I give realistic reports but let's be real here. Is there any consistent standard for RST?
No, it's inherently subjective because it's not based on a calibrated instrument.
What about your rig's S meter. Think all are the same? Think again.
Uh, no, I don't need to "think again".
Therefore someone who is S9 one one radio might be S8 on another.
The 5 & 9 in signal reports is not based on the S meter.
So what use is an "honest"report then?
It should be simply your honest subjective opinion on the readability and strength of the signal. But I can damn well assure you my signal that propagates all over the world is not almost always a "59" at the other end.
Consider this from three stations within 20 miles of each other. I get a 59 from a station with antenna on 80 foot tower, a 37 from a station with power line noise and 50 foot high dipole, and a 52 from a station with an attic antenna. What good does the signal report do me? Maybe during the QSO they tell me what they are using, maybe not.
The signal report should be re-thought. It's too far biased to the high end all the time. It should be changed from 1-5 readability and 1 -9 strength to 1-3 for readability and 1-3 for strength
For both both R & S:
1 - Barely understandable
2 - Moderately understandable
3 - Perfectly Understandable
1 - Weak
2 - Moderate
3 - Strong
Now you might say, well they will just bias those to "33" as well. True, but at least it will be easier to throw out a better judgement in a short QSO. I've NEVER heard an R report given of less than 4 or a signal report given of less than 4. Neither listening to other people or from my own contacts.
Personally, I don't see how a signal report of 11, which is logically
possible in the current system, could be given out. 11 means "Unreadable, barely perceptible". You would not even be working the station if it had a 11, you would not be talking to it!
During a contest I don't need that RST report to know where the propagation is.
Get rid of it in contests. It's just plain stupid to waste time giving out "59" when it's meaningless. If you want to save time, stop giving out these 59 reports in contests. Either you hear the contest station or you don't. If you don't, don't reply. If you do, make the contact and move on. Simple.