[CQ-Contest] Internet Augmented Contesting

Rick Tavan tavan at tibco.com
Wed Apr 23 12:32:48 EDT 2003

Contest Rate Sheet for April 23 = Ward N0AX said:

>Hmmm.  I log on, run the application, work the contest, and in a few
>minutes all of the log checking is complete, the winners announced
>with validated scores, and the reflectors immediately fill with
>post-contest analysis.	It does give one ideas, doesn't it?


Ideas like:

* real-time leader boards via the Internet
    (sliced and diced by category and locale at viewer's discretion)
* real-time club standings
* How am I doing versus X1XYZ?
* band status reports (total Q's reported in past 10, 30 or 60 mins?)
* mult status reports (number of mults / list of mults reported in a 
time period;
  number of mults / list of mults reported since contest start)
* total Q's reported by band and hour; i.e. a global rate sheet;
    could be tracked separately for different geographies
* time-delayed QSO rejection to allow makeup Q's
    (I.e. who says a bust has to be irrevocable?! Perhaps enforce a 
penalty for
    an uncorrected bust and a smaller or zero penalty for a corrected one?)
* additional features for spectators (commentary, busted Q 
considerations, etc.).
* ...

How about someone (individual or organization) sponsoring a contest 
specifically to try out stuff like this? Ward noted correctly that 
today's Internet may be too "sluggish" for realtime online logging of 
our current types of contests. But for those who do have fast 
connections, it should be tenable to do at least semi-realtime. Forget 
about secure transaction processing; just do something like "tailing" 
log files using FTP or something similar that can buffer around 
slowdowns. (Non-geeks note: Tail is a Unix command that copies records 
from an open file as they are added at the end. FTP is a file transfer 
protocol. Buffers are holding bins that would let Q's accumulate at a 
station or on a remote server until they can be processed.) Adjust the 
rules such that no one's score is dependent on performance or accuracy 
of the Internet features and disclaim responsibility for errors induced 
by the system. Participants must agree to accept such errors in the 
infrastructure like umpires on a ball field, as "part of the field" even 
if they cause specific, individual interferences. A contest like this 
would help us to learn good features and practices and should evolve as 
the majority of contesters establish high speed, always-on connectionsj, 
as the Internet world catches up in other ways and as the online contest 
infrastructure matures. Agree up front that this contest will be so 
plastic that the concept of tracking records from year to year is 
meaningless. Maybe call it an "experiment" rather than a "contest." Once 
the infrastructure and other technologies catch up, true real-time will 
become feasible using similar features and the possibility of 
transaction-level integrity and a stable rules set.

Please don't attack me about any specific suggestion above that you 
don't like. It's intended to be provocative like Ward's original teaser. 
I'm not sponsoring this thing, just trying to goad someone smarter than 
me into doing so. I hope that any followup to this posting is on the 
concept. It would be great if some person or organization then offers to 
set up infrastructure for a specific set of rules and sponsor a contest 
around them. That would be the time to discuss specific features, but 
the brave volunteer would have to be the supreme arbiter since it will 
be his, her or their copious spare time that will have to be invested to 
set it up.

I am prepared to sponsor awards and/or prizes for the organizer and 
winner(s) of the first successful trial of Internet augmented 
contesting; details TBD.


Rick N6XI

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