Misconduct and Consequences

Larry, W2LJ, recently wrote about a topic that all of us can identify with, the LID in a DX station pileup who ignores protocol and has no sense of manners.  They ignore DX requests for specific stations to respond and just blast the frequency, often with high power, until they get their contact.  The problem has existed for decades and is nothing new.  It’s one reason why I get turned off by DXing (despite dreaming of going on a high profile DXpedition someday), and it’s especially frustrating for a QRPer where timing and skill are much more important due to the power disadvantage.  Conversely, RF power often makes up for a lack of skill or manners, and the DX pileup LID makes a nuisance of himself to the point where the DX station can’t ignore him, and rewards him with a QSO.

The problem has been going on too long.  The reason it continues to exist is much like why we have email spam after nearly 20 years of the “mainstream” Internet.  There’s no cost associated it, and the bad behavior is rewarded.  The DX Code of Conduct is a great model for people to follow, but unfortunately it’s only the honest and polite people who follow it.  There must be consequences for bad behavior.

First off, DX stations need to stop rewarding these LIDs with contacts.  They need to call them out and let them know they’re not getting a contact during the DXpedition.  Perhaps we could create a specific Q signal that says “you’re blacklisted” to keep it short and sweet and avoid long on the air explanations.  Or they can work the station and not QSL the contact and let the station know through some means they got a non-QSL for their bad behavior.

Second, DX organizations and organizations like ARRL, CQ,  and perhaps RSGB need to maintain a “three strikes” policy.  If they receive evidence, such as recordings, of bad on the air behavior three times within a given period, the offender has awards stripped and they’re identified on a blacklist that can be accessed by high profile DXpeditions.  The minutia of appeals and reinstatement and the level of public notification can be debated, but I think the basic idea is sound and something that needs to be done.

This all may sound harsh, but in order to change bad behavior there needs to be consequences. All too often in amateur radio we don’t call out bad behavior and it affects the enjoyment of the hobby for the rest of us.  It’s time for the organizations who have the power to enforce consequences, to take action, rather than continue to provide rewards.

12 thoughts on “Misconduct and Consequences

  1. No penalties will not remove the causes of problems. A cause is still the same. Numbers and their sequence causes that we humans begin to freak out. No matter in what area – Money, Contesting, DXCC… Goal is not to have a full prison.

  2. Your comments are certainly thought provoking but I’m not sure they will help.

    I don’t think that people who cannot invest the time to learn how to do things properly
    and just ignore protocol are really going to care if someone takes away some reward.
    There is the risk that they will become a DX jammer and will simply try to intentionally
    block everyone from getting a contact. Unfortunately, it’s just another sign of the times
    we live in. As was recently commented on, there are people nowadays who could care
    less about order, rules, gentlemans agreements, polite discussion of differing viewpoints, etc.
    If the person is so competitive that they can’t wait their turn then they have probably forgotten
    that Amateur radio is after all a hobby. Unfortunately, this is not just an Amateur radio problem;
    it extends into many areas. Even attempting to discuss these things in a civilized manner with
    the Radio Artisan in a public forum might put one at risk of a hacking attack from those who do
    not like the opinions that were expressed.

    ( *** I am not using a flamethrower *** ) I ask you in a polite, gentlemanly way if your suggestion of
    punishment was sarcasm. After all, didn’t you recently tell millions of people via your blog that for
    an extended period of time you were a radio pirate? I am curious to know if there is any statute of
    limitations on an egregious violation of the Communications Act? You should feel lucky that none of the
    FCC engineers heard your transmissions, and that there was no one in your area who thought that
    you deserved a punishment (otherwise they would have reported you).

    Please don’t feel that I am trying to start an argument. I wish you well in your endeavours.
    I am simply attempting to engage in civilized discussion. That’s what your blog is for right?
    Communications and exchange of ideas.

    Best wishes.

    1. “There is the risk that they will become a DX jammer and will simply try to intentionally block everyone from getting a contact.”
      Then they would be in violation of ARRL, FCC, and ITU regulations regarding the willful causation of interference, which makes them eligible for a meet-and-greet from a three-letter agency, permanent license revocation, and multi-kilobuck fines.

      I’m not saying that’s a good outcome, and definitely not one we should hope for, but if someone gets butthurt enough that it comes to that we do have legal recourse. The FCC may not give a hoot in hell about unlicensed GMRS use, but they sure do care about jamming.

  3. How very true!!! I have been a ham 33 years and would try to work some DX stations Transmitting one freq. and rec. on another the hams go nuts running all kinds of modulation and wattage. I just cant get into it. I was told once “It is a sport” well I think the sport sucks!!! On the same topic the guy told me ham radio is not a poor mans sport. It just takes away from what ham radio is and should be I think. I tend to go to a net control DX its better but the nuts are still tuning up on freq. and just being DUMB!! While im ranting I have seen over the years the (ELMER) hams helping hams slide down hill and I am not sure really why? Maybe the invention of the inernet has hurt in many was, such as getting together as a group in person? Now we just e-mail one another?? PLEASE dont get me wrong there are still many helpful elmers out there and I for onewould like to say thank you for helping keep the ham radio tradition alive BY RON HAYES KA2RRZ


  4. I know it’s easy sometimes to loose temper when you’re trying to make a contact and it just doesn’t happen. I also know if I can hear somebody tuning on my frequency it does not necessary mean that he can hear the other party – DX – I am talking to at the moment. He may be just in that skip zone due to his location. How often it happened to me when I called QRL on what seemed to be an empty static filled spot just to get a quick ‘C C’ back.

    Also, there are many new people to the hobby who can’t find an Elmer. We have a radio club with many new fresh members (well… lids :) and very few OM still able to teach. Teaching is a skill too, correct? Some people can’t teach – I probably one of those. Not to say it takes time and effort, and it’s hobby after all – we’re not getting paid for what we do.

    My understanding is that operating techniques, DX code of conduct, and standard exchanges must be included in to the general (basic) ham examination. I believe it would at least raise awareness of the people who rarely work HF / DX and may be unaware of DX code of conduct and certain established traditions and exchanges.

    I don’t think penalties will solve the issue – educating fellow hams, treating them with dignity and respect – will.


  5. To the Dx pedition party.
    Do not reward them with a QSL card.
    Just sent a blank card saying: “sorry couldn’t hear you/ya! yell more next time… not”
    It doesn’t matter if they catch up or not.
    For as long as they are “lids”, no “casserole” for them!

  6. Hi, Al. Your point is well taken, however I don’t think there’s a conflict or any hypocrisy here. I never said I should not be punished if I was ever caught. I would have paid the $750 fine which was common at the time, albeit begrudgingly, and I probably would have appealed for a lower fine, a practice which was common then and still is today. The difference between my youthful pirate radio follies on FM broadcast and what is going on with amateur radio LID DXers today is that there are consequences for pirate radio operation, and there clearly aren’t any for LID DXers. I chose an open frequency for my pirate operation, LID DXers don’t. I actually went to great lengths to have an open frequency and a clean signal that would meet broadcast standards, to lessen the chances of drawing the ire of the FCC. Perhaps thousands have complained over the years about LID DXers. I doubt anyone had a problem with my pirate operation, other than perhaps not liking the music selections. LID DXers on the other hand are angering people on a daily basis, they’re benefiting from their unacceptable behavior, and their identities are known.

    If I wanted to conduct a pirate radio operation analogous to the LID DXer situation, I’d transmit on top of another broadcast station, day in and day out, give my name and address, personally benefit from the operation, and perhaps even later brag about the accomplishment or accept an award for it. That’s essentially what’s going on with LID DXers today. 73

  7. — Snippy —
    I don’t think penalties will solve the issue – educating fellow hams, treating them with dignity and respect – will.

    —- END —-

    I don’t belive that this will help’s to solve. The matter is the loss of respect and this is not limitted in ham radio operation. The most of the Operators they are do like that are not newbies. They do ham Radio since a decate or more. They think that rules and restrictions are made for the newcomer.

  8. excellent points. okto’s comment is very interesting. And of course the ones who do those things are always thinking that since it’s radio, no one will ever figure out who or where they are. Unfortunately, like others have pointed out, bad behavior is not limited to amateur radio.

  9. As a fairly new operator keen on DX’ing, who uses a modest station due to both modest means and minimalist sentiments, I heartily agree with the need for some changes in the way some people conduct themselves during pile-ups.

    There have been far too many times in my short time on the air that I have stood next to the radio desk, glowering at the mic because Johny Megawatt on the east coast turns a quick qso with a European station that was calling for west coasters into a thirty minute brag fest about his station. The European then reminds Alvin Superbeam that they have had 137 QSO’s since 1971, but rather than taking the hint, Alvin begins to recount the 59 times that he worked him barefoot, and then makes a derisive crack about those who use dipoles. Meanwhile, the grey line has passed, or the European had to shut the radio off and go to work (It’s true, some of us are not retired!) and another chance at working Andorra is kaput. At these times, I try and do the following;
    1) I remind myself, that none of this matters
    2) I remind myself to cut down on coffee
    3) I remind myself that going outside and getting some exercise would be a really good idea
    4) I try and very objectively imagine how I would act if I had 1000 watts and a beam

    And maybe that is about as much as one can do. Long before I got my amateur license, I was a birder. And not just a casual birder either. I spent every waking hour developing Jedi birding skills, I led birding tours to the darkest corners of the world, I moderated national bird chat groups, I spent countless hours on local bird conservation projects and participated in cutting edge scientific research on birds. And it did not take too long to realize that some other birders cared a lot more about seeing a new species, than they did about being polite, decent, law abiding citizens. Most alarming to me, was the fact that many didn’t even care about the well being of the bird they were seeking. Acting like a jerk while chasing rare dx will for the most part only piss others off. Acting like a jerk while chasing a rare bird, can endanger ecosystems, birders, and the birds themselves. And after a decade of trying various methods of policing this type of behavior and failing miserably, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t police anyone but myself, and about the best I can do, is try and model proper behavior for others, and accept the fact that some people are just assholes, and nothing is ever going to change that.

    I do like the idea of a nasty note instead of a QSL card though. Or maybe I just drank too much coffee this morning.

  10. an excellent comment. Your choice of Alvin as a fictitious character
    stands out because the name is not as common as Joe or Bill. Having
    actually known a few Alvins, and none of them had a beam antenna, you should have no fear of inciting the wrath of the Alvins of the world.
    I really enjoyed your comments. Made a lot of sense.

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