[CQ-Contest] Convergence and Change

Hal Offutt hal at japancorporateresearch.com
Sun May 15 15:39:24 EDT 2016

I would like to pass on a few thoughts about the comments made by KR2Q.  
I have not seen Randy's article yet, so I cannot comment on it.

First, on a general note, I really object to the phrase "combining SO 
with SOA"  that is used not only by Doug but by many others in this 
discussion.  This makes it sound like all operators are being 
accommodated in one big, happy category.  But it is not a fair 
description.  What we're really talking about is the elimination of the 
single operator (non-assisted) category, the category that has been the 
mainstay of the CQWW DX contest since its very beginning. If this were 
to happen, single operators would no longer have a category in which 
they could compete with each other and would have no choice but to enter 
the remaining category that allows (necessitates?) assistance.   Those 
who wish to operate assisted have been able to operate as they wish for 
years.   They have been generously accommodated so that they can use new 
technology and practices and compete among themselves.  Yet now some are 
advocating that we deny the same thing to single operators.  What a 
terrible injustice it would be if those operators were suddenly told 
that SO is no longer a category.  How can we even think about such a step?

Second, with regard to the EU, in the survey that Doug mentions, 
Europeans favoring the so-called "combining" did NOT constitute a 
majority of respondents.   Of 2,584 EU respondents, 47.1% answered yes, 
44.2% answered no and 8.6% answered no opinion.  There is a slight bias 
in favor, but this hardly represents an EU consensus for "combining" the 
two categories.

Furthermore, regarding the overall survey (and not just EU), I am still 
trying to understand how it is fair for the survey to ask those who 
prefer to operate assisted whether they think the SO category should be 
eliminated.  Why should their opinions on the subject count?  They can 
operate the way they want, and their results are compared with others 
operating in the same way.  Why should they care or have a voice in the 
matter?  And I can't help wondering what the result would have been had 
the question been worded "Do you favor eliminating the single operator 
category?"  I can't believe that many of my fellow contesters around the 
world would answer yes to the question put in this way.

To see what contesters really think, why not look at the categories they 
actually enter?  55% of last year's CQWW  SSB logs were submitted in the 
single operator category.   (I have not seen the figures for 2015 CW yet 
and not enough data is given in the writeup for 2014 CW.)  In the 2015 
WPX contests, according to N4TZ, 60% of entrants in both modes entered 
the SO category.  Do these figures represent any kind of overwhelming 
consensus in favor of a single category?  Quite the opposite, I think.  
And even should SOA logs eventually outnumber SO logs, would that be any 
reason to eliminate the SO Category?

As to Doug's questions about what the contest sponsors are capable of 
and whether the SO results have meaning, there is no doubt that policing 
the line between SO and SOA is difficult and that this is taking up a 
lot of volunteer time in the log checking process (at least for the 
CQWW).   I see at least four aspects to this problem.   First is 
awareness, or the lack thereof, of the definition of SO, and here I 
would suggest a much clearer explanation in the rules (BOLD, RED PRINT) 
and in the log submission process.  When an entrant submits a SO log, a 
window should pop up spelling out very clearly that the submitter is 
certifying on his honor that he/she has not used outside assistance 
(which should be defined in detail in red print).  This may eliminate a 
part of the problem.  I believe most people want to follow the rules.  
Second, despite the log checking efforts, SO results may have less 
meaning in certain countries than in others.  Some operators in some 
countries seemingly have fewer scruples about cheating than operators in 
other countries.  There is only so much that the contest sponsor can do 
about this; it is an issue for the operators in those countries to 
solve, not the contest sponsor.   Maybe we have to accept that the 
results from countries X, Y and Z simply are less reliable than the norm 
and push for improvement in the future. That cheating is rampant in X 
country is not a valid reason for eliminating the most popular operating 
category.  Third, yes it is a shame that hundreds of volunteer hours 
need to be spent on log checking, but perhaps this is simply the nature 
of the beast.  Is there a shortage of volunteers to do this work?  When 
a large percentage of contesters today is retired, is it so difficult to 
find volunteers?  I do not recall seeing a lot of pleas on CQ-Contest 
asking for log-checking volunteers.  The log checking process seems to 
be getting better and better, no doubt thanks in large part to the 
leadership of K5ZD and the many volunteers.   I personally trust the SO 
results, especially for the top scores, and I believe that most others 
do too.  And isn't the "assistance detecting" software getting better 
and better?  Finally, we have recently seen an excellent example of the 
good that can come from making logs public.  Perhaps logs should be made 
public at an earlier stage and the public should be given a role in the 
log checking process.

In summary:

What is being proposed is not a "combining" of categories but the 
elimination of the most popular category
EU is not overwhelmingly in favor of "combining"
The contester survey needs to be improved
Contesters still enter SO more than SOA
There is much that can be done to improve policing
That log checking presents some difficulties is not a good reason for 
eliminating the SO category.


Hal W1NN

On 5/15/2016 8:33 AM, kr2q at optimum.net wrote:
> I see two perspectives to the discussion about combining SO with SOA:
> 1.  What do the entrants want?
> 2.  What is the contest sponsor capable of?
> Randy's surveys have shown that (on a high level), EU wants them combined but USA doesn't.
> EU has more entrants than the USA.  Should that be factored in?  Should one-man-one-vote count?
> Most entrants have no idea what the contest sponsor is capable of.  Looking at the DQs might
> give an indication of which contests look/care.  Some contests, with a separation for these
> two categories, NEVER DQ ANYONE for unclaimed use of "assistance," to use the CQ terminology.
> What should entrants read into that?  For those who are vocal about keeping the separation,
> what do you think about the "other" contests (not CQWW on Oct/Nov) that NEVER DQ for
> unclaimed assistance?  Is ignorance bliss?
> For me, it is a matter of ethics on the part of the contest sponsors/log adjudicators.  If the
> tools available do not allow for detecting "unclaimed assistance," is it ethical for the sponsor
> to keep the categories separate, implying that "they can tell" and thereby implying a degree of
> confidence in the published results?
> What is the expectation of the entrants in looking at results?  Does the entrant EXPECT that
> because the categories are separate, that the results are necessarily bullet proof?  How about
> "close enough?"  Something else?
> Randy said, "It has also made it more difficult to police the line between [paraphrasing] SO vs SOA."
> What exactly does that mean?
> Conjecture for Discussion:
> What if it means that subtle (smart?) use of assistance, entered as not SOA, cannot be proven?
> What if subtle use of assistance means that it can't even be found?
> Do the entrants still want two distinct categories IF (say, for the top 10), such abuse could not
> actually be accurately adjudicated?  How would we, the entrants, react?  What is our expectation
> of the contest sponsor?
> Is it more important to maintain two categories for the sake of having them separate or is it more
> important that the published scores PER CATEGORY mean something?
> de Doug KR2Q
> PS..if you want to know my opinion, I would like to see the categories remain separated, but only
> if the separation has meaning.
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