You guys have an interesting discussion going on, but if I may, I'd like to drop by and ask a few questions:
1. What's stopping less scrupulous species (such as the Ferengi) from bypassing the UFP and making First Contact whenever they want to (say, to exploit planets)? Does Starfleet militantly guard pre-warp civilizations? I'd think that would require more ships than even the huge Starfleet possesses. Or does the UFP only assume responsibility for making FC for planets within its own territory? Obviously it can't go all over the galaxy doing this. So does
it restrict making FC to planets within its borders?
2. About requiring FTL travel as a requirement before making FC. As it's been noted, once a planet starts exploring with FTL, they'll probably soon run into other species. Thus, I think it's a fairly reasonable boundary marker. But how likely is it, do you think, for a planet to be able to develop FTL without cooperation from the entire
planet? I'd think such a huge undertaking would only be possible once the various political entities quit fighting each other and instead come together in peace. Of course, that's not how it happened with Earth, but I think the whole idea of Cochrane developing a warp drive in the woods with little help is a little far-fetched. So I'd think that by the time a society develops FTL travel, they'd have already moved beyond the point of petty internal bickering and have an established, planet-wide government. But maybe not. That's why I ask.