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Invalid Activations

The Management Team has been made aware that some activators may have been operating outwith the rules and spirit of the SOTA programme. This is something that is extremely difficult to verify but, if true, is strongly disapproved of by the Management Team. It can be argued that in a scheme like SOTA, which is based on trust, these activators are cheating only themselves; however this is not the case. Any activation which has been made outwith the rules has also misled Chasers into believing that the contact is a valid contribution towards any future claim for awards; this is clearly not so and so a false activation will also penalise the Chaser who made the contact in good faith.

In order to make the position of the Management Team clear we will re-state the rules which govern a valid activation:

  1. A valid activation is one which was conducted from the summit of a qualifying hill or within the Association’s agreed activation zone of that summit
  2. Activation from within, or in the vicinity of, a motor vehicle is specifically prohibited.
  3. The final ascent to the summit may not be assisted by any form of motorised transport
  4. A valid activation must be conducted in compliance with the conditions of the activator’s licence

Comment or evidence of alleged infringement of the Rules should be reported directly to the Management Team, not posted or discussed on the Reflector. Any such posts will be summarily removed and considered to be a breach of the reflector posting rules.

Should unequivocal evidence of any form of cheating, or failure to operate within the rules of SOTA, be presented to the Management Team the MT will consider the evidence presented and declare whether or not the activation is valid. Sanctions may be applied if there is evidence of deliberate breaking of the rules or operation outwith the spirit of the programme. Any sanctions may include the removal of the activation from the participant’s record or, in extreme circumstances or proven evidence of multiple infringements, removal of all the activator’s records from the database and exclusion of the participant from the programme. Separate consideration will be made on the impact of the invalid activation on participating Chasers’ records.

The Management Team recognise that the majority of participants operate fully within the rules and the spirit of SOTA but mistakes may happen bringing the validity of an activation into question. Genuine errors are not a concern provided that, if an error is identified, the activator or chaser makes a conscious effort to rectify the mistake.

Barry Horning GM4TOE
on behalf of SOTA Management Team

In reply to GM4TOE:
Hi Barry

To avoid this kind of problem, would it not be possible to ask activators evidence of their activation ?

73 !
Alain F6ENO

In reply to F6ENO:

My evidence of the activation is allways a video and picture(s) and as always a QSL.

73
Luc ON6DSL

In reply to F6ENO:

To avoid this kind of problem, would it not be possible to ask
activators evidence of their activation ?

73 !
Alain F6ENO

Nice idea Alain,

although over the years it might become a bit expensive to send all these rocks to England.

73 Bernhard DL4CW

In reply to F6ENO:

Perhaps members of the MT could do spot checks on summits, HI.

To send physical evidence from the summits could result in some of the very popular summits have to be downgraded, HI.

Regards, Dave, M0DFA/G6DTN

In reply to M0DFA and DL4CW:

Hi Dave and Bernhard

Reading Barry’s post again, I understand that one can send evidence of cheating to the MT.
My question is: how can the accused prove the evidence of its activation?

73 Alain

In reply to all:

As my activations are so few & far between, I usually take photos or shoot video of my operating position. This should be more than sufficient in my opinion to answer the question of whether any activation of mine is valid or not.

Looking back, the only activation I have no photographic record of was my last activation of G/SP-007 Fair Snape Fell, although as both Steve G1INK & Tony 2E0LAE were present & we all easily qualified the summit using our own equipment, I did not see it as necessary on that occasion. Although, with hindsight it would have been nice to have a record of that triple activation for ISW :slight_smile:

I am sure that a simple mistake by a newcomer to SOTA could be forgiven, but repeated rule breaking must have some consequence. In the first instance I would suggest ensuring that any station suspected of breaking the rules should be asked if they have a copy of the rules in their first language, not necessarily English. And that any translation of the basic rules from one language to another would still carry the same meaning.

I would be more than a little disappointed to find activators knowingly cheating on a regular basis, as personally, my main reward for activating a summit is being able to play radio from a fine location, & working some very friendly chasers,some of whom I would never have met on the air otherwise. Any points, or prizes gained by doing so, are purely coincidental.

73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to F6ENO:

In reply to M0DFA and DL4CW:

Hi Dave and Bernhard

Reading Barry’s post again, I understand that one can send evidence
of cheating to the MT.
My question is: how can the accused prove the evidence of its
activation?

73 Alain

Hi Alain,

In some cases he will be able to bring the proof, in some cases not, even if the activation was made within the true spirit of SOTA. This is a very difficult walk over thin ice which we shouldn’t try to walk. I think unless there is a 100% cast iron proof of evidence against, we must consider each activation as valid. In those cases, when someone has been convicted of cheating, it is most likely that he won’t be able to carry the proof. All other cases must remain a matter of trust and good faith, and someone who needs to claim activation points he didn’t earn has considered to be a poor soul and is lying into his own pocket, as we say.

73 Bernhard DL4CW

In reply to G0VOF:

I have to agree with Mark on the evidence side, 99% of the time I take a photo of myself actually operating. I have a photo album of these and also I put them on SOTA Flicker site. On some summits were Elaine has not gone up with me I do a timed photo and run into the shot.

There have been very few times when this has not happened, usually because WX was too poor or on 2 summits I forgot the camera altogether.

For some activators who need to keep weight down this could be a problem,although I think most of us have a Phone for spotting and this may have a camera built in!!??

As Mark says the odd simple mistake or error can be overlooked or reminded about, but to constantly “Cheat” is not the SOTA way and needs to be addressed.

Also as Mark says its the fun of playing radio,from a glorious spot and no neighbours to concern yourself about. (We can ignore the Grockles Hi Hi)

73

Tony

In reply to G0VOF:

As Mark said ‘I would be more than a little disappointed to find activators knowingly cheating on a regular basis, as personally, my main reward for activating a summit is being able to play radio from a fine location, & working some very friendly chasers,some of whom I would never have met on the air otherwise. Any points, or prizes gained by doing so, are purely coincidental.’

Personally I’m not too bothered about the SOTA rules, as an Activator (a Newbie) I’m just walking up hills with Radios (& normally a couple of Dogs & my XYL) in the hope of making some interesting QSO’s. That said I do to the best of my knowledge operate within the rules so as not to invalidate any Chasers that work me and if I was in any doubt of the validity at the time I would make it known to any Chasers I worked.

At the end of the day if anyone is cheating with SOTA it is mainly themselves they are cheating. Since it is not a contest (although it is nice to see how you are doing compared to everyone else) and there are no great rewards for your achievements what is to be gained by cheating. The biggest reward is knowing that you have done it, if you Cheat you don’t have that.

I don’t go out of my way to collect evidence of my Activations since it could detract from the enjoyment. If need be I could probably prove an activation but I’m not sure I would want to, if it started getting like that I would probably give up on SOTA since I wouldn’t be enjoying it so much. But I wouldn’t let that stop me going up hills with radios, I just wouldn’t be mentioning SOTA any more.

73,
Colin.

In reply to ALL:

I think Bernard DL4CW is absolutely correct. It’s not for individual activators to be able to prove their activations as valid but for someone else to show with real evidence that an activation was not valid. No hard evidence of breaking the rules means the activation has to be good. The alternatives of having to proove you were where you claimed to be would turn people away from SOTA in droves.

SOTA works so well because it is easy to take part as everything is trust based. Of course there will be a few who will abuse this trust, there always are. However, I would stake money that the overwhelming majority stick to the rules with great relish and the few activations they may well be invalid will be down to silly mistakes and honest misinterpretation of the rules.

It’s good to see the MT taken a fairly light touch with this issue. From having met a few members of the MT I’m happy that should real, hard evidence of deliberate cheating arise they would take the necessary action. I’m also happy that the rules are fairly simple and not overtly detailed. Sure, there are some grey areas but the alternative is a riddiculously complex set of rules for what is meant to be an enjoyable way of encouraging radio amateurs to enjoy both radio and the great outdoors.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to ON6DSL:

My evidence of the activation is allways a video and picture(s) and as
always a QSL.

An admirable idea Luc, but not always possible when you are faced with horizontal driving sleet or mist so dense you can hardly see your hand in front of your face. I don’t always remember to take a photograph on every summit either - some inevitably get missed when doing several summits in a day.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

I am with you on that one Gerald, I always have a camera and so did John when we went up on the summits, but it is surprising how often you forget to take a picture after setting up or packing away even in the best of weather. I have often taken pictures most of the way up as well yet missed the most important summit photo. I tend to get the camera out less on the 1 pointer as well.

Most of my summits have been done with someone else anyway, so I have a witness, unless the SOTA police want to call them a liar as well.

My preference of working 2m SSB would show if I was not on a summit. Whereas HF you could set up in the car park and still say you were on the summit.

Oh well, I better make sure I take a picture on every summit for the satisfaction of the self appointed SOTA police just in case I get dragged into the integration room for questioning.

What do we do about the summits that you drive on like some of the TW/MW etc, I would say that anyone that has activated these must have broke the rules. I parked in the lay-by at one of the TW summits, walked maybe 100ft and activated, so I broke the rules, the summit though is a massive area, what was I supposed to do, walk the 15 miles. I can name some summits in Mid Wales where this happens so what do I do, remove the activations and start again.

I think not, we all treat the drive on summits as a bit of a waste of time but they have to be done at some point so we do then. I have a list of drive on summits, most of which I have only done once and that will be it, unless I take my wife to do them.

I would put money on that almost every activation of the true drive on summits have been outside the rules. So almost everyone that has done for example TW-004/005 SE-007, have cheated if you want to use the original words of the first posting.

So I am one of the guilty as charged, I guess…

73

In reply to M0KPO:

It is a pity that this subject has come up again Steve. Despite your willingness to take on the mantle of guilt in this instance, I very much doubt that you are the culprit, assuming of course that there actually is a culprit and this is not a ruse by someone to wind us all up.

Perhaps it is time to define “vicinity” to put this issue to bed once and for all.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to M0KPO:

So almost everyone that has done for example TW-004/005 SE-007,

Having a look on Google Earth, I’m very surprised by the configuration of these three peaks…!
I know that some french summits are not realy big mountains, but they show at least a prominence.

Alain F6ENO

In reply to F6ENO:

…but they show at least a prominence.

Indeed Alain. Some may consider the summits above rather dull as peaks but they do at least show 150m prominence. Albeit very flat with the key col a loooong way away.

Is anyone interested in “Spire Measure”? :slight_smile: (Google is your friend)

73 Marc G0AZS

I am with Gerald on this one, I think “vicinity” should be specified.

How long is a piece of string (or wire). The next time I or anyone else activates a summit which can be reached by a motor vehicle we need to know what “vicinity” means otherwise we may be accused of cheating, even though no power or connection or operation from the vehicle has been used. We know this has happened in the past - when the operators were filmed and recorded activating from inside their vehicle on 2m FM in Yorkshire. That we know is not within the rules, but “vicinity” must be specific and should be defined in the rules.

This doesn’t just affect UK summits - there are plenty in Germany, France, Belgium and Switzerland I know, I have been there and probably most other country associations as well. I have activated three of them, it could be said, in the “vicinity” of my car in France (NO-026), Belgium (ON-001) and Switzerland (AI-011). I was around 25-100m away in all cases, the other DM/BW-348 I happened to walk about 3 Km to, but the forestry road to it was quite passable in a normal motor car. There must be plenty more like that on the continent and also don’t forget the ones in the SE area in Kent.

So MT please come up with some better rules so we actually know when we are are operating within the rules.

Phil G4OBK

There’s also the issue of using permanent structures present on the summit. For example, many SOTA summits have a watch tower or a small hut on top of them. As I’ve seen many SOTA-pictures in Flickr of people activating on top of a watch tower, I’m assuming that this is accepted. But how about huts, is it ok to operate inside a hut, if rules are followed regarding the equipment and power sources?

73,
Jaakko
OH6FQI

In reply to OH6FQI:

Jaako,

someone here mentioned activating in the U.K. from a pub within the activation zone, so that seems ok.

Regards,

Gerd

In reply to DF9TS:

someone here mentioned activating in the U.K. from a pub within the
activation zone, so that seems ok.

You could certainly do that from G/SE-007, because the whole town is within the activation zone!

73,
Walt (G3NYY)