facts that are true, and facts that have been made no longer true by subsequent developments. Using the same tense for them presumes that they are either one or the other, and this is speculation. Why would you call a simple presentation of the available facts "random"?

And yes, I'm well aware that the POV was decided to be in the "far, far future"...again, why? Is this not open to discussion anymore? If the goal of MA is to write the best possible reference for our readers, both in accuracy and in relevance, is this really the best POV we could choose, one in which Human beings are long gone and which refers to the Trek universe in terms suited for a set of fossils? Is this really what the community believes, or is it being dictated by trepidation over a somewhat more complex set of rules for tense? -- Kingfisher 18:11, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

The idea of MA/en is to write from a perspective where the "universe" is "done". If you really want to complain and suggest otherwise, do on the talk page for MA:POV. Not here. -- Sulfur 22:38, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Really? From our perspective the universe is done? Why then such large gaps in knowledge? But you have a point about venue. Move this discussion by all means. -- Kingfisher 04:05, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Maybe not done, maybe done. Hard to say. But hey, even the best history books have huge gaps. Why not us? :) -- Sulfur 12:08, 17 September 2007 (UTC)


Okay, look... There's obviously been a lot of discussion about this before, which is probably why you guys seem so tense about it. (I still got it - sorry for the pun.) I didn't create the page with "well this is what policy says" in mind, I just created it that way because past tense seemed natural. I thought the Hirogen had their cultural revolution or whatever in later VOY episodes, which would make it obsolete.

But if you want a policy statement, how about this: Make everything past tense so there's no ambiguity. It's not like people read "Earth was a planet" and go "zomgwtf that doesn't sound right". It's a fictional universe where things happen according to the way they're told on screen (1990s anyone?).

Pretend for a second we're at the point where (as with the 1990s) real life is catching up with Star Trek; it seems logical to have everything in the past tense. Whereas Star Wars takes place a long time ago, Memory Alpha / Star Trek takes place from the point of view where everything we're writing about happened a long time ago. If that makes any sense? I'm probably rambling, but I always know exactly what I'm talking about - even when no one else does. --Vedek Dukat 13:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

From Talk:B'Elanna Torres

I've been noticing lately a lot of the conditional tense in articles that should be using the simple past tense. I don't know if it's a single editor or several, but it isn't correct. Example:

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

The proper use of the conditional is with an if/then type situation, as does occur in the article:

The new prototype that Torres had 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.

The main tense in articles about people should be past tense.

9er 16:50, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

That is correct. I'll make a note of it in MA:POV using your examples. Especially since they explain it well :) -- Sulfur 17:02, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

From Talk:Efrosian

Why is the first part of the article completely written in past tense? Is it because we have not seen an Efrosian since Star Trek VI? Other than that the only explanation for it being in past tense is that they don't exist anymore. 01:32, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

The tense of the first sentence is probably in reference to their federation membership during that time period, A membership which may or may not continue to be in effect as of 2379. After that the tense can and should of course be present as we have no information pertaining to some kind of mass extinction. So... I'll fix it! --foravalon 05:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Sadly, no. Apparently, the standard practice on Memory Alpha is that articles are written from the perspective of far in the future. Therefore, basically all articles are written in the past tense, except for things like the Milky Way galaxy, as that will be around for a lot longer. This whole article should be passed tense. --OuroborosCobra talk 01:59, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure about that, where is that established as a Memory Alpha standard? I haven't seen that in most of the Race and Culture pages after a quik poke around. I'd be more than happy to be proven wrong and it might be something silly and small but, unless this is actually the case, I see no reason not to change the page back to the present tense.--foravalon 12:04, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Memory Alpha's point of view (POV) is that of a character inside the fictional Star Trek universe. The only exceptions to this rule are articles about the Star Trek franchise and production (eg. articles on books, comics, actors, staff, etc.), which naturally are not part of the Star Trek universe.
All other articles should be written as if the described person/object/etc. actually exists, exactly like a normal encyclopedia. Think of Memory Alpha as an encyclopedia that exists in the Star Trek universe.

I didn't really find anything saying otherwise or pertaining to the past tense, but if it's out there let me know. --foravalon 12:26, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

  • EEK I did find more continuing discussions, and many. This seems to be an ongoing debate with nothing firmly declared yet. It makes sense for descriptions of more permanent things like Races or Astronomical Objects to be in the present tense, lest we imply thier elimination. the only exception to those, of course, being things with a documented elimination like the Genesis Planet, or the Husnock. --foravalon 01:24, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

From Talk:Anbo-jyutsu

Alright here is where I am confused. I re-read the POV article and I don't think that there is enough information on it to be applied to every article. For example, when writing an article about a person or event past tense is OK because we are supposed to be writing the articles from a post-Nemesis time period. I would ague that something like a sport, belief, planet, science related articles, etc. would be referred to in the current tense because the item would be more likely to be in existence. Would you say that Earth was, or Earth is? I looked around and it seems like this article is different than a lot of the others in the way it is written. It looks like this has been discussed in length on Memory_Alpha_talk:Point_of_view but I don't think it was ever resolved.

I guess the real issue is whether this article flows while reading it. To me it seems to just stick out as incorrect.--AndreMcKay 02:13, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

The current policy is fairly clear through the only example it provides to clarify its text. "Spock was". Not "Spock "is" or "will be". The reason for that is we need to discuss things in a consistent manner. One cannot do that if we talk about 29th century events in a past tense, but describe other things in the 24th in a present tense. It would be chaotic and, unless someone pinned down a single year to be the "present", totally random from article to article. Hence the policy, hence the example. The argument about "likely" to be in existence is both speculative and has been shown to be incorrect. Sports, beliefs, planets, entire races come and go in the Trek universe. The only consistent way to address them all is the past tense. Which is current policy - unless the suggestion is that the example is somehow incorrect. So I propose that we continue to follow current practice and use past tense. Including in this article. Aholland 02:27, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
OK, I see your point of view (no pun intended), but I don't see that supported in Memory_Alpha:Point_of_view.
All other articles should be written as if the described person/object/etc. actually exists, exactly like a normal encyclopedia. Think of Memory Alpha as an encyclopedia that exists in the Star Trek universe.
Look in any encyclopedia and you see articles dealing with objects, places, and sports written as "Baseball is a game...", "There are 7 continents...", "A car is a mode is transportation." The Spock examples shown are dealing with writing the articles in a Star Trek Universe POV, and I don't think that that clarifies the tenses issue because it deals with a person as I stated up above. Now I will not revert your revert because I see that as a pointless exercise, but I do think that article tenses needs to be dealt with.--AndreMcKay 02:40, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Yet if you look at articles that in regular encyclopedias you will also find things like "Dodo birds were" or "The continent of Pangea was", or "the French game la soule was". (These are all from an encyclopedia I just pulled off the shelf.) Real encyclopedias are written from a single point in time and so tense is pretty self-evident; this site in dealing with Trek has to address time from the creation of life on Earth to the 29th century and beyond. If we pretend that MA exists as an encyclopedia, it has to have been written sometime after all Trek events have taken place. All of them. Throughout all past and future series (so we don't have to massively change tense to account for a 45th century series.) And since we know that sports fade (like Baseball), people die (like Spock - but most only once), and whole races vanish from existence (like the Husnock), past tense seems the only rational answer that can be consistently applied across the board in the absence of knowledge whether the subject is still around in the far flung future. That is why there is only one example given, I believe: it applies regardless of subject matter. Aholland 03:08, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
I guess what it boils down to is whether we assume that everything in the Star Trek universe has ceased to exist in the time frame we are writing from. Or if we assume it may still exist. Again it seems like what ever the policy is, every other article is either incorrect and this is one of the only correct ones, or this one needs to be redone. Whatever happens, the policy absolutely needs to be made 100% clear. I enjoy discussing this with you Aholland, and I would like to have other people's input because who knows, we both could be completely wrong!--AndreMcKay 03:24, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

From Talk:Riemannian geometry

Why does someone keep changing everything to past tense? I stopped changing it to avoid an edit war, but it seems silly. The current version says Riemannian geometry "was a branch of mathematics in the 24th century", which gives the misleading impression that it was only in that century that it was a branch of mathematics.

In the real world, it was founded in the 19th century, continues to be a very important mathematical topic in the 21st century, is completely necessary to even describe General Relativity, and will almost certainly survive 10 centuries, just as Euclidean geometry has already survived over 20 centuries. Nothing that happens in the Star Trek universe gives us any reason to doubt this, and indeed it is certainly current at least through the 24th century. Hence it should be in present tense. The "Geometry", "Pythagorean Theorem" and "General Relativity" pages are all written in the present tense, and Riemannian geometry seems no different. Althai 23:55, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Because of the POV that we have. That's why I mentioned that in the 24th century bit. The thing is, that's the only timeframe we know, thus the notation of "in the 24th century, it was". For all we know in the 25th century, this type of geometry had been discovered to be totally useless and not actually correct or true. It's all about what we know, not what we can speculate. That's why the tense changes. -- Sulfur 00:01, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Why doesn't the same apply equally to General Relativity, Calculus, the Pythagorean theorem, Algebra, and Geometry? None of the calculus references in Star Trek are more recent than mid-24th century, but that page is written in the present tense, and correctly so. Also, you are wrong to say that this type of geometry may be discovered to be "not actually correct or true" because of the nature of mathematical proof. This is impossible, just as it is impossible that someone might discover the Pythagorean Theorem is false. All of the theorems of Riemannian geometry will continue to be true for all time. It also could not be discovered useless, as it is an effective way of describing the geometry of curved spaces, (indeed the only way currently known) and curved spaces come up all the time in both the Star Trek universe and our own. Even if it is later discovered that the types of curved spaces it describes don't exactly model the types of spaces we observe, it will continue to be an important field, just as Euclidean geometry remains important despite the fact that nothing we observe in reality is ever truly flat (including space-time). The only thing that could conceivably happen is that a better way of describing the geometry of these types of spaces could be found. However, even if better descriptions were found, it is probable that the field would still be called "Riemannian geometry", it would just be done differently.

If you write it in the present tense, you give no misleading impressions, and state a fact that is almost certainly true in the Star Trek universe (with as much certainty as we can say that the calculus article is true as written in the present tense.) If you leave it as it is now, you give two misleading impressions, the first being that it hasn't been discovered yet as I write this in 2007, which is clearly not the case, and the second that it is somehow replaced between the 24th century, when we know it exists, and the date when Memory Alpha is hypothetically written, which is as improbable as the idea that calculus will be replaced. In any case, we should follow a consistent style with other articles of similar type previously written. That style, as shown by the references I've given, is to write the article in the present tense. Althai 00:27, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

It's been a week and you haven't responded, PoV guidelines indicate that timeless subjects (such as mathematical theories) are to be written in present tense, and this is consistent with other similar articles. I'm changing it back to present tense. Althai 06:37, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

And if you read the POV, it says that you can use them either in present tense, but for _USES_ that it should be in contextualized past tense. In other words, they were fine the way that they were. As Marvel Eds would say... 'Nuff Said. -- Sulfur 12:10, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
I did RTFM, but differential geometry is a way of describing the geometry of multidimensional objects. That's not just how it is used now, or how it is used in 24th century star trek, that it WHAT IT IS. In the 174th century, it may not have been used for millenia, but that is still what it is. And every time you date things to the 24th century, you convey the false impression that it only exists in Star Trek. I've come up with what I think is a good compromise. Althai 02:53, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Page in a Nutshell

This page in a nutshell: Every article on Memory Alpha should be written from the "past tense" point of view, i.e. "Earth was a planet", "The Klingons were a species", etc. This avoids ambiguity as to whether something "exists" by breaking the fourth wall and forcing the reader to read from the point of view of an archivist from the distant future. The sheer number of "what if" scenarios and mini-debates proves the point. Case closed. End of story. Ludicrous speed, GO!!! --Vedek Dukat 16:18, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Wow. So the solution to an important and yes, somewhat complex issue is to pave it over with a monolithic edict and scramble information and speculation all together, for the sake of convenience? Is that really the way to go? Just the sheer number of times this issue has been brought up suggests that that's not okay with everyone. -- Kingfisher 17:08, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

This obviously isn't the place to discuss it, which is my fault for putting it up here. But in a word... yes? --Vedek Dukat 17:42, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

After two damned years of this crap, yes, this is the way to go. It seems like every time someone new comes to MA, this gets re-hashed in a long drawn out debate, always coming again to the same conclusion. It needs to stop. It needs to stop now. This is a waste of time. --OuroborosCobra talk 17:43, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Use past tense for every article, regardless of context, when we have articles like universe, space, time, science, and math? When we have the Q, who are immortal and live outside the universe? Make no mistake. You're not talking about a POV of an archivist in the "distant future". You're talking about a POV beyond the existence of the Trek universe itself. And if you're gonna do that, why even bother pretending to have an "in-universe" POV?

And the reason newcomers always re-hash this? It reads wrong. It's language human beings don't use to describe their world. Isn't that what MA ultimately is? A bunch of people something in their world? -- Kingfisher 17:50, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

You're right - the number of threads here shows that it is a complex topic and, in the end, a difficult decision that won't suit all people no matter what. But, the number of threads and the length of overall discussion also means that every simple solution has already been considered, and what currently is on the policy/guideline page is the best consensus we could find. That doesn't mean it has to stay that way for all times - but it does mean that you better bring up some very good arguments if you want to have it changed, and not leave it at "hey, why don't we just use tense X instead of Y". Please read through that discussion, and you'll find that your suggestion has already been made. Continue that discussion, if you want, don't just start it anew. -- Cid Highwind 18:18, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I have read the discussion on this page (hell, I was in a lot of it), and I have already brought up points of contention with this "universal past tense" policy, one of which I just wrote above. But the discussion is long, so I'll summarize:

1) In many, many cases past tense is speculation. For example: the statement "Ferenginar is a planet." There are many episodes that tell us this is true. There are no episodes that tell us this is not. Therefore, the statement "Ferenginar was a planet" is speculation.
2) The past tense POV doesn't work with articles like "universe" and "time", which are inherent to the Trek universe and by definition cannot be "past". To use past tense for them contradicts the idea of "in-universe POV".
3) Using past tense to describe concepts like stars, planets, species, and concepts is alien to the way that people use English, because the timescales of change involved in those subjects are almost always so long as to defy Human experience. Thus, using that language here removes the subject matter from the reader, makes it less accessible and relevant.

There. Those are the problems I (and I suspect others) have with universal past tense. And here's my proposed alternative, which I have also written before but again, I summarize:

1) Report all non-historical facts in the present tense unless another fact in a chronologically later Trek work falsifies it.
2) Report all historical facts (events also) in the past tense.
3) Allow exceptions for people articles, which are to be written in the past tense only. Also maybe allow exceptions for all past tense in specific starships and other specific pieces of technology, to be written in past tense.

Okay, there you guys go. And since people keep harping on the "in-universe realism" of the POV, I'll go back to Ferenginar:

"Ferenginar is a rainy planet. It is the homeworld of the Ferengi species."

Does that passage wrench you out of the Trek reality, with the thought "In a few billion years, that might not be true"? Or do you just perceive it as what it is, a report on the available facts that we have gathered from canon? -- Kingfisher 18:42, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

It's not clear from Memory Alpha:Point of view, but I *think* what was decided was that for timeless or extremely long-lived things, like the universe, galaxies, stars, planets, etc. we would use present tense (unless we know that, say, a particular star or planet was destroyed in canon). For pretty much everything else (including species, governments, religions, individuals, starships, etc.) we would use past tense. I don't remember specifically discussing immortals such as the Q. -- Renegade54 19:21, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

It's a bit complicated isn't it? Listing all the article types? And it still doesn't address my points #1 and #3...People don't talk about species in the past tense unless they're extinct, and they don't talk about governments in the past tense unless they've fallen from power. Why should we write like that without any supporting evidence? -- Kingfisher 20:01, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

There was never an intent to list all article types that should be one way or the other. The assumption is that in the far future (10,000 years, 100,000 years, whatever) no government in place today would still be in existence. The same goes for species. And I don't really feel like discussing this any more, no offense to you. I am so tired of this argument, I could spit. I just want it to be decided, once and for all, over and done with, so we can have consistency across articles. -- Renegade54 20:47, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
It has been decided. As Cid noted above, the consensus is what we have now. Until a new consensus is reached. One person a consensus does not make.

Until that changes, we have what we have. Anyhow, a major change would waste a lot of resource time changing articles to simply suit the "new" style, time that is far better spent on expanding articles, writing new ones, and so forth. That's my last word on the subject. Have a nice day. -- Sulfur 21:10, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, this is futile alright. That part I agree with 100%. -- Kingfisher 23:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Understanding the "Page in a Nutshell" Discussion; or, What the Hell IS the Consensus

I am loathe to continue this discussion, but I don't understand the article page in light of the discussion here, and was hoping for some interpretation. The article page says that it is proper to say

The Constitution-class IS <whatever>

and goes on to claim that the class is an "eternal" concept. How? The Constitution-class was historic within known canon itself. An in-universe person from the time of the E-D — much less an historian from long after the death of the Federation — would say "The Constitution-class WAS <whatever>" without battin' an eyelash.

The consensus I see in the discussion, at least among admins, is that it's a simple "in-universe past tense, real-world present-tense" kinda thing. And to me that makes perfect sense because perspective is a matter of choice, not accuracy, and that's a valid choice. But then in the middle of this choice, there's this weird grafting of the "eternal concept", with an example that is hardly "eternal". Could we get some clarification on that? CzechOut | 21:49, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Go with the simple where possible. The less confusion there, the easier it is to deal with.
How's that for clarification? -- Sulfur 21:51, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I should add that past tense would be the correct way to go here, as Czech is suggesting. See Essex class aircraft carrier, which starts "Essex was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy..." Past tense, since they are no longer in service. --OuroborosCobra talk 23:08, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
In light of these two comments, can we safely say, then, that a) we're writing a work of fiction b) we've chosen that that fiction be written wholly in the past tense from the perspective of an archaeologist from another galaxy who happened on the planet Memory Alpha long after life had ceased in the Milky Way (that's us, folks — the archivists), and c) that we archivists are writing a history of a dead galaxy?
It's like finding the Library of Alexandria and cataloguing all its contents, putting all its terms in reference to the people who wrote the works. Since the people are themselves dead, so are their shared opinions and experiences of their world. Some things might be eternal, but their impressions of them aren't. Writers of episodes are like ancient historians. Mike Sussman and D.C. Fontana are akin to Herodotus writing on the early Mediterannean society. When current historians write about Herodotus' view of things, they will (properly) employ the past tense, with the (sometimes only implied) precursor, "Herodotus claimed . . . .", leaving the remainder of the sentence also in the past tense. Thus "Romulans", "Humans", "water polo", and even astronomical phenomenon like "singularities" and "the Mutara-class nebulae" aren't anything in and of themselves. It's what they were to the former residents of the Milky Way that matters.
Can we get rid of the "eternal" clause on the article page? Please? CzechOut | 00:45, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

What qualifies?

Episode pages are production POV

Episode summaries should not be written in the in-universe POV. Episode articles are about the trek production of that title. The summary is a description of what happened in an episode of trek, not what happened in a certain year or to a specific person or at a specific place. They can not be written in-universe because a person with the in-universe POV would not divide up their lives into episodes. Many of them are divided into "Acts", and have extra information not known in-universe. Also, the entire remainder of the article: bg info, refs, links episode data, etc. is production pov, so why should the article itself be considered in-universe?

In summary: Episode articles are written about trek episodes. In-universe does not differentiate episodes. Episode pages should be considered production POV.

There is some argument on IRC, so I thought I would bring it up here for everyone to comment on. --Bp 06:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

This appears to be an argument many places (Such as suggesting new categories.) And I believe episodes shouldn't be Production POV, for starters, take a look at every Featured-episode-article we have, and all of them are from in universe perspective. And for that matter, I personally (I dunno how many agree with me) but hate reading things like "the viewer..." in episode summaries. So I think we should not put the {{real world}} templates on episode articles. Nor novels for that matter. There is a very distinct difference between novels that are Production POV and ST POV, and I think the summary should show that. IE: "The Lives of Dax" is an in-universe, and "The Art of Star Trek" is not, so it would have the template. So I think keeping the summaries that way would make it easier to keep straight and tell the difference. - AJ Halliwell 06:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

People in-universe do not know that they are in an episode called "Time Squared" (as an example) any more than they know they are in Star Trek. Just as the Star Trek page describes the series, the episode pages describe the episode. You can not describe an episode from an in-universe POV. It is impossible. About the books, there is no difference, they are both articles describing the real books as opposed to Anslem, which is not. The in-universe story is told by the in-universe articles. --Bp 06:46, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

By that logic, Anslem doesn't know it was in the "DS9" episode "The Muse", so should all citations be removed? Thy'lek Shran doesn't know he was "played" by Jeffrey Combs, so should the "Actor:" on his sidebar be removed? Also, Thy'lek Shran's article has a background sections - that should be removed, cause he doesn't know he'd've joined the cast in the 5th season. Being an encyclopedia from the real universe point of view has some drawbacks, but we should work around them the best we can, not just wave off what ever's not perfect. - AJ Halliwell 06:53, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, the citations are footnotes and not really part of the article. And the Actor part of Thy'lek Shran is more like the italicised note at the bottom of other characters pages, that is also not part of the article. There is a difference between Anslem and the real world books. The real world books are in the real world, so the articles that describe them should be from a real world perspective.

If you described the book Anslem from a production-pov, you would say "Anslem is a fictional book in the Star Trek universe written by Jake Sisko...". Alternately, there is no way to describe the book "The Art of Star Trek" from an in-universe perspective. That is why it's article is not in-universe pov. --Bp 07:05, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

I personally agree with AJ, the episodes may have "non-universe" titled, but it's an easy way to describe a series of events. That and it's much nicer to read an episode summary that is written from the in-universe POV. I also think that the realworld template on them will clutter the top right corner of the page even more than they're already cluttered. The realworld template makes a lot of sense on reference books (ie, the DS9 Companion, Art of Star Trek, etc), but should be left off of the episode summaries. Novels I'm not convinced either way on as yet, but will go with the flow there. -- Sulfur 12:15, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
OK, I don't have much time before leaving, but this is too important to not comment... I totally agree with Bp here - episode articles should be "Production/Realworld POV". They contain more information from a "outside" Point of view than information from an "in-inverse" point of view. Besides, and this has to be discussed at the same time, what is now the {{real world}} template was first devised as a "Meta-Trek" template. Current wording issues aside, this template was mainly introduced to identify articles about "things" that are "not things inside the Trek universe". An episode is exactly that - not a part of the fictional universe we're writing about.
Also, background information or episode citations are bad examples to be used here, because they are exactly that - background information and citations, not part of the article text. -- Cid Highwind 12:27, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the episode pages need the realworld template. The first argument for it was that an actor's page could not be distinguished from a normal person's one so the template was invented. However the standardised sidebar with all the realworld information makes an additional template not necessary in my opinion. Also note that the entire background information doesn't start after the section "Background" and so it should be obvious that anything below is outside our pov. However the text above should be written in-pov as possible. In MA/de I had to revert a "couple of funny notes" added by a new user "because it would make the summary more entertaining". I think this should not be allowed and an additional template would even encourage new members to treat the summary that way. Also if we don't have a POV respecting summary on the episode pages, where should we place them? create an additional page for the events or put it on the year pages? I don't think so. -- Kobi 12:40, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I think that it is a mistake to assume that an episode summary would have to be written from an purely outside POV just because the article as a whole is (or, for that matter, to assume that the POV they are written in now really is "in-universe" - see title, see division into acts, etc.). -- Cid Highwind 12:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

I've only seen one episode summary with a Real World POV tag on it (though I haven't looked at every episode summary, by any means). If it's Real World POV, shouldn't they all have that tag? Seems inconsistent. Also, if it is policy to write episodes from Real World POV, shouldn't the policy list "episodes" in the list of Real World article examples? cap97 18:22, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Real world perspective for episode articles

I've realized that some articles on episodes have the real world tag, others don't. I think they should all have one, as they are clearly written from a real world POV. What's your opinion on this? I'm afraid that would be much work, but maybe a template for episode articles would help ;-) Breen 22:05, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

This has been previously discussed at some length elsewhere, but I can't find the article to save my life. I personally disagree with "realworld" tags being on novels, episodes, and such not, but other people feel that these things must have realworld tags. Point being, the community has been well divided on this matter to date. -- Sulfur 22:12, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Well, I have said before that pages which describe a produced TV episode are intrinsicly production or "realworld" POV, but some still fight this juggernaut of logic. It was decided somewhere else, that episodes should not have the {{real world}} template on them. Any that do, should have it removed. Series articles do have the template. --Bp 22:13, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, "juggernaut of logic" is somewhat of an oxymoron. --Bp 22:16, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

Proposed Amendment

There has been a lot of discussion about the question whether articles about novels and esp. episodes are from an in-universe perspective or not and whether they should get the realworld-tag or not. The current policy states "Memory Alpha's point of view (POV) is that of a character inside the fictional Star Trek universe. The only exceptions to this rule are articles about the Star Trek franchise and production (eg. articles on books, comics, actors, staff, etc.), which naturally are not part of the Star Trek universe." This would necessitate articles about novels and epiodes to be out-universe, as they are not written from an in-universe character's perspective in its main body (as opposed to citations and background notes which are labelled as not being part of the article's main content itself).

A possible clarfied/amended policy could read like this: "Memory Alpha's point of view (POV) is that of a character inside the fictional Star Trek universe. The only exceptions to this rule are articles about the Star Trek franchise and production (eg. articles on actors, production staff, series, reference books etc.), which naturally are not part of the Star Trek universe. However, due to the fact that articles about novels, episodes and comics are both written from an out-universe and in-universe perspective, they are in their entirety considered as being within the Star Trek universe."

So, I proposed this, but still oppose it. IMO articles about novels,comics and episodes are from a production POV and should be labeled as such. Kennelly 00:54, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Actually, the big question that has arisen of late is... whether or not novels, comics, episodes, etc are considered realworld or not (personally, I think that it's pretty damned obvious that they're mostly from production POV and partly from in-universe POV, but that's beside the point), are articles that arise from them (such as characters in novels that span multiple novels, such as the Q Continuum characters (for example) "real world" because they are non-canon, or are they in-universe? Again, I think that the answer is fairly obvious in that they are in-universe, despite the fact that they are non-canon items.
This whole discussion seems to have arisen from converting articles about stuff seen in deleted scenes into realworld "background info" articles, and thus it seems that people automatically assume that all non-canon materials should have a realworld flag on them. Perhaps it would be better to add a second tag, such as "non-canon" to accomodate this instead.
Just my 19 cents. -- Sulfur 01:27, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
While I don't disagree with you per se on the idea of a non-canon flag, if we go that route, how do we differentiate ourselves from Memory Beta, which is now deliberately trying to cover the stuff that we supposedly don't cover, i.e. licensed non-canon Trek material (which mostly consists of novels)? -- Renegade54 01:32, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

As an addendum to Kennelly's proposal above, I think that whichever way we decide, it should hold for all episodes, movies, novels, and comics (i.e. articles about Star Trek "stories" or Star Trek "events"), and not one way for episodes, but another for novels, etc. Also, there are previous discussions here, here and here for reference. -- Renegade54 01:29, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Amendment... anew

Wow. Finally got to the right talk page, I guess. After reviewing all of the discussion regarding this idea, I have come to grips that Episodes shall never be written in past tense. I understand the arguments and I won't go off and start making any suggestions, except these two:

  1. On any page that is not written from the standard MA POV (past tense), there should be some sort of box (like the Real World Perspective box) to let people know they have slipped out of MA proper. I suggest a "This article refers to a Production" or something like that. I know that because the side bar has real world info, and simply seeing stuff in present tense should be enough, but it's just not good style to leave it up to the reader to infer it. It should be outright stated.
  2. Put something about this in the POV page so people like myself can get a grip on how things should be written early on without having to be referred to the talk pages.

Oh yeah, and maybe it wouldn't be sooo bad to have two separate episode pages. One in-universe ("Mudd's Women is a nickname for the events that happened on stardate..."), and the other a more detailed production page.

I suppose it's not really an issue, as long as there are not in-universe references to out-of-universe events, but I kind of suspect that there are such references... Of course, what do I know? I'm still bugged that the first line of this point-of-view page reads "Memory Alpha's point of view (POV) is that of a character inside the fictional Star Trek universe" and yet the first page of MA is, um... well... not. I just don't see an "archivist at Memory Alpha" checking out info about the 2008 DVD releases. Hmm...Maybe this whole POV page needs a rewrite... The preceding unsigned comment was added by Hoogamagoo (talk • contribs).

I would support having an ep/film template on the top of those pages, so long as its about the size of the real-world one (ie. not very distracting to experienced users).
However, I would strongly oppose any idea of having two ep pages. People in the Star Trek universe would NOT refer to events on their ship as "Q2" or "City on the Edge of Forever". The events of these pages are logged from a real-world POV on the ep pages; and in-universe when its something relevant to an encylopedia.
I also strongly oppose any suggestion of changing the main page. The main page should not be covered in the POV, because it has a very clear function to provide the working for a real online encylopedia. This also goes for pages for deletion, talk pages etc.
Overall, I think the current POV system is fine, and this page should reflect the current unwritten consensus, rather than make massive and in my mind, unnecessary, upheavals. – Cleanse 05:37, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
One other comment - I think our POV is easy enough to pick up from just reading a few in-universe articles. We should probably stress that in the welcome notice that users should look around before making major edits. – Cleanse 05:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I've never quite understood the resistance from some of the archivists to just declare episode description pages "real world POV" by putting the existing template on it - because, it is production information, not in-universe information. -- Cid Highwind 09:25, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
A couple of comments...
  1. Episode summaries, just like novel, comic, audiobook, etc summaries can be written in past tense or present tense. A lot of people choose to write them in present tense, likely because our school systems are so weak that they teach you that "X would meet Y" is past tense, when it is not correct past tense (it is conjectural past). It is too much of a pain for those of us who edit articles to rewrite several hundred words into past tense, so most of us don't bother.
  2. I have no real issue with a "realworld" tag on top of the episodes and films. Doesn't bother me either way to be honest. We've got it on comics, novels, etc. So, why not episodes?
  3. There's no way we should ever consider splitting episode articles in two. That would be like having a third article about Tom and Will Riker to cover the "previous being that existed up until they split in that transporter beam." :)
  4. MA is still intended to be an "in-universe" dictionary. It just so happens to include some "real world" information because that's only practical and allows people (in "our" world) to get some use out of it. That's what the "real world" tag is intended to cover.
  5. The big reason we had issue with the real word tag on episodes and films is because the sidebar was already so large and ghastly, that it indicated (to pretty much every archivist at the time) that the episode wasn't an "in-universe" one.
Ok... so more than a couple. But I think that should cover everything I wanted to say. I think. -- Sulfur 12:30, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

It seems to me that it's just poor style to leave it for people to "pick up," no matter how obvious it is. Any exception to the POV rules should be labeled as such and should be documented in the POV page. In any case, including episodes, how many pages are Real World Perspective? It looks like there's roughly 7500 pages using the "Real World Perspective" template, plus 726 episodes plus the movies, so that's just over 8,000 right there (and there are probably a few pages that just don't have the template on them). There are about 27,000 pages total, so that makes MA about 30% "Real World". After the new movie comes out there should be an increase in "Real World" references to cast and crew, and probably not so large of a jump in "in-universe" references (just a hunch, but since it sounds like the new movie will rely heavily on already established canon, so I just expect a larger number of "Real World" pages to be created). A large portion of the production crew on the episodes have uncreated pages. A quick glance at "Where No Man Has Gone Before"'s production crew lists about 15 uncreated "Real World" pages. Many of the other episodes for other series have either only the major production crew or none at all, which will probably eventually be filled in (it's just the nature of the wiki-beast). It isn't hard to imagine a comprehensive MA that is over 50% Real World POV, at which point you just it will be hard to define it as an "in-universe" encyclopedia. It will have evolved into a "Real World" Encyclopedia with a lot of in-universe POV pages... and then everybody will grow beards and turn evil...

Anyway, I guess all I really have to say is that I'm voting again (vote early, vote often) for the the Real World POV template on the episode pages and I still think this POV help page needs a little work to reflect the current POV trends and guidelines. -- Hoogamagoo 16:40, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I redrafted the POV policy to try to accomodate the views above. See here: [1]
Summary of changes:
* Used subsections to clarify that MA runs on two seperate points of view
* Created "Special cases" sections to codify what I have taken to be consensus on the following (previously disputed) issues: species, astronomical bodies, episode pages. The existing "eternal concept" exception remains. If there are any more exceptions, they should be spelt out here, in the policy.
* Added new examples for these special cases
* Created real-world POV section to clarify policy. The policy also states that ALL real-world POV pages should have the tag, including episodes.
* Episodes are now a special case in the real-world POV. Summaries are encouraged to be written in a primarily in-universe style (for stylistic purposes). Present or past tense is accepted.
* Clarified that maintenance pages (including the Main page) are not covered by the POV policy whatsoever.
The primary focus was not to create policy but rather to codify existing unwritten policy. Suggestions to accurately do so are welcome. – Cleanse 11:26, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure whether Tense special case really is currently "existing unwritten policy" (I think we have some unfinished discussions about those), but other than, sounds good. -- Cid Highwind 12:59, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Just a quick note - in Special Cases you have stated "3. Articles about particular astronomical features (such as stars, star systems, planets, nebulae etc.) should be written in present tense..." but then in examples you have "Pluto (or Sol IX) WAS a major planetary body in the Sol system"...Caducus 15:13, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
No, that's me. I've been working on changing some bits that I dislike in it. Have patience young Padewan... oh wait, wrong franchise! :) -- Sulfur 15:28, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Super job - Very nice. Not that it's all about me or anything, but I can now say that my anxieties about POV on MA are now soothed and I can say goodbye to most of the redness and swelling. Ahhhhh... -- Hoogamagoo 02:12, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

It looks great now. Thank you Sulfur and Cid for your work on improving my additions. I think the refined page can now better convey how POV works around here in practice to new users. – Cleanse 02:28, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
The tenses still disagree as per my comment above...Caducus 12:34, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
No they don't. Read it again. A little more carefully this time. -- Sulfur 12:59, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough. What's your logic for a star being present tense while a planetary body is past tense? Just curious. Caducus 13:54, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
We saw lots of planets blow up. :)
Seriously though, typical astronomy states that stars will long outlast planets, even if it's only because the star will grow so big as to engulf it (such as the case with the Earth sometime in the distant future. -- Sulfur 14:05, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
OK - the only word of caution I would mention is that splitting astronomical features like that potentially introduces confusion that would be avoided if all astronomical features were in one tense. For example, where do comets fit? I may just be being a pain in the backside, and it's not up to me to make the decision one way or another, but I have my devil's advocate hat on today...;)Caducus 14:36, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Real-world facts

When writing and editing articles about Earth, and related topics, and other stuff known to contemorary science, what do we state as our reference? example: Sweden, If the information is not mentioned on star trek but pretains to the subject...this is coming out wrong...Comprende?

Add a link to the wikipedia article about the same subject:
==External link==
* {{wikipedia|Sweden}}
This way a reader can read further -- Captain M.K.B.
But remember, the "real world" facts should be kept to an absolute minimum in Trek universe articles themselves. Non-Trek established facts (like, say, a city's elevation above sea level) should be included only as absolutely necessary to place a term's usage in Trek into its proper context. Aholland 02:32, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Alternate Timelines

Discussion moved to Memory Alpha talk:Manual of StyleCleanse 09:41, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

No, this is NOT another discussion about tense!

I've noticed that in articles that detail alternate timelines, this information is placed in italics. Personally, I find this distracting. For articles that concern a subject that only takes place in an alternate timeline this would be awkward (eg. Morn's, Federation-Klingon War (alternate timeline)). Actually, I see in the latter that this rule was waived for undisclosed reasons.

My point is, should not such information be treated as analogous to the following: "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."

Like these examples, the alt timeline information is unknown in the "real" ST universe, but the TV viewer is aware of it. As such, I propose that such information be NOT italicised (but should still have something like "In an alt timeline caused by X")

Either way, could the decision be codified into this policy? Thanks, Cleanse 04:02, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

This is a discussion for the Manual of Style I believe... not POV. -- Sulfur 04:04, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. The formatting concerns how the POV issue is handled. For example, if there was not the section about undisclosed information, we would place such info in italics (like the ST Encyclopedia does with its POV of a 24th Century federation database), to show that our POV doesn't "know" this. – Cleanse 04:16, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

And Manual of Style, because that dictates where to use italics, etc. POV is simply "where are we looking at things from" and "how do we denote background items" :) -- Sulfur 04:18, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
In fact... it's discussed on that talk page already, and it can also be found on the Memory Alpha:Guide to layout talk page. -- Sulfur 04:21, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Summary of policy

This is a lengthy policy. We should add a quick summary at the top. Here's what I drafted up:

Summary of policy
  • Articles on topics within the Star Trek universe (such as characters, planets, starships et cetera) should be written from an in-universe point-of-view, and in past tense.
  • Articles relating to production (such as writers, actors, or production companies) should be in standard encyclopedic style.
  • Episode summaries should be written in-universe, while the rest of the article (ie background information) should be written from a production point-of-view.

Thoughts? --- Jaz 00:50, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

It is long because it is complicated. There's more to it than the various "simple summaries" that have been derived. Your simple summary doesn't cover it all either. Unfortunately. -- Sulfur 01:10, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

That's a valid point, the policy is quite nuanced. However my feeling is that (similar to how we have a summary at the top of the canon policy) having a shorter explanation to serve as an introduction makes it more readable, and thus more likely editors will read/follow the policy. The summary I provided is, of course, imperfect, and I'm very open to changes to it. --- Jaz 02:56, 23 April 2008 (UTC)


Moved from Talk:Stardate...

As I indicated in my latest rewrite, using a sample from the POV page, it is quite possible to write about stardates as something in the safely distant past required by the POV, but without implying that they are no longer used, which would be misleading. For example, I can say that stardates _are_ a calendar system (eternal concept) that _was_ adopted by the 23rd century (past tense), used in the 23rd and 24th centuries (past tense) and possibly later (past tense). If we say "the stardate was", then we're pretty much stating that they no longer exist. – NotOfTheBody 19:51, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

They might no longer exist. But the current wording works and is acceptable to the POV. The prior did not suit. :) -- sulfur 19:54, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

They might no longer exist, but we don't know whether that is true for the time period of the POV, however indefinite it is, so it is important not to sound artificial. Ok, so we agree on the wording. – NotOfTheBody 20:03, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Regardless, we chose to assume that everything is past tense and no longer exists at the time of the POV. It just makes things much simpler, and actually solves more arguments than it causes. Believe it or not. :) -- sulfur 20:19, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Sorry but it goes against PoV - Stardates simply do not exist based on our pov. Your rewrite attempts to indicate that they still exist but are not in use. The example that you use from MA:POV needs to be removed as it also stated that constitution class vessels still exist but are not in use. — Morder 04:12, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure that's correct, Morder. A contemporary encyclopedia writing about the Julian calendar could say "The Julian calendar is a dating system that was introduced by Julius Caesar." That doesn't say anything about whether it still exists or not (there are in fact places where the Julian calendar is still used, but the sentence doesn't indicate it one way or the other). Even if we assume that we're writing from a point of view in which the Star Trek universe has ceased to exist (why is that, by the way?) we could still say that the system is one that was used at this period in history, just as today we could say that the Aztec calendar is one that was used in Mesoamerica prior to Spanish colonization. —Josiah Rowe 04:21, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
The reason we do it is because star trek takes places in many time periods and it's easier to write everything as if it was in the past and no longer exists. Prevents arguments, even though it causes some, it stops a lot. The Julian calendar, still exists and can be used, while the POV required by us here basically forces us to not use it by simply stating it doesn't exist anymore. :) — Morder 04:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Jean-Luc Picard is a decorated captain that died in year. That example matches the stardate example. It doesn't work because picard no longer exists so he was a decorated captain... — Morder 04:27, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

As I mentioned elsewhere, you can actually have it both ways. You can write as an observer from the distant future, putting everything in the past tense, without implying that nothing exists anymore. For example: "The stardate was adopted by the Federation as its standard calendar sometime after 2161". No present tense at all, but without implying that stardates no longer exist and confusing novice readers ("Wait, so you're telling me that later on in the article, I'm going to find out that the Federation stopped using stardates?").

The trick is to be specific, putting only specific and proven past events and properties in the past tense, as opposed to the very existence of a concept. Remember, good writing is done with an audience in mind, and as someone who is relatively new here, I can tell you that making blanket assumptions about existence looks artificial, since for something to no longer exist in the mind of the audience, its destruction or dismantling or decommissioning or death has to be shown or referred to as part of the canon. We can avoid making such assumptions. – NotOfTheBody 05:40, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Please learn to indent properly. This site has discussed this to no end and came to a conclusion long before you got here. That conclusion was simply that nothing exists but stars and such. Wording it in a way to state that it might exist defeats the purpose and can create confusion for the reader. Simply leave everything in the past tense and be done with it. What's so hard about that? — Morder 05:50, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

It's hard because it's bad writing. You're writing MA for readers who have no idea about this policy, who only come to this site once in a while to check out a particular detail (yes, MA seems to be that widely known). It has to feel natural to these readers, and I'm saying it doesn't. Upon reading "United Federation of Planets was an interstellar federal republic", they will search the article for a canon reference concerning the dismantling of the Federation, like they would do on Wikipedia for a real world country that no longer exists. And they don't want to read help pages.

Still, such readers do expect everything they've seen onscreen to be in the past, even if it is the 29th century, hence the reason for the past tense policy, but not that everything is dead. I'd really like to know which arguments are being prevented by assuming that nothing exists - if it is shown in the canon as being dead or dismantled, it no longer exists. Where is the need for arguments? – NotOfTheBody 06:14, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

This, again, has been discussed and decided upon but you're free to take it where it belongs as this is no longer relevant to the article in question anymore and is a site wide change you're asking for. — Morder 06:19, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I will take it there, definitely, but it worries me that nobody has yet been able to address any of my specific arguments, only the number of indents before my paragraph and such. – NotOfTheBody 06:27, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm not going to discuss what you think is bad writing and I've specifically responded to your question initially of pov. Everything is dead. That's site policy. I'm not going to argue about the policy as it is currently written. — Morder 06:32, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
For what (little) it's worth, I think NotOfTheBody's proposed wording works with the POV policy as it's currently formulated. MA:POV says, "For "eternal" concepts, such as ideas, they may be qualified with a time setting, thus placing them into context. For example, the idea of biology is "eternal", but specific references to it are not. " Stardates are an intellectual construct, and as such will continue to exist in whatever century we're imagining ourselves to be writing from, just as the Mayan calendar still exists as an idea, even though nobody uses it any more. It's different from Jean-Luc Picard, because (barring theological views) an individual doesn't continue to exist in the way that an idea does. —Josiah Rowe 06:48, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Calculating time is an invention :) I'm not saying you're wrong with that assessment but that would mean that all religions, honor, the federation itself would be timeless...but that's a discussion for another page. — Morder 07:44, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Zoroastrianism is, even if nobody believes in it any more. However, the USSR was, as it wasn't just an idea but a geopolitical entity which ceased to be. For Memory Alpha purposes, we could say (for example) that Christianity (abstract idea) is, but the Catholic Church (organization, existing in time) was. I'm slogging through the old discussions at Memory Alpha talk:Point of view right now, and if I ever finish them I'll chime in there. —Josiah Rowe 14:22, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Sure, and I can say it was a religion. I can also say latin was a language in use by the people of earth...We just think differently. The problem is we have different definitions of what constitutes an idea. By following policy I can also say "The federation is a collection of planets last seen in 2387". That implies that it might still exist but we don't know about it. Manipulating policy to fit that can be done but shouldn't. I'm done here anyway as it's going nowhere and I just no longer care. The intent of the policy is clear and should be followed. — Morder 14:32, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Ah, we've moved. I don't think that NotOfTheBody's intention was to "manipulate policy", but to follow it while still presenting information in a way that's not jarring to casual readers. The policy as it exists (or, at least, as it existed prior to this change) allows for some subtlety, not just a one-size-fits-all concrete boot. Yes, there's some room for individual interpretation about what constitutes an eternal idea and what constitutes something temporally limited. I don't see that as a problem: ambiguous cases can be discussed on the relevant talk pages, and interested editors can decide which perspective seems most appropriate. (For example, this edit at Jerusalem seems silly to me: if we're researchers in a distant future with access to the lyrics of the hymn, how does it make sense to say that "Jerusalem" was a hymn? It still is, even if everyone who ever sang it is long gone.) That seems clear to me, and consistent with the intent of the policy. —Josiah Rowe 15:26, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

What I would like to discuss specifically is the reason for the "nothing exists" policy. The use of past tense is clear - if someone is born in the 29th century and the birth is seen onscreen, the statement "was born" feels natural for the casual reader/viewer. ("Did you see last week's episode in which X was born?") However, I don't understand how assuming everything to be dead/gone/destroyed simplifies matters. Can someone give examples of problems with using specific and concrete wording, which puts into the past only those aspects that really feel like the past for most readers/viewers? E.g. "The Enterprise-E was taken over by the Borg in 2373", but not "The Enterprise-E was a starship". – NotOfTheBody 17:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm sure this has already been addressed once or twice in the 130KB(!) of text this discussion has grown to by now... maybe have a look at some of that, yourself, before continuing this discussion? However, what it boils down to: it avoids speculation and it provides some level of uniformity in writing. Let's take your example: The Enterprise-E is (because we last saw her alive and well)? The Enterprise-nil was (because we saw her burn)? The Enterprise-A... is? was? We don't really know. Perhaps the E-A still exists as a museum ship somewhere, perhaps she was destroyed with all hands on a training cruise, 4 weeks after we last saw her in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. If we allowed both tenses, based on whether something still exists at some random, undetermined point in time, we'd have to speculate each and every time. If we changed our POV so that it is relative to the object we're writing about (for example: E-A, late 23rd century, E-E late 24th century), then one article might easily look outdated by 200 years compared to another one. If we had determined our POV to be the "last" point in time shown on screen, then we would have to rewrite big parts of the encyclopedia each time a later "last point" is shown. This is as good as it gets, I believe. -- Cid Highwind 09:41, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
So how does that address the treatment of abstract entities like the stardate system or a poem? The policy makes an exception for "'eternal' concepts, such as ideas". Why doesn't that allow us to say "The stardate is a calendar system that was adopted by the Federation sometime after 2161" or "Jerusalem was an English Human hymn"? (For the latter, compare Odi et amo (also known as "Catullus 85"), a poem by Catullus, on Wikipedia. The entry begins "Catullus 85 is a poem by the Roman poet Catullus...") Especially in a case in which we have the text of the poem in the article, I don't understand why we say "Jerusalem was an English Human hymn." —Josiah Rowe 16:06, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Cid: I wanted to see if someone can boil the current reasoning down to two sentences before I went through the 130KB of discussion you mention. Anyway, the POV can stay the same always - a distant future - but the wording needs to be specific in order to avoid speculation and arguments. (In other words, let's stick to the known facts, which is the basic rule of writing these articles.) Here is how I would address your examples:

1) You're right - we don't know if the Enterprise-E has been destroyed from our POV or is alive and well, so we forget about "is/was a starship" and start the article with something like this: "The Enterprise-E was introduced in 2372 as the sixth Federation starship to bear the name." This kind of wording doesn't assume anything about its existence and doesn't have to be rewritten upon the ship's canon-confirmed destruction either, because it's so specific - we're talking about something that happened in 2372. The Enterprise-A...well, aside from the existence of the Enterprise-B and later ships, Scotty did wonder if Jim Kirk pulled her out of mothballs in "Relics", though he may have forgotten the bit about Kirk being dead. But if we should run into such arguments, we use the same rule as for the Enterprise-E - be specific and stick to the facts.

2) The original Enterprise certainly was, so there are no issues here. However, even here I would prefer the kind of wording used in 1) as opposed to a generic "start the article with what the topic is/was" - not only are we avoiding formulaic writing, but we're also being more specific and making better use of article space.

NotOfTheBody 16:18, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

re:NotOfTheBody. Regarding your E-E example - is there any clause in this policy that prevents you from starting an article exactly like that? It is in-universe, without assumptions, and past tense, which is all this policy really requests. If you manage to apply this circumstantial writing to a whole article without it sounding terribly awkward, why not? -- Cid Highwind 16:49, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I thought so too, initially, but Morder didn't like it, for example, as you can see above: "Wording it in a way to state that it might exist defeats the purpose and can create confusion for the reader. Simply leave everything in the past tense and be done with it. What's so hard about that?"

Besides, if I were to start editing other articles, I'm afraid that sooner or later someone is going to tell me to put it back to "was", because the policy allows that, too. That's why the policy should simply state that yes, the POV is always one from an extremely distant future, but no, we don't simply assume that something no longer exists unless there is proof. Or at least that the latter wording is acceptable for the time being but not preferable, so as to avoid making a whole bunch of articles inconsistent with the policy until they can be re-edited. – NotOfTheBody 21:01, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, see, I have a problem with that because the policy assumes everything is past tense (and thus no longer exists). Though, I understand your idea, it seems quite ambiguous. The question becomes: Is it still around, is it destroyed, are they still using it? Rather than assuming all is gone. But as I stated earlier, I really no longer care... — Morder 21:24, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm putting that question in the same category as all the other ambiguities we shouldn't deal with here. Why did Molly appear to age so quickly between TNG and DS9 (born in 2368, three years old in 2369)? The format of this site isn't really suited to those kinds of questions; instead, we should specifically state that Molly was born in "Disaster" and that she's said to be X, Y, and Z years old in episodes A, B, and C (at least, that's how I would write it). Same here - we specifically discuss events that did happen onscreen and avoid any sentences that imply nonexistence unless the latter is absolutely clear. – NotOfTheBody 21:43, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Well, in fact, the policy doesn't really request us to write as if something definitely no longer exists... It requests consistent past tense to foster ambiguity where such is due, not to prevent it. "Nothing exists" isn't part of the policy, it's merely a construct to help the writer maintain consistent past tense, as the phrase "If it helps, pretend..." should make clear.
In other words, the policy is "write everything in past tense" - the resulting text may sound as if the object in question no longer exists, but that's not the primary purpose of the policy, just a necessary side effect. -- Cid Highwind 22:01, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, Cid, makes sense, sorta...seems wrong but, whatever. — Morder 22:24, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

I didn't say that we should prevent necessary ambiguities in the text, only that we shouldn't deal with them by saying "Ok, Molly must have aged biologically" - this should be left up to the reader to examine, we just provide the data.

Whoever came up with that sentence about pretending that nothing exists didn't think about the consequences, because then the writer will actually pretend that it doesn't exist in the text, resulting in such ridiculous sentences as "Humans (Homo sapiens) were one of two known spacefaring intelligent species to have originated from the planet Earth (the other was the Voth)", as if Star Trek just depicted the destruction of humanity in last week's episode. I mean, if you need to explain past tense to writers (who probably should know what it is before writing anything), it's better to redirect them to a grammar site.

The policy should say something like this: "The POV is one from a distant future, meaning that even if a canon event happened in the 29th century, it is still in the past from our POV; however, this does not mean that nothing exists and sentences that imply otherwise must be avoided." – NotOfTheBody 05:21, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Dude, really. The consequences were thought about. And take a look around. 90% of the contributors here do not understand straight past tense. Hell, most of them don't understand present tense. The amount of mixed tenses that show up is astounding.
Regardless, the sentence about "nothing exists" was thought through carefully. It was discussed for weeks on end. It's not perfect, but it's the simplest way to deal with it. In short, this has been discussed to death over and over again, and another 30k+ on top of a 150k+ discussion isn't going to change anything any time soon. It just means that we're about six months away from the next time that someone new joins the wiki, questions the POV and start demanding that we change it. -- sulfur 11:10, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
If contributors don't understand the tense part of the POV policy, that might indicate that the policy doesn't make intuitive sense. I think NotOfTheBody's proposal is sensible and helpful. (And I'm still waiting for an answer on my questions about "stardate" and "Jerusalem".) —Josiah Rowe 16:09, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
No, contributors don't understand the English language. Period. Contributors only complain about the policies once they're told that they've violated them. How many read the policies before starting to edit? I'll give you 20 guesses, and if none of them are "none", you'd be wrong.
As Cid noted above, we use the words "Nothing exists" as a guide for people. After all, if the year 45 googillion and 3, there is no way in hell the Enterprise-E still exists. ;)
Regardless, point being, suggesting that nothing still exists is just simpler. That POV policy used to be 6-7 times longer and far more complex until we rewrote it to simply state "write it all in the past as if nothing still exists". Don't state that it was destroyed/etc. Just state that it "was". Because from our POV, that's the simple truth. It was. -- sulfur 16:23, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Oh... and "Jerusalem" was a hymn. It is no longer a hymn if a) that religion and b) that populace no longer exist. Ditto for stardates. It was a calendar system. If it is no longer used, then it isn't "is". For example, "the Roman Centurion Dating Roll was a calendar system used by the Romans," or "the Druidic circle at Ethel's Gate was a calendar system used by the Gauls," etc. No longer used? Was. -- sulfur 16:26, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Sulfur: did you perhaps miss the bit in English classes about writing with the audience in mind, as opposed to making it easier for bad writers who cannot keep their tenses straight? How about not making unwarranted personal attacks, by suggesting that I'm one of those readers who only complain when they violate the policy? Do you seriously not see the problem with a casual reader stopping by Memory Alpha and seeing the "humans were a species" bit? Yes, it is simpler, but simpler is sometimes wrong. Your audience does not see humans as an extinct species in the Star Trek universe, because it isn't part of the canon. For all we know, humans will become a nearly immortal, Q-like species in Star Trek's distant future. We don't know, so we shouldn't use wording that implies otherwise.

Anyway, I see that most people here agree that my wording proposals are acceptable, and you have pretty much admitted that the current oversimplified policy exists in order to make life easier for bad writers. – NotOfTheBody 17:58, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

No, he did not "admit" that, because there isn't anything like that to admit. And yes, your wording proposal is acceptable, because it has been all along: as has already been said, it's past tense and it doesn't contain any speculation. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best possible wording when applied to a complete article, or even the whole database - so please don't see this as a complimentary ticket to change all existing articles at once. -- Cid Highwind 18:32, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

No, I don't plan to change all existing articles at once, but I do want to be able to remove the kind of wording I'm criticizing here, in case I happen to run into it during an editing session, without being told to assume that nothing exists. I'm not saying that mine will always be "the best" possible wording; there are many ways of introducing an article without making it seem like the casual reader missed a season cliffhanger.

And Sulfur did say: "The consequences were thought about. And take a look around. 90% of the contributors here do not understand straight past tense. Hell, most of them don't understand present tense. The amount of mixed tenses that show up is astounding." I understood that as an explanation. – NotOfTheBody 18:50, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Sulfur, with all due respect, that's rubbish. Take a look at Wikipedia's article on the Homeric Hymns, or Encyclopedia Britannica's. They're written in the present tense, because the text of the hymns exists. The fact that nobody sings them in worship to Aphrodite or Apollo is irrelevant: the text exists, so we can talk about it in the present tense. I admit that a calendar system is a slightly more complex case; if you Google "Mayan calendar", for example, you'll find examples using both past and present. But I'd maintain that as long as you're able to discuss it as a concept, it's still OK to use the present, regardless of whether anyone uses it any more; and, indeed, that's what Britannica does. When speaking about the history of the calendar, they use the past ("the names for the ritual days differed throughout Mesoamerica"), but when speaking about the calendar as a concept, they use the present ("the original name of the 260-day cycle is unknown"). Why can't we do that here, when writing about an abstract topic?
A calendar is not an artifact like a starship, which it's safe to assume will cease to exist at some point; it's an idea, which logically must continue to exist as an idea up to the time of our imaginary archivists, otherwise those archivists wouldn't be able to discuss it!
And Cid, if NotOfTheBody's wording is acceptable, why was it changed at stardate? Why is it better to say "The stardate was a calendar system adopted by the Federation sometime after 2161" than to say "The stardate is a calendar system that was adopted by the Federation sometime after 2161"? The former makes an assumption that at some point it ceased being used; the latter makes no such assumption. When it's possible to cast an article in past tense without making the assumption that everything's gone, why not do so? As a simple matter of readability, isn't it better to minimize jarring disruptions for the reader? —Josiah Rowe 19:08, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Since Hribar rightly pointed out that "stardate" refers to a particular date rather than the calendar system as a whole, I've tweaked the introductory sentences to provide a general definition, in the present tense (as is appropriate for the eternal idea), while leaving all specific references in the past. I'm also changing "Jerusalem" from "was" to "is", because nobody's been able to give me a coherent answer indicating why, when our imaginary archivists have the full lyrics of the hymn, they would speak of it in the past tense. (See the example of the Homeric Hymns above.) —Josiah Rowe 16:57, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Mirror and Alternate POVs

Since articles about "new timeline" and Mirror Universe have a header on them informing the reader that the information comes from a different universe/timeline/what-have-you, should we tweak the policy to point out that the articles should be written in that universes POV, or is that an incorrect interpretation? (Mirror Spock become Spock and "normal Spock" becomes "another Spock" or some such) I only bring this up because of this change to the Vulcan colony page points out the (incorrect?) POV even more than it was before, and a lot of the articles about Star Trek have this POV flux (changes have already been made to the Mirror articles to change this). - Archduk3:talk 23:01, December 28, 2009 (UTC)

This has already been discussed here, although not conclusively. I think this should be done for "new timeline" articles, because (as that name already states) this timeline is supposed to be a new main timeline, not an alternate one that is conveniently forgotten at the end of the episode. Whether it should be done for mirror universe articles is another question - I tend to say "no" to that, as do others in the linked discussion, but would like to hear other opinions about that, if there are any. -- Cid Highwind 23:16, December 28, 2009 (UTC)

The reason I link the two is simply to avoid having a rule/guideline that has an exception tagged on the end. The multiple realities should use the prime/normal timeline as the standard POV, but articles that have the NT or MU tag should be in that POV for the same reason that Realworld articles are. (See ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701) for a MU POV article) I always read the "all knowing" part to mean that the POV acclimated to whatever universe it was describing (Q and Trelane's universe hopping in Q-Squared is a good, albeit non-canon, example of what the Archivist is doing), so any article with a header calling out a different timeline should be written in that POV, while articles like Molly, which are about a different timeline, but don't have a header, are still from the POV of the prime timeline. (I hope that makes enough sense to be understood) - Archduk3:talk 23:57, December 28, 2009 (UTC)

Understand, yes, but don't completely agree... I think the "all-knowing" part should not be made more important than it originally was intended to be. In fact, the whole "imagine being an archivist in the far future" is more helpful advice than some cold, hard, unbendable policy.
The most important thing we want to achieve is to be understood by the reader - everything else should follow from that. So, the question is - would it be better (=less confusing) for an uninvolved reader to change the POV from an external to an internal one in each of these cases? I think this is the case as far as the new movie is concerned. It is supposed to start a new line of stories, told in a slightly different but still "real" universe - so we should try to archive everything from that point of view, and let the reader beware as far as a possible break of POV is concerned (via the article header).
All other universes, including the mirror one, are always depicted as the "one-off, freak reality" instead - fun to look at for a while, but at the end of the episode we return to our "home reality". The only exception to that rule is the ENT two-parter, where there is no visitor from the "real" universe. So, it might make more sense, and be less confusing for a possible reader, to describe those as exactly that - as "the other" reality, not always as "our" reality. In short, we should have as few different POVs as possible. -- Cid Highwind 09:59, December 29, 2009 (UTC)

Tense revisited

Tense issues are still a raging matter, despite all of the efforts we put into them previously to try to consolidate things. What one person sees as an "eternal concept", another does not. What one person sees as scientific fact of all time forever is something that just might change down the road, just like the Sun rotating about the Earth, and the Earth being flat. I would like to suggest an update to the tense policy in that everything goes to past tense to make things simpler for both new and old users. In essence, suggesting that the current universe has ended, and therefore nothing is potentially current anymore, something along the lines of the final scenes of Babylon 5's 4th season finale -- Humans (and others) have "ascended" and things just ain't what they were.

We currently have far too much editing, reversions, and further reversions of articles and constant discussion and questioning of those tense decisions. Even the Doctor Who wiki has taken the tact of stating that everything is in past tense, and that's about a show that deals with time travel! Thoughts? -- sulfur 03:18, September 24, 2010 (UTC)

The way it is sounds good in theory, but as you say leads to too many arguments in certain situations. Making everything past tense is much easier in practice.– Cleanse ( talk | contribs ) 04:10, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
Hmm... I agree that the question of tenses is a frequent cause for reversion, but I'm not sure that the blanket policy you propose would solve anything. I think that most tense edits are probably made by "drive-by" editors, who aren't familiar with the POV policy and who either think they're "correcting" the article or think the article is drawing an incorrect conclusion in its use of the past tense (e.g. misinterpreting the past tense in Romulan as a statement about their status post-Star Trek). Even if we applied a "past only" rule, we'd still have the same problem, because casual editors still won't know about the wiki's policies or the rationale behind them.
The best way to minimize this problem is to have a tense policy which makes intuitive sense to most readers. I don't know the best way to do that, but I think that moving to "past tense in all articles" might make less intuitive sense to some. For example, consider articles about "ideas" like IDIC. As it stands now, the sentences about specific uses of IDIC or the IDIC symbol are in past tense, but the introductory sentence is in the present tense. I think that makes a certain amount of sense, because even if you imagine that all species have "ascended" and no IDIC pins exist, that wouldn't mean that the word IDIC had ceased to be an acronym. Putting that first sentence into the past tense would almost be self-contradictory, because if it's being read, the acronym exists as an initialism at the time that it's read. Our imaginary reader brings the idea into his or her present by the act of reading — which I assume was the original rationale behind excepting "eternal concepts". (Of course, I still think that the same argument applies to a case like "Jerusalem", but apparently that's a minority view.)
I can see an argument for saying that even stars will cease to be in a sufficiently distant future. But if we were to make a change in practice, my preference would be to allow for a broader interpretation of "eternal concepts", not tightening the policy even further. —Josiah Rowe 04:29, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
I'd prefer consistency. If everything is in the past tense then there's no issue or ambiguity among the articles. Nobody could argue what is an eternal concept and what not. — Morder (talk) 04:58, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
I think this is generally a good idea, and will support it, but I'm not sure how effective it will be at stopping anon POV confusion, as I do think this may lead to some questionable statements for first time users. I do have some questions about this as well: is there another option if this makes things worse (not actually sure how to quantify that really)? How many "eternal" articles do we currently have? Just a ballpark figure would be nice in seeing how widespread this issue really is and the amount of effort that would be needed to switch them. - Archduk3 07:24, September 24, 2010 (UTC)

In terms of numbers of eternal articles? In theory, everything in the "stars" category, and (depending on the day of the week) one third to half of the stuff in the science categories. No matter what it is. Other ones that some people see as eternal are things like those that Josiah Rowe brings up above. Some people believe that any song should be in present tense because we list some lyrics. Etc, etc. -- sulfur 10:24, September 24, 2010 (UTC)

An interesting scenario had been brought up in 2006, in one of the discussions at the top of this page:
But let's say that in the next movie the producers go for something really dramatic and have a virus wipe out every single last Romulan. All of them. Totally gone. Having articles that say "Romulans are" would be anachronistic.
By now, something surprisingly similar has indeed happened: the producers have gone for something dramatic, and, while not wiping out the Romulan race, have destroyed their homeworld. Just like that, planets (and stars) have been destroyed by Soran in Star Trek Generations, by undisclosed means some time before Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and by the planet killer even before that. Similarly, the Mutara Nebula might have ceased to exist while giving birth to the Genesis Planet, a whole bunch of stars supernovaed during the Q civil war, the whole Husnock race vanished in a single moment, and so on. Many of the things we'd consider to be "eternal" are not in the Trek universe. Using past tense throughout would, in my opinion, simplify things at least in this regard.
This would just leave "idea" articles to potentially be written in present tense - and even there, as past discussions have shown, we could separate between the "abstract concept" (that typically gets mentioned in the first sentence of an article) and its usage in the Trek universe (which follows). Articles could be written to just use present tense in their introductory sentence, then switching to past tense for the rest. An example for this is the current revision of the stardate article, which was the focus of a lengthy discussion last year.
So, in combination, a slightly revised policy might state that all articles should be written in past tense, but allow for present tense in (at most) the introductory paragraph if the article is not about a physical object (of any sort) but instead an abstract idea. -- Cid Highwind 11:22, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
I think what Cid just said is good. Introductory paragraphs that are about physical objects (such as stars, photon torpedoes, starships, people) should be writen in past tense, since things can be destroyed. But phenomena which could recur at any time (black holes, energy phenomena, matter-antimatter reactions) should be in present tense. In addition, I think articles that are about many things (for instance, time portal, of which there are multiple examples) should have a present tense introduction, since who knows when another might be encountered. In a nutshell, I don't think we should write from the POV of existing after the universe has collapsed, but rather from the perspective of existing after the Star Trek saga has ended, and all of the events which took place therein have happened in the past tense, and are over and done with. That's my two cents. -Angry Future Romulan 15:47, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
The key issue is to create rules that make intuitive sense to most readers. Having one single policy pertaining to tense (i.e. everything must be written in the past tense or else...), will cause many problems and I guarantee it will make new users and editors and even regulars constantly come back and want to revisit the issue; in other words, the issue will not go away as long as it is not rooted in some form of common sense, intuition and logic.
For example, things like chemical compounds such as hormones, glucose, adrenaline etc. should not be written in the past tense. Saying glucose was a simple sugar and carbohydrate just does.not.make.sense. Sugar is sugar and we have not been given any reason to believe in Star Trek, that somehow it is a different concept. Glucose is not something that happened in the past and is over and done with. Same thing with gravity etc.
The problem with the "one solution fits all" proposal is that it leads to inaccuracies and statements that just wont make sense, will sound awkward and prompt editing or editing wars. So I agree with Blair that introductory paragraphs that deal with phenomena, mathematical concepts and physical properties (chem compounds, foods, black hole...) should be written in the present tense. Also, I am not sure if this is what this debate is addressing, but episode summaries should not be in past tense.
Although I agree that consistency is important, at some point you have to wonder how much you are giving up for consistency. In some cases it just does not make sense to use such blanket statements. – Distantlycharmed 19:30, September 24, 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Distantlycharmed that intuitive sense is more important than blanket consistency. As Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
I think we all agree that if the article is about a specific physical object (including astronomical bodies) or an individual, we can put it in the past tense; but if the article is definitional, identifying a type of object, I think it should be in the present tense. For example, Hasperat — even if Bajor has been destroyed and all Bajorans are dead, the identity of what hasperat is hasn't changed. (By way of comparison, see the Wikipedia article on manna, a supposed foodstuff of the ancient world which does not exist today, but which is nevertheless introduced in the present tense in the Wikipedia article.)
Does "phenomenon, concept or definition" work as an exception to the general past-only rule? —Josiah Rowe 00:41, September 25, 2010 (UTC)
Right. A fruit is a fruit. A jalapeño is a jalapeño. It doesn't or shouldnt change with time. – Distantlycharmed 01:26, September 25, 2010 (UTC)

That's just the point you're totally missing. A dodo is not a bird. It is an extinct bird. It was a bird. End of the universe, there are no jalapeños. There were though. It does not matter that it currently is something. -- sulfur 12:25, September 25, 2010 (UTC)

Another point that's probably being missed is the fact that whole articles are never just "definitional". We typically define something, and then reference how that something has been shown. That latter part needs to be in past tense no matter what, so any suggestion that leads to whole articles being written in present tense is, in my opinion, counterintuitive. If anything, we could talk about having some small part of "concept articles" be written in present tense and the rest in past - which is what was suggested further above, and which seems to be what we are doing already on some articles... -- Cid Highwind 16:52, September 25, 2010 (UTC)
I agree with you Cid. Define something in present tense and the explanation part (like where in the series it was shown etc), should and needs to be in past tense. I dont think I ever advocated for all articles being written in the present tense throughout, the point was more what you are referring to. For example "hormones ARE chemicals secreted by cells...." (in the intro line/sentence) and then the rest of the article would be in past tense, like "During pon parr cortical levels of hormones/serotonin fell...". A hormone is not something that changes with time/space. It's not an extinct phenomena. Saying "hormones WERE chemicals secreted by body", leads to the kind of counter-intuitive notions I talked about. – Distantlycharmed 17:25, September 25, 2010 (UTC)
I agree mostly with what Cid and DC have said, and part of what Sulfur has said. Regarding dodos and jalapenos, they are specific things, which means even the introductory paragraphs should be past tense. But hormones are not specific: there are many different kinds, created by many different species, and therefore the term "hormones" is somewhat more conceptual, so should be present tense. -Angry Future Romulan 22:50, September 25, 2010 (UTC)
But it's not just general classes of things; adrenaline is a specific hormone, but we wouldn't say "adrenaline was a Human hormone", would we?
I agree that articles are never "just definitional"; however, their introductory sentence or paragraph often is. Although it makes sense to place any specific instance or use in the past tense, I think that if we start putting the definitional part of articles like IDIC or adrenaline into the past tense, we'll just be inviting confusion. —Josiah Rowe 02:01, September 26, 2010 (UTC)

Humans no longer exist, so yes, adrenaline was a Human hormone. -- sulfur 02:03, September 26, 2010 (UTC)

That just seems silly to me. But then, I suppose that talking at length about the proper tense to use in an encyclopedia of a fictional future is pretty silly too. I suppose the entire debate is fairly Little-Endian. —Josiah Rowe 02:56, September 26, 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, no kidding Josiah:) @ sulfur: I see that you completely missed the point about it making somewhat intuitive sense to most readers. And in general, I am also not sure why we must write articles from the standpoint that humans no longer exist and that the universe has ended. Speaking of utterly absurd and counter intuitive. Why are we making this more complicated than it needs to be. – Distantlycharmed 05:19, September 27, 2010 (UTC)
While this discussion is ongoing, can we all agree that edit warring over tense matters is counter-productive and unhelpful? I think that while we're hashing this out, we should have a temporary moratorium on tense changes for the types of articles under discussion here. That would, of course, apply to both "sides" (though we should resist the tendency to let ourselves become polarized on this issue — compromise is generally better than oppositional posturing). —Josiah Rowe 06:36, October 3, 2010 (UTC)
Just another opinion (mine): from the point of view of the Star Trek world, time is just another dimension/variable, time travelling is possible, so the same way we say something is there (place), we can say something is then (time) -- thus present tense stands just for general meaning, not this exact moment. From our point of view, all those things are just concepts, so present tense is correct even more so. At least guys at the Wikipedia share this attitude, because, honestly, the past tense makes the Memory Alpha quite unenjoyable and confusing. Those "it all happened a long, long time ago, humans don't exist anymore, Earl Grey doesn't exist anymore" people should just wave goodbye and move on to something new, because they're no fun. 22:03, August 27, 2014 (UTC)Ondra G.


I've seen at least one admin mention leaving bias out of articles, referring the user to this page. But there seems to be nothing about bias or a neutral POV (NPOV)., like Wikipedia has (yes, I know MA is not Wikipedia.)

I think we should add a section about bias or maintaining a NPOV. In so many articles (mostly episode summaries), sentences begin with "Unfortunately...." or the like. This, IMO, is a bad thing; I try to remove/reword when I come across such POV terms, but I can't point to a specific policy for justification.

Here's why I think tones engendered by use of words such as "unfortunately" are not good: they force the reader (or at least encourage) to assume the statements connected with such terms are positive/negative instead of letting the reader draw his/her own conclusion. It's also highly non-encylopedic, which MA claims to be (ie, an encyclopedia).

They also raise (or should raise) questions such as, "Unfortunate for whom? The heroes? The 'villains'? The viewer?"

Does anyone else have a problem with this, or is it just me? I've tried searching for such words to see whether they're justified, but I can't seem to do it even with the advanced search (probably because of the limitations of the MediaWiki engine). I'd be happy to look through articles containing such phrases so I could reword them, if there was such a way. (I'd like to be useful here!)

But there's no such policy, and I don't know whether a consensus would form that agrees with me.

I hope this isn't as controversial as the whole past/present tense issue! (And I'm not even sure this is the right place to broach the matter.)

Sorry about the length – just wanted to be clear.

Cepstrum (talk) 15:25, December 27, 2010 (UTC)

Episode summaries fall under different rules entirely than the rest of the site. Those segments are written more like prose, although should not give too much detail, and are not supposed to be replacements for watching the episodes or reading novelizations of such. Encyclopedic articles should be of a more neutral bent, but we don't pretend to be WP, nor do we want to be WP. -- sulfur 16:08, December 27, 2010 (UTC)

So is that a "no"? That is, you agree including statements that reflect the editor's POV of events is fine, rather than trying to leave such conclusions up to the reader? (And forget the WP stuff; I shouldn't have mentioned it.) Do you think continuing to let editors insert their interpretations represents a consensus? If so, I'll concede. You, Sulfur, have a good "feel" (intuition) of the opinions here, so hearing your judgment is probably a good representation of the community's wishes.

Still, I'd like to hear if anyone else cares about this. It's probably just I. :-/ Oh well. At least there are many cases of poor prose I can try to help fix.

Cepstrum (talk) 20:45, December 27, 2010 (UTC)

Regarding Planets

As per Sulfur's suggestion, I'd like to call attention to the tense policy for the "planet" article. I understand (and agree) with the policy of writing each individual planet in the past tense, however I believe that the planet article itself should be written in the present tense, since that specific article covers the definition of what constitutes a planet in the Star Trek universe, and therefore would be something of an eternal concept (I don't see the definition of a planet being an issue of change in the context of how MA is written). Again this change would only affect the "planet" article, and not individual planet articles (Earth, Bajor, Qo'noS, etc.). -- 07:49, October 15, 2011 (UTC)

Does anyone have any objection to this change or have anything to add? -- 05:02, October 16, 2011 (UTC)

I would wait much more than a day or two before a change like that. The only thing I will add is that the definition of planet can change- and has done so in our lifetimes- so it isn't necessarily an eternal concept. --31dot 08:43, October 16, 2011 (UTC)
Please note the big number of "tense discussions" on this page. This has been a point of heated discussion for years. In the last discussion about it, there has been a suggestion to exclude parts of "concept articles" (not necessarily whole articles, though) from our current past-only policy, and I personally still think that's the most sensible way to go - others might want to disagree with that, though. Whatever you do, proceed with caution. :) -- Cid Highwind 10:30, October 16, 2011 (UTC)
The definition of a planet is not an eternal concept and therefor should be in the past tense. - Archduk3 16:08, October 16, 2011 (UTC)
Well, that's not totally correct. There may be more than one definition of what a "planet" is, but each single one of these definitions is eternal and not dependent on whether objects matching that definition still exist (or even "ever existed"). Sounds academic, yes, but so is this whole discussion. Realistically, if the "current definition" of planet changes in a way that affects this site, we would have to work on our categorizations, anyway - so changing a single article is a comparably minor problem. -- Cid Highwind 16:46, October 16, 2011 (UTC)
To put what Cid is saying in different words, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Pluto as a physical object in no way changes whether we call it a planet or not. Its orbit doesn't change, its mass doesn't change, nothing about it as an object existing within the universe changes whether we call it a planet, a dwarf, a Kuiper object, a giant comet, or a snow cone. The object itself is still fairly eternal, discounting the possibility of freak impacts or a POV written billions of years into the future. --OuroborosCobra talk 17:04, October 16, 2011 (UTC)
Not sure if that really is what I was saying, so I'm going to put it another way myself. The core idea should be to "Not confuse readers more than absolutely necessary!". In case of specific objects, this makes it necessary to write in past tense. A prime example is Romulus, the article about which can't be written in present tense after its destruction in ST11 - and it would be confusing if that article was the only past tense article among many present tense articles (imagine coming to past-tense Romulus from a present-tense Jonathan Archer just because we haven't seen the latter dead on screen). I think we've been through that enough times, and that part isn't really contested anymore (at least not at the moment). What is more regularly brought up, probably because it is more confusing for readers, is past tense for definitions. In that case, it implies not that a real object has ceased to exist, but that the definition of what objects are called has changed - and perhaps we really need to handle that differently. -- Cid Highwind 17:24, October 16, 2011 (UTC)

Cid you've hit the nail right on the head. The way the planet article is written currently would make you think that planets are not something that form in the universe anymore, and that's why I want the tense changed in that article. -- 23:26, October 16, 2011 (UTC)

According to the POV, there is no universe, so there are no planets forming. This is exactly why we should be consistent with the past tense, since there is no way we can control how it's read. There is always going to be a chance for some confusion, and the simplest answer for when a question is asked about why it's written like that is "they all are" and a link back to here. - Archduk3 02:15, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

There is a major flaw in the policy here. I don't see how planets are any different from stars in terms of what should be written in present tense. We've seen stars destroyed on screen, like Amargosa, and that specific article is written in the past tense, yet the article for star (and other stars as well) is present tense. Why? Because it's describing a star. Planet's aren't any different - Romulus was destroyed on screen, just like Amargosa, and is written in the past tense. Yet planet (and all other planets) is still past tense. I'd also like to point out that the asteroid article is written in present tense, and I think we can all agree those things are far less "eternal" than planets. So why is planet so special?-- 05:23, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

Archduk's last response is a misrepresentation of the current policy and its intent, though. Even now, the policy clearly allows something to be written in present tense. It explicitly tells us that "articles about particular astronomical features (such as stars, star systems, and nebulae, but not planets) should be written in present tense" - and it's true that excluding just planets, but not anything else, looks strange. The policy also tells us that "eternal concepts may be qualified with a time setting" - whatever the hell that means, I don't know. Also, the intent of the phrase "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" never was to imply a specific point in time, much less one where the universe itself (vs. "the Star Trek universe") no longer exists. It's just a mnemonic device: "if the object you write about could cease to exist at all, write about it in past tense".
So, to clear up this situation - and at the same time even move this policy into the direction of what people already think this policy states ;) - let's do the following:
  • Remove item #2 from the list in subsection "Tense" completely. Basically: if it is an object, write in past tense. Even if that object is a nebula or star.
  • Clarify item #1, so that it reads: if the article describes a "concept" and not a specific object belonging to that concept (like, for example, planet vs. Romulus), the definitional part of that article can be written in present tense (example: "A planet is ..."). Should specific applications of this concept follow, article tense needs to change to past tense and stay in past tense for the rest of the article (example: "Since the 23rd century, the Federation was able to terraform planets.").
-- Cid Highwind 09:06, October 17, 2011 (UTC)
I agree with that proposal. The less exceptions and special cases we have the better. Consequently, I would additionally suggest we remove the sentence "This includes species, which should be written about in the past tense", since this isn't an exception. That's a holdover from an older draft when that section wasn't just about exceptions. For new users, it probably just confuses the issue by suggesting species are somehow a special case, when they aren't.–Cleanse ( talk | contribs ) 10:04, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

I too like Cid's proposal. I think it will be more consistent and less confusing all around. -- 16:23, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

Actually Cid, it's not a "misrepresentation", or even a misunderstanding (which is the word I'm sure you intend to use, since it doesn't have all the nefarious overtones that the other one does), it's what the policy says. If the intention of that part of the policy was something else, maybe it should actually say that. Also, I don't ever remember saying that all articles are suppose to be written in the past tense under the current policy, I simply said that if we're going to make a change, it should be to that. - Archduk3 23:57, October 17, 2011 (UTC)
As I said, the policy does currently not define any specific point in time as its "present", and never has. It clearly says "If it helps, pretend that...", not "This encyclopedia is written a bazillion years in the future.". If that "If it helps"-line is still too confusing, how would you suggest we change it? If that change doesn't affect intent, we could do that quick. -- Cid Highwind 07:37, October 18, 2011 (UTC)
If we don't want a specific point in time as our POV, we probably shouldn't use one as the example. It should simply state that all events we will ever see take place in the distant past. That said, I don't have a problem with the POV being specifically after the end of the universe. - Archduk3 18:01, October 18, 2011 (UTC)
Between this and last year's "Tense revisited" discussion, I see a wide consensus for less exceptions (especially re:planets), so I've implemented the changes as described above. -- Cid Highwind 09:53, October 24, 2011 (UTC)

The Real World Banner

How did you guys make that? --MMcF (talk) 21:47, September 16, 2016 (UTC)

CSS and JS. :) -- sulfur (talk) 14:13, September 15, 2016 (UTC)

Is there a step-by-step guide somewhere on how to do something like that?--MMcF (talk) 21:47, September 16, 2016 (UTC)

Hello?--MMcF (talk) 17:31, October 15, 2016 (UTC)

CSS and JS customization and Google. Wikia also provides some help at Community Central, but they hate our banners, so that might not go well if you ask them directly. They do have the help pages we don't though. - Archduk3 17:35, October 15, 2016 (UTC)

Re "usage of the conditional"

The last bit of the "Tense" section sounds to me like it is rooted in a general lack of appreciation of the range of roles the word "would" fills in the English language, and/or an unlikely interpretation of the specific role that was intended in the employed example.

The tense that should be used is simple past tense.

Simple past tense can serve as the baseline tense, but more often than not further tenses are needful as well. For example, if one takes a statement like

"Today, the sun rises a little earlier than it rose yesterday, and a little later than it will rise tomorrow."

and transposes it into the past, one comes up with something like

"That day, the sun rose a little earlier than it had risen the day before, and a little later than it would rise the day after."

The "temporal contrast" established in the present-based version by using plain past and future tenses is preserved in the past-based version by using more elaborate constructions employing suitably inflected forms of the function verbs "have" and "will". See "relative and absolute tense" @ Wikipedia for a broader view. Instead using plain "rose" again and again makes the sentence not quite ungrammatical, to my ear, but quite a lot less clear and more clumsy. "Would" @ Wiktionary lists a round dozen senses of the word altogether, evenly split between a tense-type category, which includes the usage in the example above (4, termed "anterior future"), and a mood-type category, which includes the conditional usage the policy currently focusses on. About half the senses are marked as outdated, but the other half still covers a lot of territory. And looking at, say, "B'Elanna Torres", which the policy example below was originally taken from, the more than thirty occurrences of the word span most of those latter senses.

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."

So, with all that in mind, does the identification of that "would" as an (improper) conditional seem likely, and does it make sense for the policy to talk about the situation in those terms? Surely not. Moreover, the example is ill-suited, as applying the "anterior future" interpretation happens to be viable in this case, absent any additional context. Now, to be clear, yes, there really was a real problem in the version of the article that prompted the addition of that passage. And some of the occurrences of "would" in the current version sound dodgy to me still, actually. I'd suggest the way to repair this should depend on what or who caused said problem. If it was merely one particular editor's non-standard style, it may no longer need addressing at all. If it's something more pervasive, the policy passage needs to be largely rewritten. - Kassyopeia (talk) 00:00, 8 March 2021 (UTC)