I've seen at least a couple of 'Hot Network Questions' which, appear to be make oblique reference to Star Trek. Specifically:

Is there some unspoken rule to the effect of "the first rule of WorldBuilding is you do not talk about WorldBuilding (and also Star Trek)"?

Or have we all been transported into the distant future, where the Star Trek Wars have settled the matter once and for all?

Or maybe it's just one person's entertaining style of asking questions?

Is it forbidden to directly reference Star Trek? Would it be more fun for everybody if it was?

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    $\begingroup$ Questions about Star Trek, the Enterprise, or Babylon 5 (which is what I assumed the 'long way from anywhere V' was about) belong on Sci-Fi.SE. So those questions would be off-topic here if they specifically referred to those shows. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 20 '16 at 3:26
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion Not quite true. Questions about star trek/B5/etc would be off topic. Questions about building a world set within/compatible with/inspired by them would not $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 20 '16 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion - I took 'A long way from anywhere 5' to be a reference to Deep Space 9 (albeit with the number changed). Although I see how Babylon 5 also fits. $\endgroup$ – aroth Dec 20 '16 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion: It was a reference to DS9 with a Babylon 5 nod thrown in. You can tell because it's situated near a fixed location form of FTL travel and things often break down for no real reason. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 20 '16 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs I didn't remember/realize until doing some research just now, that Babylon 5 and DS9 debuted on TV within a few weeks of each other, ran concurrently for over 5 years, and wrapped up within 6 months of each other. They had more in common than I thought. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 20 '16 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion - the similarities were so apparent at the time that there were a lot of suspicions that Universal had stolen the idea from the early drafts of B5 that were pitched to them during development. $\endgroup$ – Periata Breatta Jan 1 '17 at 17:19

They are not verboten no, in fact they are a useful reference point if creating a world with magic space wizards or similar. Most people are at least familiar with Star Trek and Star Wars (less so Babylon 5 these days but many people will still recognize it) that they are useful starting points. Be aware though that there is virtually no actual science in any of those shows (Star Wars is fantasy in space, Star Trek is basically the same) so any serious scientific questions about them are likely to get shot down.

Here are some examples where a planet from Star Wars is referenced to help explain a concept:

As you can see there is no problem with that.

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. While I can't find them now, I recall references to RPGs as a reference base often, as well as shows and movies. By the same logic, we would say that a question with a medieval setting belongs to the History SE, and so on. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Dec 27 '16 at 20:49

Joe Bloggs made it pretty clear that the questions weren't about Start Trek or the Star Trek universe.

The references are satirical in nature.

Personally, I welcome the all-too-brief glimpses of humour on WB, and other SE sites for that matter where the rigidity of the rules can stifle creativity.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep. The questions were intended as satirical, but with a serious world building point that often gets overlooked (especially in TV series) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Dec 20 '16 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ Or perhaps it's the disclaimers that are satirical/tongue-in-cheek? The beauty of the Internet is that both interpretations are equally plausible when all you're looking at is the words on the screen. $\endgroup$ – aroth Dec 20 '16 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ Oh well. I don't see how the toilet question can be interpreted as anything other than satirical. Joe made it pretty clear, even prefacing the question with "DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to other starships (living or dead) is purely coincidental." $\endgroup$ – user10945 Dec 20 '16 at 10:03

I think one reason to avoid mentioning one of the existing properties is because it immediately locks you into a set of rules that the property has more or less laid out over years/decades.

If I say "my universe is like Star Trek except that it has this..." then you immediately get a picture in your head of how that universe works, what is possible, and what is impossible.
And a lot of times that's a good thing, because it saves a lot of explaining since a large portion of the community is familiar with the property in question.
But it can also be a bad thing because it closes down your thinking to what you know about that universe. Subconsciously you think "Well, that universe doesn't have this, so I won't include that in my answer..."

Of course, there is so much history (and sloppy writing) in most sci-fi series with more than one season that very few things are actually impossible.

  • $\begingroup$ +1. The questions wouldn't work if they had been about Star Trek (or indeed any other existing property) because the answers would have to have been confined to the established worlds of those works. In this form, we're more able to propose alternative approaches that might be more interesting. $\endgroup$ – Periata Breatta Jan 1 '17 at 17:21

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