Whether you withdraw your post or not, I agree with most of what you have written here. Of course there are many reasons not to post an alert, but for most SOTA activations, an alert is good for both activators and chasers.
For CW activations, one significant reason for an alert (apparently not understood by many activators) is that the RBN Hole will only spot you if you have an alert up on SOTAWATCH. Since the RBN Hole is working nicely now, it’s a valuable tool, especially when self-spotting is inconvenient of impossible.
Even if you change your plans and activate a different summit, you’ll still be spotted, but with the wrong summit ref; then you can state your correct ref as you work your chasers. This is far superior to no alert. Even better, post a wild-card alert, with the summit ref like W0C/FR-XXX; this is much more valuable than no alert.
I have missed chasing countless activations, because I don’t sit by the computer all day long, or look at a phone often - and I feel a sense of loss when I see that the activator has come and gone in only a few minutes, with apparently little care about those of us who would like to make contact. Many chasers are helping out by posting spots, but often they’re too little, too late, for a short activation.
Please remember the Golden Rule when planning and doing a SOTA activation.
None of us are perfect - we all compromise as we choose between our alternatives on the summit. Remember that the chasers are the other half of the pie, and making our chasers happy is good for us too - especially over the long run. Chasers really do remember activators who make 4 contacts and quit, who activate only one band and thereby deny coverage to dozens of eager chasers, or who consistently don’t put out a readable signal, whatever the reason.
Only by chasing can we understand the frustrations our brothers face as they try to find, hear, and contact us.
In many ways chasing is much harder than activating. Chasing comes with more frustration, limited options for dealing with noise and poor signals, and various conflicts inherent in operating from a developed area - plus not all chasers are free to chase all day.
Besides actually doing your activation well, posting an alert is the single most important thing you can do to help your chasers. If you can provide bands, frequencies, and somewhat reliable times, even better. Best of all, if you can stick with what you post, you’ll eventually develop a reputation for being reliable, and you’ll always have plenty of chasers waiting for you to tune up.
An alert posted only an hour or two before an activation is much better than none. Those of you who chase me know that I rarely post an alert more than a day in advance. This is mostly related to weather issues. Even an alert put up a few minutes before the activation can be really nice!
A few people are using alerts for spots - not sure they know the difference.
S2S is also my “favorite thing” about SOTA. Lately I’ve started activating summits I’ve already done this year, partly to get more S2S contacts. S2S can shift our priorities, since S2S contacts are generally more difficult than contacts with chasers. In particular, alerts are very helpful in knowing when and where to look for S2S contacts. I sometimes adjust my ETA to match alert times of other activators in the hope of making more S2S contacts.
Others here have covered the rest -