They are among us and we do not even know it! I refer to Short Wave Listeners.
Personally, I have received two QSL cards from SWL’s who were eves-dropping on my conversations; one even on CW, so no one is safe from being monitored.
When starting a new mode of operation, be it CW, Digital, or phone, it is always appropriate to be a SWL. That way you get the “lay of the land” which will show you how things get done on the particular mode by observing other, more experienced, users.
At this point, let me put in a plug for the Club’s 2-meter repeater net on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 PM local time. The net is held on the DSRC repeater (146.460 MHz and the PL is 131.8 Hz). If you have a radio capable of working on this band and do not know how to set it up, you only need to ask any of the more experienced hams. The purpose of the net is to allow new hams to test and get comfortable with their equipment and allow those hams who cannot get on because they do not have the equipment yet to join in the fun.
On another personal note, when I worked for RCA, I was the Net Control Station (NCS) for the club’s 75-meter phone net. One night I mentioned that a launch had been postponed due to inclement weather. Next day the FBI showed up to investigate the leaking of classified information. It turns out that another ham, who was an engineer that had worked at Astro and was now working in Camden, had worked on the program in question and when he was doing that, it was a classified job. It had since, unbeknown to him, been declassified and no harm was done but it shows that you never know who is listening to you.
Also, in my opinion, there are too many SWL’s on the bands and not enough active hams.
We need You!