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Author Topic: What does self-monitoring really mean?  (Read 1838 times)
KI4CFS
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« on: August 16, 2004, 09:30:53 AM »

What does self-monitoring really mean?

After hearing several very inapprociated things on Skywarn this last week, I felt not clear as a new ham if I should speak up so I thought this would be good question to discuss the 'Elmers' views on this.

Martin
KI4CFS@toinquire.com
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KA5N
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2004, 09:56:21 AM »

That Amateur Radio is a "self-monitoring" hobby is a concept that assumes that all amateurs really want to do the "right thing" and if they go astray like using poor operating techniques or having chirp or key clicks or a rough signal another well meaning Amateur will bring the problem to their attention and they will cheerfully correct the problem.
How much good does it do you to try to "correct" the poor driving of a fellow motorist?  Do they cheerfully slow down, or stop tailgating or stop for stop signs? These are the same people that are part of makeup of hamdom.  While some hams may repond well to
"suggestions" to correct their operating techniques many will tell where to go or worse.  
Today with anybody who can memorize the test questions able to walk away with an Extra ticket without ever even listening to a ham band, who should you listen to?
So does self-monitoring or policing work?  Surprizingly it does among those who want to make ham radio enjoyable and useful and fails when the jerks come in to roost.
Allen
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KI4DCR
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2004, 10:27:40 AM »

I also have monitored this "inappropriate" chat/comments on our local Skywarn net. I'm all for "self monitoring" but regretfully must agree with the previous post. My way of dealing with it is to file a formal complaint (FCC,and others)that way hopefully something will be done about it and there's a legal record of the complaint. It only takes a few "spoiled hams" to give the remainder of us a bad name.

73's
KI4DCR
Charles@JaneDever.com
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K0RFD
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2004, 10:52:35 AM »

Martin, there are times to speak up and there are times you should just listen.  It depends on whether you can solve the problem or just contribute to it.

I heard someone deliberately QRMing the Hurricane Watch Net on Friday during the worst part of the storm.  I said nothing.  Speaking up would have just added to the QRM.

However, on Saturday, I heard a guy who tuned up 500 Hz away from the SATERN net (who were passing health and welfare traffic in the hurricane's aftermath), THEN asked if the frequency was in use and started calling CQ.  It was pretty clear to me that this was either accidental (he couldn't hear them), or poor operating practice (he didn't listen first).  I went up to his frequency and briefly and politely told him he was splattering on an emergency net close by and gave their frequency.  He thanked me and QSYd immediately.

Often, when somebody engages in inappropriate behavior, they want attention.  If you speak up, you are reinforcing their bad behavior by giving them the attention they seek.  That doesn't help.  As the old saying goes, "Never wrestle with a pig.  You get dirty and besides, the pig likes it."  More often than not, if you ignore them, they'll go away quicker than if you argue with them.  In other cases that don't involve deliberate bad behavior, you might be able to solve the problem by speaking up.

As with many other situations you'll encounter in Ham radio, the best thing to do is listen for a while and figure things out before you act.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2004, 11:00:05 AM »

Like anything else, much of your success depends on how and where you approach it. If you start the conversation out with "listen here you idiot", you are not likely to receive a very accepting attitude. It is usually also best not to have the discussion on the air with others listening in. A one-on-one phone conversation may be better received.

You also need to be sure that you are right. When it comes to operating proceedures there are often many ways to do something. While some hams tend to have a very definate opionion about such things, there may not actually be any FCC rules that dictate how something is to be done. For example, there is no law against calling CQ on a repeater yet many 2M ops will come unglued if you say "CQ this is AA4PB" instead of "this is AA4PB listening". God help you if you should use the term "break" in a non-emergency situation. In addition, many of these "traditions" vary in different parts of the country or even from repeater to repeater.

Choose your battles carefully. It may not be worth the hastle to try to correct someone because he used the term 73's in lieu of 73, for example. Some things are best left for casual conversation at a later time. On the other hand, if he's calling CQ on top of your net then more immediate action may be called for. Even so, approach it with the attitude that the poor fellow doesn't know that there is a net on this frequency and ask him politely if it would be possible for him to move off frequency a few KHz. If you jump in with "don't you know you are supposed to listen before transmitting" then you loose before even getting started. Then there's the one I hear so often from net control stations; "You'll have to repeat your last - there was some idiot calling CQ on the net". That kind of attitude will just encourage many people to just keep on doing what they are doing.
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KI4CFS
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2004, 11:08:11 AM »

I am interested in WHAT WORKS in self-monitoring, now does it work, that is a different question. So let me ask that question.

WHAT WORKS in self-monitoring?

For this is the laws that are on the books today. If you would like to change those laws I encourage you to do your best to do so but the current laws talk about 'self-monitoring' and I want to know how we can make it work not "if it works"!!

Thanks for getting the discsussion going!

Martin Brossman
KI4CFS@toinquire.com
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AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2004, 11:40:51 AM »

I think KA5N has it about right. Self-monitoring can only work to the extent that the individuals involved want it to work. As an individual ham you have no authority to force anyone to do anything. The best you can hope for is to convince them to do the right thing. That works best if you approach it with a friendly attitude.

If they are consistantly violating FCC regulations and refuse to change then all you can do is attempt to get the FCC involved. They are the only ones with the authority to enforce the regulations.
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K0RFD
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2004, 11:44:28 AM »

What works?  Last winter, I was listening to 40 meters late at night, on the receiver by my bed, not in the shack.  I heard a guy mention his first name and where he lived, which happened to be my home town.  When he identified, I wrote down the callsign--I'm always curious about which Hams are active here in the community.  Next morning, I looked the guy up in the FCC database, and found out he's a technician.  And apparently not a rocket scientist either, using his name and callsign while transmitting outside his privileges.

Next time I heard him, again very late at night, I turned on the tape recorder.  And the next time, and the next time, and the next...
And each time I made notes of the date, time, and frequency.

I sent half a dozen or so MP3 files, along with supporting notes, to the FCC.  Because I had good data, backed up with recordings, the ham got a warning letter.  It must have been the real guy, not someone pirating his callsign, because I haven't heard him since he got the letter.  My objective was NOT to get this guy fined or have him lose his license, it was to let him know that he should quit it BEFORE any of that happens.  I'd have told him myself, but the address in the FCC database came back to a rooming house.  The warning apparently worked, the guy hasn't come back.  The guy made the right choice.  I hope he goes on to get his General, then he CAN use 40 meters if that's what he wants to do.

What DOESN'T work?  Asking the FCC to take sides in a peeing contest.  Lots of times groups of hams who used to be "friends" and ragchew together will have a falling out, and one or more will split off from the group.  Then they start to take their bad feelings out on the air, or get protective of "their" frequency, start cursing and QRMing each other, or do other bad things.  If you look back over the record of enforcement actions in these cases, the FCC rarely chooses sides.

Self monitoring means "self monitoring".  It doesn't mean "self enforcing".  It means an Official Observer program that is operated by the ham community--but they just "observe".  It means anyone who KNOWS the law has been violated, clearly, seriously, repeatedly, and has the proof to back it up, can ask the FCC to get involved in enforcement.  With no guarantee that they will, of course.

Just don't waste their time on childish squabbles and minor annoyances.  There's only one Riley, and he doesn't appear to have a lot of spare time to waste.

In the case of your Skywarn story, did the inappropriate behavior take place on a repeater?  If so, contacting the repeater operator is the first step, not going to the FCC.  The control op of the repeater is the one responsible for what happens there.  Don't go to the FCC until you've worked with the control op, because all you'll do with the FCC is get the control op or repeater licensee in trouble.
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KE4MOB
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2004, 01:30:08 PM »

Sorry, this off topic but I have to ask:

"In the case of your Skywarn story, did the inappropriate behavior take place on a repeater? If so, contacting the repeater operator is the first step, not going to the FCC. The control op of the repeater is the one responsible for what happens there."

Please explain this is in light of 97.205(g):

"The control operator of a repeater that retransmits inadvertently communications that violate the rules in this part is not accountable for the violative communications."

I think the one that should be pursued is the guilty party. I know that the control operator and trustee have the ability to request specific users not use a repeater and shut it down if rules are violated, but that's sorta closing the barn door after the horse has run away. Let's place the blame where the blame lies...with the offenders.  The control operator can be a valuable ally, but a warning letter from the FCC to the specific violator carries more weight.

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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2004, 01:40:45 PM »

Actually the OO (Official Observer) program is a good way to participate in "self-monitoring". I did that for a while a number of years back when I had more time. Occassionally I would get a nasty letter from someone but for the most part people appeared greatful that you pointed out a potential problem with their signal. OOs aren't always right, but a notice from one of them gives you a chance to check out the rig to see if you do have a problem. It's much better than a notice from the FCC.
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K0RFD
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2004, 01:49:37 PM »

Can't argue with a single thing you've said.  You're right, of course.  The offender DOES deserve the emphasis.

However, looking at things in a practical sense, look up some of the recent enforcement letters on the ARRL site.  It seems that complaints from the control ops/licensees themselves seem to carry an enormous amount of weight.  Action by the control op/licensee is a good setup for future enforcement.  Once the control op/licensee has asked a specific user not to do certain things, or even to not use the repeater, the offender has little recourse if the behavior continues and the licensee takes the problem to the FCC.

On the other hand, repeater ops who routinely tolerate bad behavior and let things get out of hand seem to have little credibility when they finally get around to complaining (thinking of a certain SoCal repeater here...)

In either case, I think the repeater op/licensee is the place to start.  It is, after all, their turf.

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N6AYJ
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2004, 02:04:51 PM »

Not to quibble, Martin, but the correct term is "self-policing".  ARRL and FCC propaganda would have you believe that this means the FCC should not have to enforce Part 97 because hams themselves will use peer pressure to enforce the rules.  But let me tell you what it really means, and how it really works.  If you don't belong to the ARRL and aren't friends with any repeater owners or net controllers, the term does not apply to you and the Commission will immediately take over enforcement without any "self-policing" by your fellow amateurs.  In such a case, you'll first learn that someone has complained about your operating practices when you receive a Warning Notice from Riley Hollywood, published as a press release in an attempt to ruin your reputation as a good operator, before you have any chance to respond to the charges.  But if you are a League member, or a member of the "in" group of friends of repeater owners or net controllers, Riley will call you up and confidentially inform you, in the name of being "self-policing", that someone has complained about your operation and that you might want to change your procedures, without ever issuing a Warning Notice.  I hope this clears the matter up for you.  
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AA4PB
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2004, 02:43:49 PM »

Are you to have us believe that Riley really takes the time to check the ARRL membership rolls before taking any action on complaints and then only sends a "pink slip" to non-members?

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N6AYJ
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2004, 03:32:40 PM »

AA4PB, I don't blame you for being incredulous, but don't take my word for it.  Read the text of Hollywood's speech to the 1998 meeting of the ARRL's Southeastern Division, where he actually stated that he intended to make this his practice.
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KI4CFS
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2004, 03:57:09 PM »

What had worked for me is slight encouragments and then followup emails to the ham. Let me give an example. Their was person on one of the skywarn frequencies that was not active at the moment. They were discusssing looking at in-approciate pictures on the web. The did not use any illigal language but it was clearly not a discussion to have on the radio. Another new and good natured ham was sort of encouraging that ham by asking more questions. I send him an email saying that I thought that ham was drunk and is they were sober thay would not have done that and maybe "we" should have encouraged her to go to another frequency. I did make a smart comment that I was concern that that I had tuned into 11 meters by mistake. Of course that did NOT work!

Also, their is a net controller in my area that is a nice person but either had changing mental issues or is just drunk a lot running the net. It concernes me for I think he does not realized that it is obvious when he drunk too much. I don't know what to do about that but I think if he knew how bad it makes HIM look when he drink on the air he would not do it.

Thanks for the point points for being new I have said 73ies and BREAK ... Smiley

The question is what WORKS in self-monitoring in the ham bands?

I think the idea of not embarrising someone on the air is an important point.

Who else...
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