A quick LOTW rant

UPDATE: So this process actually is pretty easy, as I suspected it was. A poster in the comments had a great “quick start” guide, which I didn’t even need to refer to, because it began the renewal automatically when I loaded up TQSL.

Ultimately, it’s fun ribbing the ARRL for their “quick and easy” 14-step process, but in reality, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I still contend the setup process for LOTW is what deters many hams from using it, although the setup is much easier nowadays with the modern version of TQSL.

The ARRL has been sending me e-mails this month reminding me that my Logbook of the World certificate is about to “expire.” Apparently, this happens every three years.

A link to renew is provided in the e-mail. For some reason I thought it would be as simple as clicking the link, and hitting a “Yes” button in a web browser. Similar to a “confirm your account” e-mail you receive after signing up for an online service.

Plus, the e-mail boasted that the renewal is “quick and easy” to do. So I clicked the link, and what I found was neither quick, nor easy. I found a 14-STEP PROCESS, written in that cryptic LOTW instructional style the ARRL is so fond of.

OK, so figuring this out probably won’t be hard for me because I’ve used LOTW for a while. I’ve set it up several times, managed a club certificate, moved certificates, etc., so I know my way around the system and understand how it works. But what about other people? LOTW is already enough of a pain to use, and here is yet another barrier. I know hams locally who never figured this out.

How about this ARRL… if you haven’t uploaded a properly-signed log in say, 2-3 years, THEN force the user to renew the certificate. Is there some reason this process can’t be more automated? Can we not just “follow a link” that automatically renews our cert?

Hey, maybe I shouldn’t complain. At least I don’t have to send off for another postcard.

LOTW is my preferred way to QSL. I would love it if all hams could use this, particularly DX stations. But the setup process and the usage is completely ridiculous. Also, the servers are still slow to process logs. We’re parsing plain text here, not trying to crack the Enigma. Why can’t they look at something like ClubLog and improve the product? Why is a 14-step process considered “quick and easy”?

At least it’s still free and you can’t argue with that. Set it up, ask for help if you need to, and stick with it. It’s worth it in the end.



6 thoughts on “A quick LOTW rant

  1. The certificate renewal process _is_ pretty simple, ARRL just chose to document every step (they could have combined the check-your-address steps into one, for example).

    They could also have a short version for computer-savvy users: click on the expiring cert, click on renew. Check your data and submit. When you get the email back from ARRL, click the TQ6 attachment (or save it to the desktop and double-click it). Because that’s all that’s needed.

    • Thanks Tom, I like your short method better! Why couldn’t the ARRL just say it in those simple terms? I just opened up TQSL and it actually asked me automatically if I wanted to renew and it took all of 5 seconds. Perhaps I was too surly in my blog post, but I was just poking fun at the irony of the “quick and easy” 14-step process!

      It is sad so many hams get put off by the steps in getting on LOTW, because the service is pretty good, despite the issues. I’ve always used it in connection with my logging software (currently DX Labs), and that’s really the ideal way to use it in my opinion. Now if all my DX contacts would get onboard, I might finally finish that DXCC I’ve been working on. Heheh. Thanks for reading!

  2. Like most software written by and for Hams, User Experience is an unknown discipline. UX, user testing, and user research will make their way to the Ham universe, eventually. Most Ham software and systems are ripe for disruption in that regard.

    • I look forward to that day! Some software is quite good. I find the SKCCLogger to be a very straightforward logging program that looks good and is easy to use. The logging programs by N3JFP aren’t bad either. On the other hand, DX Labs Keeper, which I use and enjoy, leaves me scratching my head sometimes.

      It seems like quite a bit of ham software looks like it was intended for Windows 3.1 — MMTTY comes to mind (I love that program though!). Most of this stuff is free of course, and I’m thankful for that. N1MM+ / Fldigi / MMTTY are all programs I’d shell out cash for.

  3. The ARRL is so fixed on authentication and accuracy that it makes LoTW a hassle to use.
    I just renewed my certificate but why?

    Eqsl.cc works much better and more people seem to use it.

    Who cares if you cheat on DXCC anyway?? If you’re that much of a jerk nobody cares.

    John NV4L

  4. If you think it’s so easy your welcome to come to my place and show me how. I don’t use it because the setup gives me a headache.

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