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One of the things I like about amateur radio is that it teaches you to respect a common good (in this case, the spectrum). Hams seem to really understand this concept. It's easy to be defeatist and cry about tragedy of the commons but in amateur radio people are largely respectful and abide by the etiquette.

Yeah... but it also doesn't hurt that there are a number of regulations designed to prevent abuse and the FCC isn't shy about handing out $10,000+ fines to repeat offenders.

This really isn't it, though. The respect for others aspect is baked into the instruction you get if you study at a club. I think people generally understand that the only way for everyone to make those long range contacts they want (or whatever they're trying to accomplish) is if everyone is mostly being fair in their use of the bands. I don't get the sense that people would start acting out of turn if only someone stopped watching them.

Sure, the culture is a strong component, but that's how most rules work. You have strong social pressure, such that the majority of people don't even consider breaking the rules, and then you have enforcement to dissuade the few remaining bad actors. Neither alone is sufficient.

There are a handful of incidents every year that the bureau does take action on. It's hard to draw any numerical conclusions from, but it is interesting to read some of the enforcement letters


Not to mention punishment isn't handed out unless you are an infamous jackass like what happens on 14.313, or if you are a serious repeat offender. It really isn't the motivator; it's honor.

It helps that hams must learn FCC rules and regulations in order to become licensed.

And the community themselves are the most ardent investigators of these regulations.

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