Receipt Confirmation Policy (proposed)

by Don Felgenhauer   K7BFL
Section Traffic Manager, Eastern Washington
May 27, 2006

Every formal written message initiated by a ARES/RACES station should include the following statement at the end of the message:  "Receipt confirmation of this message is requested".

Discussion:
The problem of "lost messages" has received recent attention because of increased "radio email" activity via the Winlink system.
This problem is not new.    It has existed for years with NTS radiograms.    Most of us deal with it daily through our communications via email.  We deal with it when we leave a voice message on an "answering machine" or "Voice Mail".   We deal with it when we send a letter to someone via the postal service.

If one assumes that ALL written ARES/RACES messages are "important" (they must have a high value, otherwise they would not have been created!), then it is IMPERATIVE that we create a timely feedback mechanism to  notify the original author of the message that yes, the message has been READ by the intended recipient.   This feedback information is necessary, independent of the various systems (radiogram, email, Winlink, NTS, peer-to-peer, etc.) and modes (digital, voice, telephone, packet, pactor, CW, etc.) that were used to transfer the message.

The "receipt conformation" message need not be written, but it MUST occur.    It is our only salvation from the "Black Hole of Technology".    Voice Command Nets, in support of the written message processes, should be considered as a method to accomplish Receipt Confirmation.

If the message is not addressed DIRECTLY to the email address of the intended recipient, then we have an associated "problem" with which to deal.   Example:   A email from Supply Person Jones, located at Regional Headquarters,  is sent to Incident Commander Smith at Fire Camp Alpha, using an email address of VE7ABC@winlink.org.   The ARES/RACES operator at VE7ABC should send a "Receipt Confirmation" message ONLY AFTER the message has been Delivered to Commander Smith, not when it arrived in the email "In Box" of VE7ABC.

NTS Radiogram procedures include a option for "Handling Instructions".   These include:

Assuming that "plain language" is a more reliable way to communicate than using "codes"; it would be best if the "HX---" codes were not substituted for the words of the policy.   Handling Instructions are ok to use, but the words "Please confirm receipt of this message" [or equivalent words] should also be included in the body of the message.

The sending party needs to determine what is an appropriate amount of time to wait for a Receipt Confirmation message before re-sending the message via a different method, or changing the address, etc..  

If the Receipt Confirmation process is burdensome to particular stations or operating positions, the task might be better handled by other supporting stations with more manpower and/or higher speed communications facilities.

This policy would apply to ALL written messages:  radiograms, emails, packet BBS messages, etc.