MFI's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Thanks to Dave Blaser of SFI for coming up with these excellent questions concerning MFI. We hope you find them usefull in learning about MFI's background, as well as how it operates.
What makes the Maquis Forces International so much different than other fan clubs that are out there?
A. We bill ourselves as being the 1st completely internet based Star Trek fan organization on the WWW. We offer all members free web space and the opportunity to contribute to the website via the Media-Wiki format.
"Maquis Forces" went online in the Summer of 1994 with 3 Florida Independent Fan chapters who linked together via Free Web Space sites, such as Geocities & Anglefire and kept in touch via ICQ. It was simply an easy way for us, as friends to keep in touch with each other. We didn't set out to be anything more than just the 3 groups.
In as little as 4 months, other fans who also went "Independent", from Larger Fan Organizations around the U.S. and Canada found our sites and asked if they could link in with us under a "Common Banner".
It wasn't until the Fall of 1995, when we had accumulated some "Active Duty Military" chapters in England, Germany and Italy, as well as chapters in Australia and New Zealand, we decided to call ourselves MFI.
From the onset, we knew that the biggest problems facing fan organizations was due to 2 things... Money and Politics. Being a completely Internet based Fan Organization helped us find ways to do away with needing to handle money... Most of a group's costs come from various postal expenses. We found we could do away with ALL postal expenses by doing EVERYTHING online. Everything our members need are available online. With the exception of a couple projects I'll mention later, we do not use the Postal Service for anything.
MFI has made it's mark by doing away with annual dues, mandatory minimum chapter membership (we have a few 2 - 5 member Chapters, called LPs), monthly reports, and mandatory activities. MFI has a "Hands Off" policy as far as our individual members and local Chapters go. We allow our chapters to be as active, or as inactive as they wish, as long as they make quarterly contact with a ZC to let us know they're still with us.
In terms of number of chapters and members, how many members and chapters does MFI have?
A. As with any fan organization (as well as Trek itself), our membership has ebbed and flowed with Trek popularity. In the Hay-Days of TNG & DS9, our membership was as many as 500 Chapters world wide, if not more. Currently, our online database puts our chapter and membership strength conservatively at 89 chapters and 638 members... Including 4 Chapters in Canada, as well as Chapters in the UK & Netherlands.
How much is membership; what do you get with your membership - the deliverables; what else do you get from being a member of MFI?
A. Membership is free. Because it is free, we don't offer official membership packets, but we do offer a variety of Online activities, including various members listservs for all our Branches & Depts., an online PDF Newsletter that members may either read online, or download to be printed out at their own expense. We're also working on a newly revamped 4th version of our Online Academy (our members have never had to be slaves the Postal Service in order to enjoy our Academy system), complete with emailed achievement certificates and virtual achievement ribbons.
For those who "need" membership material, we do offer templates with which members may make their OWN Chapter certificates and membership cards. Our virtual Ribbons are all based on actual Military & Paramilitary "Base Ribbons" which our members can purchase and paint.
We also have various IRC chats, we have members who offer assistance in the fundamentals of fund-raising, and others who offer assistance in web design.
Let's talk about the fun things that your club does.. what kinds of events and activities does MFI offer to their members to help them enjoy the club?
A. Our members congregate at many of the regional Conventions,including Shore Leave, Maquis-Gras, Vulkons and Creation Cons. My COS and Head of KTF are both highly focused on Charity work and are often seen making appearances, in Maquis / Klingon attire at Charity events.
Many of our members enjoy meeting up in online Gaming rooms, participating as factions in games such as Earth 2025 We have an area where members can download craft templates and stencils, to be used as fund-raising activities, like Trek custom glass etching, making ID Cards and custom Bleached Jeans.
Recently, MFI completed a project which no other fan club has ever done. We designed and ordered professionally made rank pins based on those seen on ST Voyager. We now have rank pins for Ensign to Force Admiral (Fleet Admiral in SFI). as well as for the enlisted folks. These are unique to MFI and members adorn their uniforms, costumes, hats, or street wear. In the past, members had to scrounge for the hard to find CDR & LT pins, badly made Resin, or Metal knock offs, or had to use "standard" Starfleet ranks from the series. Since we pride ourselves as trying to set ourselves apart from other fan clubs, we thought we should have our own rank pins and this project made that a reality.
Another exciting project we undertook was our MFI Echelon Badge to indicate what level the wearer serves in MFI. We have versions for the general member and Badge Collector, one for a chapter CO/XO, Zone Coordinator, Coordinator Council member, and one for past & present International Coordinators.
Does MFI have anything coming up that people could get out to and see the club, get to know some of your members, something to show off why MFI is the fan club for them to join?
A. Sure!! Is there a major Convention coming up? You'll probably see at LEAST a dozen of our members show up. We always get an influx of new members after conventions. [grin]
MFI is not for the Hardcore Fanatic. We're for the average Star Trek fan who's learned something from Trek which helped them become a better person in life and wants to enjoy and discuss Star Trek without having to jump through all the Hoops that some of the other clubs insist they jump through, in order to prove their worthiness to belong.
MFI is working on putting on our OWN Maquis Con in the Spring of 2007. We already have a Hotel lined up and are starting to make contact with several Trek celebrity agents.
How did MFI get started? Who are its Founders?
A. For those of you who haven't been with MFI that long, MFS Nebula is the founding ship of what has grown to become MFI.
Back in 1993, some of the key officers of Star Fleet International’s USS Royal Sovereign (Gary & Judy Davis, Ryan Rosal, Mark Klinger and Kim & Rob Johnson) decided to break away and form our own shuttle for the sole purpose of enjoying the FUN of Trek Fandom. We all swore that we would not allow the evil alien entity known as politics aboard ship. As most of us were either Active Duty military or prior military, we decided to make Veteran’s Day our “Independence Day" from Royal Sovereign and signed our petition for shuttle status on November 11th, 1993.
Nebula had no intention of ever progressing beyond shuttle status, but even before our shuttle paper work had been approved, we had grown to more than 15 members (including Tom Donohoe and Laura Casey). Before our probationary status was half over, we had grown to more than 30. It seemed that there were quite a few people who liked the notion of “No Politics Allowed".
The following April, Kim & I moved away and started to form the Sutherland, which was to be a sister ship to Nebula (in both starship classification and philosophy). Nebula was going to be our Starfleet "Mother ship", but before our shuttle paperwork had finalized, political turmoil and scandal would cause a major upheaval within Star Fleet International, resulting in many chapters either quitting fandom altogether, or going independent. Nebula and Sutherland chose to go Independant and enjoy Trek Fandom in our own way.
In 1994, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy and Gary Davis, Laura Hartwell, Tom Donohoe, Ryan Rosal, Mark Klinger and Rob Johnson thought it would be cool to form an Internet based fan club called "Maquis Forces". Knowing that money was one of the biggest political hassles of any organization, we wanted to keep Maquis Forces as low budget as possible. Figuring that Communication (mail, newsletter publication, etc.) would be the most major expense of any Fan organization, we hoped that if we utilized email and the web to its max, we could keep any expenses to a minimum.
Starting with just two free web sites for Nebula and Sutherland, people from around the U.S. and Canada started noticing our sites and our philosophy. Little did Gary, Judy, Ryan, Mark, Kim, Tom, Laura & I know, that by signing our names to form Shuttle Nebula, it would blossom into becoming the corner stone of Maquis Forces and go international with over 100 chapters in less than a year, complete with a free Online Academy and email lists!
Although many of the 30 founding members of USS/MFI Nebula have gone their separate ways (many to form other ships), we are still together in camaraderie and spirit.
How does MFI Appoint Its International Coordinator?
As mentioned before, when MFI started, we never expected to become a large Fan Organization, so we never anticipated the need for Elections. For the 1st ten years, we simply held a Bi-Annual Vote Of Confidence for our Founding IC, Gary Davis. When FADM Davis decided to step down in 2004, he and the Coordinator Council didn't think it would be fair to simply appoint a successor, so MFI held it's 1st IC Election. Rob Johnson ran and won that election, but let everyone know right up front that he would only serve two years as a Transitional Leader, in order to try and groom new future leaders.
In the Fall and Winter of 2006-2007, MFI held its 2nd Election for IC. The Informational pages for the 2006-2007 Election may be viewed at Election 2006, which includes links to the Candidates' Biography pages, Team Pages and MFI's "Rules Of Engagement" page. More information may be found in MFI's Constitution (Article IV, Section 3) and the MFI (Handbook Appendix)