LOTW vs. eQSL: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Came across some interesting observations out in the blogosphere re: LOTW, whether its worth the hassle and such, by VE3OIJ and KB6NU. I shared some thoughts a few months ago not long after I got LOTW working. Some time has passed so I did some logbook analysis on my contacts since getting back on the air (16 June through the 30 November) to see if things got better or worse.
Every QSO in my logbook for this time period (379 total) has been uploaded to both eQSL.cc and LOTW. Here’s what I got for my trouble:
  • Confirmations via eQSL: 118 (31.1% return rate)
  • Confirmations via LOTW: 113 (29.8% return rate)
  • QSOs confirmed via both eQSL and LOTW: 55
  • QSOs confirmed via eQSL but not LOTW: 25
  • QSOs confirmed via LOTW but not eQSL: 58
  • DXCC entities confirmed by both eQSL and LOTW: 16
  • DXCC entities confirmed via eQSL but not LOTW: 10
  • DXCC entities confirmed via LOTW but not eQSL: 14
So what does this prove? Nothing, really, except that more than two thirds of the stations I’ve worked in the past 6 months don’t use either method of electronic QSLing, or simply haven’t bothered to upload their logs yet. As for those who do QSL electronically, just under half use both LOTW and eQSL. Unless and until more logging software integrates automatic uploading, I don’t see how electronic QSLing will be a viable replacement for the analog method.
I’m sure more electronic QSLs will trickle in over the next few months, but in my experience I’ve found that most people who use eQSL and/or LOTW will upload their logs pretty soon after the QSO. Therefore, I don’t expect the percentages to skew drastically either way. Whether my experience is in any way representative of reality, I can’t say. I’m curious to know how other hams are faring. Is my 30% return rate typical?
Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a pile of cards ready to go out to DX stations but I haven’t had a burning desire to cough up the $150+ for postage (including the return postage that most DX stations ask for), nor have I sent off any cards to the outgoing bureau. I’ve been happy thus far to sit back and watch the LOTW verifications trickle in and my DXCC and WAS totals slowly increase.
In a perfect world, the ARRL would accept eQSL as a legitimate confirmation method. But in reality, this would net me very few “new ones” since many of those 10 eQSL-only countries were already verified when I was QRV from New Jersey, years before either LOTW or eQSL.cc were a gleam in their programmers’ eyes.

2 Responses to “LOTW vs. eQSL: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”

  • John, N7JY:

    On LOTW I have about 50% confirming. It is better for satellite QSO’s and worse for regular DX QSO’s. That’s a better rate than I was getting for paper QSL cards.

    I do NOT use eQSL. I found that I was getting WAY TOO MANY folks asking for a confirmation that wasn’t in the log. Due to these “social engineering” requests, I gave up on them. Besides which, they aren’t accepted for the ARRL awards, and ARRL DXCC, VUCC and WAS are the ones that are respected everywhere you go.

    Now I am hearing from DMR enthusiasts that they are putting those into eQSL. Folks, part of those QSO’s are over RF, but mostly they seem to be over the internet. If it is over the internet then it isn’t ham radio.

  • Sebastian KB0TTL:

    I seem to have had just about as much luck as the author of this post, in regard to my experience with eQSL. I have just now started using LOTW, and find eQSL easier to use, so I won’t be uploading anything much to LOTW unless it is a DX contact that I’d really like to hear back from. It can be a real chore to even get a QSL card to someone in a foreign country, and even more of one to actually get a reply back. I like eQSL because it is easy to design and send a printable QSL card (yes, I actually print the ones I receive) to people around the world without the need for postage and SASE requirements (not to mention the guys who also want $2 for return postage). The question, as always, is “does the recipient have eQSL?”. The problem here is that the answer will usually be “no”. I really wish more people would use this service, as it is much cheaper than sending paper QSL cards. When I first signed up for eQSL, I was surprised at the stack of QSL cards that were already there waiting for me. Yes, it can still take months for people to respond back via eQSL (although it shouldn’t). I just got an eQSL reply last week which was from 5 months ago. Then there’s the folks who will go ahead and log your response to their archive, but not bother responding themselves. I just had a DX person in France do this to me, and I really wanted to hear back from them. Such is life. There are always a few LIDs out there!

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