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[CQ-Contest] FW: Changes to the ARRL DX Contest?

To: CQ Contest <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: [CQ-Contest] FW: Changes to the ARRL DX Contest?
From: "Mike McCarthy, W1NR" <lists@w1nr.net>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 05:37:46 -0400
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
From: Dick Green WC1M [mailto:wc1m73@gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 12:59 AM
To: 'k3lr@k3lr.com'; 'Dick Green WC1M'; ka2anf@arrl.org; 'Kutzko, Sean,
KX9X'; 'Patton, David NN1N'; n2mg@contesting.com; 'Ward Silver'
Cc: n3llr@arrl.org; n3kn@arrl.org; CAC-I; YCCC (yccc@yccc.org)
Subject: RE: Changes to the ARRL DX Contest? 


Hi Tim,


The facts on CAC activities have not been reported accurately.


The CAC has not taken a final vote on any issue related to ARRL DX. We're
still in the process of reviewing the rules and discussing possible
improvements. I tried to explain that to NS3T, editor of the RadioSport news
website, but I guess controversy sells ads more effectively than the mundane
truth. To be crystal clear: the CAC is in discussion mode, not decision


Here's how the misunderstanding got started: During the course of our
discussions, I often ask CAC members for a show of hands, a straw poll if
you will, to determine how the group is leaning on a particular issue.
Usually this is so we can move on and discuss the next topic while leaving
plenty of time and room for members to refine their thinking, gather more
input and perhaps change their minds as the project unfolds. It's not
uncommon for various issues to be interconnected, so we need to be flexible
about positions taken earlier in the process. At the end of a tasking, when
we've concluded discussion of all topics, we hold a formal vote on each
recommendation to be sent to the Programs and Services Committee (PSC.)
That's the vote that counts.


What happened is that the preliminary vote on distance-based scoring, along
with some of our private reflector emails, were leaked to a person outside
the CAC, and that person evidently became alarmed that a decision had been
made to change ARRL DX and gave the emails to NS3T. As I said, I attempted
to tell NS3T that we hadn't made any final decisions yet, but he chose to
report the story as if we had. Lots of misinformation, unnecessary panic and
worry has ensued. For example, there was a big flap that the CAC has decided
to put a time limit on single-ops. It's true we were in the process of
discussing that possibility at the time, but only about one third of the CAC
reps had expressed support for it. An equal number had come out against it,
and the remainder hadn't expressed an opinion at all. Hardly overwhelming
support. Nevertheless, the most recent issue of RadioSport has a whole
sidebar devoted to debating the issue.


What most people don't understand about the CAC is that ours is a creative
process. We need some freedom to discuss new ideas, study them, kick them
around, test them, turn them inside out, and try to come to some conclusions
that make sense. We've done that often during the seven years I've been on
the CAC, and many of the ideas we considered never saw the light of day (you
should have seen the many iterations of wording we considered for CW Skimmer
policy!) It's a somewhat messy, sausage-making process involving 16 people
with diverse opinions. It's not the sort of process where you can predict
the outcome by peeking in the middle.


In the case of distance-based scoring, there was an even more important
reason for a show of hands. There was surprising support for the concept,
but different opinions on how the rankings would be affected by
distance-bases scoring. It was clear that different algorithms would produce
different results, and no one really knows exactly which algorithm might be
acceptable, if any. It's all speculation, with no hard facts. I felt we
needed to do better than that, and was not prepared to have us recommend
distance-based scoring without examining the results of several different
scoring algorithms. The best way to do that is to rescore the logs from
every ARRL DX contest for the last solar cycle and see how the rankings
would have been affected. That's a feasible project for our log checker, but
I wasn't about to ask him to do all that work unless there was enough
support on the CAC for the concept. Hence, the preliminary vote. I might add
that this preliminary vote was taken several weeks ago, not recently, and
the result was not 10-2. It was more lopsided than that. It's likely that
support was strong because the members wanted to see the data and knew a
final decision won't be made until we see it.


I understand your point about the tradition of ARRL DX and the existing
records. I doubt that any member of the CAC is insensitive to this, and it
will surely be discussed further and considered before our final vote on any
recommended changes. Clearly, the benefits of a change that would invalidate
comparison with past scores must be compelling. But we won't have that
conversation until we see the data on distance-based scoring and see how the
CAC members feel about it then.


Further, the CAC never takes changes to contest rules lightly. During my
tenure on the CAC, we've reviewed many contest rules, sometimes extensively,
but have recommended very few changes. The prevailing sentiment on the CAC
has been "no change" and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Probably the
biggest thing we've done during my tenure as Chair is to clarify the policy
on remote receivers and CW Skimmer. Those were controversial topics, and we
were very careful with them. We will be just as careful with ARRL DX. Also,
there's another layer of review: as I'm sure you're aware, all
recommendations by the CAC require approval by the Awards Committee or
Programs and Services Committee.


As for getting input from the contest community, ARRL Advisory Committee
members are required to assess the opinions of ARRL members in their
Division on policy matters before the CAC. The method for doing so isn't
specified, so CAC reps are free to gather input any way they see fit. We all
read the reflectors, of course. Most of us consult privately with contesters
who we know and respect, particularly those with experience and expertise in
matters we're discussing. We certainly consult contesters in our Division,
but I'm pretty sure most of us consult contesters outside our Division, too.
For example, if I happen to see you at the Dayton Contest Suite, I might
discuss a CAC issue with you over a beer. It's very informal: a couple of
weeks ago, I had an unplanned discussion about distance-based scoring with
some YCCC members at a club BBQ. One thing I don't do is air each and every
CAC issue on the YCCC reflector. In my experience, reflectors are a poor way
to gather opinions. Often the conversation is dominated by the most
articulate (or loudest) participants, and often there are as many for a
given position as there are against it. For reference, recall the months of
posts about CW Skimmer on the CQ_Contest reflector. Lots of heat, no light.


All that said, different CAC reps go about gathering input in different
ways. I see that you copied N2MG on your email, and I encourage you to
continue discussing the issues with Mike. However, I do feel that
discussions about distance-based scoring are going to be more fruitful once
we have data on what the likely results will be. Fortunately, there's plenty
of time to gather the data and for contesters to give their CAC reps input
on ARRL DX. We're quite a ways off from making any final recommendations.


I'd appreciate it if you would forward this email to the FRC reflector. I
don't think I can post to it without being a member.


If you have any further questions about the CAC or the ARRL DX tasking,
please don't hesitate to contact Mike or me.


73, Dick WC1M

NE CAC Rep, Chair


From: Tim Duffy K3LR [mailto:k3lr@k3lr.com] 
Sent: Sunday, June 19, 2011 10:27 AM
To: 'Dick Green WC1M'; ka2anf@arrl.org; 'Kutzko, Sean, KX9X'; 'Patton, David
NN1N'; n2mg@contesting.com; 'Ward Silver'
Cc: n3llr@arrl.org; n3kn@arrl.org
Subject: Changes to the ARRL DX Contest? 
Importance: High




I understand that the ARRL CAC is discussing (I thought) possible changes to
the ARRL DX contest - most notably in the area of QSO distance scoring. It
now has been reported (this morning) that the CAC has taken a vote on this
very significant change. That was quick. The CAC chairman reports that
discussions are going on, then NN3W reports that a vote was already taken -
all in the span of 24 hours.


I am disappointed that there wasn't a request for lots of input on this
subject - from the contesting community - which I (and others) could have
contributed to - at the division CAC level.


I urge you to consider any modifications - very seriously - before
recommending changes for this contest - to the Awards Committee. Even with a
vote of 10 to 2 to "do something" - it does not mean that the CAC needs to
take any action to recommend changes to the PSC or AC. I urge you to
reconsider making any change to the scoring calculations of the ARRL DX


I am not sure what the "intent" of your study/discussion/vote is (would like
to learn more from my Atlantic Division CAC representative) but the history
of the ARRL International DX Contest is very deep and the tradition
extremely strong - with records going back many - many years - a model of
consistency. Changes to the scoring will invalidate (or at least diminish)
YEARS of hard work by thousands of guys with the single sweep of one rule
change. Do not take this lightly.


I am all for progressive "tweaks" - that will enhance existing contests or
increase participation in them. Please look at the history book at some of
the prior ARRL DX contest changes - that did not go well (DX working DX) -
that ended up being fixed (reversed). This caused confusion and problems for


I encourage you to exercise extraordinary care and respect for this contest
- that has priceless value to many amateur radio operators around the world.


What the ARRL DX Contest DOES NEED - is a Contest manager (KX9X is doing a
superb job at HQ - but he needs a focused DX contest manager) - exactly the
same way K5KA was the contest manager of Sweepstakes. The ARRL DX Contest
Manager needs to understand the contest inside and out (history) - AND they
need to actively promote (new technologies, activity, clubs, etc.) the ARRL
DX contest at every opportunity. 


You want to see momentum build for this classic operating event; get someone
to take the bull by the horns and be a champion for the ARRL International
DX Contest!


Very 73,

Tim K3LR



YCCC Reflector mailto:yccc@contesting.com
Yankee Clipper Contest Club  http://www.yccc.org
Reflector Info: http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/yccc

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