[CQ-Contest] The impending demise of SSB spotting in contests - and should we care?

N4ZR n4zr at comcast.net
Thu Nov 19 11:33:59 EST 2020

Did you know that over 40,000 different stations made at least one 
contact with the 8500 stations who submitted logs for  the CQWW SSB 
contest in 2018?   Without the non-entrant, casual ops, SSB contesting 
would be a lot less fun for us all.  And why do the casual ops get on?  
I submit that for most of them, the chance to work new countries, zones, 
states and so on are what it's all about.  And how do they know which 
stations to call, to achieve these goals?  They connect to DX clusters.

Okay, so what?  Well, as someone recently pointed out, there has been a 
pretty steep decline in human spotting of both SSB and CW, at least 
partly because on CW, there's little need to spot anyone any more.  The 
RBN takes care of that.  But on SSB -- not so much.

The problem is exacerbated because contest sponsors tend to view any 
cluster connection during a contest as evidence that the connected 
station *must* be assisted.  This tends to deter people from spotting 
unless they themselves are, in fact, in the assisted category.  This, in 
turn, means that features like N1MM+'s "Spot all S&P QSOs" don't get the 
use they could.

So, what to do?  It would be helpful if contest sponsors would clarify 
their rules to specify that stations entering as unassisted can still 
send spots.

73, Pete N4ZR
Check out the Reverse Beacon Network
at<http://reversebeacon.net>, now
spotting RTTY activity worldwide.
For spots, please use your favorite
"retail" DX cluster.

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