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Holes in the database!

Holes in the database!

It is well known that a number of activators have not uploaded activation logs to the database for some time, but are still active; and the trouble is we don’t know how big these logs are.

This means that the chaser don’t get the confirmation marked with a ‘*’ in the Points column to indicates that an exact match has been found in the activators log, I know you don’t need the confirmation to get the points, but it is nice to get a match in the database.

Also there are a number of inactivated summits in the database that have already been activated. Not that good if an operator takes a trip to activate a virgin summit and later on has the summit first taken from him by an old log upload.

Would a time limit on log uploads not help the database say 30 days from activation to claim your points or lose the activation.

If this was pending I think we would have a few large log uploads to freshen the database before it was implemented.


In reply to MM0XXP:

It’s only an issue if you consider SOTA to be a competition against others. Yes, the lack of confirmation may irritate you but as no there is no need to verify any contacts to claim SOTA awards it’s not a barrier to claiming awards.

Time limit on updating the database? No thanks.


In reply to MM0XXP:

I have three activations waiting to be entered into the database. This I find a distasteful chore, and being a hunt and peck typist it probably takes longer than the actual activation! I will, however, eventually psyche myself up to do this chore.

I find your choice of words a little odd. Lose the activation? How could you lose the activation? The activation took place, and that’s that. Surely if it was a virgin summit, a subsequent activator who by your proposal gets the credit will know that it is a hollow achievement, or do you think that nothing is more important than database cred?


Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM0XXP:

I do not find submitting logs to SOTA database difficult and I normally do it the same evening if I have access to web. But otherwise I find SOTA quite laborious, since it includes “digital” planning, photos, QSLs and activation reports. There is a lot of computer work in this program. But then SOTA is also very modern amateur radio activity in this sense, since it produces computer records of what has been done - whatever meaning that will have in future.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

In reply to MM0XXP:
I also realized, that now older QSO’s in my log are not marked with this /*/ since the summit is not anymore present in the summit-database. Before, these QSO’s are marked.
73 Peter

Why are some operators against the Idea of keeping the database up-to-date?

If you climb a summit and call “CQ SOTA” then you should comply with Summits on the Air – General Rules to claim your points and activation under SOTA.

“12. Activators must submit a log of the Expedition in order to claim points. In the event that
a claim is not to be made, Activators are still asked to submit logs so that Chaser claims
can be substantiated. Logs may be submitted by filling in an entry form on the SOTA
web site or as a log file. Full details are on the SOTA web site.”

If you don’t submit your logs you can’t claim your activation under “SOTA”.
Why have General Rules for activations and a data base ?

If the data base is to be used by activators to find rare or inactivated summit under the “SOTA”.

“Summits on the Air”, SOTA and the SOTA logo are trademarks of the Programme. This
document is copyright of the Programme. All other trademarks and copyrights referenced
herein are acknowledged."

Then it should be up-to-date, uploading logs only becomes “a distasteful chore” if you don’t upload on a regular basis.

This post is not aimed at any operator in particular and I apologise if it has been taken in that context.

Alan M0XXP

In reply to MM0XXP:

Oh, I’m not against the idea of keeping the database reasonably up to date, Alan, I’m against the idea of compulsion and time limits. If you impose a time limit and the activation is not entered within that time, does that not mean that the changes that make the delayed claim invalid result in the chasers losing their points too? Would that be just?

I can assure you that I regard the entering of even one activation a chore, whether I do it immediately on returning home from the hill or several weeks later. I appreciate that some people are more, shall we say obsessive? than others but I feel that this is just a hobby and we should be quite relaxed about deadlines and the like. Forcing activators with a distaste for bookkeeping into compliance is likely to lose us activators…after all, is there not an inherent tension between the outdoor spirit and sitting doing routine clerical work?


Bran G8ADD

In reply to MM0XXP:

Also there are a number of inactivated summits in the database that
have already been activated. Not that good if an operator takes a trip
to activate a virgin summit and later on has the summit first taken
from him by an old log upload.

Hi Alan,

I sympathise with this part of your post, but I am of the opinion that it is something that we have to accept. A couple of years ago I planned to activate a couple of virgin summits in GM/SS and took the precaution beforehand of emailing Jack GM4COX to see whether he had activated them since I knew his logs were not up to date. Jack kindly responded that he hadn’t activated the summits and so I went ahead with my plans. A few months previously I had activated GM/SS-199 Blackwood Hill while staying in Northumberland - the actual date was 5th April 2007. I thought I was the first, but during the activation I found out that Derek G1ZJQ had gazumped me by just 3 days. All I can say is - that’s life!

73, Gerald

In reply to G8ADD:
Alan does have some good points, indeed - and I hope his message will reach all activators who do not update there logs regularily.
I am sure some (VHF/UHF) activators also get worried if well known chasers do not respond at the SOTA-files to the few contacts.
But I agree with Brian. SOTA is a hobby, NOT an Olympic discipline or a Premier League event where the participant’s future and economy is mandatory.
In SOTA, we just “play” and we will only have fun, if we play fair. We are a small community. Most things can be handled without “punishing”.

In reply to MM0XXP:
One of the problems here is that the formal SOTA programme ascribes no particular merit to a “first” activation of a summit. It is just something that many participants (myself included) have chosen to value. In so far as it encourages the activation of more summits, this seems a generally good thing.

It might be helpful if the public face of the database were able to report “probable” activations of a summit that have not been claimed by the activator, on the basis of chaser QSOs claimed. There can never be 100% certainty, but it would certainly help people to avoid claiming first activations in error.

In reply to MM0XXP:

It should be common decency to post any logs of any hill you have activated asap, there are dedicated chasers who have the decency to monitor the Alerts or Spot page and come and give you a contact
(and spot for you)when you may struggle(I include you Alan :)).It’s a catch 22 situation, I have waited months on some logs being posted, the longest? waiting since march this year( I only started both activating and chasing this year)… but a time limit is a no go, a bit more urgency if possible on the activators.


I have been having a few thoughts on what might be done to encourage log submission without being too draconian. A lot depends on WHY people aren’t submitting logs. If they feel strongly on principle that they don’t want to, or if they are not keeping logs at all, there isn’t a lot we can do about it. But if they simply find the process too daunting, maybe something can be done.

Proposal 1: A simplified log entry format. I always initially enter my logs in a much abbreviated format, which relies on the inherent redundancy in the log. MOST QSOs are on the same summit as the previous QSO, and MOST QSOs are on the same band/mode as the previous QSO, and it would be really unusual for them not to use the same activator callsign. There is no need to re-enter the unchanging information for every QSO! My abbreviated log is then expanded by a script to the CSV format that the submission process requires. The exact method I use wouldn’t work for other people for a variety of reasons, but there is plenty of scope for inventing a simplified upload format which encodes the same information with less typing. This would be really helpful for people with limited file editing skills.

Proposal 2: Permit a simplified log. Some people may find keeping a full and accurate log difficult in adverse conditions. In many countries including the UK our licence no longer requires it. You could decide to permit a “minimal” log to be submitted, consisting of date, summit id, callsign used, and a simple list of callsigns worked. This would be sufficient to allow the fact of the activation to be recorded, and allow basic verification of chaser claims. Matching the time and band/mode does not really add much value (and in any case the time is often ambiguous - is it the time you first made contact or the time when you finally managed to exchange reports?). Perhaps to retain some incentive to submit a proper log you could say that minimal logs only count for provisional points and do not allow awards to be claimed (presumably the people who don’t submit activator logs aren’t bothered about awards anyway).

Proposal 1 should be fairly easy to design and implement; proposal 2 would probably require quite a bit of work in the database but ought to be do-able, I think.

In reply to M1MAJ:

I’m a bit hazy on this Martin, I have no idea what CSV format is: is it relevant to manual transfer of an activation from logbook to database?


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

I’m a bit hazy on this Martin, I have no idea what CSV format is: is
it relevant to manual transfer of an activation from logbook to

There are two means of log submission on the main database site. You can enter the log directly one QSO at a time, or you can submit a file in CSV or TSV format. http://database.sota.org.uk/ActivatorCSVInfo.htm explains the format.

The first method is incredibly tedious and vulnerable to failure part way through such that you have to start again. I wouldn’t really want to use this method for much more than a 4-contact smash and grab.

The second method is much easier if you have the skills to create the file in the first place. If you don’t have certain skills, it is almost as tedious as the first method. I am suggesting (in proposal 1) a variant of the second method which requires fewer skills to avoid the tedium. In proposal 2 I am suggesting something even simpler to collect minimal information.

Well possibly the perceived problems and issues can be fixed quite easily and hinge on everyone accepting that SOTA is not inherently competitve. (I’ll come back to this.)

The two issues that Alan commented on are that when logs are not entered within a short period of an activation then 1) chasers are not seeing the confirmation star in their logs and 2) the possiblity of making some considerable effort to be the 1st activator of a summit is wasted when all outstanding logs are entered the 1st activator crown moves to somebody else.

The first point is really not a problem because you don’t need to confirm QSOs to claim the various awards on offer. Sure you need to have your logs entered in the database for SOTA awards or submit a log for Mike’s S2S awards but you don’t need to collect QSL cards or whatever like you do for DXCC et al. It’s all based on trust. If you want to cheat then I’m sure one day you will be found out and the loss of kudos amongst your peers on here will be crushing. Well it would be for me.

The second point is also easy to deal with. Simply remove the 1st Activated info from the page for each summit. Only 1 person can be 1st to activate a summit and when it’s been done then that’s it, nobody else can ever be 1st. If you are only recently licensed then through no fault of you own you can never be first to activate whole swathes of summits. Removing the 1st Activated info solves the problem. I’d keep the list of the last 5 activators for a good reason. We all know really how fit we are and based on the activations and photos of others we have a good idea of how fit those people are. The list gives an indication of how much effort may be needed to climb it. If a you see a wide range of abilities in the people listed you can guess you won’t need supreme technical skills or physical edurance. Whereas if only Messrs. Tensing & Hillary are listed then it may be a real challenge!

Coming back to inherent competition. No matter what is said and what we want to believe, we are all competitive. However, and perhaps I’m being hypocritical here, the standings are less important than they were to me. This maybe because I doubt I’ll ever move any higher when I look at the physical prowess of those above me. Of course there’ll be fitter younger people coming into the hobby who will overtake me but there is not too much I can do about that. When I was just a few months into activating I was more motivated by choosing summits that would move me up the table quicker. Now, I pick the summits I do (not many recently) based on whether they are a good walk or not. That is partly influenced by my table position but mainly because SOTA has moved me from someone who climbed mountains simply to play radio to someone who enjoys climbing mountains. The fact I get to play radio too is just a fabulous bonus. So arguments in favour of removing all the league tables are a non-starter as they will be compiled and published elsewhere and I think they are useful.

So I’m in favour of the database as it stands, just the removal of the 1st Activated info as that is only item which is absolute. I’d be interested to know how many people agree with me on this.


In reply to M1MAJ:

Thanks, Martin. I use method one, which may explain why I regard database entry as a chore, but then I only have the most basic computer skills… I think I see where you are going with this, but it is a matter for our computer genii!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM0FMF:
I don’t think removing the “first activator” information helps much. If you want to claim a “first activation” (in your own mind, at least) you simply need to know whether there are ANY previous activations. It doesn’t matter who it was. It’s hard to hide the fact of a previous recorded activation or avoid its absence being obvious.

In reply to GM7GAX:

In reply to MM0XXP:

but a time limit is a no go, a
bit more urgency if possible on the activators.


Have to agree with Bob on this one,Would imagine most activators average between 7-10 hours on leaving home qth & arriving home again,so whats 10/15 minutes to upload the log?
I find it quite therapeutic to chill out on the couch and enter the log after a hard day in the hills-not a chore!

In reply to M1MAJ:

Yes, I realise that you can still work it out who is the 1st activator from the list. But removing the big words removes the psychological boost of always seeing your name on that page when you get to a summit that has had hundreds of activations.

The 1st activation issue only applies to Scotland amongst the UK associations as we are the only place with unactivated summits.

I never work enough to find entering the details a chore! :wink:


In reply to 2M0GIL:

Have to agree with Bob on this one,Would imagine most activators
average between 7-10 hours on leaving home qth & arriving home
again,so whats 10/15 minutes to upload the log?
I find it quite therapeutic to chill out on the couch and enter the
log after a hard day in the hills-not a chore!

If your time was anywhere near correct I would have to agree with you, but it takes longer than that just to fair copy from my notebook to my logbook, before I start entering the details into the database…and I regard twenty contacts as a good activation, Heaven only knows how long it takes the people who make a hundred contacts per activation - that’s four pages in my logbook! My activations usually happen on a long weekends camping or staying at climbing bunkhouses, nothing can be done then other than make sure my notebook is legible for my return, and when I get back I have a lot of equipment to offload and store, the radio gear to restore to the shack and reconnect (my 857 is my main rig as well as portable rig) washing to unpack and dump in the machine, a nice hot bath and an early night! Sorry, but tending the database has a low priority with me - but in the end it does get done!


Brian G8ADD