I agree with what others around here have pointed out, you're not going to be able to change the OWF. That's just how it is. That is, in many ways, the fun of it. New members seem to be treated the best within their alliance and IRC's. This may largely be due to the fact that alliances are trying to get new players more intigrated into the alliance. Most new nations get involved in an alliance because of the bombardment of recruitment messages before they go to the OWF.
As for player retention... that's a tough one, and one in which I doubt has much of a correlation with players attitudes in the OWF. I think that allowing people on the same network to play would help keep the numbers up, but presents some logistical difficulties... More updates and new additions to the game would also help. I don't really think that it's anything that the players are doing.