I was just thinking about a potential change Cryptic could make in awarding Diplomatic XP. Currently, if you complete a mission in which no weapons are required to be fired, you get 10 diplomatic XP. However, if you enter a mission, such as "Patrol the Lirss System" as part of the Z-6 sector patrol missions, you do not get diplomatic XP. In this mission, you must scan organic asteroids that are being defended by Hirogen ships. It is possible, however, to position the asteroids between those enemy ships and your own so that they do not fire on you. This, I believe, should qualify for Diplomatic XP because you could have chosen to engage enemy ships, but did not. What does everyone else think about this? It couldn't be that hard to program that into the game engine.
I've often thought the same thing, both in the space-based missions you've mentioned, and similar ground-based missions.
I also feel some of the missions we currently get diplomacy experience for aren't really warranted. For example, when you go to a base to see if you can bring it back up for use by the Federation (no combat), you get diplomacy experience. Diplomacy is about increasing your standing with alien races not in the Federation, so why would a mission FOR the Federation have any impact on this.
Similarly, there are some combat missions (most notably the defend the ship/station missions) where you are acting in the interests of an alien race that might not necessarily be part of the Federation. This should warrant some diplomacy experience, even if it's not full credit, as you did something to help others in need.
This actually has some potential as an alternative to combat, and there are plenty of possible options for this based on the various t.v. shows --
(1) Negotiate a treaty port in a newly-explored area of space. Problem -- the port is in an area being fought over by two technologically advanced species and they don't want any interference in their war.
(2) A medical emergency is in progress on a Federation colony world. The solution is a product/resource on another allied world. Some local issue is preventing that government from obtaining the resource and you have a strict time limit or the colony will be irreversibly damaged if you don't get there with the solution in time.
(3) You've been ordered to attend a diplomatic event on a Federation member system. You're currently on an exploration mission and a landing party has suddenly gone missing. Not attending the event could cause significant diplomatic damage to the Federation. Losing members of your crew could cause significant damage to your career.
(4) Your ship is in orbit around a major Federation member planet with most of the crew on shore leave while critical maintenance is performed on your ship. One of your bridge officers is accused of a serious crime against a member of the local population. Can you prove your BO's innocence and avoid a diplomatic incident?
(5) You've been ordered to transport a number of ambassadors to a critical conference. A saboteur is inside one of the parties aboard and seems intent on disrupting the conference, at whatever cost, including your ship.
(6) You've arrived at a newly-discovered system and are ready to begin First Contact procedures. A hostile alien race has also arrived and is not being quite so diplomatic to your interests in the mission.
(7) A newly-established private colony is experiencing unspecified difficulties and has asked for Star Fleet assistance. Facilities are being attacked, and several colonists have been killed and injured. You find you're only getting one side of the story, but what's the other side?
We definitely need a lot more variety in something besides a linear "rail" mission or shoot first and often missions. Otherwise, why bother calling this Star Trek?