That Federation vessels in Star Trek seem to experience bizarre malfunctions with such overwhelming frequency isn't just an artefact of the television serial format. Rather, it's because the Federation as a culture are a bunch of deranged hyper-neophiles, tooling around in ships packed full of beyond-cutting-edge tech they don't really understand. Endlessly frustrating if you have to fight them, because they can pull an effectively unlimited number of bullshit space-magic countermeasures out of their arses - but they're as likely as not to give themselves a lethal five-dimensional wedgie in the process. All those rampant holograms and warp core malfunctions and accidentally-traveling-back-in-time incidents? That doesn't actually happen to anyone else; it's literally just Federation vessels that go off the rails like that. And they do so on a fairly regular basis.
Getting a link to a whole thread on Tumblr seems to be an impossibility, but these are some amusing replies:
So to everyone else in the galaxy, all humans are basically Doc Brown.
Aliens who have seen the Back to the Future movies literally don't realise that Doc Brown is meant to be funny. They're just like "yes, that is exactly what all human scientists are like in my experience".
Vulcan Science Academy: Why do you need another warp core
Humans: We're going to plug two of them together and see if we go twice as fast
VSA: Last time we gave you a warp core you threw it into a sun to see if the sun would go twice as fast
Humans: Hahaha yeah
Humans: It did tho
VSA: IT EXPLODED
Humans: It exploded twice as fast
Klingons: Okay we don't get it
Vulcan Science Academy: Get what
Klingons: You Vulcans are a bunch of stuffy prisses but you're also tougher, stronger, and smarter than Humans in every single way
Klingons: Why do you let them run your Federation
Vulcan Science Academy: Look
Vulcan Science Academy: This is a species where if you give them two warp cores they don't do experiments on one and save the other for if the first one blows up
Vulcan Science Academy: This is a species where if you give them two warp cores, they will ask for a third one, immediately plug all three into each other, punch a hole into an alternate universe where humans subscribe to an even more destructive ideological system, fight everyone in it because they're offended by that, steal their warp cores, plug those together, punch their way back here, then try to turn a nearby sun into a torus because that was what their initial scientific experiment was for and they didn't want to waste a trip.
Vulcan Science Academy: They did that last week. We have the write-up right here. it's getting published in about six hundred scientific journals across two hundred different disciplines because of how many established theories their ridiculous little expedition has just called into question. Also, they did turn that sun into a torus, and no one actually knows how.
Vulcan Science Academy: This is why we let them do whatever the hell they want.
Klingons: .... Can we be a part of your Federation
Let's talk about the USS Fucking Pegasus, testbed for the first Starfleet cloaking device. Here we have a handful of humans working in secret to develop a cloaking device in violation of a treaty with the Romulans. They're playing catchup trying to develop a technology other species have had for a century. And what do they do? Do they decide to duplicate a Romulan cloaking device precisely, just see if they can match what other species have? Nope. They decide, hey, while we're at it, while we're building our very first one of these things, just to find out if this is possible, let's see if we can make this thing phase us out of normal space so we can fly through planets while we're invisible.
"But why" said the one Vulcan in the room.
"Because that would fucking rule" said the Humans, high-fiving each other and slamming cans of 24th-century Red Bull.
Humans get mildly offended by the way they are presented in non-human media.
Like: "Guys, we totally wouldn't do that!" But this always fails to get much traction, because the authors can always say: "You totally did."
"That was ONE TIME."
There's that movie where humans invented vaccines by just testing them on people. Or the one about those two humans who invented powered flight by crashing a bunch of prototypes. Or the one about electricity.
And human historians go, "Oh, uh, this is historically accurate, but also kind of boring."
But when the Vulcans made first contact with Earth - "what the hell is that insane thing these aliens here have built, let's go look at it" - humans didn't look at them as an enemy or a resource or even an asset. No, the very first time humans met Vulcans, they tried to do the Vulcan hand thingy and they couldn't do it so they just offered a handshake, and then said "let's get drunk and party." THIS IS ACTUAL LITERAL CANON, REMEMBER.
Further in this vein:
I will never be over the fact that during first contact a human offered their hand to a vulcan and the vulcan was just like "wow humans are fucking wild" and took it
Note: Vulcan hand / finger touching is a sex thing.
My headcanon for startrek is that humans look, to vulcans, like a dog frathouse. Like signing on to a human ship is exactly that thrillingly loud and frustrating and fast and stupid and fun. The humans are going to dash off to a new sector to see if there are friends there and then they will jump up and down with delight and stuff their faces up against their new friends' genital array. The humans are going to bark for ten minutes at a rock. The humans want to chase things they can't possibly catch just because they like running around. The humans are madly passionate about their arbitrary group identities. The humans can be divided into new arbitrary group identities which they will then be passionate about. The humans want to stick their heads out of the window of their starship and go 'wheee!'. If you step on a human's paw they will act like you just killed them for about thirty seconds and then want more headpats. The humans can be immediately distracted from crucial duties by the appearance of a small animal. If you howl all the humans in earshot will howl louder just to show off. A human just humped your leg. 'Don't make it weird bro' the human says. Later the human will dig a weird bug out of the ground and eat it.
That first theory makes no sense, given the fact that Doc Brown is a Klingon. (See: Star Trek III)
Have you read John Scalzi's Old Man's War or Ghost Brigades? How about Redshirts?
Pretty sure this author is just copying Star Drek ("there's a colossal negative space wedgie coming towards us..."). Also in the Star Trek canon book I had when I was a kid they did strap 3 warp engines on a ship and it tore itself to pieces due to the unbalanced vibration.
But anyway, yeah. Humans are Kirk, Vulcans are SPock.
Humans are Cochrane because cheating on Starfleet Academy's Kobyashi Maru test is allowed because the brass recognize the inherent advantages of chaotic alignment against otherwise superior species because of the military industrial complex and the inherent corruption has caused a collapse towards further graft. Here is an example of the expression of the trait of which our Vulcan observers would prefer to remove.
That is pretty funny, but seems to ignore the mishaps suffered by some of the non-human crews. Quark, Rom, Nog, and Odo get stuck on Earth in the 1950s. A Klingon ship recovers a telepathic historical reenactment and kill each other, etc.
I think Star Trek was written by people who misunderstand science, and think that mad science (or perhaps mad engineering) _is_ science. We see more humans getting into ridiculous problems because of selection bias. That's just not as funny though.
This humans-with-unpredictable-results theory basically posits that they're like the moties in Pournelle and Niven's 'The Mote in God's Eye' - except that the moties are running the Federation, and everyone is happy to have them in charge and disrupting everything on the offchance that they'll get new science, technology and toys on an ongoing basis as a result. Wars are a small price to pay for that, really.
Quarantining the damn humans with the occasional UFO flyby to make sure they haven't figured out how to escape their planet of origin, while blocking communications to them, seems a far more likely scenario.
Like the dwarves in Oglaf http://oglaf.com/obituator/
In THAT alternate universe, when the human couldn't do the Vulcan hand thingy he whipped out a sawed-off shotgun from under his coat and shot the Vulcan. Then he and his friends rushed the ship and killed the rest of the crew.