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I understand that there are a few related questions on meta. I understand that we no longer close as "general reference".

What I don't understand is, to what degree do we consider Memory Alpha a reliable source? As far as I can tell, it's just a wiki and anyone could put anything there. And yet we have numerous answers the cite 'Memory Alpha says' or 'there's no reference on Memory alpha' or quote Memory Alpha etc.

How much should we accept Memory Alpha as 'evidence'?

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    I suggest generalizing this question to wikis in general (Memory Alpha, Wikipedia, Wookieepedia, HP Wiki, LOTR Wiki, etc.). – Null Oct 13 '15 at 15:12
  • Perhaps this question should be widened to include Memory Beta and even other wikis beyond Star Trek like Wookieepedia. But your argument that anyone can change the wiki also, of course, applies to Wikipedia. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Oct 13 '15 at 15:14
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    @Null: great minds and all that... – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Oct 13 '15 at 15:14
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    @Null i think generalizing it could be a bad way to go as some wiki's are notorously bad, while others are very good. for example wikipedia on average has only slightly higher amounts of errors, the main stream published encyclopedias. So unless your wikipedia article is super obscure your getting very reliable info. however some wikis like the one HP one is notoriously sketchy and unsourced. – Himarm Oct 13 '15 at 15:14
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    i would rather see 6 separate questions about each wiki individually, rather then clump them all together and generalize wikis. – Himarm Oct 13 '15 at 15:17
  • @Wikis - My experience has been that Memory Beta is usually as accurate than Memory Alpha, but massively less comprehensive. – Valorum Oct 14 '15 at 7:59
  • And wookieepedia is just a mess. – Valorum Oct 14 '15 at 7:59
  • the edit would invalidate most of the answer on here and since the question is over a year old, it would be better to simply ask a new question. and as my comment above shows most people would prefer to keep each wiki in its own question – Himarm Apr 13 '17 at 1:50
  • @Himarm, yeah okay – ThePopMachine Apr 13 '17 at 3:28
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Memory Alpha is not always correct.

For instance, see this question that I asked:

Read @N_Soong's answer first and then @Richard's. (In case @N_Soong reads this: it wasn't your fault, it was Memory Alpha's!)

In my own answers, I use Memory Alpha mainly as "further reading" on episodes that I refer to. If I write something like

Geordi found a strange shadow in a holo-recording in "Identity Crisis",

then I will usually put in a link to the episode:

Geordi found a strange shadow in a holo-recording in "Identity Crisis",

as a benefit to the reader, since the plot summaries are very complete at Memory Alpha.

However, I try to avoid using Memory Alpha for primary research. On several occasions in non-episode articles, I have found quizzical statements with no primary reference. At times when the only available information on a topic is an unsupported claim from Memory Alpha, I will include the claim in my answer, but with a proviso that it is unauthenticated and may be purely speculative in nature, despite being presented by Memory Alpha as fact.

In general, I find that Memory Alpha makes for good reading and browsing but not necessarily for good research.

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    I'd assert Praxis is the resident master researcher around here nowadays on Star Trek. This needs more upvotes. (If anyone is wondering, by my accounting, @Richard is the King of Knowledge; Praxis is the King of Research) – ThePopMachine Oct 14 '15 at 3:25
  • @ThePopMachine : Thanks for the kind words! :-) – Praxis Oct 14 '15 at 3:28
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    Agreed. Memory alpha is not a primary source, it's a wiki. – Valorum Oct 14 '15 at 7:57
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Theoretically, Memory Alpha is a Wikia, meaning anyone can write anything random there. Therefore, mere wording from MA should not be used as canon source, especially specific nuances of wording (Wikia writers on SFF topics tend to have a strong tendency to take a short phrase/fact from canon, and spin a whole wider non-supported narrative around that fact).

As such, MA should really be used only as a secondary source - meaning,

  • Ideally, use it to find and cite primary sources

  • If you use it as a source without primary cite, explicitly note that in your answer.

Practically, Memory Alpha, in my less-than-expert experience, seems to be far less inaccurate than other Wikias I'm familiar with (Wookiepedia/HP Wikia) overall, and seems to have a decent editorial/moderation policy. So while I wouldn't trust MA info that isn't sourced explicitly nearly as much as I'd trust canon primary source, I would also trust it more than random unsourced fact on other Wikias.

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From my experience currently the mods of memory alpha are not letting bad info up on the wiki. Most of the info on Memory alpha also contains references to specific episodes, and interviews, so the vast majority of it is verifiable. Unless we start to see conflicting, or wrong info on the site i believe its a great tool to answer questions.

As with all things found online a reasonable sense of caution should be used, attempt to double check, follow references, research your answers well, but generally its a safe place for good quality material.

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    +1 Wikis are fine as a first stop for research, but should never be the last, or only one. – phantom42 Oct 13 '15 at 16:06
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    Whenever I see an answer that cites Memory Alpha as a source, I always try to remind the answerer that their quote was merely written by another fan, one who may have no special connection to the show. – Valorum Oct 14 '15 at 8:00

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