It’s unfortunately very common nowadays hearing chasers asking on a spotted CW frequency with a ? or a SOTA? when they arrive and hear nothing.
Dear impatient chasers:
The reasons why you don’t hear anything when you have just arrived to the frequency can be various:
1- The activator hasn’t yet started to call CQ and there are several other chasers waiting to hear the activator CQ.
2- The activator is already making QSO with a chaser you can’t copy because there’s no propagation, you have QRM or is in skip with you and he is currently sending his message to the activator.
3- The activator is transmitting (CQing or making QSO with other chaser) but you can’t copy him/her because there’s no propagation, you have QRM or is in skip with you.
In either of these 3 cases, your asking with ? or SOTA? is just QRM which you could easily avoid just be listening for a few seconds on the spotted frequency, no more than that. Your asking is:
A- QRM to the activator in the case he was making a QSO and listening the chaser’s message.
B- QRM to the chaser making QSO with the activator.
B- QRM to the other chasers on frequency in the case they are listening to what the activator is saying, either during a QSO or while CQing and sending his callsign together with his SOTA reference.
Please, be patient and listen for a few seconds trying to understand what’s going on on the spotted frequency before you send your annoying ? or SOTA? causing QRM and problems to all the others on the frequency.