2021 State of the Federation Address
Hello, friends and fellow simmers, to 2021’s State of the Federation Address. We leave behind 2020’s tumult and uncertainty, and we look -- as always -- to the bright beacon of Star Trek’s hopeful future.
In character, it’s now 2398, which means that a new century is almost upon our characters. The canon Star Trek universe has been busy as well, with the first seasons of two new series (Picard and Lower Decks) and the third of Discovery now behind us. We’re living in the midst of a Star Trek renaissance, with more to come, and it’s one of the most exciting times to be a simmer with Starbase 118.
2021 is our 28th continuous year of operation. That’s an incredibly impressive achievement -- when the first Starbase 118 sims happened in 1994, Star Trek: Voyager had not yet begun to air. Now, twenty years after Voyager’s crew returned to the Alpha Quadrant in the Star Trek universe, our characters continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.
2020 was a year of growth and transformation for the Starbase 118 fleet, as ships, crews, and commanders both new and experienced launched for new adventures. Our group awards in the summer were the biggest yet, and we gave out the first 25-year member award to our group’s founder, Fleet Admiral Wolf. Speaking of the summer months, the Starbase 118 fleet recorded its greatest sim rates this year, which you can read more about below. The motivation and dedication of the whole fleet is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
However, 2020 was also an incredibly difficult year for many, with many of our simmers affected by global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political turmoil, local and international protests regarding white supremacy and additional civil rights violations, and more. The year at large was one of the most divisive in recent memory, and yet the Starbase 118 fleet continued to serve as a safe and supportive haven for our diverse, global membership. We persevered through some monumental struggles and stand ready for what challenges the new year brings.
A Look Back at 2020
Despite the ongoing issues there are around the world, 2020 has been a successful year for the fleet. We launched two new crews, welcomed back former commanding officers to new posts, and launched newly designed ships. Our fleet is flying strong now, complete with ten ships and installations, and a healthy spread of crew across our community. Let's take a closer look at what happened in 2020:
For their continued efforts in delivering excellence to each of the ships under their command and the wider fleet in all the out of character work they do, we also saw a number of commanding officers receive promotions in 2020. Jalana Rajel of the Constitution-B, Sal Taybrim of Ops, Aron Kells of Thor, and Quinn Reynolds of the Gorkon completed their five-year mission, and received their promotion to Commodore. Congratulations to them!
In recognition for his dedication to the fleet, Commodore Aron Kells resumed his seat on the Executive Council. Fleet Captain Roshanara Rahman took up the position of Executive Council Magistrate, and Captain Oddas Aria was appointed Captain-at-Large.
We also bid farewell to Rear Admiral Toni Turner, who after a long career and dedicated simming history, retired in April 2020.
Sim counts were a little troublesome this year following Google’s decision to abandon the ability users to track post counts through Google Groups. To counter this, Captain Oddas Aria created the Starbase 118 Statistics Generator, allowing each ship to continue accurately tracking their post numbers -- the tool was dubbed Project Aria in development, and we profusely thank Captain Oddas. The tool began more accurately tracking our sim count in July and continues to be invaluable as we begin simming in 2021.
The data line below describes a story you may be familiar with, as the consistently high sim count begins roughly the same time as many lockdowns for COVID-19 worldwide. It is possible this is responsible for our longest consecutive run of high sim averages ever, occurring across April, May, June, and July. However, we ultimately saw a steep decline for August and September.
The fleet averaged 208 sims per month in 2021, making it our best year of sim quantities in the last five years. Thank you to everyone who stuck with us during these difficult times.
Applications, Training and Placements
Though the application rate for the fleet is lower than most years, we saw an improvement from 2019. Further, this year proved to be our most successful year with regard to the percentage of applicants who graduated and were placed on vessels or installations.
The fleet saw an average of 11 applicants to the fleet per month. Of the 129 applications submitted this year, 91 cadets graduated and were placed. The fleet concluded the year with a 71% average pass rate, which exceeds the standard Academy goal of a 60% yearly pass rate.
We ask each fleet ship and taskforce to report in with an update on how they did for the year which includes questions about challenges, accomplishments, and goals for next year. Below, you’ll find the retrospective information for each taskforce in 2020. It is important to recognise just how long this list of taskforces is, and how much we’re engaging our members and helping our future staff develop skills. It’s quite an accomplishment and cements the fact that we are a community and not just a game.
This team is perhaps the most important in the fleet. All prospective members undergo a week-long training mission before they’re placed aboard a ship or installation in the fleet, so the effect that the Training Team can have on all new members, and therefore the fleet, is significant.
While classes have run smoothly, COVID has had a major impact on further development of the training team. Last year's development goals of creating additional small class scenarios, auditing participation quarterly, and investigating fresh ways to deliver training feedback went unfulfilled. We were unable to recruit additional statisticians during the year, and we are down to one member of the statistician team.
Some trainers failing to meet their volunteering obligations (all trainers agree to volunteer for one class a month) continue to persist, though it has improved since the last SOFTA. The abrupt departure of Captain Thoran caused minor disruption and has reduced the number of commandants available to oversee classes to three. Fleet LOAs and departures over the year have shrunk the training team roster; while we have still been able to staff most classes on the first volunteer call, a core of trainers are being called on several weeks in a row.
The change to Discord channels earlier in the year resulted in cadets being given inappropriate/inaccurate advice by some members of the fleet, causing some confusion in cadets which training team members had to remedy.
Some selected feedback comments are:
The Training Team is always recruiting and is open primarily to members who are ranked as lieutenant commanders and promising full lieutenants. If you are interested in joining the Training Team, speak with your commanding officer!
This team handles the creation and manipulation of all images that StarBase 118 uses, from character portraits to ship banners to new badges and awards.
The Image Collective’s primary challenge was regular participation of our members responding and tracking image requests, especially those sent through means other than the forums (such as DMs). We have set up a Discord bot to scrape the request forum and post to Discord when an additional request has been submitted. Once a request is complete, that thread is archived; thus only unanswered requests show in the main request forum. This makes it easier to tell if any requests have gone unanswered.
Further, we set up a tracking channel in Discord for our members to post their work, regardless of the source of the request. This also helps us ensure our watermark and logo are present on all image requests, and acting as a source of inspiration for our artists.
The Federation News Service (FNS) continues as a successful spinoff of our community, helping to create a shared universe of stories that reflect 118 canon and may be used by simming groups around the world.
The Federation News Service team’s primary challenge for 2020 was to create a routine posting schedule and improve our efficiency in how we edit articles. While we had a dramatic increase in membership in 2019, it wasn’t sustainable, and we have drastically cut back on our active members to those who contribute to the running of the team regularly. While we planned for multiple plot arcs to kick off during the year, we couldn’t sustain the momentum behind a plot to keep it running through the first half of the year, and with a huge backlog of articles to schedule, it seemed counterproductive to continue to add to the growing pile.
With that in mind, we made a conscious effort to edit our existing stock of articles, increase our efficiency of editing the monthly mission reports, and create a monthly reliable posting schedule for the site. We achieved this goal and we’re happy with the result.
Recognising we also required some topics to be discussed in real-time, we set up a channel for the team in Discord under the Taskforces. This has helped us flesh out articles and talk about projects we’d like to run while opening up the floor to those who aren’t part of the FNS but have good ideas they want to contribute. We’ve also used this as a broadcast channel for our contributors to know when articles are scheduled to be posted.
Recently, we have also started a Trello board to keep track of our ongoing projects and new article submissions. Editing and drafts will still go through to the Google Groups as well, but assigning tasks will be easier in Trello and we can implement checklists, monitor due dates and sequencing, and coordinate more efficiently with team members.
Wiki Ops handles the ongoing maintenance and improvement of our wiki. While everyone is welcome and encouraged to edit and contribute, the Wiki Ops team curates and helps make the experience more enjoyable and streamlined for all. The Administrators of the wiki are those members who have sysop rights on the wiki. Admins are generally tasked with keeping everything in order on the wiki and ensuring that there is no vandalism or inappropriate posting.
The wiki struggled to maintain interest in long-term projects over the course of 2020. While Wiki Operations and Admins have been frequently powered by four individuals, it was difficult to encourage a large, stable group of editors to engage with wiki activities and updates. This may be due to the impact of COVID-19.
Wiki Admin and Ops were unable to create guidelines regarding wiki vandalism, which would have addressed the blanking of pages.
Wiki Admins discovered a functional error with the many divisions available in the 2019 Crew History template used by the fleet universally. To correct this error, one of the attempted fixes involved having to remove individual pages documenting Diplomacy or Intelligence divisions, which often only listed three or four officers over a five-year period — they were merged under ship Command divisions, but given separate subheadings. To prevent long hours attempting to fix templates to include the vast array of colours and headers, further variations to the red, blue, gold, green, and grey roster headers and pips/collars will not be specifically supported from 2021 onward. While our current Crew History template now allows for all colours and labels without issue, we cannot guarantee new templates will include this feature. Purple, white, black, etc. collars or crew history headers will no longer be supported by new pip/collar and crew history templates. Going forward, Wiki Ops and Admins officially recognise Intelligence and Diplomacy duty posts coloured as Command Red. Medical/Counselling and Science must utilise a single blue colour but may keep their separate headings. Engineering, Operations, and Marines remain unchanged. Please understand, this is to save us many unnecessary hours of breaking templates to fix templates.
Over 2020, the combined efforts of Wiki Ops and Admins allowed us to:
To celebrate the continued quality of the community and share with a wider audience, we have renamed the Top Sims Contest to Appreciations. As there is no team assigned to this, a general overview is provided.
Community News Team (a.k.a. Newsies)
This team compiles and publishes the weekly newsletter that all active members receive. With two active members, it’s also one of our smallest teams.
Keeping more writers active long term proved to be the biggest challenge for the Newsies team this year. Most news team writers are active for only 1-3 months and then go AWOL from the team. We also have some members who only wish to write articles and interviews for their ship and will go silent after they have completed those articles.
We now have an active Trello board and created new templates to cover a variety of standard articles, which makes the article writing process much easier for new members.
This team addresses the concerns of longer-term members (that is, those who have moved beyond the rank of ensign) with a focus on the satisfaction and retention of those members.
As with most things in 2020, the challenges of real life seemed to have had an effect with scarce activity on the team. Of the three 2020 goals, none reached completion. However, other issues and proposals were discussed.
Three proposals/ideas were discussed: a proposal for a "support fleet" akin to maintaining a reserve of dedicated players who could be called upon to populate an NPC ship, a command school for commander and captain training, and offering a pathway for members who want to support the fleet as staff members but cannot or do not want to become captains.
This team is dedicated to ensuring that they preserve the long history of our community. Primarily, that work now takes place on the wiki, though they have a great wealth of sources to draw from, including old groups, past sims, the forums, defunct sites, and interviews with current and past members.
The Community History Team struggled with direction, but rebuilt enthusiasm in the 2020s latter months. The team will seek more members to tackle the large workload in the coming year. This year, the Community History Team:
This team is responsible for putting on monthly chats, including special chats.
The biggest challenge the Chat Team has had this year was member participation. There are only a few members listed on the roll, and of those, only two have been active since August. When Commodore (then FltCapt) Sal Taybrim stepped down after the Trivia Chat in July, Lt Cmdr Serala and Capt. Theo Whittaker stepped up to be co-facilitators of the team. Two other junior members joined, but neither of them has been active since joining. Capt. Whittaker has recently filed an LOA, leaving Serala running the team with input from FltAdm. Wolf. This is going to be the primary focus of the facilitator over the next year: involving the entire team and keeping them engaged in team activities, especially since this was one goal for 2020, which was to keep 5 members on the team.
Another of the team's goals was to hold three (3) special events, including the Annual Trivia Challenge, a Watch-Along, and one other event. The team held three events, with the third being another Watch-Along, though the team is exploring other ideas for the third event in 2021.
The third goal set last year was to ensure that we covered all communications bases each month, and the team could easily meet this goal thanks to the Trello board set up by Flt.Adm Wolf for just this purpose.
Poll of the Week has been a source of intriguing inquiries, ponderous proposals and thought-provoking examinations. Though the team has transformed over the years, the goal has remained the same; continue to create questions that spark thought, debate, or ideas that might not have occurred otherwise. Sometimes, the polls simply ask for preference (“What was your favourite episode in season X of Star Trek and why?”).
The Podcast Team handles The PADDcast, an out of character podcast that gets a real-world, wide release. The release schedule for The PADDcast is monthly, so this is an active team in terms of specific deadlines and tasks, but individual tasks are typically small time commitments, typically no more than you'd spend on writing a solid sim.
The podcast team has had several changes in leadership, and the show weighs under an unclear purpose. This has understandably led to confusion and frustration in the ranks. The skills necessary for podcasting are substantially different from the skills we typically associate with SB118 (ie, creative writing). Podcasting is intimidating, and so is speaking into a microphone.
The team is under new direction and expects to deliver its first episode with the New Year. This year, the Podcast team:
This group builds a new starship creation tool/game called the Starship Designer. The ASDB also maintains and expands the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards ASDB Technical Database, which provides specifications and design histories for Starfleet starship classes and small craft.
The biggest challenge facing the ASDB has been one of participation, both of members and facilitators. The time of the facilitators - both members with extra responsibilities outside the ASDB - has meant the ASDB has often been put on the back burner. Likewise, other pressures on the time of members of the ASDB has meant goals have taken longer than expected.
Facilitators gaining, and maintaining, the support of the members of the ASDB to complete goals - or to suggest goals - has been an ongoing challenge. The specific goals of the ASDB, writing up specific classes of vessels, were not met, however, we met other challenges posed to the group head on.
The Social Media team is not yet 12 months old, so perhaps the biggest challenge the team faced this year was simply breaking out into its own. As an offshoot of the Publicity team, the Social Media team focuses on reaching members and visitors through established social media channels, lending to the idea of an active and robust community. Being its own team means that more focus can be put on these channels, creating a more constant stream of content that all can see and enjoy.
The team is small but has generated the consistent flow that was originally set as a goal and meeting one of the two social media-focused Publicity goals from last year. While there is more work to be done, setting the framework for the future and getting set up was very successful and will help mark the road for the coming year. The Social Media Team:
Each year, we ask taskforce leaders and ship captains to nominate members for special commendations.
As one of the fleet’s most hardworking members, Samira is commended not only by her ship, the USS Gorkon for being one of the most reliable, and creative members onboard, including running the Quote of the Month now for a full year on time every month, but also by the taskforces she is a reliable and creative member of.
The FNS commends Samira for her tireless efforts in editing the news items each month and diving into the archive of articles to edit and polish those which can then go out on the schedule. She is also commended by the training team for her unwavering devotion to each class she takes part in, taking pride in her efforts to train and graduate new members of the fleet, and provides a dependable simmer for each class she takes part in, regardless of the role she plays. Keep up the fantastic work, Sami! We’re all incredibly proud to have you with us!
The departure of the USS Atlantis' CO this year was very sudden, resulting in the relatively new Lieutenant Commander Serala having to take command of a ship with brief notice. Despite these difficulties, Jim, Serala's player, held his ship and crew together until we could assign a new Captain. Jim is a splendid officer who enthusiastically took on the many administrative duties of a first officer, as well as a Captain when his ship was placed in a hard place. Jim made my transition to Captain of the Chin'toka extremely smooth, and his character Serala is deep, intriguing, and has tons of potential for growth.
Since joining the Juneau as a Medical officer when the Juneau was in need, Serala (as Karise Indobri) has been a vital voice on the ship's staff providing feedback on both story and players. When her primary ship went through turmoil, it was expected, and understandable, that her dedication to the Juneau would take a backseat, or at a minimum her participation would - but it did not. Her dedication to the Juneau increased, and for that, the Juneau's CO could not be more grateful. Both Captain Mei’konda, Captain Oddas Aria, and the Starbase 118 fleet are very lucky to have Jim on board!
Finding one's place in Starbase 118 can be a laborious process. As new Ensigns, we place our fresh Academy graduates aboard ships with more than a dozen active writers, and it can take some time to develop the confidence to push the plot forward..
Daphne, the player of Lieutenant JG Lephi on board the USS Chin'toka, has found her place exceptionally quickly. Besides being a top quality writer, particularly for her relative newness in the fleet, Daphne is social and consistently welcoming in the Chin'toka's Discord channel, bringing a constant, delightful warmth to chats. It is highly important to recognize Daphne for this, because she serves as a wonderful example for other new and veteran members of the Starbase 118 fleet!
T'Lea is one writer that gets pointed to by their CO for newer players to emulate. Full of realism, spunk, humor, detail, and hitting all the notes for a complete sim, an absolute joy to interact with.
Besides her writing skills she has been a pleasure to have on the staff, mentoring players and adding the little twists of ideas here and there that have given the Juneau missions an extra flair. Fun and interesting, the Lt. Commander is often sought out by her crewmates to make things work, and for good reason.
Throughout the year, Genkos has been a stalwart member of both the Training Team and the FNS, supporting both commendably. The FNS cites his monthly help in editing news articles, and bringing ideas to the taskforce facilitators for new articles, and his ongoing volunteering in the Training Team has ensured cadets receive a top-notch training experience when progressing through the academy.
Facilitators and the Academy Commandant alike commend the commitment of Genkos Adea, and thank him for his reliable support during 2020.
This year has been an exercise in chaos, and in direct contrast to it, I wish to recognize Lieutenant Artinus Serinus, AKA Joseph, for his steadfast and unwavering contributions. He has gone above and beyond in his dedication to the Arrow and the fleet as a whole, and for his unwavering support, I am pleased to recognize him here today, and thank him for his resolve and enthusiasm.
Lieutenant Nalni has consistently submitted above the minimum requirements each month, providing a consistent series of interviews that help round out each month's news cycle. They are the most active and reliable Community News Team member throughout 2020.
Additional Ship Commendations
These players’ COs identified them as participating with notable and sustained excellence over the course of the year. We join their COs in recognising their efforts and their dedication in assisting the operation of their ships.
Additional Taskforce Commendations
Without the dedication of these talented members, more than one of the teams below would have been in dire straits. Their team facilitators selected them for special recognition, and we recognize and celebrate all the time they volunteered to make these teams and the whole of StarBase 118 into a better place!
Looking ahead to 2021
From the Executive Council
To quote Fleet Admiral Vance from Star Trek: Discovery, "The past is the only light with which we can see the future." Thus, in that spirit, we begin the Executive Council's report with an assessment of what's been done to meet the goals set for last year and what still needs to be done.
Report on Last Year (2020)'s SOTFA Goals
Challenges and Opportunities in 2021
The fleet continues to face several challenges as well as opportunities going forward:
Executive Council's Fleet Goals for 2021
To tackle some of these challenges, the Executive Council has set forth the following goals:
The following goals have been set for the fleet's taskforces by their facilitators:
The (Image) Collective
Federation News Service
Community News Team (a.k.a. Newsies)
Department of Veterans Affairs
Community History Team
Poll of the Week Team
Advanced Starship Design Bureau
Social Media Team
Team and Taskforce Recruitment Status
At present, the fleet consists of the following vessels:
The Executive Council
The Captains Council
Captains and Above
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