[CQ-Contest] Plant lemon trees

Jim Idelson k1ir at designet.com
Sat Jul 27 09:26:37 EDT 2002

WN3VAW said:

>I think we should be more concerned with using the proposed changes in a 
positive way to encourage more potential contesters.<

Thank heaven somebody finally said something a little bit strategic! This is 
the first hint of forward thinking that I've heard in this entire conversation. 
Talking about a 15 day change in the results schedule seems to be an empty 
effort when the implications of this change are much more far-reaching.

Over the past six months, about thirty-five of us got together and contributed 
to a major proposal about ARRL contest coverage which was submitted to the ARRL 
BoD just before their meeting. I didn't expect to get an official reaction from 
HQ right away, but I did expect to hear some reaction and conversation about 
the proposal here on the reflector.

Maybe it was too much trouble to click on one of the links in my previous 
PDF version: http://www.designet.com/k1ir/Downloads/ContestProposal_071702.pdf 
HTML version: http://www.designet.com/k1ir/ContestCoverageProposal_071702.htm

So, I'll attach it here. Unfortunately, the formatting of the charts won't make 
it through the reflector, so you'll have to look at one of the original 
documents if you are interested in those.

Honestly, I am quite disappointed. I was really hoping that you'd take a look 
at the hard work done by your peers and engage the subject fully.

Here are a few points and questions to get you thinking:
1. The group concluded that contest coverage in QST is really lacking, and that 
the pages remaining after line scores are removed should be used much more 
creatively. Ideas have been presented. Which do you like/hate?
2. While the web is now being used to effectively present contest results, 
there is still a need for a more permanent record and for hardcopy. How do we 
do both?
3. The web is much more appropriate for conveying the contesting "experience." 
We can do it with sound, graphics and video. It can be stored. It can be live. 
How can we get this done?

Jim Idelson K1IR
email    k1ir at designet.com
web    http://www.designet.com/k1ir

*********** Forwarded Proposal ***********

Contest Coverage Working Group
Guidelines and Proposals
2 July 2002

Lead Author ? Jim Idelson, K1IR


The Working Group has developed three interrelated proposals and this overview 
document, which addresses the process and integrates the component proposals. 
The proposals are:
Proposal #1:    General Guidelines for Allocating Material between Print and 
Electronic Media
Proposal #2:    New Ideas for Contest-Specific and General Contesting Material
Proposal #3:    New Ideas for On-Line Contest-Specific Data

The goal of these proposals is to serve as a vehicle for defining broad-based 
understandings of what is and is not desirable, as well as to present new ideas 
for coverage. All three are intended to undergo continual revision as new ideas 
are encountered.
The guidelines and proposals presented in this document are not intended to 
address questions such as: the proper balance between contest and non-contest 
content in any particular medium; what constitutes an adequate number of pages; 
or how much contest related content is appropriate in a general readership 
publication such as QST. 


In 2001, faced with the prospects of operating deficits for the next several 
years, the ARRL Board's Administration & Finance Committee requested staff 
identify areas of potential cost reduction. ARRL management's response included 
a plan for publishing QST with fewer pages of editorial content per issue. One 
element of this plan would eliminate contest line scores from QST, to be 
replaced by Web-based line scores. News of this proposal immediately sparked a 
series of reactions from the contesting community expressing concern that 
contesting's presence in QST would be diminished to a damaging degree.
The strength and breadth of feeling in the contest community regarding the 
proposed changes was reflected in the 18 January 2002 joint statement and 
request of U.S. contest clubs addressed to the ARRL Board of Directors and 
signed by the presidents of twelve ARRL-affiliated contest clubs. Following 
through on the contest club presidents? proposal, concerned contesters from 
across the U.S. and Canada have joined forces to form the ad hoc ARRL  Contest 
Coverage Working Group. This group is engaging the issues in a pragmatic and 
constructive manner ? assisting the ARRL staff to find ways of utilizing the 
limited number of QST pages allocated to reporting contest results in concert 
with alternative electronic media to obtain the best possible distribution of 
contest coverage.

New Technology, New Opportunities

QST, NCJ, CQ and the recently demised CQ-Contest magazines have long been the 
primary outlets for contest reporting in the U.S. Due to limited print space, 
the reporting is of necessity rather restricted and has converged on an 
abbreviated format of summary, limited breakdowns, top scores, line scores, and 
a small amount of background information on or from individual competitors.

Web pages and email-distributed newsletters, which have extremely low 
distribution costs, have become new outlets for this material. Because of their 
low cost, constraints on the volume of material have essentially been removed. 
This allows expansion of many elements of contest coverage beyond what any 
print medium could afford. In addition, electronic distribution generally is 
much more timely than print, enabling multiple editions and frequent updates of 
material. It is expected that the current levels of quality and quality control 
for published material would be met or exceeded, regardless of media. 

Electronic media can also go beyond print media in bringing new dimensions of 
contest coverage and information to the audience. With database technology, 
contest logs can be sorted and filtered to meet any imaginable data analysis 
need. Using audio and video technologies, we can now convey more than basic 
reports on contesting; we can truly convey the experience of contesting. 


A number of important points emerged from the discussion, and these points cut 
across all forms of contest coverage. They are summarized below:


One of the most commonly raised issues regarding a shift of line scores from 
QST to the Web is the reduced visibility of the contesting community to the 
broader amateur community, especially to casual participants and potential 
newcomers. It is strongly felt that the acknowledgement from publishing scores 
and calls, no matter how small the score, serves to attract and encourage 
entry-level contesters to the sport.

Contesters at all levels have always been honored to see their call signs and 
performance in the ?bright lights? of QST. With great pride, they like to refer 
other hams to the magazine and show the magazine to their non-ham friends and 
family. There are widely held concerns over the loss of such high-level 
visibility should scores be moved to the Web.

Opportunities for Visibility:

Include contest results announcements in the general news section of 
www.arrl.org with links to full coverage
Use visual cues (highlighted links, graphics, or pop-up windows) to entice 
?surfers? to visit contest coverage
Capture information about those who visit contest sections of the Website and 
solicit them with opportunities to see more coverage
Use the log submission mechanics to obtain email addresses to which results may 
be sent automatically. 
Continue to provide contest report articles in the ?traditional? style, 
including line scores, via an electronic medium. 


Recognizing that various print and electronic media will continue to exist 
separately, and that there will not be a complete duplication of content in the 
various media, every effort must be made to provide many references among the 
different coverage vehicles. This implies many links in the electronic media, 
and many references to Web and email from the print media. For example, QST 
coverage of contests should push readers towards Web-based coverage and 
describe the expanded coverage options available.

Opportunities for Connectivity:
Every printed article should contain numerous and clear references to relevant 
electronic media.
Many active links between electronic media presentations should be introduced 
and maintained.
Cross-references from print media to electronic should not be limited to QST. 
All ARRL publications should cross-reference relevant electronic media.

Ease of Use

As electronic outlets for contest coverage are increasingly employed, it is 
important to ensure that those who wish to view the content have an easy and 
attractive way to navigate amongst the many types and sources of information 
that will be available. The approach to Website navigation and use of email 
will be an important part of the electronic media design.

Suggestions for Ease of Use:
Focus design on accessing all aspects of each contest from a single place ? a 
contest home page for each contest. Include access to rules, announcements, 
current and historical results, discussions, Soapbox, etc ? all from a single 
home page.
Avoid grouping of information by ?type?. For example, listing Soapbox links for 
all contests is not particularly useful, since few if any individual contesters 
will be interested in all contests.

Beyond the Written Word

The real secret to a successful shift from printed media to the Web is in 
taking advantage of the capabilities that are unique to electronic media. If 
use of the Web is restricted to duplicating the same kinds of material that 
would previously have been presented in magazines ? then the transition to 
electronic media will not be as swift and powerful. Implementations using 
electronic media to recreate and convey the excitement of the contesting 
experience will make it impossible for this new approach to fail. 

Opportunities for Going Beyond the Written Word:
Provide data in downloadable format wherever possible
Add audio and video to the types of information available
Include audio and video interviews with the winners and other entrants with 
something of interest to contribute
Allow viewers to add data or audio/video to the available material


Access to electronic media distributed via the Internet is good and continues 
to improve. Even so, Internet access remains far from universal. In 2000, the 
U.S. Census Bureau reported that 51% of U.S. households had a computer and 
41.5% of households had access to the Internet. Neither percentage depended 
strongly on age group for adults in the range of 18?65 years old. The rates of 
computer ownership and Internet access both increase sharply with greater 
household income and higher levels of education. 

Access to the broadband Internet connections, necessary for realizing the full 
potential of powerful multi-media technologies such as video, is rapidly 
improving as well. The FCC reports that 7.0% of U.S. households were subscribed 
to high-speed Internet services as of July 2001, up from 4.7% in January 2001, 
and 1.6% in July 2000.

Focusing specifically on the amateur community, a recent survey commissioned by 
the ARRL concluded that 89% of its members had Internet access although only 
51% of the ARRL membership had registered as users of the ARRL members-only Web 
site by October 2001. The number of electronic versus the number of paper logs 
received by both the ARRL Contest Branch and the CQWW Committee suggest that 
the contesting community already is highly ?wired.?

Suggestions for Accessibility:
Print copies of unabridged contest announcements including the detailed rules 
and ?traditional? contest report articles including line scores should be 
available for those members who lack Internet access.
Content produced for electronic distribution should also be published on 
high-density, archival quality media, e.g. CD-ROM and DVD.

Thinking Globally

Contesters outside of the U.S. constitute a sizeable fraction of today's 
contesting community. Anyone holding to the narrow view that ARRL sponsored 
contests are solely parochial affairs of interest to an exclusively U.S. (or 
North American) audience is in error. Non-U.S. stations submitted 50% of the 
logs received for the 2000 ARRL 10-Meter Contest; 55% of the logs for the 2001 
ARRL International DX Contest; and 70% of the logs for the 2001 IARU HF World 
Championships. In 2000, DX stations accounted for one-third of the 16,000 
contest logs processed by the ARRL Contest Branch and one-third of the scores 
printed in QST.
Clearly, active contesters exist in substantial numbers around the world yet 
they represent a virtually untapped market distinct from the ARRL?s traditional 
membership base. Like their U.S. counterparts, many international contesters 
are enthusiastic and excited about the prospects for expanded and enhanced 
contest coverage being discussed. And they share an interest in viewing such 

Historically, the costs of reaching a worldwide market using print have been 
prohibitive, keeping demand to an absolute minimum. NCJ is not marketed outside 
USA/Canada yet much of its content is relevant to contesters worldwide. The 
very low distribution costs of electronic media now permit existing content and 
expanded coverage to efficiently reach a global audience.

Suggestions for Connecting with A Global Audience:
The ARRL offer non-U.S. contesters access to the expanded and enhanced contest 
coverage on the ARRL Web site; possibly in exchange for payment of an 
appropriate fee.
Use e-mail addresses harvested from log submittals for the targeted marketing 
of expanded contest coverage, NCJ, membership, etc.
Feature contests sponsored by sister IARU societies in reciprocity for similar 
exposure given to ARRL contests. 
Comb international sources for content. Acquire English language rights to the 
best contest related content being produced worldwide.
Cultivate international distribution channels and develop foreign language 
outlets for ARRL contest coverage.

Line Scores

At present, line scores are the largest individual component of contest 
coverage, occupying half the pages of contest reports in QST. Faced with 
falling page counts and shrinking publication budgets but growing 
participation, we are forced to confront a nasty dilemma. Either continued 
publication of line scores displaces all other aspects of contest coverage from 
the pages of QST with contest reports being reduced to a listing of scores and 
call signs. Or the contest related content that is best suited for distribution 
to a broad audience remains in QST with line scores relocated to the Web.

The guidelines in Proposal #1 are intended to be used as an aide when 
considering the optimal utilization of scarce resources. Several types of 
content are judged by the Working Group as being better suited than line scores 
for occupying a limited number of QST pages (see Table 1 in Proposal #1). If 
the ARRL Board of Directors makes the determination to cut deeply into the 
number of QST pages available for reporting contest results, an application of 
these guidelines would lead
one to conclude that the least undesirable alternative is relocating line 
scores to the Web. By using linkages and references, readership can be guided 
to the electronic media where line scores would be published in full and 
possibly even in expanded form, as the 2001 ARRL November Sweepstakes results 

PROPOSAL #1 ? Allocation of Coverage to Print and Electronic Media
Lead Author ? Ward Silver, NØAX
Contributing Authors ? Michael Keane, K1MK and Sylvan Katz, VE5ZX


This proposal addresses the general question of how to allocate the relative 
proportions of contest coverage between print and electronic media. No 
distinction is made between the different forms of either media (i.e. ? 
magazine vs. newsletter or Web page vs. email). No attempt is made to specify 
the details of coverage content or to rank the most valuable, most desirable or 
most enjoyable content.


The purpose is to develop a set of general guidelines to provide guidance to 
publishers for developing and distributing contest coverage material. Also, it 
may serve to encourage discussion about the development of new types and forms 
of material.


Currently, print media is the primary form for distributing contest information 
and results to the amateur radio community. Electronic media, however, is 
rapidly becoming an accepted norm for distributing this type of information due 
to its cost advantages, timeliness and increasing public acceptance. The 
question has become not if, but when and how much contest information should be 
made available electronically.

In this rapidly changing environment, it is important that publishers and 
readers have a good sense of each other?s needs. This document attempts to 
provide information on the general types of contest coverage and the 
suitability of distributing each type of content in print or electronic form.
Print media is discussed as either General or Specialty. General refers to 
media dealing with the full spectrum of ham radio, such as QST. Specialty 
refers to publications aimed at contesters such as NCJ. 

Electronic media is discussed as either Push or Pull. Push refers to actively 
distributed formats, in which information is delivered to the consumer at the 
initiative of the publisher ? the publisher is the active party. Examples of 
push media include newsletters (email or print), bulletins and broadcasts.
Pull refers to passive sources of information, in which information is accessed 
or retrieved from the publisher at the initiative of the consumer ? the reader 
is the active party. Examples of pull media include web pages, bulletin boards, 
ftp sites, books, CD-ROMs and libraries.


Contest announcements and results should be available in printed and digital 
media. An announcement is any advance notice that provides information as the 
time, rules, awards, etc., about a specific contest. The results include 
information describing any aspect of the contest that is distributed after the 
Table 1 shows the relative suitability of using each of these media to 
distribute specific announcement and results content; i.e. ? Is the medium the 
one best suited to distribute this type of information to the target audience? 
The suitability of each content type is rated as high, limited or low. The 
ratings attempt to account for all aspects of the medium including cost, 
quality, readership, archival, timeliness, etc. The ratings are defined as 
   High    ?    the medium is well suited to both the information and the 
target audience.
   Limited    ?     the medium is not the best method for distribution of the 
information to the target audience.
   Low    ?    the medium is poorly suited to the information, the target 
audience or both; distribution of the information via this medium may be 
inefficient, untimely or costly

Table 1 ? General Allocation Guidelines

PROPOSAL #2 ? New Ideas for Contest-Specific and General Contesting Material
Lead Author ? Brian D. Smith W9IND
Contributing Authors ?Ward Silver NØAX, Gary Breed K9AY


This proposal discusses existing contest print coverage. New ideas for coverage 
are presented, both for print and electronic media. Details of implementation 
are not addressed, neither is the allocation of coverage between types of 


The purpose of this proposal is to:
Assess and critique current contest coverage in the print media. 
Suggest how to improve coverage in both print and electronic media. 
Contribute new ideas for coverage in multiple media.


The ARRL Staff responsible for publishing a QST having fewer pages per issue 
has proposed to allocate the limited resources available for reporting contest 
results in ways that are appropriate for a general-readership, monthly 
magazine. This, they believe, would save money and create more space for 
articles of greater general interest. 

The following proposal deals mainly with the latter objective. As stated in 
Point 5 of the ?Joint Statement and Request of U.S. Contest Clubs on the 
Proposal to Eliminate Detailed Contest Results from QST,? the coalition of 
ARRL-affiliated contest clubs intends to assist QST in ?making such coverage 
more attractive and interesting to a much wider audience than has been the case 
to date.?

In striving to attain this goal, the lead author has drawn from about a quarter 
century of professional journalism experience as a magazine editor, newspaper 
reporter and freelance writer. The approach of this proposal is neither complex 
nor radical; it simply suggests journalistic techniques and angles 
traditionally used in the creation of newspaper and magazine feature stories, 
newswriting and sportswriting. These approaches are not unknown to QST, but 
perhaps by utilizing them more often, the magazine would enhance its contest 

Critique of Existing Coverage

QST?s current coverage includes the calls and scores of every entrant, and in 
this respect, its articles could not be more thorough for anyone seeking such 
information. The lead-in text that precedes the contest results is often 
concise, matter-of-fact and esoteric, and perhaps more interesting to hard-core 
contesters than the average ham. As long as this is true, QST may find it 
difficult to justify devoting so much space to contest coverage.

Possible Alternatives
QST could revamp the format of the coverage so that (1) the articles are more 
interesting to non-contesters and (2) hams with little contesting experience 
are encouraged to get in the game. 

General Interest Coverage

One alternative is to make the coverage more like a ?game story? found on a 
sports page. For instance, rather than covering a contest from the standpoint 
of final scores (?Club ABC got 7.4 million points in the multi-multi category 
to edge Club XYZ, which scored 7.2 million?) ? as is typically done in QST ? 
the magazine could approach it from a ?you are there? angle: ?Club ABC?s 
contest effort almost ended before it began. Only three hours before the start 
of the ARRL DX Contest, a severe thunderstorm packing 70 mph winds sent their 
tallest antenna tumbling and the entire club scrambling. But a nifty bit of 
improvisation put the station back on the air only 12 minutes before midnight 
in Greenwich ?,? etc. Stories like these would have universal appeal, 
regardless of whether the average reader cared deeply about contesting.

How to round up such information? The contest page on the ARRL Web site already 
has a Soapbox, in which contesters can post their impressions, complaints, 
reminiscences, anecdotes, etc., regarding each contest. All that?s needed is to 
set up a similar Web site and inform contestants that QST is looking for any 
good stories from the contest. Or the magazine could invite them to e-mail this 
information. The author of the story could then scan the contributed copy for 
the best tales. Many quotes could be lifted directly from the posts or e-mails, 
and further information could be gathered via follow-up e-mail, landline and/or 
even an on-air sked.

New Approaches 

Looking more closely at newspaper sports sections, we find further inspiration 
and possibilities. We see that not everything on every page is a game story: 
There are also feature stories, profiles, personal columns and ?pre-games? 
(stories previewing important games and events ? for instance, ?The Los Angeles 
Lakers may face their toughest challenge of the year when the Dallas Mavericks 
come to town Friday ??). The same elements and techniques that sustain sports 
pages across America could be employed in contesting coverage.

Feature stories, a broad category, might include topics such as ?How our club 
prepares for a multi-multi event? ? everything from how to recruit and schedule 
operators to what food and drink to keep in the fridge. There could be 
discussions of contesting tips and techniques: ?What to do when a solar flare 
zaps the HF bands in the middle of a contest.?

Profiles could run the gamut ? from the 88-year-old guy who organized the first 
ARRL Whatever Contest to the club that?s won the last 10 CQWW multi-multi 
Personal columns could also include a broad range of topics, from serious to 
humorous (?WPX: For once in my life, I?m as rare as Mongolia? by WY9A ? or ?How 
contesting enabled me to finally achieve DXCC?).

?Pre-games? would supplement the traditional pre-contest coverage, which 
typically consists of a long list of rules and regulation. Such information is 
valuable to veteran contesters, but complicated and potentially off-putting to 
beginners. Naturally, no one wants to embarrass himself on the air, so many 
hams who might enjoy contesting may instead decide to forgo the contest rather 
than risk ridicule.

Attracting Newcomers

Contesters are often viewed by non-contesters as insular and cliquish (not to 
mention pushy). Undoubtedly, some contesters are less than courteous in the 
heat of the battle. But as every contester knows, great scores depend on great 
participation. We need the newcomers ? as many as we can get. So how to make 
them feel welcome? 

QST and several Web sites publish information on upcoming contests, but the 
rules may seem overly complex to the uninitiated. A better alternative might 
involve creating what?s known in the journalism business as a sidebar. USA 
Today is fond of sidebars ? read a story about Barry Bonds? current home run 
total and you might also see a sidebar about ?Most home runs in April ? 
all-time bests,? etc. Read any newspaper travel story and you?ll often find a 
sidebar that summarizes the key information: ?Destination: Louisville, 
Kentucky. Major tourist attractions: Located on the Ohio River, home of 
Churchill Downs ?? etc.

It is this user-friendly format ? the sidebar, which would accompany the 
?pre-game? write-up ? that would work best in attracting newcomers to 
contesting. Instead of having to wade through a plethora of technical data, a 
rookie contester could simply glance at the sidebar and learn instantly what 
the contest was about and how to participate in it, even if he or she had only 
a couple of hours to do so.

Here?s how it might work (?Announced DXpeditions? might lure non-contesting 
DXers who are chasing DXCC and other awards):
Contest: ARRL International DX Contest
Date: CW, Feb. 16-17; Phone, March 2 and 3. 
How to participate: Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands. If you?re 
in the United States or Canada, you can?t work any station in either country ? 
look for DX stations only. For DX stations, the same applies in reverse.
What to say: Give a signal report and your state (for Americans), province (for 
Canadians) or power in watts (DX stations).
Announced DXpeditions: HKØHAM, San Andes Island, CT3QRP, Madeira Islands, etc.
Quirks: Split operation on 40 because DX stations are assigned to different 
frequencies, etc.
Best reason to participate: You can attain DXCC in one weekend.
Relative challenge: Easy for all. (Note: An EME contest would obviously get a 
different answer.) 
Web links: http://www.arrl.org/contests/rules/2002/intldx.html
Records: Yet another way to increase interest in contesting is to stoke hams? 
competitive fires. How to do that? Create a Web site that provides easy access 
to every record in every major contest. A good reference for records would list 
more than the ?top? result in a particular category.  By publishing many 
results near the top (e.g., top 10, or all of the past results within 10% of 
the current high spot), competitors can try to sneak into the listing even 
though conditions might not permit them to break an all-time record. An 
excellent reference would contain links to more material: the actual log, 
technical detail about the station which made the record, operator background, 

This will give potential contest entrants a great many targets to shoot at ? 
and might very well convince a casual contester to go at it for the full 48 
hours. A ham who knows only the single-op, all-band record might say, ?Oh well, 
no way am I going to beat that. So I?ll just do a few hours here and there.? 
But what if W8HAM discovered that the CQWW 8-land single-op assisted record for 
10 meters was tantalizingly low? That puts a different spin on things, doesn?t 

New Ideas for Coverage

Story Ideas: The final part of our proposal offers story ideas that (hopefully) 
will interest a general audience. The following is a list of 20 potential 
stories or sidebars that could be included with contest coverage. There are 
obviously many other possibilities.

Trend stories ? ?20 percent of all contesting records were broken in the year 
2000,? etc. A snapshot of where contesting is going.
A feature story about the op who holds more contest records than anyone alive.
The superstations: A guide to the greatest contest stations in America/the 
world. Perhaps a sidebar on the tallest ham antennas in existence (used in 
The best contesting conditions in history. (Consider sunspots, weather, rare DX 
stations competing, etc.) A nostalgia piece loaded with anecdotes about how 
sweet it was.
You are there: A weekend with a championship contest team, from planning to 
The world?s best contest location(s). (Not stations ? this story would give 
scientific reasons for why, say, a place next to salt water is better than a 
spot in the middle of Midwest farm country. Or why a QTH on the East Coast is 
ideal for working Europe on several bands (or whatever).
Wild weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and other examples of nature?s 
wrath ? and how their inopportune appearances ruined some major contests or 
contesting efforts.
Profile of a ham who contests only with homebrew equipment. Or antique 
How to work your way up to the big leagues. What separates a good contester 
from a rookie? How do you work several stations a minute? What are the most 
common mistakes a newcomer makes?
How to organize a multi-multi effort. Everything from scheduling to feeding the 
How to secure a great contesting QTH. A guide to the best locations, and 
perhaps a list of specific sites that rent to hams and are already equipped 
with antennas.
Big guns with little signals. A feature story about the best QRP contesters, 
and what they do right.
The case for contesters. Why shouldn?t America?s biggest and best stations form 
the backbone of the nation?s civil defense/emergency response efforts? 
Point/counterpoint: Examining the age-old issue of contest QRM versus ?it?s 
only one weekend?/?why don?t you ragchew on the WARC bands??
On a similar note, a story about the fact that some contesters have been cited 
by the FCC for deliberate interference during a contest. Is this truly fair, 
given the fact that some have said they couldn?t even hear the stations they 
were supposedly QRMing?
A brief history of contesting. How did it all start? 
Back when. Interviews with the oldest living contesters, and what contesting 
was like in their day.
The lean years. How can you enjoy contesting when the sunspot count is at or 
near zero? What?s the best strategy?
Which band is best? A guide to choosing the best band for a single-band 
contesting effort. How do the sunspot count, the A index, the weather, etc., 
help determine the answer?    
Overcomers. Not necessarily the best contesters, just the most inspiring ones, 
such as a ham who suffered a stroke but nevertheless fires up the rig as part 
of his therapy, etc.

Multimedia - Audio and Video

Electronic media creates entirely new opportunities for contest coverage. Not 
only can traditional presentations be distributed at vastly lower expense and 
with higher volume, they can include new types of information as well. Audio 
and video recordings, as well as interactive graphics, can bring completely new 
dimensions to contest coverage. The ARRL is already providing audio recordings 
of QSOs in association with other Web coverage, for example.

Contest coverage would greatly benefit from the following types of multimedia 
Audio recordings of contest QSOs 
Audio/video recordings of elements associated with the contest (pre-, during, 
and post-contest)
Photo ?stills? and slide shows
Interviews with the experts
Live and still graphics generated by the ARRL and by entrants

Because the amount of effort to create this type of information is substantial, 
it is strongly recommended that the ARRL provide a hosting facility for contest 
entrants to contribute or post their own information as is currently done with 
Soapbox. The size and duration of the postings could be limited to manage the 
amount of data space required. The issue of reviewing each post for appropriate 
content would also have to be addressed.

Because these new coverage elements are quite rich in content, they are also 
likely to generate discussion and comment by the viewers. In order to focus the 
discussion, it would be useful to create a posting service on the contest Web 
site where individual comments could be posted for public comment.

Viewers will have widely divergent access bandwidths ranging from 28.8 kbps 
dial-ups to broadband. If possible, server technology capable of sensing link 
capability (or allowing the user to specify the link characteristics) should be 
used for distribution of the larger elements. An alternative would be to 
provide large and small versions of elements, where practical.

PROPOSAL #3 ? On-Line Distribution of Contest Data
Lead Author ? Ward Silver, NØAX
Contributing Authors ? Michael Keane, K1MK and Sylvan Katz, VE5ZX


This proposal describes the types of contest data that should be made publicly 
available on-line. Detailed data formats are not covered.


This document is a summary of ideas and suggestions contributed by individuals 
in the contesting community. It is hoped it will serve to stimulate discussion 
and produce more ideas.


Until very recently, the only type of contest data available to contestants was 
printed and PDF documents that tabulated the scores of class leaders, gave 
selected entrant breakdowns, and provided line scores of all entrants. Contest 
data in a digital form suitable for doing detailed post-contest analysis has 
not been available. With the advent of the Web it is has become technically 
easy and cost-effective to make contest data available to everyone in a format 
suitable for analysis. The excellent 2001 ARRL November Sweepstakes reportage 
clearly points the way to making improved data sets available.

We expect that detailed post-contest analysis will assist individuals and the 
contesting community as a whole in gaining a deeper understanding and 
appreciation of what transpires during a contest. Ideally, making data 
available will spur novel ideas that lead to creative improvements. 

Machine-Readable Results

Quantitative contest results that are normally presented in the printed or PDF 
documents, such as line scores, leader boxes, records, etc., should also be 
made available as machine-readable tables of data. In order to perform accurate 
and detailed contest analysis the following data is of particular interest to 
the contesting community: 
The output of the log checking process for any entry
Supplementary details about a contestant?s equipment and precise geographic 
location (e.g. Maidenhead grid locator or latitude-longitude coordinates)
Data that is provided should be in common formats suitable for importing into 
standard logging programs, databases and spreadsheet packages. Examples of such 
formats would be Cabrillo format for log data and CSV or tab delimited format 
for tabular.

The following sections list the individual data elements recommended to be 
present in each type of data.
Log Data
Summary (Header)
Station and operator call signs
Entry Class
Geographical Region
Other contest-specific grouping criteria
QSO data
Time and Date
Exchange (Sent & Received)
Log checking output 
Entry Supplemental Data
Station and operator call signs
Entry Class
Geographical Region
Equipment Summary
Other contest-specific grouping criteria

We note that the techniques and tools for providing on-line resources are 
evolving rapidly. On-line resources are also likely to create a demand for new 
types of data, as well. These recommendations are only a start.

Third-Party Analysis

Contest analysis provided by individual entrants should be accompanied by 
supporting data tables, graphic objects, and program descriptions or ideally, 
the programs themselves. The sponsor may also create novel analysis metrics 
that are made available electronically via a database.

Examples of Novel Metrics:
Evaluation of geographical impact on performance
Propagation analysis based on geographical data
Accuracy metrics and comparisons
Operator ranking and rating systems
Comparative performance-over-time (horse races)

Open Access to Results & Data

Currently some contest content, e.g. expanded coverage for the 2001 ARRL 
November Sweepstakes, is available only on the members-only section of the ARRL 
Web site. While other content, e.g. PDF versions of the contest report articles 
from QST, is placed initially on the members-only section for a proprietary use 
period prior to its publication in QST. Open access is granted after the 
article appears in QST and the PDF files are moved to the general user section 
of the Web site.

It is appropriate for the bulk of enhanced and expanded contest coverage, 
including narrative articles, leader boxes, contest analysis, video, audio, 
etc., to remain on the members-only section of the ARRL Web site. Some content 
may be released for general consumption after an appropriate proprietary period 
at the ARRL?s discretion.

However, it is strongly recommended that open access, or at least access for 
all contest participants, to some minimum set of data be provided. And that 
access is granted to these data as soon as they become available.

Suggested Components for An Open Access Data Set:
Log data 
Line scores in machine-readable form
Publication of Log Data

The DX community frowns upon providing public access to log data that includes 
full QSO details. Such access is seen as enabling a form of ?data mining? that 
would allow an unscrupulous station to claim credit for a log entry that in 
truth represents a busted QSO.

Suggestions for Insuring Integrity:
Release log data only to individuals who submit a log themselves
Prohibit the further redistribution of log data by recipient
Do not release log data until log checking process is completed.
Investigate ways for ARRL Contest Branch to share log checking results with the 
DXCC Program and Logbook of the World project. 

Privacy Issues

As important as what data should be available is insuring that sensitive 
personal information is not released. While certain personal information such 
as a licensee?s name and mailing address is currently included in the log that 
an entrant submits, this information is already a matter of public record and 
readily available from multiple sources. Other, potentially more sensitive, 
personal information about the entrant is not included in the log at present 
and it is our recommendation that this should continue to be the case. 

Suggestion to Safeguard Privacy:
Personal data that is not readily available from a public source should not be 
published or released. 

Preserving Participation

The mandatory release of log data as a condition of entry may cause certain 
contesters either to forgo participating in a contest or, if they do 
participate, to not submit a log.

Suggestions for Preserving Participation:
Include a mechanism in the log submittal process so that each entrant must 
affirmatively authorize the publication and release of their log data.
Allow individuals to ?opt out? of sharing their log data without being 

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