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General Rules review and update


#1

The SOTA Management Team has recognised that the General Rules document was in need of some review and updating. Firstly, there was the issue that there was a contradiction. The General Rules specified a minimum vertical separation/prominence of 150m for all summits in the Programme. A higher prominence parameter could be used if appropriate, but 150m was the minimum. However, there were already four associations (HA, OE, SV and ZS) accepted into
the Programme using a prominence of 100m. Furthermore, there were two associations (DM and DL) accepted into the Programme, that while having a prominence figure of 150m, also had a clause which allowed subjective addition of summits not meeting that criteria. Reasons for the initial acceptance of ARMs with other than a strictly enforced P150 are varied, but all decisions were taken, at the various points in time, with the future success of SOTA in mind.

The SOTA MT has worked hard to create a reasonable and robust set of rules for SOTA. With 17 operational associations and a further 14 countries wishing to take part, any inconsistencies in the General Rules needed to be addressed now. The rule changes are the result of lengthy, considered discussion amongst the MT and Association Manager community. As a fundamental part of the General Rules it was important to get it right.

With the wide range of topology between associations there can never be a level playing field with regard to scoring and the level of difficulty between one country and another. The SOTA Management Team decided that the current situation was unacceptable. All summits in the Programme must be separated by a sufficiently low saddle, and the General Rules must not include contradictions that could make member associations appear to be in breach of these rules. It should be pointed out, that none of the above associations
were at any time in breach of the rules; the General Rules document itself contained contradictions, and of course the associations were all formerly accepted by the SOTA Management Team. Accordingly, all chaser, activator and SWL points already accrued from summits to be reviewed, will remain unchanged,
and may still be earned up to the date of any change.

General Rules 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 have thus been amended as follows:


3.5*

  1. The Association must have sufficient topology to enable meaningful Summits to be defined. The SOTA Management Team recommends a minimum prominence for summits of 150m. The minimum association prominence that can be accepted in the
    Programme is 100m. In the event that this rule cannot be met, the Entity or Subdivision will, unfortunately, be unable to participate in SOTA. Prospective associations wishing to use a prominence of less than 150m will need to be able to offer sound justification for their preferred value, and be able to demonstrate how the use of a lower prominence value will significantly add to the viability of a prospective association.

  2. Summits should be distinct peaks. This means that there must be a vertical separation of at least the association’s prominence value, between Summits and their associated cols (also known as saddles). Peaks separated by a shallow col
    should be considered as a single Summit. This principle ensures that there is a distinct climb associated with every Summit.

*It is expected that it will be a couple of weeks before the updated General Rules document is uploaded onto the website, due to the individual commitments of the MT members responsible.

So, in effect, what does this mean?

Well, firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the minimum prominence for any association in the programme is set at 100m. This removes the problem of the HA, OE, SV and ZS associations appearing to be at odds with the General Rules
document. The alternative of setting a Programme-wide minimum of P150 was investigated, and we concluded that this was both impractical and unfair for the existing and accepted P100 associations. The question therefore arises
about an individual association wishing to change its existing prominence parameter. This may only be done by representation from the Association Manager, offering a compelling case for such, and then only with the agreement
of the SOTA Management Team.

It also means that additional subjective criteria - such as that which currently appears in the DL and DM Association Reference Manuals - is no longer permitted. We are looking at the end of th e current year (31.12.08) as the target date by which ARMs should be revised and updated.

Concern has been expressed that losing these summits will “destroy” SOTA in Germany. For illustrative purposes, we present the following comparative analysis of the G and DM associations (the two most active associations in SOTA):

Summits:
DM - 3176
G - 179

Area (km2)
DM - 357022 (includes DL as well)
G - 130410

Active participants (2007)
DM - 129
G - 154

So currently, DM, with an area less than 3 times that of England, has over 17 times as many summits. Obviously, DM is a more hilly/mountainous region than G - that will always be the case. But, clearly, it will still have lots of
summits, many times more than England, even if it applies a strict Prominence rule. And we can see that England, with just 179 summits, is still a most viable, active and successful association, so the argument that the loss of non-prominence summits will ruin DM SOTA, is not accepted by the SOTA Management Team.

We believe that after many weeks of hard work, and consultation with every Association Manager, we have come up with the right balance, the removal of inconsistencies and anomolies, and a revised and robust set of General Rules
that will enhance and support the continued international growth of the Programme. That fact that the changes might appear to be subtle and minimal reflects only on the existing strengths, and not at all on the considerable level of energy and time we have all committed to this process.

Thank you for your patience.

Tom Read M1EYP
on behalf of the SOTA Management Team


#2

In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks Tom and the MT for finally bringing clarity and certainty back to the Rules. We do now know where we stand.

I believe the correct decision, given the prevailing circumstances, has been made. The Associations who specified 100m prominence are again within the rules; the way is open for Associations to amend their prominence down to a minimum of 100m by presenting a strong case for change.

I have every sympathy for the DL/DM Associations who seem as a result of the original disparity in their ARM’s to have developed a completely different SOTA culture, but at the end of the day they are the ones which are different to all the rest, to restore a unified scheme they must change. I would hope that in their deliberations the MT and relevant DL/DM AM’s/AMT’s have carried out an analysis of the effect of adopting P100 on the number and distribution of summits in those Associations; I urge that this be published as a matter of urgency so that the true extent of the effects of the change can be gauged.

As for the question of more G summits, the way forward is clear; if we want an increase by reducing the prominence from 150m we need to make a solid case, with the necessary rigorous analysis, to justify the change in terms of benefits to the Programme, and get it accepted by the AM, who will then take the proposal to the MT - who have just shown that they are not totally inflexible and are capable of exercising judgement in the face of very difficult situations, even if they are of their own making.

73 de Paul G4MD


#3

In reply to G4MD:
Hear hear Paul… some tough decisions but well balanced I would say.

73 Marc G0AZS


#4

In reply to G4MD:

Well put Paul - I agree totally.

I too would like to see what effect the P100 ruling has on the DL/DM summits as soon as possible so that those affected know clearly what the situation is. There is nothing worse than leaving this hanging in the air, but I suspect it will be some time before accurate figures can be produced.

73, Gerald


#5

In reply to DH8DX:

Here Here!


#6

In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks for the information on the final decision. So, “we” (the people) were not discussing about rumors (as stated somewhere) but about facts, regarding prominence. P150 would have been too drastic, so P100 seems “logical”.

One thing that bothers me: Why did MT not foresee these problems and, as it looks like, accepted just “anything” ? The allowance to use TOP50 references was not just given yesterday but a long time ago. Then, all of a sudden, this is “bad”.

Your are comparing G (not UK?) topography to DM topography. Both countries look somewhat different to me…

Strange enough, France was accepted “just recently” and already now they have to remove references, or not? I know of at least one place that is not valid at all according to the prominence rule: NO-008 and NO-019. Easy to go from one to the other in less than 15min, if there’s no mudd … There’s no such thing than a 100m cut between these. Why did nobody pay attention to this?
Just wondering.

With the removal of all these references in all these different associations, I do foresee a loss of interest in SOTA from the activator side.

Luckily, we don’t have SOTA in LX :slight_smile: Would be a shame to “create” something and get it removed soon after.

Now, let’s see how many MT members will continue to call those soon-to-be-illegal references to gain some points. Maybe I should remove my then-illegal references from the DB after 1.1.2009 since it’s not ethical to keep them. (Yes, I know the deleted ones continue to count for points, but who cares about points, nobody, I guess).

73 Norby (not amused)


#7

In reply to LX1NO:
Hi Norby,

Strange enough, France was accepted “just recently” and
already now they have to remove references, or not? I know of at least
one place that is not valid at all according to the prominence rule:
NO-008 and NO-019. Easy to go from one to the other in less than
15min, if there’s no mudd … There’s no such thing than a 100m cut
between these. Why did nobody pay attention to this?

Yes you are right ! I missed them in the last update. And there are few summits that doesn’t fit with 150m prominence. As asked by MT, they will be delete until the end of this year.
I don’t want to say anything about other countries…

Alain F6ENO


#8

In reply to F6ENO:

We must not confuse “general maintenance” of ARM’s with changes due to the amendment of the Prominence rule.

Identifying summits is an exacting and tedious process, it is inevitable that the odd mistake will be made which should be corrected as and when discovered, or when more accurate measurements show that a summit does or does not qualify. This can be carried out by the AM’s independant of the MT.

The only Associations affected by the change in prominence rule are DM and DL. We have yet to see an objective analysis of the effect of the change on the numbers and distribution of summits in DL and DM. Should it demonstrate that because of the topology the Associations are made completely unviable by the change, there is a provision in the Rules for adoption of other than height criteria for the selection of summits, that would be the option of last recourse.

73 de Paul G4MD


#9

Paul has a point here, Alain. The summits you will delete in your next ARM update, are not as a result of the General Rules revision. They are as a result of your own monitoring and management of SOTA in France. So you may update and reissue your ARM as soon as you like, and send me the updated spreadsheets. I will then update the SOTA Database as soon as I can.

Tom


#10

In reply to M1EYP:

Thank you Tom, I know you will do the best for us.
But since I have updated french ARM last month, I will get my breath back…!
Thanks again for your work in SOTA.

Best regards
Alain


#11

You are very welcome Alain. I have recently uploaded may new summits, regions and associations to the SOTA Database, with more to do imminently. So I’m happy for a litte break too! Just do it as and when it suits you - you’re the boss!

Tom M1EYP


#12

In reply to M1EYP:
Hello friends,

since January this year there is a big discussion about the general rules. The reason was the huge increase of summits in DM, specially in BW. I have red most of all comments and I have to realize, so many hams take part of this great program. Everybody is also present with his heart. Nobody want that SOTA will disintegrate in future - nobody!
The solution could be so easy. Delete in the rule 3.5.1 the promince in any way or replaced it trough following content:

3.5.1. The Association must have sufficient topology to enable meaningful Summits to be defined. The SOTA Management Team allows prominces which are defined by each national definition of summits. These could be rather different, but this should be no disadvantage to the program.

My explanation:

  1. in Germany there is a definition of promince for the alps of 300m,
    for the Low Mountains there is no definition until now.
  2. In “The Mountains of England and Wales” from the Nuttall’s there is a
    cutoff of 15m. Dawson’s list of “Marylins” uses 150m and it’s limited to
    the British Isles.
  3. In the list of “Fourteeners” of the US they uses 91m.

In other countries maybe also different. Why should the defined promince of a little area take effect to the rest of the world, why? If the MT could resolve to change the rule 3.5.1 concerning the prominence in this way, or something like this, most discussions would be presumably finished.

Thanks for reading this message.

All a nice eastern and hopefully one day back in SOTA.

73, Ralf DH3IAJ
RM DM/BW


#13

I forgot, ON will have to give up either ON1 or ON2 since there is no prominence at all (they are less than 3min appart by car).

Again my question: An association as young as ON, how could MT make a such superb error to accept these references?

I guess, it’s considered to be a rethorical question but I lost faith into MT and I would suggest MT members not to call in anymore since they will run a high risk to work illegal references…

BTW, DM/SR is quite likely to disappear, even more of a reason to clear the database with all DM/SR QSOs :slight_smile:

73 Norby


#14

In reply to LX1NO:

Hi Norby

Having checked the summits you refer to, it appears you are quite right - ON-002 should not qualify as a separate summit. But this has nothing to do with the change in prominence rule - it should never have been there in the first place. It’s deletion is merely maintenance of the ARM and would have happened anyway.

The responsibility for assembling and maintaining the list of valid summits, within the parameters agreed for the Association, is clearly that of the Association Manager, not the MT, who have no brief to check every individual proposed summit in an ARM. How this anomaly got through I do not know, but it cannot be laid at the door of the MT.

In the absence of anyone else putting forward definitive information on the actual effect of P100 on DM, I’m off to do a bit of research of my own. Any pointers to sources of information to assist me in this would be appreciated.

73 de Paul G4MD


#15

In reply to G4MD:

“The responsibility for assembling and maintaining the list of valid summits, within the parameters agreed for the Association, is clearly that of the Association Manager, not the MT, who have no brief to check every individual proposed summit in an ARM.”

Agreed on the AM but, since we are talking, in this case, about 8 references only, since, I guess, at least one of the MT members would overlook what they are getting proposed, no one dares to check the references “live” on Google Earth? And there’s a KMZ file available? That amazes me.

I agree that you can’t cross-check 200 new proposed references but in this case… Well… There are most likely a lot more in newer associations.

Is it up to the “users” (aka activators) to find these glitches? AMs and finally MT should do a lot more checking before feeding the DB. It’s sometimes amazing what you can see on Google Earth or on simple topographic maps.

73 Norby


#16

In reply to LX1NO:

You have a point there Norby, the rogue ON summit is not exactly a needle in a haystack…

Perhaps a formalised independent review of proposed summits would be a good idea, not because of any lack of confidence in the individual AM’s, who put a great deal of time and effort into the summit lists, but because it is so easy to make errors due to the nature of the work. In the UK Marilyns have been recognised for many years, by a community much larger than just SOTA, and still necessary amendments crop up on a fairly regular basis. (I realise this would create an awful lot of work, but I’m sure sufficient willing volunteers could be found within the SOTA community)

Us “users” also have a role to play - if in the course of our SOTA activities we encounter an anomalous summit, either one which should not be in the list but is, or better one that is not but should be, we can bring it to the attention of the appropriate AM for action. Imagine the “buzz” from discovering, and then carrying out the first activation of, a new summit…

In the meantime, it is clear from the rules and recent MT announcements that any summit that is listed in the Incorporated ARM’s is valid until such time as it is formally removed, even if it does not comply with the parameters of it’s Association so no-one should have any qualms about working them.

73 de Paul G4MD


#17

In reply to LX1NO:
Just as a matter of interest, Norby, have you drawn the attention of the Association Manager to this problem, besides posting here? He may not read the reflector on a regular basis.

With at least fourteen new Associations waiting in the wings, volunteers to check the summits would be welcome, Norby!

73

Brian G8ADD


#18

In reply to G8ADD:

With at least fourteen new Associations waiting in the wings,
volunteers to check the summits would be welcome, Norby!

Well said Brian… and volunteers to stand new Associations too…
especially in small countries where it’s easy to do it !!

73 Alain F6ENO


#19

In reply to G8ADD:

Just as a matter of interest, Norby, have you drawn the attention of the >Association Manager to this problem, besides posting here? He may not read >the reflector on a regular basis.

Nope, since the AM should be aware of what he does. By this, I do not say that I don’t make mistakes but if I select a summit as valid, I look around 360 degrees to see what’s going on and these two errors I mentionned are easy to see, especially when we talk about young associations as these are.

I also noticed a lot of errors in DM which I reported to the AM a lot of months ago.

But that’s not been the point of my initial message.

73 Norby


#20

In reply to LX1NO:

Nope, since the AM should be aware of what he does. By this, I do not
say that I don’t make mistakes but if I select a summit as valid, I
look around 360 degrees to see what’s going on and these two errors I
mentionned are easy to see, especially when we talk about young
associations as these are.

Yes, very easy Norby! I don’t understand why such errors could be done !
May be because I had 2500 summits to check…

And what about LX in SOTA ???

73 Alain F6ENO