They’re really not though… there are people there sure, but there’s no incentive to interact and it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd so to speak. There’s also little chance of running into the same people and very little culture of asking for help with things or actually acting as a community in the newbie NPC corps.
If you compare how things work in Eve Uni vs the NPC corps it’s a complete change in culture and activity level despite the NPC corps having, on paper, far more people than a group like Eve Uni which is already quite large.
I also feel like you’re focusing overly much on the leadership aspect of things here. Yes, good leadership is important to a corp, but if you think about the general MMO structure and flow most small groups don’t have much in terms of leadership and in other games there’s no real requirement for it. In something like WoW stuff like raid points is a thing for larger guilds that are into end-game content, and that’s most of the management that needs to be done. In Eve if you get war-dec’d you need to actually organize and lead a response, which is a pretty big step up in people skills and organizational ability.
Having a “baby’s first corp” would provide that “let’s go have fun with friends” experience without the risk and added management cost.
Seriously roll an alpha or an alt or something and go spend a few days in an NPC corp and watch the chat. If there’s anything going on at all it’s little to nothing of the “players playing with each other” experience and a whole lot of the help-chat vibe to it.
In comparison in my first month in Eve Uni way back in the day I got invited to do group missions, had people chatting with me about my longer term plans and what I wanted to do in the game, and had a group of people pay to replace a Drake I lost due to stupidity and overconfidence in one of the aforementioned mission fleets.
Basically what I’m saying here is pseudo-corps and maybe mechanisms for pushing players towards them would help newer players find people to actually play with without the worries about scams and wars that push them away from joining a “real” corp. Nothing to do with the leadership, just the player perception and how newbies tend to talk about Eve and corp life.