[CQ-Contest] An Examination of K1TTT's Reports

Sat Mar 14 05:51:42 PDT 2009

> I have argued that these incidences should be reported to the contest
> sponsor and handled privately between the sponsor and the individual
> being reported. 

They are, and maybe the sponsors do, but we never hear about it directly...
and it is most likely a long time after the fact, if ever.

> The third section labeled "Cheerleader report" is where we get into the
> areas I believe are harmful to ham radio and contesting. First, there is
> nothing I have read (perhaps I am wrong and missed something) that
> prevents friends from spotting friends on the cluster. 

This section is often a lead in to other cases further down the report.  In
this latest report some of the cheerleaders were actually fake spotters.  In
some other cases in the past it appeared that there were pre-arranged
spotting requests... now that is one you can really mull over, if you can't
ask to be spotted during the contest, what about asking someone to spot you
during the contest before the contest starts??  That sure sounds like making
scheds before the contest which is illegal.  Maybe this one isn't spelled
out as specifically, but it sure stinks in my book.

> Therefore, if CT2HHM wants to spot his friend CT2GSN 46 times, it is
> within his right to do so. Many of you don't like it, but it isn't a
> violation of the rules.

Of course its not written into the rules now, but what if ct2gsn had asked
ct2hmm to spot him during the contest?

> I think this cheerleader report is the most distasteful form of cheap
> entertainment obtained from K1TTT's report.

Entertainment... somehow the hours it takes to compile that report don't
seem to be lots of fun.

> Then there is section labeled "Single Spotter Report" which in this last
> contest was left empty. Why? Was it because there was nothing to report
> having entertainment value? As Dave states, "it looked unremarkable
> anyway".

I said nothing about not having entertainment value... I said it looked
unremarkable.  If you look at some past reports you can see what normally
shows up in this section... perhaps the cheaters are getting smarter and
avoiding using unique calls, or are using the same calls more than once, so
this part of the report isn't as useful as it used to be.

> Now we get to the nitty gritty of the report. The guts of what we claim
> to be after. The self spotters report. Why don't we call this the
> "Cheaters Report". After all, we have no problem calling the friends of
> the spotted cheerleaders, so why not call these people "cheaters"?

I don't call this the 'self spotters' report.  In fact the only places I use
the term 'self spot*' is when referring to undisguised ones where they are
obviously using their own call to make the spots.  

> I reviewed dozens of these "self spotter" cases. In some cases, on the
> surface, it appears quite clear that someone using an IP address of an
> ISP local to the station spotted, used a foreign call sign and spotted
> the DX call. Why would anyone do that? TO CHEAT I TELL YOU! It can be
> the ONLY reason!!!

Ah, so you do agree that I have found something that is against the rules.
So, which would you prefer, that I forward the data to the black hole of
contest log checkers and hope that something is done, and where I will never
hear the outcome... or publish the information so action can be taken right
away to prevent continued cheating, either intentional or otherwise??

> But is it? What if the guy spotting himself simply wants to increase his
> pileup, thus increasing his fun for the day or weekend? What if he
> really doesn't care about winning the contest? Is he a cheater? Should
> he be included in this report?

We won't know if he is a "cheater" until he sends in a log.  No log, no
cheating, you can only be cheating if you are actually in the contest, and
the only way to know that is if you send in a log.  And since I do these
well before the log deadline I can't make that determination.  If he just
wants to increase his pileup then why keep changing callsigns used for
making the spots?  Why go through all the trouble to connect to different
nodes than he normally uses to make the spots?  Why use the clunky dxsummit
web site when you can spot yourself faster and more accurately using a real
cluster node?  Circumstantial, yes... but murder cases can be built on
enough circumstantial evidence, even without a body!

> What if the person being spotted isn't doing the spotting at all? What
> if it were a competitor? WHAT? A competitor pretending to be me and
> making it look like I was self spotting? Is that even possible?

Sure, that is why it's up to the contest sponsors to determine who is
cheating and take the final action.  At least with the report published soon
after the contest you have a chance to notice this and gather your own data
instead of being blindsided by a dq notice much later. 

As far as a competitor trying to make you look bad, those cases appear to be
pretty rare... consider this, you spot your competition using a bunch of
different callsigns, does that help or hurt his score??  Well if you believe
the network works then it helps his score.  So there are 2 ways to use the
network to screw up your competition... make spots where he isn't so
everyone's band map gets the wrong frequency.  That can take lots of work,
do you have enough time to dedicate to respot someone that often?  Many
stations get respotted every few minutes, but the dupe filters take them
out, unless you have put in one on a different frequency... so by trying to
hurt you help them get more spots on the right frequency.  Or, you can try
to get them onto my report and accused of self spotting.  To make that stick
you would have to have an ip address in the same area that they are
operating from, otherwise the spots would look like normal spots, or would
look like a cheerleader somewhere else, which as you point out is not
against the rules.  So you spend a lot of time getting to and posting spots
through some kind of proxy that happens to be in the right area just hoping
that someone notices the discrepancy, all the while helping their score...
sure doesn't sound like a winning strategy to me, better to spend the time
making your own contacts to help your own score.

> Some of these reports contain many "self spots" while others just a few.
> But we embarrass them equally. I noticed that on all these reports two
> important pieces of information were missing. The date and the time of
> each spot is missing!
> Why are these pieces of information excluded from the report? Is it not
> important to know when a person cheated?

You want date and time, download the raw data, I make that available to
anyone who is interested.  I have enough trouble formatting the columns
without adding that to it.

> In my case, I could log onto dozens of clusters using literally dozens
> of unique IP addresses and I can assure you NONE of you would know. Not
> even Dave! So, are we really catching the cheaters? Seems to me, if
> people want to cheat, they'll cheat.

If you go through that much trouble to cheat you deserve every sour qso that
you make.  Make enough extra spots for yourself to make a difference and you
better have a good strategy for distributing them or you'll make my report.
Lets see, 6y1v got spotted 364 times, that's 15 per hour or one every 4
minutes.  How many more spots will it take to improve your score?  Remember,
putting in those spots is only one part of it, to be effective they have to
avoid dupe filters, country of origin filters set by nodes and users, and be
on bands that are open to areas that have operators who are assisted and
still need you for a qso... combine those requirements with the problems of
arranging the proxies and you have an effort akin to a major advertising
campaign... its probably less effort to turn the power up 3db, a much easier
way of cheating.

> I hope some of you are getting the picture. Sunshine isn't the best
> disinfectant. In fact, if it were, Dave (K1TTT) would be out of a job.

I wish I could work my way out of a job... but there are new people getting
in to contesting, or just learning about the cluster system, all the time.
If you notice there are very few repeat offenders.  There are a couple that
show up regularly on the cheerleading report because of those pesky
neighbors, but very few repeat offenders in other classes.  If you go way
back to when I started doing these you would notice callsigns of some well
known contesters... where are they now?  The recent ones I know who have
contacted me or like the PU who was discussed on here have been new
operators, or operators who were new to being assisted and had never thought
about cluster spotting rules. 

> Peer pressure isn't working. In many cases, it will never work because
> not everyone has the same objectives as you when contesting.

But it does work, note the PU case and another VE case that I don't think
made the reflector discussion from the ssb test.

> If you want to find and punish the cheaters, you'll need a better
> solution. In my opinion, the packet cluster in conjunction with, the
> current rules lends itself to cheating. It's a cesspool of trouble.

Then change the rules.... but that is a different endless discussion.

> In fact, why not shut down the clusters during contests? That will solve
> lots of problems.

Another endless discussion.

> If you're in favor of keeping the cluster and the current cluster rules,
> form an ethics committee to investigate and handle these reports,
> dealing with individual privately, particularly until the facts are
> known. Put pressure on the contest sponsors to enforce the rules,
> including deadlines and rules violations.

Yet another endless discussion.

> Remember, amateur radio, and how it is perceived is more than a hobby,
> but radio contesting is just a hobby. Lighten up, have some fun and be
> nice to one another.

And I am trying to help the perception to the rest of the ham radio
community also.  There are non-contesters who have been offended by their
call being abused on the cluster by contesters, that can't be good.  And
there are other watchdogs on the cluster who often spot fake spotters faster
than I do and harass them over the network, that's not good either since it
goes around the world to more non-contesters than contesters... at least
mine goes to a contest specific list, if someone isn't a contester and makes
my report they probably never see it or care.  If someone in the report is a
contester they frequently do get a copy of the report either via cq-contest
or forwarded to them personally or to a list they are on by someone who
knows them.  And actually I think I am being nice, even to those who make
the list... I have had many private exchanges where a station owner like
yourself has thanked me for pointing out something a guest op did that they
hadn't noticed.  This lets them deal with the problem before it gets to the
contest log checkers, possibly avoiding embarrassment much later when its
harder to learn from it.

Enough of this... I have too much aluminum to assemble... we can discuss
this again after the next major contest, say in 2 or 3 weeks?

David Robbins K1TTT
e-mail: mailto:k1ttt at arrl.net
web: http://www.k1ttt.net
AR-Cluster node: 145.69MHz or telnet://dxc.k1ttt.net

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