DXA and the ARRL Policy on Real-time Log Posting
Robert W. Schmieder KK6EK
15 August 2006


DXA is consistent with the ARRL ruling announced Aug. 11, 2006 of a new policy governing the posting of real-time log information on public forums such as the internet.

On Aug. 11, 2006 the ARRL issued the following policy statement:
For a number of years, it has been accepted practice to post DXpedition QSO information on a DXpedition Web site. Although this information is generally limited to callsign, band and mode, it has been useful in reducing the number of duplicate contacts in the DXpedition log. Publishing complete QSO information, or information from which full QSO information can be derived, on the other hand, threatens the integrity of the QSLing process, and is unacceptable. There must be some information that the station claiming the QSO provides based solely on actually being there when the QSO was made. If complete QSO information can be derived from information based on the DXpedition log, the QSL manager's job can be much more difficult if busted calls are involved. To help minimize potential difficulties, therefore, the following restriction has been approved by the Programs and Services Committee, and added to the DXCC Accreditation Criteria, Section III.

Section III Accreditation Criteria Rule 5 states:

“The presentation in any public forum of logs or other representations of station operation showing details of station activity or other information from which all essential QSO elements (time, date, band, mode and callsign) for individual contacts can be derived creates a question as to the integrity of the claimed QSOs with that station during the period encompassed by the log. Presentation of such information in any public forum by the station operator, operators or associated parties is not allowed and may be considered sufficient reason to deny ARRL award credit for contacts with any station for which such presentations have been made. Persistent violation of this provision may result in disqualification from the DXCC program.”

It has become commonplace for DXpeditions to publish the band and mode for selected callsigns. While this reduces the overall integrity of the QSLing process slightly, it's a reasonable compromise. In almost every case, the new accreditation rule will change nothing. Publishing band and mode information for each callsign (as is now done) is be perfectly acceptable. It is only the rare case where complete QSO information is published or can be derived for the published data that we are concerned about.

This ruling was motivated by the general development of real-time applications in various areas of ham radio (e.g., spotting sites, special events such as the WRTC, and contesting), and precipitated by the development of DXA for the K7C Kure 2005 DXpedition.

DXA provides two formats for its presentation:

(1) Realtime: Call, date, time
(2) Archival: Call, band, mode.

DXA does not allow you to access all five QSO elements (callsign, date, time, band, mode), and therefore DXA does not violate the new policy. You can see DXA working (although currently static) at http://www.cordell.org/DXA.

Apparently the vast majority of DXers disagree with the new ARRL policy, and see no reason for not exposing the full log in real time. This is seen in the extensive responses to surveys made during and after the K7C/DXA DXpedition in Sept., 2005. The detailed responses can be seen at http://www.cordell.org/DXA/DXA_survey_2005/DXA_survey_2005_question_6.html. The policy is driven by concern for cheating, but very few DXers seem to care about what must be an extremely small rate of attempts at cheating.

Regrettably, the ARRL must deal with cheating in other forms (such as altered cards), but it has never presented evidence or a credible scenario in which significant cheating occurs (or would be enabled or encouraged) as a result of real-time log exposure. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that tools like DXA reduce (not increase) cheating. For instance, a detailed case study (http://www.cordell.org/DXA/DXA_documents/K7C_QSL_case_study.htm) shows that a DXer who attempted to coerce the K7C QSL manager into issuing undeserved QSL cards was caught and exposed. This author believes that such exposure will be a strong deterrent against potential cheating.

As the developer of DXA I am committed to ensuring that DXA cannot violate the ARRL practice and policy. If you know of some scenario by which DXA or any similar realtime application could be used to disadvantage in the DXCC program or violate the policy, or some scenario by which a DXer might use real-time log information to cheat, I would be most grateful to have such input. To the extent possible, I will build safeguards in the software against any such problems.

I am most interested in your opinions. Please send them directly to me:

Dr. Robert W. Schmieder