[CQ-Contest] unscrupulous and frustrating

Ward Silver hwardsil at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 08:31:27 PST 2010

>> A simple response is to only spot prefixes. It would be an interesting feature for logging software to offer a "Spot Prefixes Only" option.
> A simple answer from someone who has never used packet on sunday afternoon of a contest.

I've been an active contester for nearly 40 years.
I've used/not used spots on Sunday afternoon.
I've operated from little stations and Great Big Ones, both Assisted and Multi-op.
I've operated inside and outside of the US during big contests.

So I do understand that there would be an impact on operating strategy.

>From the standpoint of the serious Assisted or Multi-op station, the strategy of "blind calling" - jumping immediately to the spot and calling without first acquiring the call - would have to adapt.  For example, C6 is spotted - is it C6AAA (worked before) or C6ABC (not worked)?  The caller would have to make that determination or just call "blind" and take the chance of working a dupe.  The DX station would probably experience an increase in dupes from blind callers, but by how much?  This is already a problem and feeding more information into the network has only made it worse, not better.  As has been pointed out here a number of times by contest-peditioners, a sizeable number of operators have been conditioned to "see spot, call spot" because all the information they think they need is provided by the spot - call, frequency, time - even when it's obviously wrong or questionable.

Two other good things would happen in consequence, however...
- DX stations would be forced to ID more often if only to defend themselves from the "point-and-pounders" and requests for their call sign
- Non-DX stations would be forced to acquire a call sign to log the QSO

DX stations that already sign sufficiently frequently would see limited degradation in rate from the stations calling blind.  Non-DX stations that already confirm the call sign would benefit from an overall increase in IDing frequency.  Non-DX stations that call blind would waste their time and - hopefully - adjust to listen before calling because that results in an overall improvement in rate and score over time wasted by duplicates.

The question is whether the "point-and-pound" crowd would EVER "get it" and listen before calling.  If not, how would that be any worse than what happens now, particularly with busted spots?  Would there be an improved efficiency in channel-seconds consumed per QSO or not?  Only an experiment would tell.

Regardless, the current practice of providing a complete package of information in the spot is enabling and even encouraging bad behavior.  Either less information should be provided - requiring a change in behavior to consummate the contact - or we have to figure out how to reward good behavior (listening first and more frequent identification) so as to create a positive incentive to improve radio know-how and operator skill, ostensibly the reason we have radio contests in support of the amateur service's Basis and Purpose.

73, Ward N0AX

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