Our radio hobby has many different sub cultures each with their own challenges and rewards. You can climb mountains carrying your radio equipment, collect lighthouses from your armchair, participate in contests until you lose your voice, provide emergency communication (or just endlessly prepare to provide it), design and build equipment, etc.
Some of these I find more interesting than others, but I can relate to the enthusiasm people have for all these activities.
There is however one activity that really puzzles me: SWL-ing the DX cluster.
What could be the fun in that?
I think I have an extra hard time in relating to this activity because I consider an accomplishment something personal - something you do to please / prove something to yourself.
I mean, I can imagine it is great fun to use a remote super station in another country to chase DX. Nothing wrong with that. But when you use this setup to boost your own score inside the context of the DXCC program (or any other program for that matter), you lose me completely. Without a split personality I cannot phantom how you are going to fool yourself - I mean, you were there...
In this example - using a remote station while trying to fool yourself - you at least have the fun of making radio contacts. So, there is some fun in the doing. Now imagine you try to fool yourself but you choose an activity that is as boring as can be: SWL-ing the DX cluster.
How does it work?
Well, imagine you are an SWL and you like to get some credits for one award or the other. Instead of turning on the radio though, you open a DX cluster page on the internet. Now you either wait for the right station to be spotted (depending on the award you are looking for) or you search for it in the recent spot history. As soon as you find a candidate, you write a QSL card to that station claiming to have heard a QSO between him and the spotter.
Quite straightforward really.
If you keep up the good work you will end up with all sorts of awards.
That is really cool - knowing that you did not qualify for the award and that you spent your time copying text from the internet.
How do I know this activity actually exists? I have an old account on a cluster node that I started when I had my novice license. The user name on this node still is my old call.
Once in a while I use this cluster node in the field (it is listed in an app on my phone) when spotting for a special event. In case I am the operator, I get the QSL cards.
So.. if the cluster-copying SWL forgets to check QRZ carefully, I will get an SWL card claiming my previous (now inactive) call worked me, while I was operating a special event.... go figure.
And yes, there is actually an SWL - DH5FA - that has managed to send me such a card. Even more peculiar than that, he has sent me more than one (for different special calls) - even though I warned him after the first one.
My fellow earth dwellers never cease to amaze me..