Contest automation - be careful

CP2235 at CP2235 at
Sun Nov 10 10:36:38 EST 1996


I wasnt very pleased when reading about Tree's last idea of collecting a
database of preffered CW speed for every operator.

You already read Tom's reply about how ridiculous this is, but I want to
contribute something to the discussion as well..

In my opinion, the general problem is that the idea of the contesting sport
was born before the widespread use of computers. So all the rules, the
general layout, and all the aspects that made this new GAME a real THRILL
were invented by guys who did not know about computers. And that is why they
designed contesting exactly the way it is. Remember, contesting is like a
game. When inventing it, the guys thought, oh, if we do it that way, it could
be fun. And nobody was to answer, well but if somebody automates it, it won't
be fun anymore, simply because no one thought about automation. Now our
playground is changing, but contesting as the GENERAL IDEA  (invented decades
ago) IS NOT..And that is why it really is getting ridiculous, the more we
introduce automation into it.

In other words: everybody draws the line of maximum tolerable automation
somewhere else - AGREED.
BUT everybody would also AGREE, that a ham radio contest held on the internet
using the same rules and general setup that we have been using for years
would be absolutely ridiculous and senseless.

But if we go on automating everything, that is exactly where we are going to
This has nothing to do with an anti-tech attitude. It has something to do
with a meaningful use of technics. 
I like technics and like to play with it. Still I enjoy games that were
invented before the all-tech-era. But if I play them I have to play them the
old way to get maximum fun out of them.
Take chess for example: you can be a tech-freak and enjoy a game of chess
anyway. But when playing against your friend you have to leave your lovely
laptop out of the game... Otherwise winning would not be that satisfaction
anymore that it was without computer. On the other hand, if your friend
starts using his computer as well, you will end up playing high-level games,
but I SUSPECT you will get the old kick out of the game. Sure enough you will
be bored, somehow. Chess just wasnt invented to play it with the help of a
If you want another example, take soccer or any other ball game. No technical
problem to equip all the players with small pilot helmets and a little
antenna on top of their head. Using VHF they could lovely talk to each other
player on the ground. They could exactly tell the guy who is supposed to
receive the ball next, where they are going to throw it. Then they tell him,
who should receive it next, and so on...  It sure would help winning the
game. But in the end it would be a little boring, because anybody who played
games like these before knows, that a great part of the satisfaction you get
out of them results from the feeling of utmost understanding (WITHOUT talking
to each other on radio) in a winning team. Same thing, these games just were
not invented for introducing walkie-talkies into them.
You can find lots of other examples if you think about the subject.
On the other hand, if you want to play with all the technics you have at hand
- no problem with that, just go on and pick the PROPER GAME, the game which
does not loose its sense by using all the technics.

You already see what I am driving at:
in my opininon contesting just wasn't invented for the excessive use of
computers in it.
Just look at it this way: 
the reason why I liked contesting so much up to now, is, that it is really
loaded with SEVERAL DIFFERENT kicks you can enjoy if you participate. That
way, it truly was a sport where winning was not the only pleasure. (A subject
which appears in nearly every article dealing with the results of a contest) 
Some of the pleasures already fading away are:

-   finding a new mult - nowadays partly eliminated by packet spotting

-   an old friend calls in and remembers your name - nowadays you have to
believe,             well, he got all the names in a database - no guarantee
he really knows you

-   the described CW scenario: should I turn down the speed or go on and
maybe risk         loosing  time by repeating? Once you might develop a
feeling for the situation and            everytime your experience pays off
you feel happy - soon to be deleted by another         database

-   identifying all those calls in a pile-up  -  partly eliminated by big
    files. When will we experience AUTOCORRECT functions like in a word     
    processing  program with several suggestions for the proper call  out of
    MASTER.DAT to decide from?

-   exchanging meaningful information - ok, 59905 reports are no computer's
fault but
    they do not help making things more interesting

-   dealing quickly and properly with all those pieces of your station and
    maximum results out of it (and sometimes the adrenaline of the trouble
that comes            from misuse) - there it goes away with all those 100
per cent computer/packetCluster        controlled rigs 

see what I mean? Be careful with all those new features, they only have ONE
MORE POINTS. But in my opinion they are sacrificing a whole lot of other
pleasures for it. Coming back to my other examples: sure the computer-aided
chess player will win (at least against most other players...) but what for?
sure the chicago bulls' vhf-team will win - but will they enjoy it?

Tree says, this feature might attract some newcomers to contesting, as they
know, they will be treatened with the appropriate code speed now - all they
have to do is to set their record straight in some database... I say, sad
story if it has to work that way.
On the other hand, a lot of you guys ask, why are there so few newcomers,
especially no young guys? Contesting is aging out, and so on... 
Well, I am 24 years old (you didnt think so?) and I can tell you: some of my
friends sure would have been interested, but when I told them what this is
all about, many of them answered things like: this game seems to be a bit
senseless, if not ridiculous...
Those meaningless exchangings like 59905 were the things they understood
least, but if you look close enough, we have more things like that. Do we
really need more?

This was not written to flame anybody. Just think about it. I hope we can
keep contesting alive and interesting as it really is a nice game in general.

Sorry for my long explanations, but I am still working on my English to get
it shorter...

73, Con DF4SA

Cornelius Paul                          DF4SA
                    CP2235 at

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