Technically speaking, by decree of game mechanics, anyone can found a region. But that's not exactly what you're interested in, You're looking to start and build a successful region. (If you're not, then nothing in this dispatch applies to you. Do whatever you want.) And while nearly anyone can start a successful region, it is not so simple as clicking a few buttons on page=create_region.
Typically, region building requires a vision, hard work, a bit of luck, and perhaps most importantly, NS experience. The founder sets the tone for the rest of the region and needs to be able to lead and guide them through the morass that is the NS metagame. The vast majority of regions are founded by young, unprepared players, and their regions lose steam quickly. If they're lucky, they subsist in a vegetative state for a while. Most wind up dwindling to one or two nations and becoming tag raid targets for an indefinite period of time.
So, the question is, are you ready to build a region? Before clicking that “Create Region” button, you should ask yourself each of the following questions. Note that this dispatch will not teach you how to build a region—you have to learn that through your own experience.
First and foremost, why am I founding a region? There is no “right” reason to found a region, but the best reasons generally involve wanting to fill some void—one not filled by any of the other 20,000+ regions in existence. And there are many bad reasons, such as founding a region just to spite the leaders of your old region, for personal glory, or just because you think it's cool and anyone can do it regardless of experience. Your reason needs to be about something bigger than yourself if you want to stay invested in it, and certainly if you want anyone else to invest in it.
Do I know how game mechanics work? The number one question I see from new players is “How do I go to war?” The number one question I see lately from new wannabe founders is “How do I appoint the WA Delegate?” The answer to both is, of course, you don't.
As a founder, you will be primarily recruiting from newly founded nations, and the vast majority of people who join will be new players. As a founder, nations automatically look up to you for help and guidance. But you can't guide newbies well if you don't know the game yourself. It's not fair to you or to the other players.
Nearly any founder will recommend that you play in an established region for a while until you understand the game well. Once you know how everything works you will be far better equipped to guide your own batch of upstart newbies.
Do I know how regional governments work? This question is along the same lines as the previous, but is different and important enough to merit its own discussion. In NationStates, remember, nations are individual citizens and regions are nations. It is an entire nation, not a person within a nation, that is appointed as RO, for example. The nation is the player and the player is the nation. A successful region understands this and structures its government accordingly. You may choose to ignore this in-character, but you cannot function if you ignore this reality out-of-character. If you do not understand the distinction between in- and out-of-character, you are not ready.
That's not all. The above example is just one of countless unique mechanics and meta principles that are crucial to region building. Again, playing for a while in another region is by far the best way to gain this knowledge. Contribute to a region, learn how it works. Regions each have their own structures and setups, but will generally follow the same underlying principles.
Do I know the risks of founding a region? Founding a region isn't all fun and games. Or rather, you have to keep in mind that NS is still a game, and whether you like it or not, by founding a region you are leaving yourself vulnerable to how others may play the game. Founders need to understand how to protect against raids and other threats to their regions' stability.
Even if your region is strictly outside of, even against, gameplay (military or otherwise), you can never be truly separate from it. Sure, you could lock your region down so that no one can get in that's not supposed to, but that will stifle growth. Study how other regions protect themselves—non-executive delegates, influence fortresses, and so on.
As a founder, you are also in charge of a community. Sometimes that community will get dramatic and divided. You may have a player who is causing IC or OOC problems. You need to be prepared to deal with these problems as well.
What am I willing to give? Regions are an investment, pure and simple. Even if you're not investing monetarily with stamps, you are going to be pouring time and energy into your new region. You need to be able to sustain the region at least until you have a full team of residents who are also invested and can lighten the load. Expect to spend at least 10-20 hours a week working on your region; even more in the early stages. You need to recruit, engage with your recruits, encourage people to get involved in your government. You may need to pick up the slack where necessary.
This is perhaps the hardest part of keeping a region running long-term. If you are not committed, you cannot expect anyone else in your region to be. Lead by example: a hard-working founder can inspire their residents to contribute, but lazy leadership will only inspire apathy.
What is my vision for my region? In my own personal experience, one of my most common mistakes when starting a region was lack of vision. A new region needs an identity and at least a general direction from the get-go. Players are not going to stick around in, much less get involved in, a region unless they feel they are part of something. If you can share this vision with your recruits, they will be able to continue it, and pass it on to the next wave of recruits.
There is no right answer to this question, and your plan should be somewhat flexible so that it can meet the needs of your new community. As founder you also have the ultimate say, and should not be afraid to use it. On the other hand, sometimes that community moves your region into totally unexpected areas. Are you willing to allow that kind of growth or will you stick to your vision and possibly lose good people?
If you were able to satisfactorily answer all of these questions, congratulations! You have the tools you need to succeed as a founder. If you were not, think about each of them carefully and take steps to fill those gaps. If you were bumbling through most of them, then things will most likely go poorly. I know because (a) I've been there myself and (b) I see it every day still.
Obviously, I cannot stop you if you are dead set on founding a region. If you lack experience but still really, really want to try, then keep your main nation in a bigger region and start the region with a puppet. As a founder you are typically going to be the most experienced player in your region, so it will be hard to gain knowledge if you go out on your own too soon.
With the right tools, goals, attitude, and experience, anyone can found a region. You simply may not be ready yet, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it will go better for you and everyone else in your future community if you wait until you are truly ready.
If you've made it this far without skimming, congratulations again! You have at least some of the patience and literacy required to be a founder. Good luck out there! You're going to need it.