ARRL and QSLs (long)

Steve W3HF

I'm asking this question very seriously and in no way do I mean for it
to be rude or degrading to anyone or anything, but what is so special
about the ARRL's DXCC award ?
In addition to the points Costas brought up, there's another reason:
the integrity of the DXCC process itself.

I don't intend to sound like I always agree with everything the ARRL
does, which I don't. But they have tried to set a very high standard
with DXCC, in terms of the quality of the QSL card itself, the
authorization to operate, the location of the station, etc.

There were some very-well-publicized incidents many years ago,
which challenged the integrity of the process. I think it was back in
the 40s, when an operator on a ship would come "close" to a
remote island, operate from the ship, and claim credit for operating
from the island. I don't know if he ever received authorization from
the local authorities to operate, and in some cases he was many
(hundreds?) of miles from the island. To prevent future problems,
ARRL enacted stricter rules on proving authorization by the locals,
and required the station to be on physical land, which is a tighter
standard than most awards.

To ensure the "quality" of the QSLs, they demand untampered
cards. And that's one of the problems with eQSLs we all print for
ourselves. Although WE wouldn't do it, it is possible to manipulate
graphics images and tamper with the image, and then print a
"perfect" card.

The mailed cards are a different matter. ARRL is slow to change its
rules, preferring to be cautious rather than compromise its integrity
before it is absolutely sure. Their argument on the mailed cards
doesn't relate to the cards themselves, though--it focuses on
whether eQSL is truly acting as a QSL manager (which has a lot of
additional ramifications, not just "mail my cards for me") and the
fixed charge of $1 per card. Although $1 is reasonable in terms of
saved postage cost, it appears to violate a long-standing tradition of
"QSLs are free if you pay my postage." eQSL has no mechanism
(at the moment) of accepting IRCs or an SASE to return cards. I
know some stations don't follow that, but again it is a general rule
that ARRL is slow to change.

This whole area is changing rapidly. I suggest we all give the
powers that be time to work to resolve the issue. I don't think any
of us will suffer if the ARRL/eQSL issues take another
one/three/six months to work themselves out. After all, this is a
hobby, at least for most of us. :-)

Finally, why DXCC and not eDX100, or the Argentine 101 Award, or
WIA DXCC (Australia), or any of the others? Probably for the same
reason that US Army soldiers volunteer for Special Forces (Green
Berets), or a runner races in the Boston Marathon instead of the
one in his home town, or the Tour de France, or the Olympics. The
fact that it is more difficult and that there are higher standards
makes it more special to some individuals. For some it is the
public recognition--we all know about DXCC, but how many of you
knew about the Argentine 101 or WIA DXCC? I know I didn't until a
few months ago.

For many others, the satisfaction is the accomplishment itself. For
these folks, do as has been suggested in some forums: feel free to
print your own certificate to hang on the wall, since the only "proof"
you need is within yourself. That's great, and I congratulate you on
your accomplishment.

But don't criticize others who have other objectives. We are all
different--let's let each pursue his/her hobby in the way s/he wants.

Off my soapbox .....