Over the past few months, the topic of DXing ethics has come up in various places on the internet and in print. It’s a recurring theme – and I’m not talking about pirates, jammers or “Up cops”.
I’m talking about the practice of working rare DXpeditions for entities we already have.
There is a school of thought that questions the fairness of such a practice. After all, with so many experienced DXers calling for East Kumbaya-ville who already have that country logged, there’s less chance of the Little Guy getting him.
One very well-known DXer recently wrote that he was “guilty” of working the recent 5X8C DXpedition even though he already had Uganda confirmed.
He’s not guilty – he’s a DXer! That’s what we do!
The notion of not working a DXpedition just because you have the particular entity is absurd.
For every pile-up I succeed in working through, I learn something. I learn of yet another operational habit a DXpedition can have and how to work with it. Pile-ups themselves are dynamic and fluid – they change in behavior from one band to the next and from one DXpedition to the next. And they change over time.
What you learned last year may not apply today.
Anyone can get through in a pile-up eventually. But only practice will teach the subtleties that will enable a DXer to do it consistently and quickly.
For the world to stand by while Newbie works the DX may be a noble and charitable idea but it teaches nothing in terms of skill. I’d even argue that it would remove sense of accomplishment from the accomodated station.
If I run a 100m race with Usain Bolt – and beat him because he gave me a 70m head start – what have I accomplished?
The good news is that pile-ups aren’t full of Usain Bolts - they’re just a bunch of guys who’ve been DXing for years and some are pretty darn good at it as a result. The best of them could trade stations with the Newbie and still get through the pile-up first because they’ve learned how through trial and error - trial and error that would be absent if a certain mindset prevailed.
I am happy to stand by for a station when it’s one-on-one and I see myself as having an advantage over the other DXer. For example, me and a W3 were the only two callers for a 9M6 one morning on 40 meters. I didn’t need 9M6 on that band and had no way of knowing if the W3 did or not – but I knew he had a much tougher path than me so I stood by while he made his contact.
If it had been for a needed entity, I would have been duking it out to the best of my ability regardless of who else was calling!
But my real feelings about pile-ups are this:
I consider them puzzles to be solved as quickly as possible. If it results in a new country for me, great – that’s icing on the cake. But the real sense of accomplishment comes from getting through the pile-up due to a strategy as opposed to lucky timing or lengthy calling.
That means I’ve learned something and am able to apply it; isn’t that a primary goal of any hobby?