My Beef with LoTW (Log Book of the World)

March 24, 2015
Log Book of the World (LoTW) was designed well with enough security to ensure continued integrity of the DXCC program. For most users once you struggle through the process of identifying yourself and then your callsign (with two different digital certificates) you're good to go.

However, hams like me who have operated from several different DXCC entities for a number of years have to suffer through the digital certificate process after each trip. Being a software programmer myself I don't know how they could change the software to make life easier other than ask the ARRL staff to assist people nicely rather than antagonize.

On almost each and every certificate request I have had to apply more than once. Something I've discovered through my learning curve is read the entire fine print message that's in the little box after you submit. Had I been paying attention to that I wouldn't have waited days and sometimes weeks before trying again. I don't know how much of a failed request message shows up at the ARRL desk? You would think they could proactively assist folks that have repeated failures? I'm thinking it went through fine and I go off merrily on to other tasks.

Oh, I just thought of an improvement. If you log into the LoTW website maybe it could show the status of your certificate request. If it says right there "failed stupid!" with a few clues as to why I could regroup. But, again, being a computer programmer I know these "frills" take time.

I think most of my failures were because I selected the default start date which is something like 1 January 1945. If the entity didn't exist back then (like all the Baltic Countries I visited) the request will fail. But, you are not told of this unless you read that fine print after doing the submission. Gee, there's another improvement possibility . . . how about making the default starting date the same day they were approved for DXCC credit? Or, how about an ARRL help desks that understands the problem, fixes it and issues the certificate?

I also believe you are not allowed to apply for more than one certificate at a time? I got this impression because whenever I did that, they never came. But, it might have been a totally different reason. Once again the League in their wisdom wants me to read pages of boilerplate (just like Google does) and not answer my specific questions.

I'm looking at this summer when I will be visiting Central Europe and making QSOs in 10 different countries. One at a time I have to go through this process. It would be weeks before I get all the QSOs uploaded.

Anyway, I have had success at getting a handful of certificates issued (I've been QRV from 45 entities at last count) and then I receive a whole new error during my 4th attempt and getting LY/WJ2O issued. Apparently they have their own limit where you can only be issued around a dozen certs and your account is flagged until further review by them. Meanwhile The League is sending me E-mails saying I should simply resubmit. No, apparently there is some action required on your part.

Even though I've been a ham since 1970, I have never been a DXCC member. The features of LoTW do nothing for me. I only used the system to assist others.

I'm tired of the ridicule I received from The League when I ask for assistance. I don't think I'm special but I do believe my circumstance is. The system was not written with multiple requestors, like me, in mind.

The last E-mail communication I had was me telling them where to stuff their LoTW and have heard nothing back. I'm not one of those who would blame the entire organization just because of a lame clerk who should find another more suitable job. Being an ARRL Life Member the only way for me to quit is to die which I think is a bit extreme on such a petty issue. However, I'm very sorry but I will not be uploading to LoTW anymore.

As always, my QSL Manager Ken, N2ZN, is happy to assist with your QSL request. I have created many full color cards for my trips to try to make it worth your SASE while.

73, Dave, WJ2O