What is the history of naming 1000 activator points "Mountain Goat"?

Who named it, when and why? Was it because of Steve WG0AT? Googled it, but can’t find anything. Just curious, but also asking for a friend.


Richard G3CWI as a founder could probably give a definitive answer, but I’ve always put it down to typical lame British humour: a mountain goat is hardy, sure-footed and spends all its time in the mountains. On the other hand a sloth is very inactive and spends all its time hanging about - just as a shack sloth would have to, to be there on the radio just as an activator calls! (Bearing in mind that there was no formal alert or spotting facility in the early days of SOTA.)

Is Richard lurking here? Would love to have a definite answer to this query.

I also hope that someone keeps some sort of SOTA history book, otherwise we’ll forget about a lot of things.

It’s all in the archives.

Pray do tell, where are they?

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Here! Should be lots of post dating back to 2006 vintage. There will be some stuff that was email only and I may have a copy of that too but not online.

Why Mountain Goat? That was the name decided upon. 1000points was a ridiculous amount when there were only a few people involved and only the UK associations.


I would be interested to know why four was chosen as the critical number of QSOs for qualifying a summit.

One is not enough and five feels too many to be the minimum. Four is a nice square number.


I reckon its a goat because mountain haggis is too rare nowadays.


Way back in 2000 I was in the Lake District climbing Helvellyn with my brand new FT817. It seemed to me that there should be some sort of programme for folks wanting to do that sort of thing and that evening over a pint I doodled some notes about a possible award scheme. Thinking around the problems of what to call the scheme I soon came up with SOTA as the natural progression from IOTA and all the other -OTAs that were around, even back then.

What to call the awards? It seemed to me that anyone that could get to 1000 points had to be a frequent and capable mountaineer/hillwalker, a bit like a mountain goat with a radio strapped to its back. Chasers, meanwhile, would be logically the complete opposite, lurking in their shacks, coffee in hand, scouring the bands for puny signals from lofty places. Shack sloth seemed to convey that image well.

Both names were very much tongue in cheek. When Richard, G3CWI and I started working on the detailed rules in 2001 I didn’t really expect them to stick. But they have, for over 20 years now! I think the names are seen as a bit of fun, which is exactly what I intended.

As for the four QSO requirement, it seemed to me that running up a hill and making one QSO was a bit pointless (literally, it turns out) and would be unfair on any chasers out there. Ten QSOs seemed a bit of a stretch, especially in the early days when SOTAwatch wasn’t even a dream. After a bit of discussion we settled on four. Why not five? Or six? I don’t know.

This thread raises all sorts of other questions. Why activators and chasers? Why do we call them Associations and so on. All of these were important points of discussion that lead directly to the rules we have today. It is extremely satisfying to see that the rules have, by and large, stood the test of time and that so many radio amateurs enjoy participating in SOTA!

73, John, G3WGV


Thanks, John. There you have it, guys, from the horses mouth, so to speak. I think that four contacts is about right, with one contact or two you could have a couple of friends sitting in the car below the summit to work you, but with four you have got to go further afield for contacts, making the activation a more real effort. Anyway, after 20 years its just the way things are, change is unlikely!


Unless you only manage to get 3 :wink:

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Thanks John,
Intuitively I knew this had to start over a pint in a British Pub. When I suggested that was its origin I was howled down. I feel vindicated even if the first meeting was with you and yourself. Well done.:raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands:

I’ve failed several times to get 4 contacts so maybe 4 is still OK. I note that other awards often need more contacts and many activators have been logging north of 50 contacts.

Perhaps it’s time to raise the bar on goat hood. Or should there be a new higher level additional award, say the Tenzing Award for lets see, 5,000 activator points?

As for those cosseted away in their communication facility, SOTA spotting and all, well maybe the Grand Sloth Award for 10,000 points.


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Definitely not. MG is quite hard to achieve with most taking many years. I started 5 years ago and haven’t quite reached 250 points. Even at my new increased rate it’s still going to take me another 5 years.

The SOTA rules have stood the test of time. They seem to be just right.


It’s the way we like to do things over here! I might add that the original database and on-line facilities that were so critical to the early development of SOTA and which, I believe, still form the basis of today’s systems, were devised by Gary, G0HJQ chatting with me over rather more than one pint at a pub in Wokingham (west of London).


3 isn’t a square number :wink:

Hmmmm…interesting but no. Partly because it’s difficult to decide how to distinguish between new and old awards.

People do different things at 1000 points. Some stop. Some just keep going. Some try to get the next 1000 quicker (fewer summits). Some go for completes. Some start doing all the wee summits they missed before. (What I did, points != difficulty in Scotland). Some try to complete regions. (In GM there is still nobody who has done all the summits in a region after 20 years this July!!!)

Yes, the application code is no longer an MS design template in C# .Net but uses much more modern web design ideas. But the back end DB is still MS-SQL server and most of the original SQL exists. Yes there’s new SQL I wrote for my updates and Andrew VK3ARR has made lots of tweaks and written new SQL code. But fundamentally Gary’s ideas persist. We now run MS-SQL server on Linux instead of Windows Server which saves a huge amount in hosting costs.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, after 39 years writing software I’ve not seen much code that can still be viable 20 years after it was produced. More so anything to do with the web has a very short lifetime. So Gary’s original design and implementation is truly impressive that it has scaled and is still viable. We could probably still use the original C# app today. But MS could end support for the underlying architecture any day so it had to move. However, what we did manage to achieve was to ensnare Andrew VK3ARR who does a lot of this kind of stuff for his day job. He took everyone’s code/ideas and advanced it to a whole new level by adapting to modern web design paradigms and moving us to hosting things on multiple small VM servers. I will tempt fate by saying this but it really is orders of magnitude more reliable because of his efforts.

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I wasn’t clear.
What I had in mind was not to change Goat, it seems embedded in granite, but to add an extra higher award. There are already some unofficial names for higher points.


I’ve heard/muttered a few unofficial names along the way too. :wink:

1.732050807568877 (approximately)

As for the age old topic of should we amend the rules/scoring/awards (ranking right up there with morse to get people going); I think 1000 is another nice round number. Notwithstanding the odd racing snake that manages Goathood in less than a year, it is still a reasonable yet achievable challenge for most. Slothhood at 1000 is quite easy these days (many people probably achieve it without even trying too hard.) But maybe that is appropriate?

I’m not really interested in the awards - except for Mountain Goat. That one I do covet! :wink:

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Years ago, before it was ever achieved, I coined the term “supersloth” for someone earning 10,000 chaser points, and although it is an informal term it has persisted. We now have three “supergoats” with over 10,000 points, which must represent a heck of a lot of boot abrasion! Such elevated levels of achievement make the original award levels look almost trivial, yet while with current high activity it is possible to achieve Shack Sloth in months rather than years, Mountain Goat remains something that takes years to achieve and the energy expenditure and dedication to achieve “supergoat” is beyond most of us.

I do agree that there is a real need for award levels beyond the 1,000 points, if only because it would encourage everyone, not just the stubborn ones, to keep going when they reach their thousand points. I think 1,000 points X10 and X100 would be suitable bench marks for higher level awards.

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There is already an Award certificate for 10k Chaser points, with or without the “Supersloth” terminology - claimants will know what I mean. I have been toying with the idea of making available a trophy, smaller than the existing ones, which could be customised at any level.
Perfectly feasible but needs some thought.

Is there any mileage in pursuing this?

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