2012 State of the Federation Address
Stardate: 238902.26 (26 February 2012)
In June of 2012, our organization will be 18 years old. Last year I pontificated in the opening of this address about how incredible it was when we hit 17. This year, it simply feels like a fact of life: this community will sustain. The State of our Federation is strong. This group is thriving again, and there is a lot to be thankful for.
A Look Back at 2011
A new age was dawning for our community at the beginning of 2011. A renewed vigor had entered the group as our new website went online, and there was activity in all corners of the community. For that, we can thank higher expectations -- when we raise the bar, ask people to write better, contribute more, and be leaders, many answer the call.
On the ship front, it was a year of reorganization. We began with eight ships (Aurora, Della Vetri; Challenger-A, Samal Frazier; Constitution-B, Samuel Perkins; Discovery-B, Tyr Waltas; Eagle, Quinn Reynolds; Independence-A, Sidney Riley; Ronin, Toni Turner; Victory, Andrus Jaxx), and every single ship is new as we head into 2012. Changes were as follows:
- The crew of the Aurora, Della Vetri’s practical exam vessel, moved to their permanent home of the USS Avandar, a Luna class vessel -- the first in our fleet.
- The crews of the Challenger and Constitution, which were struggling to maintain minimum activity levels, were folded into one crew under Tallis Rhul on the USS Ronin, later moving to their permanent home the USS Mercury, an Oracle class vessel -- also a first for our fleet, both for this class, and for being the first ship featured in Star Trek Online to be used here.
- The crew of the Discovery-B upgraded to the Discovery-C, now the only Sovereign class vessel in the fleet.
- The crew of the Eagle moved to the aging (full of character!) USS Drake, but saw their Commanding Officer, Quinn Reynolds, step away from the Captain’s chair. Former Captain Kare’en stepped up to temporarily take the CO position while mentoring Reynold’s First Officer, Cmdr. William Rogers, for Captaincy.
- The crew of the Independence-A moved to the USS Tiger-A, a new Prometheus class vessel.
- The crew of the USS Ronin, Toni Turner’s practical exam vessel, moved to their permanent home at the Duronis II Embassy, with the USS Thunder as backup.
- The crew of the USS Victory, Andrus Jaxx’s practical exam vessel, moved to their permanent home at StarBase 118.
Our goal for 2011 was to launch two new vessels for a total of nine. However, due to the merger of Challenger and Constitution into the Ronin (now the Mercury), we missed that goal. On the whole, however, our fleet ended 2011 in a stronger position than we’ve been in years with simming levels up across the fleet:
We also set a goal of getting 60% of our First Officers to the rank of Commander by the opening of 2012. Unfortunately that did not occur and most of our First Officers remain Lieutenant Commanders. (As of Feb. 25, 2012, five of eight are LtCmdr. rank.)
By far the biggest OOC community accomplishment of the year was raising the profile of our organization to the “A-list.” Over the course of 2011, we accomplished the following amazing things:
- Increased our search engine ranking considerably. We are now the first result in Google for “Star Trek RPG” and “Star Trek PBEM” -- ranking above even Wikipedia. (For this, we can thank Cmdr. Kali Nicholotti, search engine wiz!)
- Doubled our site visits from 14,000 in 2010 to 28,000 in 2011.
- Won the Simming League’s “Most Creative Sim of 2011” Award, for the Duronis II Embassy.
- Scored interviews for our Community News with Michael Okuda (art supervisor on numerous Trek series), David Mack (Star Trek relaunch novelist), and Mike Resnick (#1 on the list of “Most Awarded SciFi Authors”).
The hard work of the News and Publicity Teams paid dividends which the Training Team and ships of the fleet cashed in:
- In 2010, we garnered 119 applications, and set a goal of 143 for 2011. We exceeded the goal by four applications, with a total of 147!
- In 2010, our pass rate (the number of cadets who successfully complete training and are placed on a ship) from the Academy was 40%, and we set a goal of 50% for 2011. We blew right past that goal, achieving an incredible total pass rate of 75.6%!
- Ships in the fleet received an average of 15 new ensigns over the course of the year, as follows:
- Discovery: 10
- Challenger: 11
- Embassy: 12
- Independence/Tiger: 14
- Eagle/Drake: 15
- Aurora/Avandar: 16
- Ronin/Mercury: 20
- Victory/SB118 Ops: 23
Unfortunately, we set some goals last year that we didn’t have a tracking process for:
- Placement speed: we set a goal decrease the time between when the Pass Forms are submitted to when the member actually begins simming on their vessel, but did not track this information over the course of the year, so have no way of knowing if we hit the goal of 24 hours on average. However, anecdotally I can state that this process is still far too slow, with most placements taking 36-48 hours on average.
- Fleet retention: we set a goal of retaining at least 50% of new officers for at least six months after their graduation. This goal was questioned by some members of the fleet, and was addressed here -- but we did not keep records for this particular metric for 2011. We are implementing a system now to track this information for 2012 and should have a good set of data by the end of this year.
Some of the goals of our Comprehensive Plan for 2011 have already been mentioned above. Here’s an update on a few of the other goals we set:
- We did launch our Promotion Guide.
- We did re-focus ships and COs on the mentoring process, and have certainly seen an uptick in the number of officers moving into the command program, and awaiting a ship to command.
- We did not revamp our Command Exams as we intended, but we did streamline the process of giving exams, making them easier to administer, which cut down on the administrative work and grading turn-around time.
- We did revitalize OOC areas of the fleet, leading to stable participation for most groups, and some new groups entirely, including The (Image) Collective, headed by Cmdr. Kali Nicholotti, which designed an entirely new set of award graphics for the fleet.
- We did not have an OOC chat every month, but we did conduct them regularly, and also began monthly ship chats for many ships.
- We did meet the goal of one news story every day on our Community News.
- We did increase the engagement on both our Twitter and Facebook areas -- more follows, more replies, and more sharing!
- We tried out active engagement on our Duty Post areas, but decided that it was not a sustainable model, and have allowed our Duty Post areas to grow more organically, instead of seeking to have active facilitation for each.
- We far exceed our goal of raising $200, instead raising $531.29 in 2011. Our bank account earned $2.28 in interest, and $86.16 was withdrawn to pay for domains and our forum software. The community deferred hosting costs for this year.
Engaging Boldly in 2012
As we open 2012, I’m happy to begin this section by stating that we’ve normalized our Executive Council with the new addition of freshly promoted Fleet Captain Toni Turner. She will join the EC as the fourth full member bringing our total female leadership on this council to its highest in the group history: three women (Riley, Mar, Turner) and one man (Wolf). This is wonderful, considering the fact that our official roster lists twice as many men as women in the group at large -- although there’s no way of knowing how many of those listed are men or women players.
Captain Della Vetri (female character, male player) remains the Captain At Large for 2012.
We have already launched one new ship this year: the USS Apollo, under Captain Andrus Jaxx, who leaves behind his former First Officer, Commander Kali Nicholotti (the first recipient of the new Rising Star Award) as the Commanding Officer of StarBase 118 Ops. She is in the process of completing her Captaincy Practical Exam.
We stand at eight vessels in the fleet at the moment, and we plan to launch at least one more vessel this year, bring us to that elusive nine-vessel goal that we missed last year!
Retention is the key to group growth. No amount of goal-busting on the recruitment front will help if we cannot keep more officers in the group for a longer time. To that end, our goals on retention are as follows:
- Implement the tracking system we are currently testing to keep careful watch on how long members remain in the group after completing training.
- Launch a mentoring program on every ship in the fleet with the primary goal of welcoming new crew, integrating them quickly, and fostering strong bonds that will ensure they remain with us.
- Assess the roadblocks to long-term participation and find ways to begin clearing those problems.
The sequel to J. J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek has been pushed back to 2013, so for 2012 recruitment, so our goals for this coming year will be more maintenance than stretch. We’ll set the following:
- Publicity Team: increase our application rate by 5% for a goal of 154 for 2012
- Training Team: maintain a pass rate at or above 50%.
Each team in our community has submitted a set of goals for 2012. Top-line goals are listed below:
- Species Development Committee: complete a SDC pages and add six new, well-designed original species for play within the group
- Publicity Team: increase active members to 12
- Training Team: fully implement training officer feedback and evaluation system
- Top Sims Contest: encourage more crews to participate and implement a new judging system to ease concerns about ballot stuffing
- The (Image) Collective: increase number of members who are contributing images
- Writing Challenges: increase promotion of each round and work towards an average of at least six entries per round
- News Team: re-focus news on to group subjects, and encourage more part-time news contributors
The command staff of ships around the fleet also submitted their goals for the year. While many ships listed a number of goals, the four pillars were present in almost every ship’s list were as follows:
- promoting prospective leaders into staff positions
- retaining newer simmers
- increasing the quality of sims
- maintaining current level of simming
On the administrative side of those ship goals, we're making a change by setting a goal now to regularly check-in with both Commanding Officers, and the facilitators of each group, to see how they're progressing with those goals. In turn, we'll look for ways we can increase efficiency and lower administrative barriers.
The fleet has also been partaking in a survey to help us understand what our members enjoy, and want to see improvement in. We will soon report back those results, and work toward implementing some of the recommendations of fleet members, where possible.
With the next Star Trek movie on the horizon, and Star Trek Online continuing to bolster the fanbase of the community, we can expect another fruitful year. Our main concern will be preparing to capture the inevitable surge of interest regarding Star Trek once the next movie comes out, and ensuring that we can ride that wave of momentum into the future.
As we close this year’s State of the Federation Address, the Executive Council would like to thank everyone for their continued participation and support of this community. We have something really special here, and we’ve proven that even through challenging times, we continue to be the premier Star Trek community on the internet today.
Thank you, everyone, for your participation in this organization. We look forward to seeing your stories and sims over the next year!
-- The UFOP: StarBase 118 Executive Council
Comment, or ask questions about our 2012 SOTFA on our forums!
At present, the fleet consists of the following vessels:
- USS Apollo, Achilles class: Captain Andrus Jaxx
- USS Avandar, Luna class: Captain Della Vetri
- USS Discovery-C, Sovereign class: Captain Tyr Waltas
- USS Drake, Miranda class: Commander William Rogers
- Duronis II Embassy, Planet-based Embassy: Fleet Captain Toni Turner
- USS Mercury, Oracle class: Captain Tallis Rhul
- USS Tiger-A, Prometheus class: Fleet Captain Sidney Riley
- StarBase 118 Operations, Trojan class: Commander Kali Nicholotti
The Executive Council:
- Fleet Admiral Tristan Wolf -- Magistrate
- Fleet Captain Idril Mar -- Senior Member
- Fleet Captain Sidney Riley -- Junior Member
- Fleet Captain Toni Turner -- Junior Member
- Captain Della Vetri -- Captain At Large
The Captain's Council:
- Capt. Tyr Waltas -- Active Member
- FltCapt. Sidney Riley -- Active Member
- FltCapt. Toni Turner -- Magistrate, Active Member
- Capt. Andrus Jaxx -- Active Member
- Capt. Della Vetri -- Active Member
- Capt. Tallis Rhul -- Active Member
- Capt. Kare'en m'Hapron m'Adrina -- Active Member
- FltCapt. Idril Mar -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Capt. Steve McCall -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Capt. Samal Ezra Frazier -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Capt. Ben Walker -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Capt. Samuel Nigel Perkins -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Capt. Quinn Reynolds -- Retired Commanding Officer
- Cmdr. Kali Nicholotti -- Commanding Officer in Training
- Cmdr. William Rogers -- Commanding Officer in Training
Captains Council non-voting observers:
- Cmdr. Rode Mitchell -- Non-Voting Observer
- Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar -- Non-Voting Observer
- Cmdr. Eden Redstone -- Non-Voting Observer
- Cmdr. Aron Kells -- Non-Voting Observer
- Cmdr. Miles Unum -- Non-Voting Observer
- LtCmdr. T'Lea -- Non-Voting Observer
- LtCmdr. Hannibal Parker -- Non-Voting Observer
- LtCmdr. Darius Clack -- Non-Voting Observer
- LtCmdr. Liam Frost -- Non-Voting Observer
- LtCmdr. Kevin Breeman -- Non-Voting Observer