[CQ-Contest] How frequent to ID? Every QSO? No way!
ve3iay at rac.ca
Tue Jan 18 10:52:10 EST 2005
I believe your analysis of the clones is over-simplified and is missing
some important secondary effects. Clearly the less often one IDs, the more
important these secondary effects become. This is most obvious in the case
of clone #8613, who never ever IDs at the end of a QSO, for the highest
calculated score among all of the clones (8613 QSOs). Can anyone seriously
suggest that this is the best possible strategy?
One such secondary effect is the time lost every time someone asks for the
call sign when it isn't sent. The less often you send your call sign, the
more likely this becomes. It does not need to happen very often to add up
to a significant time over the course of a contest. For example, if we
assume arbitrarily that 10 seconds is lost every time this happens, it only
needs to happen every sixth unsigned QSO to completely wipe out all of the
time gained. If it takes only 5 seconds and happens only every tenth
unsigned QSO, it will not wipe out the gain, but it will make it smaller.
A second effect is the number of times there is a station ready to call you
that would reply if you sent your call sign, but when no call sign is sent
he waits silently until after you send a CQ. Again, this need only happen a
small fraction of the time to start to become significant in terms of total
A third effect is due to good will. ZD8Z has adopted a strategy that takes
into account the needs of the other station, instead of one calculated
purely out of self-interest. Casual and semi-casual operators who notice or
remember this may decide to call him to give him a QSO on other bands,
especially at times when his QSO rate is down and there is no pileup. This
effect may be intangible, but that does not necessarily mean it is unimportant.
A fourth effect depends on your ability to stay alert and adapt your
strategy over a 48-hour contest, as follows: If you are in an ideal
situation where there is a never-ending pileup of stations waiting to work
you, the best calculated strategy would appear to be one where you ID just
frequently enough to avoid other negative side-effects (such as someone
asking for your call sign). This means you should adjust your frequency of
IDs to match the reactions of other stations (size of the pileup, whether
anyone is asking for your call sign, and so on). This in turn means having
to make a decision at the end of every QSO. Towards the end of a 48-hour
contest, the extra mental effort these decisions require may take their
toll, and such an adaptive strategy may be hard to maintain without making
mistakes. Adopting a simpler non-adaptive strategy of IDing every QSO
requires no thinking at all (it is programmed into your contest macros),
and by the end of the contest this simplification in the tasks required of
the operator may be worth quite a few QSO points because of reduced
frequency of errors.
Taking all of these into account, ZD8Z's original strategy does not look so
bad. It is both the simplest strategy and the one that is most friendly to
other stations. The fact that these two advantages are harder to quantify
than counting the number of milliseconds per call does not make them less real.
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