Popularity of award programmes

The RSGB has been tweeting that IOTA is the most popular award programme after DXCC. I wonder what metrics they base their assertion on?

@theRSGB: #RSGBfacts 26: The RSGB IOTA is the most popular on-band activity programme after DXCC – some say even more challenging #hamr #hamradio #dx

Now you’ve got me Richard - don’t tweet, don’t facepluke, so your talking a language I don’t understand? Though do eat some hash browns from time-to-time if that’s any use :smile:



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This claim is easily disproved! A glance at their honour roll for 2015 lists 1,427 callsigns. Looking at our honour roll for 2015 we list 1,930 activators and 2225 chasers. As for the challenge, the database lists 172,855 activations of 21,464 summits and the total number of summits currently listed is 75,095 - although New Zealand and Alaska will bump that up by approaching 50%! Can IOTA match that challenge? I think not!

Perhaps it would be vainglorious to challenge their claim, let them take comfort from their illusions!


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IOTA is very popular, it’s difficult to tell if it’s more popular than SOTA because the metrics are not clear.

Also, SOTA just accepts QSOs as claims with no further proof. IOTA currently requires either a paper QSL or a submitted and matched log from the IOTA contest which is a once a year thing.

IOTA is about to start a trial of an online log matching system using ClubLog, so we can expect to see a very large and sudden increase in the visible activity.

Colin G8TMV

Surely the number of participants is the clearest metric? IOTAs own figures show that they have fewer participants than SOTA.

The star in our database indicates a match between activator and chaser claims. Claims for certificates and trophies get checked.

About time, they picked our brains about our system years ago!


[quote=“G8TMV, post:4, topic:11971”]IOTA currently requires either a paper QSL or a submitted and matched log from the IOTA contest which is a once a year thing.[/quote]…which is probably my top reason for not even considering chasing IOTA awards. Of course, IOTA activations are that bit more effort, too.

[quote=“G8ADD, post:3, topic:11971”]Perhaps it would be vainglorious to challenge their claim, let them take comfort from their illusions![/quote]It’s a bit of a chalk-and-cheese comparison, I guess. Can’t say it bothers me any if they want to think IOTA’s second most popular after DXCC. What matters to me is whether participating is fun. For me, SOTA’s a lot more accessible (and so more easily enjoyable) than DXCC or IOTA (or WWFF, or whatever)…

73, Rick M0LEP

Oh I’m not so sure. I might do one this afternoon if I have time to get into the shack. :wink:

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…but EU-005 is probably the “least wanted island” of the lot… :wink:

Hello Colin,

I have been collecting IOTA for years and enjoy it.

I have never claimed any awards but just log them on my database and on the IOTA book island list - I am sure there are many like me. Perhaps I should get going and make a claim(s).

A tree came down in our area last night snipping power lines and I woke up at 6am with no power, sort of cramps any chasing this morning! Oh well…



IOTA - The Honour Roll is a list of the call-signs of stations with a checked score equalling or exceeding 50% of the total of numbered IOTA groups, excluding those with provisional numbers, at the time of preparation.
SOTA - 1 QSO unconfirmed is enough to be in the SOTA Honour Roll.

just to your info. Have a nice weekend

And the most activated! I wonder if the RSGB counts every QSO made by a station in EU-005 as “participation in IOTA”?

Walt (G3NYY)

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During the late 80’s & early 90’s, I participated in the IOTA programme for around 3 years, made 1000’s of contacts sent a similar amount of qsl cards out, only to receive around 15% of returns on the cards.
As a Scotsman I was very reluctant to pay for qsl cards to be returned to me, so I relied on the buro, I suppose you could say I am still waiting.

So in the end I just gave up and moved on to other things & have never taken part since, good to know that the IOTA programme is moving into the 20th century, will it improve matters I have no idea.

As I see it, anything that encourages people to fire up their rigs and start bothering the ionosphere is a good thing, so more strength to their arm - but I will stick to SOTA, mountains hold more allure for me than islands!


The question of how to compare them is an interesting one. Fritz makes an excellent point that the two “honour rolls” cannot be compared as they are built on very different criteria. Walt and Ken make good points illustrating why general on-air activity cannot be compared. It might seem reasonable to compare the number of “activations”, but there are tens of thousands more listed summits than listed island groups - but then it could be argued that all amateur radio activity from the UK (and indeed Australia, Japan etc) is an IOTA DXpedition!

I can’t think of any unit by which the two could be objectively compared, so it would be interesting to understand how the RSGB reaches its conclusion.

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I imagine that they have sought the services of the eminent statistician, Vic Reeves.

I suppose we could always ask them!

I suspect that they were trying to hype up IOTA to keep activity up. At least all our activity is there on the web for anybody to see, open and above-board.


Well I guess that every single QSO that I have made on the SOTA front has been an IOTA activation by default - OC-001 and EU-005 being where all of my activations and chases have been made! To take that further, every QSO I have logged in the 20 years I have been licencedcould be considered to have been an IOTA contact as well… Ergo, IOTA is more popular than SOTA???

I admit to noting IOTA contacts, keeping a spreadsheet of those madde, but not sure that I would consider myself to be an active IOTA chaser (or activator). In any case, who really cares - whatever it is that gets people active on the bands is the important thing.


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Seen as its their program they can post whatever propaganda that fits the bill. Having said that IOTA is great fun.

IMHO, Summits On The Air is one of the most exciting areas of the hobby today. It doesn’t need hyping up…

It never fails to amaze me how the RSGB collectively makes decisions… Especially on electing some of its delegates.



Well at least there is an election process. You can always work your way into being an elected delegate and get things changed. Not all organizations have any semblance of a democratic representation among the decision makers.

National bodies are inevitably unable to satisfy everyone - there are too many diverse opinions. AR however desperately needs them.

So what if IOTA really is a bigger part of AR activity? So what if the RSGB is promoting it? It has given SOTA a pretty fair run this year IIRC.

In VK if you were to measure over a year I’m pretty sure that rag chewing, chasing dx, calling in on nets, WWFF, SOTA, involve more QSO’s and more calls than contests which is the other big activity.

As a metric of activity the product of participating callsigns and QSO’s might be a good start.

Cn = NCa*NQso.

Popularity could be obtained by Po = Cn/TCa where TCa = total active callsigns.


Wouldn’t waste my time Ron. Fortunately its few.

Eh… not for every position. I am deliberately making that vague.