If we take it that the Borg assign species coding, based on contact, how are the Ferengi so low in the chart?
I believe that 7of9 called them Species 180.

Were the Borg in the Alpha Quadrant really early or Ferengi manage to get lost in Delta?

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    It’s because Ferengi are really, really awesome at darts. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 23:08
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    Is it based on contact or as soon as they hear of them? Ferengi reputation and technology has spread far and wide. Add to this that while the federation and the rest of the AQ powers pretty much keep to themselves, the Ferengi mount expeditions to look for new opportunities.
    – Jonathon
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 2:34
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    Well, it at least seems clear that the primary key for Ferengi in the races table of the Borg's database is 180. I wonder if the Borg ever assimilated the knowledge of database sanitation. Someone should try yomomma');drop table races;-- and see what happens.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 16:41
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    Maybe the Borg assign species coding based on average height. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 16:42
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    Do we know if the Borg use a base 10 numbering system? Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 3:19

7 Answers 7


The episode in which they are referred to as Species 180 is Voyager's "Infinite Regress".

The script and production notes for the episode do not offer any reason for the low number. It seems that the novels and comics are not helpful here either.

Speculating, I imagine that since the Ferengi have an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit, some could have mounted a private expedition to the Delta Quadrant and encountered the Borg there, decades prior to the TNG era and far before other Alpha Quadrant races. Naturally, they never returned to tell the tale.

Also, recall that the Ferengi were quick to take advantage of the Bajoran wormhole for trade purposes with the Gamma Quadrant. They understand that new territories mean new business opportunities.

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    The Ferengi in the Delta Quadrant in the Voyager episode "False Profits", who had been deposited there by the unstable Barzan Wormhole, seemed to be the first ones--they seemed surprised to see another Ferengi (really Neelix in disguise, pretending to be the "Grand Proxy", a representative of the Grand Nagus) and asked "But Grand Proxy, how did you--?" to which Neelix replied "Through the Barzan wormhole. The humans stabilized it temporarily", implying their question was going to be "how did you get here?"
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:45
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    @Hypnosifl : There's no need for an earlier group who mounted a private expedition (or which were flung to the Delta Quadrant accidentally by some cosmological phenomenon) to have had any contact with the ones who entered the Delta Quadrant via the Barzan wormhole. Just because the ones in "False Profits" have not encountered other Ferengi in the Delta Quadrant is neither here nor there.
    – Praxis
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 23:07
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    @Hypnosifl : Indeed. If such an expedition were predicted to be especially profitable, it would be all the more reason to keep knowledge of it private.
    – Praxis
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 23:42
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    Don't forget, we learn in DS9 that Ferengi society goes back more than 10,000 years. They've been travelling the stars in search of profit for a very long time. Some early ship could easily have found it's way into Borg space long ago.
    – BBlake
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 0:23
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    @Matt That's what I was thinking of. Unfortunately the line is a bit dodgy because humans got warp drive around a century later (when Klingons already had it), and Vulcans were shown to already have it within a decade at most (and likely far earlier). So we may be able to say that Quark's unfamiliarity with history led him to misspeak. Still, it's reasonable to suppose that he wasn't off by thousands of years. Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 12:50

I have little more to offer than this quote from Memory-Alpha

It is not explicitly stated how these designations were assigned, though it is generally assumed that they were simply incremental, each newly encountered species getting a number one higher than the previous. This mostly holds up when comparing numbers to probable first contact dates or vicinity to Borg space, though some anomalies exist, most notably the Alpha Quadrant species Ferengi having an unusually low number of 180 (which may suggest that at least one Ferengi ship had visited the Delta Quadrant and encountered the Borg early on in the Borg's expansion). Numbers appear to have been assigned at first contact, and don't seem to have been reused even after the whole species was assimilated.

I'm going to chalk this up to writers error. Never forget Star Trek's motto: "We hate continuity."

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    How does this break continuity? As the article states, the low number suggests Ferengi had early contact with the Borg. That's a pretty simple and straight-forward explanation. There are many continuity errors regarding the Borg and first contact. This is more of a point of trivia. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 22:18
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    That is just a fan explanation for something that doesn't really make sense. And Alpha quadrant species being really low on the Borg first contact list? Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 1:33
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    It's an unlikely scenario, just like the majority of Star Trek plots (discovering a stable wormhole, a theocratic agrarian society discovering warp travel first, near-omnipotent species, a human space probe becoming sentient, etc.). Yes, it's unlikely that an Alpha quadrant species could end up in the Delta quadrant (via wormhole or the Q or otherwise), but it's not really a continuity issue or even a goof. People accidentally ending up far away in another quadrant occurs quite a few times in Trek, and it makes a lot more sense than the Mirror Universe. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 2:14
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    Regarding Jack's (funny) line about "We hate continuity" -- I think it's specious to say "this is not a continuity issue": the point is just that in general there are logical inconsistencies, etc. Funny one, Jack! nice answer (I"m reminded of the comment attributed to Steven Spielberg ... "F--- continuity!")
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 2:45
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    @Lesemajeste Haha, perhaps Ferengi were the Q's "favoured" race before humans :P
    – Luaan
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 8:09

There is absolutely no logical flaw here any more than Leif Erickson discovering America is a logical flaw in our history. Here are possibilities: Alien zoos or abductions, video transmissions, merchant expeditions, wormholes, transwarp conduits, Borg expeditions, Feringi originally being from the Delta Quadrant, Time travel, etc. When I originally heard this on the show I just assumed, as was implied numerous times, that Feringi were a mysterious merchant race that really got around.

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    Welcome to SFFSE! This is a bunch of thoughts put together rather than an answer to the question with evidence supporting it. Perhaps you should have a look at our tour to understand what we are looking for here. Thanks! Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 1:36
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    Being he is new here, his only option to contribute is via answers, even though he may only wish to do a comment-based reply. (This is kind of a pet peeve of mine) I'm upvoting his answer to help him get to the 50 rep points he needs so he can comment also.
    – iMerchant
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 22:51
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    This is at least as good as the accepted, highly upvoted answer, which is also reasonable speculation.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 18:45
  • The answer did say "possibilities", then "numerous times". All those possibilities support the core answer of "this could have happened so easily, there are a multitude of ways it could have happened." Cramming that into one answer really is better than seven different short answers.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 16:11

We don't know when in their history the Borg got transwarp but my guess is they either developed it themselves or assimilated the technology very early in their history. It's possible the Borg sent scouts to each quadrant and bumped into the Ferengi this way.

Another possibility is the caretaker who had been in the Delta Quadrant for 2000 odd years by 2371. We don't know how long he'd been looking for a compatible species to mate with. It's possible he'd been looking for a few hundred years and some Ferengi got swept up in one of his early sweeps of the galaxy.

Another alternative is the race from the Delta Quadrant who was abducting humans as slaves in the 20th century called the Brioru. Perhaps they abducted other races including the Ferengi? Maybe there is a whole planet of Ferengi in the Delta Quadrant just like there was a planet of humans.

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    Do you have anything to back these guesses up or are they simply just pure speculation? Also if you are interested in sticking around you should register your account as not to lose it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 9:13
  • +1 as the middle paragraph has some good in-character insight on what that "caretaker" may have been doing.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 16:13

Well, I'd like to throw in my two-cents:

In the Voyager episode, 'Dragon's Teeth', it was mentioned that the Borg came into being at least 900 years prior, but seven was unable to give details as the Borg's memory of that time was "fragmented". One could speculate, since they only advance as they assimilate, that in the early years, meeting new species would be a very slow process. Now, with that in mind, it is canon that the Ferengi bought warp technology from the Breen between 1947 and 2151 (earth time). Just because they bought it, though, doesn't mean that they knew how it worked. It's very possible that the Ferengi had a warp 'mishap' that stranded a vessel far from its starting point and that it encountered a very early Borg vessel that, itself, had just acquired Transwarp.

When you add these two events together, you get a very low designation number for the Ferengi.

  • This isn't bad speculation. Kirk and co. had warp malfunctions every other week so this isn't a stretch by the show's standards.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 0:20

The Ferengi didn't have warp drive much earlier than humans did, but the Borg were in the alpha quadrant during the middle ages. First contact between humans and the Borg happened before the Federation existed. Up until the mid 20th century, only the Vulcans, Tellarites and Romulans had warp. The Ferengi purchased it from a species that was near extinction. I suspect the Ferengi ended up in the delta quadrant due to an abduction, at which point they were discovered when the species that abducted them got assimilated. My guess is the Vadwaar, who were in the alpha quadrant during medieval times.

  • Do you have sources for any of this? Please have a look at the tour for the sort of answer we look for here.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 2:40

Well, I'd like to throw in my two-cents:

In the Voyager episode, 'Dragon's Teeth', it was mentioned that the Borg came into being at least 900 years prior, but seven was unable to give details as the Borg's memory of that time was "fragmented".

(credit where credit is due: the above text was taken straight from badskippy's answer. However, he then used that as a launching point to go a very different direction which seemed to be the core of that answer. I, however, would like to stick on this point a bit further.)

This finding of the "fragmentation" issue, stemming from the script of Voyager episode, "Dragon's Teeth", does actually explain why fragmentation could very sensibly explain how this occurred, when analyzing what would be likely to happen.

So, if the computer data is fragmented, what happens? In real life, real data fragmentation on a disk can be relatively harmless, possibly just causing minor issues like some slowdown and "wear and tear", and commonly cleaned up using a "defragmentation" utility, also known as a "defrag" program. But I've heard "fragmentation" used elsewhere by the Trek writers, referring to the idea of a real technical problem.

So, let's say that the Borg sent off a ship, and that ship might have become damaged, and that ship lost track of many of the species. Instead of having data of thousands of sentient humanoids species, it only knew about many dozens.

Then, when the ship comes back to the collective's territory, what happens? Well, its data gets merged in.

And, then, there's a conflict. There are two species with the number of 180.

First of all, note that this might be acceptable. We might think that each number can only be used for one species. But the Borg might not have a reason to enforce such a rule. Not enforcing a 1:1 ratio between species numbers and actual species might cause some problems for the Borg, or might not.

However, even if there was supposed to be a 1:1 ratio, what would the Borg do with the conflict? Well, of course, they fix it. There is no reason to believe this data is erroneous, as it is coming from a legitimate Borg source. So maybe the Borg's programming made the choice to have the Ferrengi remain at Species 180, and whatever other species had that number simply got re-assigned. That is a very logical alternative; the other logical way to handle that would be to re-assign the Ferrengi and let the other species remain.

Choosing to keep the Ferrengi as the low number might sound absurd, but keep in mind that computers can sometimes do things we consider to be absurd, particularly if that is what the programming says to do. We might think that the Borg should stick with whatever data comes from their larger centralized database. Or maybe look at the timestamp of the data to see what came first. But keep in mind that the Borg knew they had a "data fragmentation" problem with their main data, so the centralized database might not be more trustworthy. And while prioritizing the Ferrengi might seem absurd if a biological life form noticed it during manual review, handling this was probably controlled by a rather automated process, and we know of no actual threat or other problem that this caused the Borg.

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