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)

Tense: Past or Present? (moved from Memory Alpha:Ten Forward)

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. --68.74.12.137 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 | Talk 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 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 | Talk 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)


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)

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)

Moved from MA talk: POV/temp

I've made a few suggestions to the main page here. Please feel free to let me know I've missed the point. Aholland 20:45, 6 March 2006 (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... -- 149.159.1.199 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. -- 149.159.1.199 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). -- 149.159.1.199 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. -- 149.159.1.199 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)

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 Memory Alpha:Ten Forward/Archive 2005 Jun

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 the Trouble with Tribbles, tribbles over run Deep Space 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)

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. 128.227.34.224 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)
Community content is available under CC-BY-NC unless otherwise noted.