Office of the President - Edict #19

Posted Dec. 1, 2021, 11:08 a.m. by Vice Admiral Daniel Lerner (President / Supervisor of Experiments / Procedures Guru) (Daniel Lerner)

Garak: I’m going to miss our lunches together.
Bashir: I’m sure we’ll see each other again.
Garak: I’d like to think so… but one can never say. We live in uncertain times.

Edict #19
December 1, 2021

First, I would like to thank Steve Johnson for stepping in as Vice-President during this term. Burnout and RL considerations affected everyone this term, myself included. Steve’s assistance was valuable about following up on administrative executive tasks this term, and being a useful sounding board when unexpected issues came up.

Second, I would like to use my final edict of my term to share some thoughts I have.

STF is turned thirty years old this year, and it has reached what appears to be a crossroads for the club’s future. On one hand, with the increased number of new Star Trek shows on television (by my count, we now have two live-action series, two animation series, and a new live-action series set to premiere in 2022), there should be expected a rise in Star Trek viewership, an increase in an active fan-base, and potentially more interest in role-playing opportunities within the franchise. On the other hand, our current set up and situation may make it difficult for us to take advantage of that without some real soul-searching in the club. We are the oldest online Star Trek role-playing group - STF pre-dates the Web! But can we continue to operate with the current status quo?

At the end of my third term as President, I would suggest that our biggest challenge our volunteer-run club has is in having members willing and able to take on those volunteering responsibilities that makes our club work. Almost every other challenge the club faces stems from that primary challenge: a need for volunteers. Over the past year, the responsibilities of the administering the club have fallen on an ever-decreasing pool of willing and able volunteers, leading to burnout, uncompleted goals and tasks, and a vicious cycle of every increasing demands burning out the decreasing volunteers. With that in mind, I would make a couple observations for the future STFers to consider:

  • We need to take an active hand in identifying new-ish members (3-4 months in) who are showing a keen interest, and mentor/encourage them in a volunteer role early on. See what areas of STF that might be interested in. Encourage them to join in discussions and then take on increasing tasks, etc. On a related note, other members need to stop telling newer member to "Stay away from Command." Quite the opposite - Command is a great place to learn how the club work, raise issues, join in discussions, and become involved in STF - and it is the only way to make real changes in the club or be get know what is going on at the volunteer-level of the club.
  • We need people to actually be willing to come up with new ideas and implement them. Throughout the past year-and-a-half, I have heard from a few members who wish to volunteer - but in a capacity where they simply carry out a simple task assigned to them by others. The issue in STF isn't whether we have enough people willing to push a button when prompted. It's about having the volunteers who are willing to take on exercising their judgment, coming up with new ideas, and implementing their ideas (or working with other to implement them). On a related note, I will observe it is easy to complain about something needing to improve in STF without suggesting how to fix the problem and being willing to volunteer your time to fix the problem. (Also, I do appreciate the irony of me writing this in this post.)
  • We need to continue to stop personalizing things in STF. It is a two-way street. Trolling, bullying, insults are inappropriate. If you disagree with the work or a decision by a volunteer, or disagree with an idea or suggestion by a member, discuss that constructively. Don't insult that volunteer - we've already had volunteers step down from their roles because of the degree of criticism they face in what is a volunteer role. On a related note, we also have to be good as volunteers are not turning disagreements over a policy or how a policy was implemented into a personal attack. There's still work to do on all sides of this issue.
  • STF will always be a top-heavy administration. We're all volunteers, and there is a limit to how many responsibilities and tasks any one volunteer can take on. But we also need to assess going forward what we can do to reduce the amount of volunteer overhead our club needs/requires. We need to realize every ship requires a CO, XO, GM, DHs and additional demands on an FComm/AFComm (even if some of those people can double-up or more on ships, that still increases the demands on each of those individuals). Overloaded volunteers often results in decreased quality. On one side of that equation, we need to not object out of sentimentality the cutting of a ship that is placing demands on available volunteers, decreasing quality on other ships, to support a ship that can has very little interest from its own players (evidenced by increased AWOLs, few active players, etc). One the other side of the equation, we should not quickly cut back ships that are attracting interest from players simply because we need to decrease the demands on our volunteers. As a club, we need to find a balance without rancor on this issue.

With that in mind, good luck next term, Rob and James!

Daniel Lerner

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