[CQ-Contest] Unique Radiosport Aspect of Contesting

Jack Haverty. k3fiv at arrl.net
Sat Jun 28 13:41:03 EDT 2014

On Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 6:31 AM, K4XS via CQ-Contest <
cq-contest at contesting.com> wrote:

> I send you K4XS 59905.  You log it  as K4XS 59904.
> You send QSL and so do I after I receive your  exchange.  I still get
> credit
> for the QSO, you get busted.  You get  nothing, I get points.


Yes, but other scenarios are different:

I send you K3FIV 59905.  You log it correctly as K3FIV 59905.  I however
> log it as 59906. (i.e., I'm off by one in my log of what I sent.)  You send
> QSL and so do I after I receive your  exchange.  Even though I made the
> mistake, I still get credit for the QSO, you get busted.  You get nothing,
> I get points.   You lose points because I screwed up.

With the focus in scoring just on receiving information, there's no
incentive for me to work hard to make sure the information that I transmit
is communicated effectively, and that your log of that QSO is identical to
mine.   Doing so takes time which I could be using to make more points.

Same with callsigns.  If I send the wrong callsign (dits dropped due to
equipment problems; ops at multis accidentally sending their home call,
etc.), you can copy that callsign accurately but still lose points due to
my mistake.  If I waste time making sure you have my callsign, or copied my
exchange accurately, it only hurts my score.

Right now, if I fail to communicate a piece of information to you that ends
up in your log, you can lose points even though it was my fault, and I get
points even though I screwed up.

Scoring could be structured so that success is defined as the complete and
accurate exchange of information.  That information is simply everything
that is required in the log, regardless of whether or not it is required to
be in "the exchange".   In any Q, either both sides get points, or neither

My original message proposed only that the contest organizers consider how
to use the scoring structure to reward whatever they consider sportsmanlike
behavior, and I gave just one example of a slight change to the current
rules to illustrate the idea.  It wasn't a proposal to do anything other
than look at how scoring might be used to accomplish their goals.

In any event, my personal opinion is that arbitrary or overly restrictive
rules are not the answer.  That would include requiring callsigns to be
sent every N seconds, or N Qs, etc.   They also need not be required in
"the exchange" - they are already required to be communicated since they
must appear in each log.

Good radio skills at transmitting include the ability to recognize
conditions and adapt your behavior to suit the circumstances.  If I detect
that the other operator is less skilled, I slow down.  If there's a lot of
QRM or QSB, I might send information multiple times, or use phonetics, to
help get the message through.   Since my callsign is K3FIV, but I live in
California, I usually send CA CA CA in any contest where the exchange
includes my state - otherwise I've found it likely that I'm logged as PA
despite what I send.  When I work Asian contests, I'm sometimes logged as
VK3FI, since no one expects propagation to the US East Coast.  So I work
hard to get K3FIV into that other guy's log.

I realize now that contests don't seem to value such behavior.  It only
hurts my score to do what I do.   With my station I don't expect to win
anything, so I never pay much attention to my score, but I can easily see
how a serious Competitor would optimize his behavior to optimize his
score.  Minimizing the time wasted in sending information, like your
callsign, is simply natural when you are focused on winning.

Radio is about communications, which is the transfer of information from
one place to another.   It takes two to communicate, and each must be
skilled to effectively communicate.  If scoring emphasized transmission
skills as much as receiving ones, i.e., valued (i.e., based the score on)
the completion of the bidirectional exchange in a Q, both sides would adapt
their behaviors to achieve successful communications.

Since a callsign is a part of that information, both sides would do what
they had to do to get that information to the other guy's log, if that's
what is needed to get the points.  Sometimes you might send your call on
every Q.  In other situations you might make 10 Qs without ever sending
your call.  It all depends on your skill at judging the conditions, acting
skillfully, and being confident that your callsign is therefore getting
into the other log.  That's if it matters for your score.

So, my proposal is only that the contest committee consider changes to the
scoring scheme to encourage whatever they think is the proper operating
behavior, so that skillful and sportsmanlike behavior is what gets you
points.    I also suggest that scoring reflect the goal of communicating
effectively, considering both transmitting and receiving skills.  Then let
us use our radio skills to demonstrate how well we can communicate.

And yes, if a less-skilled operator screws up, the more skilled operator
loses points too.   That's the nature of communications.

/Jack de K3FIV

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