I think some fleets might merge if there was actually a merge function where the assets of both were combined. But as it is right now, people would have to leave one fleet (and all the work done on that fleet just goes away) before joining another. That's a waste.
usually one branch to make sure everything is t1 so provision projects unlock. then we can at least buy off of public service if we're lucky.
For the T1 projects, yeah a 7-day version of the projects is kind'a useless. The inputs for those are so relatively low that even my two alt kdf fleet got to the upgrades in 12 or 13 days if they played everyday. And the upgrades themselves to T1 aren't that terribly bad (FYI: I don't think there should be small fleet versions of the upgrades). It's after that when the dilithium and fleet mark costs become a real dampner on small fleets.
I run 2 small fleets (1 KDF and 1 Fed) and must say I am at a crossroads whether I want to keep trying to build them up, or simply join a larger fleet in each faction. I have tried the recruiting thing, proposed alliances with larger fleets in an effort to get my fleet's projects done and giving contributors a chance to earn fleet credits as they do get hard to come by with large fleets that have everything maxed out already.
What keeps me in my fleets (at least for now) is the fact I don't have to fight with fleeties over getting Fleet Credits and don't have to meet some quota in order to buy a fleet rank or to buy ships/provisioned gear.
I would think that small fleets would be more successful in getting members as a result of the problems large fleets have with the competition over fleet credits. Evidently that's not the problem.
From my observation, the issue is, there are players who want all the benefits of a large fleet, but do not want to put out the effort to get a fleet to that point. I laugh when I see in Zone chat all the people who want to join a T5 fleet.
To be fair though, if I were in their position, why would I want to shell out my Dil, FMs, Expertise, etc. to a fleet when someone else's is already at T 5/3/3/3?
I, for one, am happy to donate to fleet projects. I have done it since day one and plan to do it regardless of whether its my own fleet(s), or fleet(s) I may join in the future.... it's just the right thing to do. You take from your fleet provisions, you should give at least something back in return.
For me, the issue is quite frustrating. But, to a degree... understandable.