*EDITORIAL* DXpedition ‘Proofing’

One of the responsibilities of any reputable radio club headquarters is to ensure the validity of expeditions conducted by its members.

Obviously, providing physical evidence to support the legitimacy of an activity is to STOP so called ‘FAKES’ (hoax operations) and the negative impacts this has on the club and hobby community as a whole.

This process is called ‘Proofing’.

How it Works with the DA-RC

It’s generally accepted that the DXpedition team performing the activity must prove to his club and hobby community he did, in fact, operate from the place he said he did.

In most clubs, it’s expected that this ‘proofing’ should occur no later than 3 months after the activity.

Within this time frame, a ‘proofs package’ is put together and often released via the club’s website or Facebook group.

With the DA-RC, however, we prefer to be more immediate with our proofing — within a week or two of the activity’s conclusion — or even while the activity is still on-air.

In fact, this is part of our Dxpedition protocol, exotic DXstination or otherwise.  See:

Given the DA-RC is a club which claims to specialize in DXpedition work, we see it as a responsibility of our Headquarters (HQ) Team to ensure proofs are received, time frames are respected and evidence is presented to the hobby community in a professional way.

A ‘proofing package’ must, therefore, be emailed to a member of the HQ Team immediately after an activation has concluded.

If all of the information checks out, which it always has with our members, then it’s accepted by HQ that the DX operation was legitimate and so it achieves the ‘VALIDATED’ stamp of approval.

If questions are raised about the genuineness of a DA-RC activation by those outside the club, it’s easy then to dispel the rumors and show it’s an authentic one by sharing parts or all of the proofing package.

Of course, care is taken to blur out any personal information such as passport numbers, home addresses, etc. whilst still leaving enough detail to satisfy the ‘proof’.

What Counts as ‘Proofs’

For us, delivering proofs is akin to providing points of identification to a bank, for example, when opening a new account; or even to a Government office when applying for a driver’s license or passport.

In other words, a set number of points MUST be achieved for the nod of approval to be given.

For the DA-RC’s resident DXpeditioners, the following items all count as ‘Points of Proof’ that an activity was authentic…

  • Copies of airline tickets with the DXpeditioner’s name and date shown
  • Photographs of the station and antenna set up, including power source, with date stamps (e.g. Newspaper front page)
  • Providing souvenirs such as postcards, key rings, maps, etc. sent direct from the location
  • Transport receipts such as a ferry docket or a bus ticket
  • Copy of the access permit in the case of protected areas
  • A copy of the visa for the said country (if required)
  • A photocopy of the passport pages showing entry/ exit stamps
  • Copies of hotel receipts as evidence of stay

So Why Do Fakes Occur?

Though it’s extremely rare in both the Ham and 11m communities these days, DXpeditioners have lied about their QTH and deliberately misrepresented their station in the past.

Some reasons may have included:

1. The cost of travel/ accommodation too high

Travelling to and staying in some parts of the world can cost an enormous amount of money.

To activate a small island will sometimes demand the chartering of a plane or boat which can cost the DXpedition team up to $10,000 AUS.

It’s tempting, then, for an operator to set up a DX station on a major island or country nearby with a reliable power source and to transmit from there.

They often got away with it too — particularly if the area was remote and there were no local ops to question the activity and location — or if the said operator’s DX Club was loose with its 

standards and expectations around proofing.

The operator in question, then, would still be able to cash in on all the kudos and black slapping that goes with providing rare DX opportunities to the world.

2. Restricted access (e.g. due to world heritage listing)

3. Fun or boredom

In the past, some operators have made up a fake activation as a joke.

In times of poor propagation, for example, I’ve heard operators calling fake stations and asking for progressive numbers when it’s well known that the activation is a hoax.

The operator conducting the activation has even said, if asked, that the activity is ‘fake’ and no QSL confirmation will be offered.

4.  Bad WX

When operators have advertised an upcoming activation and already gone ahead with printing thousands of QSL cards, the DX world expects it to be carried out.

Unfortunately, however, bad WX conditions might make this impossible.

Knowing the backlash that could occur and fearing damage to their reputation, the DX team might transmit from a nearby area and not the one identified – especially if they’ve already paid for transport, passports and visas and are close to the advertised destination.

5. To cause trouble and inconvenience for other radio operators

In Australia, sending a quality QSL confirmation package can cost upwards of $8.00 AUS (IRC, Stamp, 3 QSL cards, a postcard, photograph of shack, envelope).

Obviously, it’s a waste of time and money if guys are sending cards to confirm activities that are found to be fake.

It’s a sad fact, though, that dollar and card collectors do exist in both radio communities.

These guys don’t care about other radio operators and have little personal integrity as they feel protected from recrimination either by geographical isolation or the absence of intimacy which come with hiding behind a microphone.

The emergence of the internet, however, and with it social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), online forums and websites has raised the bar of accountability.  FAKES, these days, are rare.

This is not to say that it doesn’t or won’t ever happen again though!

If you’re concerned with the legitimacy of a station logged, my advice is to seek clarification from radio friends on one of the many DX forums, or, from the DX Group in question.

They should be able to tell you if a member was active from the particular location claimed and will give you access to the necessary evidence to prove it.

73 de Darren

For more reading on ‘Proofing’ please see the following inks:

  • https://www.dxproof.com/
  • https://dxnews.com/dxcc-approved/
  • http://www.delta-alfa.com/phonography/