Discussion: Proposed changes to the new member application form (alt-RPGs)

Posted Oct. 31, 2019, 5:08 p.m. by Rear Admiral Daniel Lerner (Personnel Director, EGO) (Daniel Lerner)

Background

Pursuant to the FCOMM bylaw, a new member may be placed on an alt-RPG ship if two conditions are met:
(i) The ship’s alt-RPG charter allows new members to be placed on the ship, and
(ii) The new member specifically requests to be placed on that alt-RPG.

At the moment, the following alt-RPGs have charters that allow for them to receive new members:
-Chernov (Abramsverse) (NOTE: library version of the charter is out-of-date - see Dedul Edict #5
-Ogawa (medical-theme ship)

As an aside, the following alt-RPGs have charters that either do not allow new members or are silent on the issue (the bylaw requires express permission), but that may change in the future:
-Bonaventure (Enterprise-era ship)
-Constellation (Comedy-theme ship)
-Merrimack (TOS movie-era ship)
-Oed V (planet RPG area)

Originally, the new member application form only allowed for new members to pick from “Academy” and “Non-Academy” (or however we phrased it back then). After a Command discussion, Abramsverse was specifically added to the membership form. (Strangely enough, it took a number of years before the Chernov’s charter was actually amended to formalize the practice). Now, new members can request “Academy”, “TNG-era”, or “Abramsverse”.

Problem

There have been a few related problems to just allowing new members to pick to be placed on the Abramsverse with no further input or discussion. I’ll review those in the “Discussion” portion, but there are serious retention issues with that practice.

In addition, it’s not clear how the PDept is supposed to address the Ogawa, or what to do if the club ever changes the charters for our other alt-RPG ships.

All of the above calls for a change to the membership application form, including changes to what the club previously approved in a Command discussion.

Discussion

I’ll start with the retention numbers. I’ve pulled some numbers from my reports over the past 12 months. These are very, very rough numbers, based on small sample sizes, and doesn’t address the “weirdness” (as I’ll call it) from late 2018 and early 2019. Putting that aside, here are the numbers.

Within approximately one month of a new member being placed, the Academy has a retention rate of 40%, the main fleet ships have a retention rate of 51%, and the Chernov has a retention rate of 14%. I am only counting members who posted and were not AWOL at the time their status was checked (rostered or otherwise). Even with those rough numbers, the problem appears right at the start.

(You may be asking why non-Academy appears to be doing better than the Academy. That’s because (a) the statistic includes returning members who ask the PDept to place them, and (b) the Academy gets so many more placements than the main fleet that they also get an increase of people who just aren’t interested after applying.)

The numbers get even worse when you fast-forward a month. While both the Academy and main fleet go down a bit (30% for the Academy, 42% for the main fleet), the Chernov goes down to zero percent!! In the last twelve months, we have not retained a single member on that ship to the two-month mark!

By the third month, the numbers go down a bit more for the Academy (20% and stabilize outside the Academy (42%). But the Chernov never recovers.

I believe there are a few factors giving rise to this:

(1) When a new member is requests an Abramsverse ship, we are limited to a single ship. Problems on that single ship directly impacts a new member able/willing to stick around.

(2) Alt-RPGs are hard to administer properly at the best of time, and often required experienced members in many of the leadership roles. Ensuring the alt-RPG theme is kept, filling vacancies from members who may not be interested in the theme, etc., all contribute to the difficulties an alt-RPG has. Trying to add mentorship for a new member who may be a complete newbie to role-playing is a difficult task to throw on top of that work.

(3) It takes a certain amount of experience level to role-play in an alt-RPG of what is already a somewhat unique role-playing club. You can’t look to other ships for as much guidance. Members on Discord may not be as familiar. The descriptions we have about departments, positions, are different because of what is contained in a unique ship charter.

Proposal

The Personnel Department is proposing a few changes to the membership form.

The big change is to remove “Abramsverse” from the list of options for new members.

To make up for that change - and to allow members to also pick other alt-RPGs if available for new members - we would add text at the end of the application that states Star-fleet.com also allows players to role-play in alternative role-playing ships that offer different themes (such as a specialized medical ship) or a different time period (such as the Abramsverse movies). If you are interested in having your first character placed on an “alt-RPG” ship, please let us know in the comments area and one of our staff members will discuss it with you shortly.”

In addition, we also propose to add a new drop down menu that will ask the applicants to state their RP experience (novice, limited experience, experience but not with our style, experience in multiple styles) which will assist our discussion with them. This information may also assist with other initiatives in the future.

The Personnel Department hopes to make the changes shortly so we can start addressing the retention issue for Abramsverse requests. We hope to make the change by the end of the November, so we would like to close this discussion before then.

Thanks,
Daniel Lerner
Personnel Director


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