[CQ-Contest] Too Much 'Assistance'?

Pete Smith N4ZR n4zr at contesting.com
Thu Feb 20 06:40:20 EST 2014

I'm not sure I fully understand, Tony, but it seems to me that all of 
these instances involve a station using the Internet to inform everyone 
of his call and frequency.  Isn't that a clearcut violation of the rules 
against self-spotting.  Isn't that prohibition sufficient?

73, Pete N4ZR
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On 2/20/2014 4:18 AM, Tony Brock-Fisher wrote:
> In this weekend's CW contest, Skimmer and the telnet cluster were 
> functioning at peak efficiency. I commend everyone who made it work – 
> it is a tremendous technical achievement. Towards the end of the 
> contest, I could watch my every dit and dah going out and being 
> reported back to me on the cluster, from Europe, South Africa, and 
> even India. What a rush!
> ==>> The important point here is that increased internet speed and 
> geographical coverage have made it possible for a manual spot to be 
> delivered to the 'spotee' in REAL TIME.
> I realized early on in the contest that there was absolutely no reason 
> for me to ever manually spot a station again. Skimmer would do it for 
> me before I could click the 'spot' button in N1MM. N1MM also has this 
> nice feature that shows you when you are spotted on the cluster as you 
> run guys.
> So I'm happily cruising along with my pileup, and I'm having trouble 
> copying a station. It's probably because I never learned the code the 
> right way, but I can also blame QRM and weak signals. The next thing I 
> This sure sounds like a violation of the CQWW Rule that says:
> 8. All requests for contacts, responses to calls, and copying of call 
> signs and contest
> exchanges must be accomplished during the contest period using the 
> mode and frequencies of the contest.
> The situation for ARRL is more indirect, and some may claim that a 
> loophole exists. See the General Rules:
> 3.2.All callsigns and exchange information must be sent, received, 
> acknowledged and logged correctly by each station for a complete QSO.
> 3.10 The use of non-Amateur Radio means of communication (for example, 
> Internet or telephone) to solicit a contact (or contacts) during the 
> contest period is not permitted.
> 3.14. In contests where spotting nets are permissible, spotting your 
> own station or requesting another station to spot you is not permitted.
> Both rules were written before the internet speed and coverage made 
> this new technique possible. Therefore they didn't anticipate this 
> happening. The environment has changed - therefore it's time to either 
> change the rules, or change the environment.
> What was the original intent of the 'Assisted' Category – to allow 
> operators to use outside assistance to find stations to work, with 
> QSOs then to be completed in the traditional manner; or was it 
> intended that the outside assistance aid them in completing the QSO as 
> well, by providing callsign correction?
> I would argue that manually spotting stations, as a means of assisting 
> them in correctly copying your own callsign, is a violation of at 
> least the spirit and intent of the above ARRL rules, if not the letter.
> So we have a new genie which has been let out of the bottle!
> 1. No one needs to manually spot anything anymore.
> 2. Manual spots are passed to the other operator by some logging programs
> 3. Manually spotting a station provides them with YOUR correct 
> callsign, in REAL TIME.
> In the old days, I would appreciate the manual spots, and I would 
> think the spotting station is trying to do me a favor. Now I am not so 
> sure. I don't want to accuse stations employing this practice of 
> cheating. However, I will point out that over the 48 hour contest, 
> K1KP was manually spotted about a dozen times. In EVERY CASE, IT WAS 
> when I wasn't about to or had just worked the spotting station!
> I see three ways to use manual spots to cheat:
> 1. K1KP is working a pileup and a PW station is trying to work me. 
> They manually spot me before I hear them to let me know I should 
> listen for them. (wink, wink). It's possible to work a station that 
> spotted you without ever hearing their call in the pileup!
> 2. K1KP is in the process of working a station and badly busting the 
> call. Instead of slowing down so I can count the dits, the other 
> station spots me. I get the spot in under a second, and all of a 
> sudden I can copy code again! (wink, wink).
> 3. K1KP copies the call wrong and logs it incorrectly, then moves on 
> in the pile. The station worked spots me, I see the correct call, and 
> go back and correct it in my log to avoid the penalty. [Yes, this 
> actually happened, but no I did not correct my log. I copied the call 
> wrong, and I deserve the penalty. I am not a cheater, so I will accept 
> my shortcomings].
> Some will say:
> -It's not really cheating.
> -We've always been able to use spots to check callsigns
> -There are always going to be cheaters. Get over it.
> -We can't stop it and we don't really care. Its only a hobby.
> I say we need to take a stand and at least make an effort to address 
> this issue, to preserve the integrity of the sport.
> The solutions can be very simple – here are some suggestions, there 
> may be others:
> 1. Ban all manual spots during the contest.
> 2. Change manual spots so only the prefix or country of origin are 
> shown, not the complete call.
> 3. Or the best solution, delay all manual spots by 5 minutes so the 
> above practices become impractical.
> The telnet cluster and internet backbone have become so efficient that 
> a new means of 'obtaining unethical assistance' is possible. We need 
> to stop this practice, either by changing the rules, or changing the 
> way the telnet clusters work.
> Or,
> Let's have an internet-only contest. Any form of using radio to make a 
> contact will be declared as cheating!
> Respectfully wearing Nomex,
> Tony, K1KP
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