I've read a few blog entries lately concerning the pros and cons of LOTW. Without rehashing all the arguments for and against LOTW or how difficult some people find it to set up, I thought I might give a few stats about how effective it has been for me.
In the recent CQ WW CW contest held on November 28th, I made 414 QSO's and worked 87 different countries. Considering all the goof-ups that I made (see previous blog entry), clearly the claim that even a very small pistol can work DXCC in the contest is easily in reach since I only spent in the neighborhood of 12 hours (and that's probably being generous) at the radio for the whole contest. Every contact was search and pounce.
Since 11-28-2009, I've received 424 QSL's via LOTW. I think, by far, that has to be the biggest haul of QSL's in any 30 day period I've ever had, but that's just a guess. Of those 424 QSL's, 287 are from the contest. That's a 69% return rate! And it's not even been 30 days since the contest. So, the notion that contesters are more likely to use and return QSL's via LOTW seems to be very alive and well.
Conversely, I've had 44 QSL's sent via eQSL. You might think that's a very telling statistic, but it may just mean that contesters don't use eQSL as much as LOTW. Nevertheless, that's a huge difference if your goal is to confirm contacts electronically.
Now, these numbers are way above my average return rate of approximately 35%, but I've recently noticed a number of QSL's from contacts made a year or more ago, so obviously more people are getting onboard. And the 137 additional QSL's outside of the contest seem to bear out that idea.