Phantom QSOs!

The MT has been receiving complaints of chasers making and claiming spurious QSOs with activators. While investigating this we have found a small number of chasers with unacceptably large numbers of unconfirmed QSOs. Some of these unconfirmed QSOs are obvious logging errors: incorrectly recorded callsigns or summit references, but too many are “Not in Log”, the QSOs did not take place. Again, it is possible to mishear a callsign and believe that the activator is working you when he is actually working somebody else, but when a case is found where over a six month period nearly 400 NILs are logged, it becomes improbable that it is all simple error. Furthermore, when a station is heard giving reports and acknowledgements while the station he is purporting to work is still calling CQ, then one can only draw one conclusion.

Of course not all activators submit their activation logs promptly, some not at all. We are not concerned with this, and it is to be expected that many of a chaser’s more recent logs will not be confirmed. But when we receive complaints of “phantom” QSOs being heard on-air, and we then find many hundreds of unconfirmed QSOs against activators who HAVE submitted their full activation logs, then we must act.

Needless to say, the Management Team is not prepared to tolerate the systematic claiming of QSOs that never happened, and will require the chasers in question to delete all bogus QSOs from their logs. Those who fail to co-operate will have their entire accounts deleted and will have their SOTA Database accounts blocked.

73, Tom M1EYP
obo SOTA Management Team


In reply to M1EYP:

Perhaps a ‘red flag’ percentage can be established based on data already in the database. I have no idea what a reasonable percentage might be, but just something to track and alert the MT (and the group?) to potential violators. Maybe show another column in the ‘chaser roll of honor’? I imagine this would be best tracked out 60 days or so to allow time for activators to upload (the percentage would be high close-in).

FWIW, I have been told by others that I have a low number of unconfirmed relative to the activations I’ve worked. Maybe because I try to go in and occasionally tidy up errors.

At any rate, do what you must, and thank you for your work and the program!

Keep Calm and SOTA On!

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The “alerts” to MT come through via emails from people who have heard these “phantom QSOs” over the air, or activators (including myself) who have had these characters sending 599 and TU over the air at you when they obviously can’t hear you!

We then investigate, and with a recently reported case found nearly 2000 unconfirmed chases against activation logs that had been submitted - remarkable!

The chaser concerned has not yet responded - must “chase” that one up!


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This is Gerald F6HBI
I am activator (225 summits).
When i get a S2S i also upload the Qso as a chaser.

For 279 S2S Qso, 15 are unconfirmed,Witch is about 5%.

Here are the reasons:
DJ5AA/P No log uploaded (22/11/2009)
DR44WFF/P No log uploaded, Mario is excluded from Sota
DC7CCC/P No log uploaded, Mario is excluded from Sota
DC7CCC/P No log uploaded, Mario is excluded from Sota

DL8YR/P Not in his log i’am sure i did the qso!

HB9AFI/P has written F5LKW/P instead of me (2 ops on same summit).

DL/HG4UK/P (SK) in his log F(5)HBI/P
OE8SPW/P in his log F6(B)HI/P
OE50SPW/P in his log F6(B)HI/P
HB9BAB/P in his log F6H(I)B/P
HA5CW/P in his log F(8)HBI/P
F6EAH/P in his log F6H(X)I/P
HG4UK/P (SK) in his log F(5)HBI/P
SQ6JNX/P in his log F6H(D)I/P

So, most reason are, no log uploaded and mistake in typing the call.
Phantom Qso is only 0.3%

73 Gerald F6HBI

That’s the normal situation Gerald, and no problem with that. In the case I was referring to above, those “nearly 2000” unconfirmed chases (well it’s about 1700 really) have around half which are Not In Log - where the activator’s log is uploaded for the claimed activation. So around 800/900 examples of Not In Log, and with several reports from chasers and activators hearing this person “making a QSO” with the activator, when the activator hasn’t heard him and certainly hasn’t called him!

That is what we refer to as “Phantom QSOs”, not examples of no activator log uploaded or typos by the activator.


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In reply to M6BLV:
"I also struggle with the fact that the wrongdoers are never named. I know that it not exactly PC to do that sort of thing, but I say publish and be dammed, name and shame and usually the problems go away. "

100% agreed!
73 Viktor


In reply to M6BLV:

But I believe that if you truly know in your
heart that you made the contact, why delete it to keep a nice tidy

I agree with you there, John, there are precious few contacts when I am really not sure whether I completed or not. In such rare cases, I would not log them for SOTA purposes.

So, one for the MT, “a red flag percentage” why not, and it would be
interesting to know what the average non confirmed percentage is. I’m
sure it would not take a man with your mathematical prowess long to
do, hehe.

I’d leave it to the MT to spot patterns in the data, rather than publishing a “red flag” percentage. That would just tell people that they can add in a certain percentage of bogus contacts and get away with it.

As I think Andy MMF suggested in a related thread, we should all just carry on operating and logging as accurately as we reasonably can, without trying to perfect our results. That way, the norm will be established, and MT will more easily be able to spot anomalies.

And, indeed, thanks again to MT who not only give their time to deliver such a great program as SOTA, but then have to spend more time cleaning up after muppets ;o)


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In reply to M6BLV:

I got 12 unconfirmed on 492 chases.

Thats 2,4% unconfirmed, and I know personnally some of those 12, they simply did not upload.

SOTA is about fun above all.

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In reply to VA2SG:

My chaser log in the database is about 18 months out of date but based on what is there I have a rate of 7.7% unconfirmed. A quick look at these shows several from activators that never submitted a log. Also, a large number of unconfirmed QSO’s result from the fact that I like to work an activator on as many different bands / modes as possible. Most activators will only enter one QSO with a chaser into the database, which will tally with the corresponding entry in my chaser log. If I also work the activator again on different bands / modes, these will come up as unconfirmed.

Based on the above & the fact that I am certain I made all the QSO’s I logged I am OK with 7.7%, as SOTA is not a contest :slight_smile:

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF

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In reply to all:

Unconfirmed != NIL


In the months that I have been active in SOTA, I have found a number of parallels with another of my hobbies/sports/addictions, geocaching. For example, being first to find a geocache is somewhat similar to being the first to activate a SOTA summit.

Another parallel is that both rely on the honor system, and both end up with mostly honest, honorable participants and a few cheaters. Both communities are self-policing, and both communities struggle with what to do with phantom logs (SOTA) and phantom finds (geocaching).

The bottom line is that the cheaters behave without honor, and win nothing.

I trust the management team to do what is best for SOTA in this instance. I have looked at my own logs, and have a smallish percentage of unconfirmed logs, for the reasons everyone is mentioning. I’m not worrying about it or going back to “correct” them, because my goal is to have fun and to learn about portable operating. I have no issues with those who take the time to get their logs 100% confirmed, though.

There is a phrase in geocaching that also applies to SOTA, “It’s not about the numbers”. For some people, it is about the numbers. Not me. It’s nice to have goals to work towards and to have a wonderful database to track my progress. It is also great to have a community of fellow SOTA enthusiasts who have been so supportive and encouraging.

Thanks again to all who put in so much time and effort to make this work for all of us!



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In reply to AB7YL:
Hello fellow cacher Linda!
GC: Streamertyer

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In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy,
I wish I could attain your high standard!

I have a small number of ‘unconfirmed’ QSOs in my log.

Most are copying errors by the activator (I can see the error in his/her log when I check the activation);

A few are where there is no Activator log for the activation I have claimed. I am sure there are many reasons for this but cannot understand why someone would activate a summit and then not claim it(this is where my log and Sotawatch have the same apparently correct call);

The remainder are mistakes on my part I suspect
a) copying the call incorrectly
b) Thinking the activator had called and worked me when he had called someone else.

However I cannot understand why someone with 1700 ‘unconfirmed’ qsos in his chaser log would not suspect that others would be suspicious of his motivation!

It takes all sorts I suppose. However I am glad that the MT are looking at this topic, more extra work for unpaid volunteers in their own time unfortunately.


Mike G4DDL

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In reply to G4DDL:


I realized my 12 unconfirmed were for the last 6 months.

I got 56 unconfirmed on 492 QSOs, bit more then 10%.

That said, I never log a summit if I am not sure my call been answered.


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A few contacts that I have made have been logged incorrectly by the activator - quite often G0 instead of G4. A bit bizarre when the contacts have been on CW, but knowing what can happen on a summit, my sympathies lie with the activator!!!

On a few occasions I have advised activators by email of an error and they have replied confirming their log has been incorrectly entered on the database and that they will amend it when they have time. A number of them have promptly forgotten to make the change and the errors remain. A case of “C’est la vie”…

73, Gerald G4OIG

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In reply to G4OIG:

Yes I agree. I have been logged as M0, G0 etc. also sometimes in the wrong mode and f. Oh well…

Mike G6TUH

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I’ve been mis-logged with a G0 prefix, and with suffixes LED, LER, LSP and LYP. I’m sure that collection will grow… :wink: – 73, Rick M0LEP

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In reply to G4DDL:

Hi Andy,
I wish I could attain your high standard!

Actually Mike I wrote unconfirmed != NIL being a progammer’s way of saying an unconfirmed contact is not the same as a Not In Log. Rather than saying my unconfirmed count is nil. I’ve never checked my confirmed status.

To all:

The confirmation code is not brilliant, it does a good enough job. I’m fairly sure there are blind spots to do with 00:00 UTC. It’s good enough to show when someone has a significant degree of unconfirmed contacts.

The important point is that NILs are more worrying. But just because it’s a NIL isn’t bad by definition. A few times I’ve missed out calls when transferring my log to the database. My morse is bad enough I need to write down fragments of calls, especially for those who seem to think sending below 35wpm passes judgement on their masculinity! So I write down my log on paper and type it when I get back. So there are lots of valid reasons for having a NIL.

We’re not concerned about people who make mistakes when logging or typing. The issue is when someone has a high degree of NILs and we’ve had reports that they seemed to have contacts with an activator when the activator is heard NOT having a QSO with them. We know that some people will try and chase an activation and if they’re not sure the contact was valid, they wont log the chase till they see the QSO appear in an activator log. I don’t know about you people, but I know to a fair degree whether my QSOs are good or not, I don’t need to check the other guy’s log before I log mine. If I’m that unsure then in my view, that QSO was not good and I shouldn’t log it regardless of the other guy’s log.

We don’t enforce QSLs or proof people had the QSOs, it relies on trust and honour. I think that makes it better because when you achieve some level of award you not know you did it yourself but your peers trust you did it too. Of course, those peers will feel uneasy if they think someone amongst them is not being honest and eventually will speak out. That’s when we start taking a close look at the logs.

If you think you can cheat and get away with it then you will for some time. You might get away with low level skulduggery for a while. But eventually you will get caught out by your peers.


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In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy,

point taken, I forgot you were a programmer :wink: I’d have got the same answer from G0GJV (of Minos fame on VHF contests).

I only look at others log when there is no asterisk on confirmed. Usually it is a miscopy on their part but unfortunately I also make mistakes and I have also miscopied their call or the correct summit ref.

Like you I prefer the honour system but there is always the odd one who tries to break the system. However a robust database does a lot to show what is going on. Many thanks

Mike G4DDL

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In reply to MM0FMF:

Actually Mike I wrote unconfirmed != NIL being a progammer’s way of
saying an unconfirmed contact is not the same as a Not In Log.

Well, I guess most of us have learned something there! I was taught that an equals sign with a diagonal slash through it did that job.


Brian G8ADD