The WeeklyDX™ Helpful Hints No. 41 from the DX University™*
Duplicate QSOs (dupes) have always been a problem. They usually arise when the DXer is not absolutely sure that he is in the log, or when one or the operators has logged the wrong call. With the advent of the on-line log, dupes are less of a problem, since the DXer will know quickly if he is in the log. But if the on-line log is not working well, the problem is exacerbated. A DXer will often make an additional QSO even though he is sure that he is in the log. In such as case, excessive dupes can occur. I recently heard a DXpedition operator challenging several callers saying that they were already in the log. This not only wastes time, but it is very possible that one log or the other is incorrect, and that may lead to QSLing problems.
The way in which a DXpedition works dupes can alleviate most problems that arise. There have always been the “big guns,” who want to demonstrate their prowess by making a QSO every day, or even every hour on the hour. As it turns out, however, the number of such QSOs is quite small. More often, duplicate QSOs result from lack of effective communications.
When operating at XF4L on ten meters years ago, there was a station that called at least four times in about 40 minutes. Each time, I called him with the correct call, received a report and (I thought) a “QSL.” Yet, he called again and again. Why? The fifth time he called, I slowed down to about 20 WPM and asked him clearly why he continued to call time after time. His answer was surprising: He said “I don’t sure.” Even in his less-than-correct English, his meaning was clear, and I have never forgotten it. Maybe some of you have seen the badge that I had made in Dayton. It says simply “I DON’T SURE”.
That badge is a reminder to me that one of the most important aspects of a DXpedition QSO is that it be recorded correctly. Clearly, the gentleman wasn’t sure that he was in the log. I was sure that he had QSL’d the contact, yet he wasn’t sure. And, therein lies a lesson for me and all DXpeditioners. Make every effort to ensure that a DXer’s callsign is in the log correctly.
Why wasn’t he sure? Perhaps there was too much QRM for him to copy well enough. Perhaps there were stations beginning to call prematurely. This QSO was on CW. Perhaps I was simply sending too fast for perfect copy. Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above.
The question of how to handle dupes arises in contests, as well. Because there can be a number of different causes for dupes, most serious contesters decide in the end that when the logger says you have already worked a calling station that you should simply work him again, without argument. Contesters naturally like a clean log, and dupes are remnants of errors. Many people remove dupes to keep the log clean.
But this procedure can cause lost QSO points. We often assume that a dupe is caused by our errors. It is very possible that errors are caused by the other operator. In fact, we can’t be sure right away who caused the error. Still, it is likely a busted callsign in one log or the other. Rather than research the error at the time of a subsequent QSO, it is usually best to work the station again and let the adjudicators figure it out.
For DXpeditions, if the operator enters a callsign and finds that it is already in the log, it is usually best to simply log the call again. One operator or the other has likely entered a busted callsign in his log. The callsign error might be on the part of the caller, or it might be on the part of the DX operator. The DX op might not have copied the correct callsign, or the DXer might not have even logged the QSO because he didn’t think it was confirmed. This is very common. If a DXpedition operator has excessive dupes in his log, certain elements of his procedure might be causing these dupes, but that is a topic for another discussion. As a rule then, DXpeditioners should log apparent dupes. In the end, it’s quicker.
* These weekly articles published in the WeeklyDX™ are archived in the pages of The DX University. For more information on these topics, see www.dxuniversity.com The DX University™ is an in-person learning session for newcomers and old-timers wishing to hone their DXing skills. The next scheduled sessions will be at the International DX Convention in Visalia California, April 19, 2013. Register for the DX Academy at www.dxconvention.com