I have not expressed a position on this matter yet because I don’t see it an easy thing.
This is the comment I most agree with from all being said here up to now.
But I want to say a few things here:
Personally I don’t compete with anybody, although I admit it’s cool and rewarding when one sees the own callsing high in the scores table after having devoted time and efforts to SOTA chasing and/or activating.
The use of several different websdr gives an advantage to their users over those not using them. This advantageous situation of the websdr users should be made evident to all of us and the websdr users should let us know it by adding something to their callsigns like the suffix /sdr@DL to let us know an sdr based in Germany is being used for instance or preffixing their own callsigns with the websdr callsign, should it have one (which I don’t know because I’ve never ever tried one).
One other option (but totally impossible to control and police) could be restricting the use of sdr to those located within the territory of our own SOTA association, but this will put many potential users off as I’m sure there are several associations with no sdr stations at all. Restricting to sdr in the own country is unfair, as the USA is a huge territory with probably dozens or even hundreds of sdr stations, while other tiny european countries like ON or LX, for instance might not have any. Then it would come the question of whether the political country or the DXCC entity. A neverending discussion for sure but I wouldn’t recommend this at all due to the impossibility of controlling it.
Given that SOTA is neither competitive nor a contest, the use of sdr is up to anyone, as it indeed is right now. However, allowing this uneven playing field makes impossible the possibility of celebrating fair play challenges.
The use of a remote station for RX/TX is, in my opinion a completely different story as long as it remains a single station. Using more stations put the user in advantage over the rest. If I finally set up my own remote station with RX/TX in the village QTH while still keeping the capability to RX/TX with a limited station in the city appartment, would it give me any advantage over the rest? I don’t think so because both QTHs are just 18Km appart and the antenna in the apartment is far worst than those in the village QTH.
However, what if someone owns 2 RX/TX capable stations in well separated QTHs, for instance, one in EA8 and the other one in OE and the operator can use any of them at any time because one is remotedly controlled from his base QTH shack and the other one is in the very shack. This would definitely give this operator an advantage over the others. Imagine that same case with one station in the state of WA and the other in FL, or one in Southern CA and the other in NH and as SOTA expands around the world, another one in ZL, another one in ZS, one more in CX…
Well, there’s a lot to look at but let’s keep in mind that the main purpose of our hobby is having fun.
As Brian said, let’s continue discussing, but let’s try to be openminded, inclusive rather than exclusive, but also fair rather than unfair.
P.D. I’ve come across this highly recommendable reading.