[CQ-Contest] FW: More ARRL DX Thoughts

Brooke Allen brooke.t.allen at gmail.com
Mon Jun 27 07:43:19 PDT 2011

Here are two fantasy additions I would love to see in ARRL:

1) USA stations send COUNTY and STATE. When I've operated from the DX side,
I usually get WAS on 4 or 5 bands, and this is BORING. Only thrill is
perhaps a rare state on 160.

I bet if you'd add counties, you could get DX stations who are interested in
county hunting. There are too many counties to be multipliers, but you could
make new counties worth higher point value (e.g. 10 points). You might even
allow US/VE to work each other for reduced points ala WPX. Perhaps only one
contact per county (all bands) counts. This will keep stations from being
inundated with stateside callers, but an expedition to a rare county might
get plenty of interest both DX and domestic.

This would allow stations in less populated geographical regions to have
excess demand. Adding stateside contacts could also allow geographically
disadvantaged or aluminum-challenged stations to at least have some fun.

2) Have a 24 hour contest inside the contest. Proposed rule: max 24 hours, 6
off periods. In order to get super-stations to commit to full-time effort
rather than start out full contest and then drop down in category if things
don't go well, you might say 24hour entrants may not operate in the first 3
hours of the contest.

In order to get people to keep coming back, you could make the certificate
1/2 size, with the design bleeding off the edge so you can take 2
half-contest certificates and mount them side by side to get one "full
contest" certificate, suitable for framing.

The normal ARRL certificates are vertically oriented. I propose horizontally
oriented 1/2 certificates, 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches or thereabouts. Imagine CW
contests issue left-half certificates in odd years and right half in even
years. Phone contests issue left half in even years and right in odd years.

If in 2012 you work CW and Phone, you earn 2 halves, and you can mount them
side-by-side to make 1 certificate for 2012. Or you might work 2012 and 2013
CW and earn a "full contest CW certificate". By mounting them horizontally,
you will encourage people to try for an unbroken string of certificates
running all the way around the shack.

For a fee, offer participation certificates if you make a minimum number of
contacts. Give top winners a certificate for free.

By building in a reason to keep coming back you can encourage compounding of

I've been studying "gamification" for business and pleasure - and I've
learned a lot. I'll try to get some other ideas into the discussion soon,
but for now I've got to get back to work.

Brooke - N2BA

On Sun, Jun 26, 2011 at 4:43 PM, Dick Green WC1M <wc1m73 at gmail.com> wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dick Green WC1M [mailto:wc1m73 at gmail.com]
> Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2011 4:42 PM
> To: YCCC (yccc at yccc.org)
> Cc: 'K1AR at aol.com'
> Subject: RE: [YCCC] More ARRL DX Thoughts
> It's best for me to limit my public comments on the ARRL DX tasking while
> the CAC is still working on it, but enough people have asked why we're
> looking at the rules for the contest that I feel a response is necessary. I
> believe this is particularly important because I was the person who
> initiated the project by asking the PSC to give the CAC a tasking on ARRL
> DX.
> First and foremost, let me categorically state that no one involved in the
> process, including me, believes that ARRL DX is broken. It's true that what
> started me thinking about the contest was noting the position of ARRL DX in
> third place for log submissions behind CQ WW and CQ WPX. Nothing wrong with
> third place, but I wondered if we could improve on that. After all, just
> because something isn't broken doesn't mean it can't be made better. Also,
> participation isn't the only measure of success for a contest. An equally
> important measure is fun. In contesting, fun and participation interact and
> reinforce each other, either positively or negatively.
> As I thought more about the contest, I compared my personal experiences in
> ARRL DX with those I've had in CQ WW and CQ WPX. Although I've placed well
> in ARRL DX CW over the past 11 years, I honestly have to admit that the
> latter two contests are a lot more fun for me than ARRL DX. I wondered why,
> and I wondered if others felt the same. For years I've noticed a definite
> lack of enthusiasm for ARRL DX, and difficulty recruiting ops for it, at a
> certain M/M station where I operate Phone contests. It's clear that this is
> largely due to less DX participation in ARRL DX than the other major
> contests. The number of DXpeditions outside the Caribbean is relatively
> low,
> too, which also affects the contest experience for W/VE stations. I've read
> reports of what it's like to operate the contest from a DX country --
> boring, boring, boring. The bands aren't open to W/VE all the time, which
> leads to lots of idle time, part-time efforts or no participation at all.
> Clearly, this impacts DX participation. It also impacts DXpeditions because
> in many cases it's not worth the expense and effort to mount one if you can
> only operate a limited amount of time.
> So, I asked the question, "Can we make this contest more fun and more
> attractive?" I figured if we could do that, participation would increase.
> >From my perspective, that was the sole agenda for the ARRL DX tasking. I
> had
> no preconceived notions about what the CAC might find during its
> investigation, nor did anyone on the PSC. The tasking was structured
> broadly, with a handful of suggestions to look at the obvious areas we
> always consider, such as categories, scoring, exchange, awards, reporting,
> and incentives to increase participation. There was also a request to look
> at adding a 24-hour category. However, the tasking was explicitly not
> limited to those areas.
> It was my opinion from the beginning, supported strongly by the CAC, that
> we
> had to retain the essential nature of ARRL DX as a world-works-W/VE
> contest.
> There was never any thought about making ARRL DX a clone or look-alike of
> CQ
> WW or CQ WPX. Obviously, that makes it more challenging to improve DX
> participation. On a suggestion from a top contester in my Division, I
> introduced a proposal for a significant rule change that would allow
> DX-to-DX contacts on a very limited basis (e.g., low point value, not on
> the
> same continent, etc.) As it turns out, there was very little support for
> the
> idea among CAC members. It probably didn't help that a poorly publicized
> implementation of DX-works-DX was tried in the '70s and failed miserably.
> Fortunately, we still have a couple of lower-impact ideas on the agenda
> that
> may prove attractive to DX stations.
> The proposals that have caused so much controversy in the contest
> community,
> distance-based scoring and reducing the operating time limit for
> single-ops,
> were brought up by CAC members, as allowed by the tasking. As I've stated
> previously, we're still in discussion mode, not decision mode. Changes to
> the contest are not imminent and I have no idea what final recommendations
> will be made by the CAC when we complete the tasking, nor do I have any
> idea
> which of our recommendations, if any, will be accepted by the Awards
> Committee or PSC. I will say, however, that what strikes me about these
> proposals is that they show the contest may not be quite as much fun for
> many of the more serious participants as is generally assumed. The issues
> are not limited to ARRL DX, of course. The advantages of location and
> ability to do an ironman effort exist in other contests as well. And the
> issues aren't new, either. They've been discussed by the contest community
> at length. It remains to be seen what the CAC will conclude as to their
> relevance to ARRL DX.
> Although I've not taken a final position on distance-based scoring, and as
> I
> said in a previous post we're waiting for the results of tests against
> actual contest logs (a project that's now underway), I've been a little
> disappointed by the arguments I've seen on both sides of the issue. While
> rankings are obviously important, they're not the only consideration. Paul,
> K1XM, has posted results of his attempt to guess what impact distance-based
> scoring would have on rankings. He begins with the assumption that strategy
> doesn't change. But while winning is still going to require running Europe
> as much as possible, distance-based scoring would likely introduce a new
> strategic element into a contest that doesn't require much strategy now.
> Even more interesting is the question of how distance-based scoring might
> affect the overall contest experience. I suspect that when UA9 and UA0
> stations start streaming over the pole, as they sometimes do, I would
> experience a similar thrill to the one I get when working a rare mult or a
> double mult in CQ WW, or when racking up 6-pointers on 40m late in CQ WPX.
> Maybe DX stations in Latvia will appreciate a boost in adrenalin when they
> work a W6 as opposed to yet another W1, W2 or W3. Maybe JAs will stay on
> the
> air on Sunday so they can work more East Coast stations. I probably haven't
> covered all the possibilities, but isn't it intriguing to think about
> adding
> another dimension to the contest? Yes, we also have to ask if the rankings
> will be affected in an undesirable way. We have to ask whether the scoring
> will be too complicated for ops to follow. We have to ask if a new
> dimension
> is worth sacrificing the current scoring records. These are all important
> issues that remain to be discussed.
> Let me add one more thought about distance-based scoring. The term "level
> the playing field" has been tossed around a lot in the discussions about
> this subject. The CAC is under no illusions that it's possible to eliminate
> geographic advantages, nor has that been a desire expressed by any member.
> Distance-based scoring is being explored for ARRL DX as having a potential
> to moderate what is perceived to be a growing "tilt" in the field. Keeping
> the field from developing a near-vertical tilt is a far cry from trying to
> "level" the field. Yes, there could be possible undesirable side-effects of
> such an effort, and that's what we're investigating now by rescoring past
> logs (note: our initial testing is being done using the geographic centers
> of States/Provinces for W/VE and the prefix coordinates for DX stations
> from
> the CTY file.)
> Regarding the 48-hour time limit, while I'm open to discussion of just
> about
> any proposal that could improve ARRL DX, I've personally taken a firm
> position that we should not take away any aspect of the contest that is
> currently enjoyed by participants.
> I'm in complete agreement with K1AR and others that the top 100 do not make
> our contests -- it's the legions of casual, part-time ops who provide the
> vast majority of the QSOs, and hence the fun. Some of the things we're
> looking at would potentially improve the experience for such participants.
> That said, the contest community is led by several hundred ops who do care
> deeply about competing and have made substantial investments of time, money
> and effort to do so. Many casual, part-time DX ops want to work these loud
> stations for DXCC, WAS or county awards credit, and many casual part-time
> W/VE ops want to work DX and DXpeditions stations for awards as well. In
> other words, we need the top several hundred, too. While there may not be
> viable solutions for all of their concerns, I believe we have an obligation
> to hear them and take their opinions into consideration.
> 73, Dick WC1M
> NE CAC Rep, Chair
> -----Original Message-----
> From: K1AR at aol.com [mailto:K1AR at aol.com]
> Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:36 AM
> To: yccc at yccc.org
> Subject: [YCCC] More ARRL DX Thoughts
> All,
> I'm in the camp that suggests we are offering solutions for a problem that
> doesn't exist -- at least in a meaningful way. Here is some other sample
> data (thanks to G3SXW):
> ARRL DX Log Submissions
> Phone
> 2010 - 3151 logs
> 2009 - 2631 logs
> 2008 - 2056 logs
> 1996 - 1492 logs
> CW
> 2010 - 3938 logs
> 2009 - 3114 logs
> 2008 - 2688 logs
> 1996 - 1505 logs
> And, while log submissions don't tell the entire story, the data suggests
> that we are not dealing with a dying contest. In fact, quite the contrary.
> Brian, K1LI, made a marvelous observation the other day. If you didn't see
> it, he said, "I think that those with sufficient competitive spirit are
> always  going to find a way to win. Tinkering with rules may have a
> transient
> effect on  which of the top 100 entrants wins what, but for most of us it's
> irrelevant."
> Also, there was another terrific post on CQ-Contest by W2ID. I strongly
> suggest you read it at:
> _http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2011-June/094624.html_
> (http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2011-June/094624.html) .
> In my view, contesting will be much better served by worrying about
> everyone except the top 100. I wish there was equal  or greater passion for
> creating new CTU-like events and other ways  to generate interest in
> contesting as
> has been generated by this topic.  Solving the impossible problem of
> equalization is simply a waste of oxygen  and valuable resources.
> 73 John, K1AR
> PS: I have an Excel file from Roger with all of the log  submission data
> for most major DX contests back to 1996 if anyone is  interested. Let me
> know
> and I'll send it to you.
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Brooke Allen

"It is easier to do the right thing or look away than to watch yourself do

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