I am growing rather tired of a pattern of behavior of jumping at every opportunity to point out every little thing that might be specific to the US. This is extremely rude. Everyone lives somewhere, and things are different all around the world. This is the internet, and people know that without stating it at every chance. It's rude to point it out unnecessarily because it presumes that someone in the US must have no world experience. Consider:

  • The US has about 20% of the world's hams. About 40%, if you don't count Japan, and certainly more than half, if you count only English speaking nations.
  • The US has a land mass and population on the same order of magnitude of Europe (depending of course on how you define Europe)

In other words, The US is not less significant than you. Sure, it's just one country. It's also fifty states, many of them bigger than a typical nation. And if we restrict those numbers to English speaking nations, the US has a majority on every count. So when someone says "convention is ..." or "sometimes ..." or "usually ..." and you respond with "Well, actually, only in the US", you are not only being rude, but probably also wrong.

Maybe that makes you jealous. Please get over it. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that your food is probably better, your government less insane, and you probably have significantly less gun crime (if any at all), and you get the opportunity to practice more than one language. I'm jealous too.

I don't, for example, jump on every question that uses metric units instead of American units, even when there are common engineering formulas in the US that are more common here. I don't edit people's post to use American English spellings or terminology. When I see posts with an obvious European perspective, I think "neat, diversity", and I leave it alone.

There are situations where regional perspective is not good, like regulations. That's why we have tags for those questions, so we can be very clear about the relevant jurisdiction. In other cases, if you think a question merits some additional regional perspective, write your own answer instead of neutering someone else's.


3 Answers 3


I'm sure there are many who do this out of jealousy or spite against Americans or for whatever other personal reasons they have. However, for those of us that are still very new to the HAM radio environment, those "well actually"s can be really useful.

Having people jump in and say "Well actually, this is only true in the U.S. in France, it is something else" or "Well actually, that was only true in the U.S. up until 1985, now we do/use this instead" actually makes my life easier in the longer term. Next time I'm speaking to someone in France, or someone who still speaks to the old ways, I can equate the differences and apply them to what I need to do here in Canada, today.

Due to the large proportion of Americans on the airwaves (comparatively) and in online forums etc. I will probably be obtaining much (if not most) of the technical information I'm going to need from them. However, because I'll be placing most of my purchases in Canada where different regulations apply, I will need to be able to understand the repercussions of any differences that apply across the border to make educated decisions on my setup.

So, it's actually super useful for newbies to hear the "well, actually...", because most of the books don't cover the "well, actually..." they just tell it how the local regulations cover it and then when you're talking to someone that's been in the field a while, and may not even be in your country they're discussing things your books don't even cover and so you don't understand because you don't know any better.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If it's super useful, then it's not a "well, actually...". If the question is, "What do you call that thing with batteries and a switch which shines light?" and an answer is "a flashlight" and someone says "well actually in the UK it's a torch", that's useful. If the question is about mobile antennas on a truck, and someone says "well actually in the UK it's a lorry", that's a stupid tangent, which is what makes it a "well actually". $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In your particular case, when I say "440 is a more common name for 70 centimeters", and the response is "well actually, not everyone calls it that", is that a useful thing to say? Were you inconsolably confused by "440"? Did you not realize that "more common than..." already implies that not everyone calls it that? I don't think people are acting with malice, and I realize it's a relatively minor annoyance, but it's the constant, incessant pattern of that sort of comment that makes it an issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ Well that depends on your view I suppose - it's very easy to gloss over some elements of language and having someone draw your attention back to a point by making that statement can be very useful. Perhaps in this case it was of less consequence. The term inconsolably confused means to me that without someone else pointing it out, I may have been left not understanding that - and that may (or may not) have been the case, so I'd say, sure it can be an annoyance, but its usefulness outweighs the irritation factor - at least for me. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't ask if it "can be useful", I asked if it was useful. That's the difference between pointing out facts in general, and pointing them out in a patronizing, annoying way that makes people want to not bother writing answers. Point being, it's easy for you, who did not write the answer, to say "yeah sure...any information is good information". But it's not about that: it's about being nice to people so that they want to write answers. Is a comment like that so valuable that you think the benefits outweigh the annoyance to people who took time to write the answer? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Phil Frost I may be a bit late for this discussion, but for your example, yes the difference between 70 cm and 440 is very useful information! Here 70 cm is 432 to 438! Why is than important? Well here's an example: There's a number of dual-band antennas that are tuned for "2 m and 70 cm" bands, meaning that they're tuned for 146 MHz and 440 MHz, both of which are in fact out of band for me! So in some cases, it may very well be extremely useful not to confuse 440 with 70 cm. $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 23:11

I don't think that comment was made with malice, and it doesn't take away from your own post - the way I read it, it was just adding more information for the third party that comes across the answer, not trying to start an argument. That doesn't seem rude to me.

If someone was directly editing your answers to put words in your mouth, I might have a different opinion, but as it stands, it seems like it's an effectively harmless comment. Your meta post here, on the other hand, seems to draw in a lot more animosity than anything I read on that post (a lot of it completely unrelated to amateur radio), and I wonder if you are reading more into the comments than is actually there.

  • $\begingroup$ Whether it was made with malice or not, it's still damned annoying. It is one instance of a "well, actually", a prototype of annoying behavior popular among technical crowds. It's especially insidious because it's a result of my nationality. Other ways to really piss someone off with a "well, actually" is to make them about other things which people don't choose: sex or race. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 19:42

Sorry if this sounds way too political or insensitive, but I think you just need to get thicker skin!

Title of this question is very interesting for me:How to alienate people in the US. Well how about we look at it in a different way: How to alienate people in the outside of US

My feeling is that English-speaking Internet is over-saturated with posts from US hams who write them is such way that it looks as if it absolutely never occurred to them that non-US English speaking amateur radio operators exist! Even here (but to a much lower extent, than on say QRZ.com), we often see worshiping of FCC, over-relying on US regulations and measurement units and in general not thinking that anything else might exist.

So you got called out for using a US-ism? So what!

How do you think it feels for English-speaking non-US person seeing for example "antenna length=468/design frequency" formula everywhere? Sure, it's easy for knowledgeable to derive the metric version, but the magic number formula is extremely common on the Internet and it's not actually very common to see a derivation that shows how the magic number is created.

How about "Full Legal Limit Power" nonsense? Even closest English-speaking US neighbor Canada has a different legal limit. Also what about exact definition of the legal limit? In some countries it's ERP and EIRP based. Is the "Full Legal Limit" amplifier going to know what my coaxial cable losses and my antenna gain are? Some countries use power at the feed point of the antenna for their legal limit and do not take into account antenna gain on some bands.

Here's another particularly bad example of such behavior: I was watching a YouTube video where a guy with north-American English accent was demonstrating use of a particular radio. During the video he would, from time to time, key up the rig, transmit and identify himself with his call-sign which was, if I remember correctly, Romeo-6-I-forgot-the-suffix. He got called out very viciously in the comments for using an illegal made-up pirate call-sign and recommended to pass his technician examination in order to get a proper call-sign and operate legally. It just didn't occur to these commenters that maybe, just maybe, the poster could have been in Russia and was using his legal Russian call-sign! It was immediately assumed that NA-accent == US filming location, when in fact the video was made in Russia.

So, essentially, English-speaking Ham radio web-sphere is already US dominated and you say it's alienating if someone makes a good-natured comment that it may be different in the other parts of the world? How shocking!

While I might have been a bit rude in this answer, I think that it is justified. This website is, in my experience at least, one of the few English-speaking ham websites that are currently not overly US-centric and I find that a very good thing, especially when combined with the Stack-exchange principle of asking and answering questions and not taking discussion to some tangential points. Maybe this way, we could be a friendly place for that 60% of ham population as well!

  • $\begingroup$ You're right...use of mathematical formulas in your native measurement system automatically means you are a harebrained idiot who isn't aware that Russia has hams too. Thanks for so aptly demonstrating my point. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 23:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Phil Frost You're very welcome! $\endgroup$
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 18:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .