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CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboards

from Bob Cox K3EST on October 21, 2006
View comments about this article!

Dear Fellow Contester,                                                   

The CQ WW Contest Committee is discussing whether use of real-time       
contest scoreboards is likely to convey information about band           
openings and profitable tactics to an extent that participants using     
the scoreboards should be categorized as assisted. The 2006 CQ WW contest
rules have already been published and they will govern the 2006 contests.

We welcome your comments on this, and suggest the possibility of also    
sending the comments to the CQ-Contest reflector so that others can      
see them and possibly follow up.                                         
Comments can be sent to                                    
Bob, K3EST                                                               
CQ WW Director                                                           
For the CQ WW Committee

Member Comments: Add A Comment
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by N3OYA on October 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
First, I must admit that I am by no means a "big gun" contester. I haven't been participating in radiosport very long at all, and such radiosport as I seek is relaxed with my meager station.

Second, allow me to thank you for seeking comment in this manner. I am glad you're seeking a broad base of input.

Third, my comments. =)

I think you're right on the money. Analysis of realtime information in this manner by its very nature assists the contest operator in exactly the same manner as PacketCluster nodes. One can see at a glance who's on what frequency in what location. I see no ethical difference in the technologies. Indeed, one need only look at the definition of the word:

as�sist (-sst)
v. as�sist�ed, as�sist�ing, as�sists
v. tr. - To give help or support to, especially as a subordinate or supplement; aid.
v. intr. - To give aid or support.
n. An act of giving aid; help.[1]

Information technology is a Pandora's Box for radiosport. The line which must be drawn is by its very nature artificial; knowing that, the line must still be drawn. But where to draw it?

Many of the extant rules have been in place since the beginning of contesting. Others - like the Assisted rules - were enacted to address perceived inconsistencies or horribly-exploited gaps in rules coverage. Even with the painful process of devising and instituting these rules, are they not merely a finger in the dike?

For example, there's more realtime information available than spots and logs. What about propagation? Accessing that information is child's play today, where it was the realm of wizardry when contests like CQWW were devised. Will the rules committees add use of that information to the Assisted category? What about online or disc-based callsign databases? Didn't get N3OYA's location for the exchange? Bring up and punch in the callsign.

This is where we diverge from rules adherence to ethics. I have never seen a rule, per se, which prohibits the function last described; it is considered too obviously unseemly to note it in contest rules. But it's too easy a method to imagine that operators don't use it. It all comes down to ethics.

It is unlikely that rules committees can enforce ethical radiosport operating. Ethics come from a different source than contest rulebooks. But there's a very clear line to be drawn here. If you use information technology which is definitely connected to the contest in which you are participating, in real time and during the contest itself, you're operating Assisted, because of the very definition of the word "assistance." Ethically, it's as plain as the nose on your face.

73 and have fun wading through this morass!


[1] assist. The American Heritage� Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by VE9NC on October 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I can see the possibilities. Yes that would be quite interesting but it would require a change in software I assume or incorporation of existing software to input into the system. However in terms of band openings and what is happening it would certainly be interesting to watch. I am not exactly a big gun but I do contest every chance I get. And it would increase the score somewhat for the weaker stations by indicating where people and openings are located.

CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by VE6CNU on October 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I'm glad you are soliciting comments on the live scoring issue for contesting. For the CQ WW DX contest, it must be determined as to what the actual goals are, before the question of live scoring can be settled. If you look at the World Amateur Radio Contest (the latest in Brazil), they had live scoring but with anonymous station call signs. This was to avoid favoritism by home countries contacting their own people. The goal in this contest is to determine the best operators, given all stations operate in close proximity to each other and with identical equipment.

I would suggest that the goals of the CQ WW DX contest are different than the above-mentioned contest, and probably most other contests too. Let's look at just some of the major issues facing this contest today:

First of all, everyone knows that there are certain places in the world that optimize HF propagation conditions, and others that minimize it. Secondly, the population density and distribution of ham radio operators throughout the world is not uniform, which again leads to a disparity in potential scores. Third, the actual time zone in which one lives can have an impact on one's score - especially during a sunspot cycle minimum, where certain bands may only be open for a few hours on a given day. Fourth, ever-increasing restrictions on antenna height and transmitted power as imposed by municipalities, local governments, etc. can cause additional inequalities in scoring potential in that 100 watts at one location forced to use a "stealth dipole" is unequal to 100 watts from a 6 element yagi on a 72' tower, with gain factor of 5 or 6. Finally, the temptation to use spotting clusters has encouraged some (how many?) contesters to cheat, as many assume that by not doing so they are putting themselves at a disadvantage to those who do (and don't declare they are operating assisted). I'm sure there are more issues that could be added (like SO2R), but the point is that many contesters and would-be contesters are getting disillusioned or frustrated with the way the contests are scored. I'm afraid that by adding real-time scoring, this would only exacerbate the problem.

I got into contesting about 18 months ago and have enjoyed it for two reasons: 1) It pushes me to continually improve my station, and 2) It pushes me to become a better operator. I realized at the start that there was zero hope of winning any of the major contests from Alberta. This gets back to the inequalities mentioned above. By having real-time scoring available I probably would drop out from contesting altogether. I find the current contests that require an exchange of serial number to be deflating enough! The only way I could see real-time scoring as a viable option would be to list the leaders in each category anonymously. Even then I would suggest that we address the larger issues first.

My main concern (goal) is that we encourage more hams to get into the sport, not fewer. When a "big gun" station gets on in the Caribbean or Morocco and runs for 48 hours, what chance has a station from North Dakota, even with 1KW, when he is forced to search and pounce for many of his QSOs? And lumping Alberta with Ontario as Zone 4 shows a total lack of understanding of propagation patterns. In terms of distance, it is equivalent to lumping Madrid with Moscow or Angola (West Africa) with Madagascar.

I realize this is not the forum to debate all the issues of world-wide contesting. Nor is it easy for people to accept change. Yet, adding real-time scoring to the list of existing problems would only serve to make the situation worse. Would the part-time contester who only has a few hours to operate benefit? Clearly not. Would the "big gun" stations benefit? It is difficult to see how. And would the majority of fairly serious contesters benefit? Perhaps if a club station knew that it's cross-town rival was slightly ahead or behind, it would try harder. But what would this mean? Could they erect a new antenna or improve operating procedures significantly in the waning hours of the contest? I doubt it.

In summary, there is no doubt that the technology exists to allow for real-time scoring of contests over the internet. In my opinion, it is a technology in search of a reason to exist - and that reason has yet to be discovered. There are other, more critical issues which should be addressed ahead of this one so that we can encourage contesters to stay with the sport and motivate new people to take it up. I would suggest that the first step in the right direction would be to keep the existing awards in place, but invent a parallel set of awards (the "equivalency awards") that compensate for location, antenna type and height, power, HF conditions, rig type (computer control or not), hours of operation, etc. In this way the guy running 100 watts into a stealth dipole in Helena, Montana could have the same chance of "winning" the event as K3LR. The statistics are available from dozens of contests to show us how to do this. The emphasis would return to operating techniques and a greater sense of anticipation as everyone could legitimately feel like they are "in the race". There certainly are enough sponsors for additional awards, so this is not a problem. I would be glad to help you work on this or other contest-related issues and I'm sure others would follow.
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by KIWAIT on October 29, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by GM3WOJ on November 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry, but this sounds like new technology looking for a purpose, rather than the converse. If your score is behind others, you may be demoralised, even give up. If you are ahead of others, you will feel extra pressure to stay ahead. A novelty, but a distraction - I'd rather concentrate on working stations and mults than watching webcams, scoreboards or the DX Cluster! 73 Chris GM3WOJ/ZL1CT
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by W0MU on November 1, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I am trying to figure out how my posting my score is helping my score. If someone else uses a scoreboard then they are assisted. Those that are posting their scores are not.

Are single op entrants penalized or reclassified for posting DX spots while not receiving spots?

It is not easy to determine who might be using spots while claiming unassisted and it would be nearly impossible to determine who was watching a score board.

The scoreboard could add a new exciting dimension to contesting that we have never had in the past. Today we live in the NOW, in a fast paced society where nobody wants to wait for anything.

Operators that are spending time watching scoreboards and webcams etc. are losing. If you aren't on the radio you are losing. Plain and simple.

I am not in favor of posting each contact as it happens. Band data should probably be discussed at length but raw score and mults really do not provide one with enough data to figure out what the other guy is doing right or wrong.

I can see the scoreboard possibly making the top ops even more competitive if they knew they were only x number of points behind or they were only x number of points ahead. Talk about motivation!

We have to keep in mind that winning is not in the cards for the great majority of entrants. Having fun is! Those that say they would quit if they found themselves way behind would probably find another reason to quit anyway.

Mike W0MU
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by S53RM on November 2, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

In Slovenia we are using Real Time Scoreboard for all VHF/UHF/SHF contests on for 2 years. It is nice and stimulating to look at competitors scores during contest. We have this real time scores also transfered to National TV TELETEXT for promoting Ham Radio.

73 Sine - S53RM
RE: CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Score Reply
by w9oy on November 6, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to know exactly how the information provided would act as an aid? It seems far removed from something like the cluster.

73 and tnx

CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by DF3KV on November 9, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I do not see any point of having profit by looking briefly on a scoreboard which lists only band and total summaries.
A scoreboard as used lately during WRTC is fun, not more.

Having more infos on it like timestamps, worked calls and frequencies would be really bad, that is not amateur radio, just stop starting it.


CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by k0luz on December 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have a devil of a time understanding why we pick on one item and ignore other advantages for "winning" a contest. We make no distinction between SO2R, stacks, xcvrs that have monitors showing the band activity built in, locations, number of elements, only dipoles, etc. etc. etc.

And yet if you have a computer and can read the Internet Real Time Scoring site, you are suddenly "ASSISTED". I understand that you are depending on another "person's" information, but how valuable is that information? Interesting, yes, but valuable??? If I want to check another band to see if it is hot. I switch to the band and listen for a couple of minutes. Then there is the question of how hot is the band where you are vs the station showing great activity. The 10 meter contest this weekend was a great example. Sunday afternoon, for a half hour period, the spots were flowing and I could hear 4 signals on the band --- all on ground wave!

All of these items are just TOOLS. Stacks, SO2R and the Internet all fall under same category ---- TOOLS. If you believe that having real time scoring is going to be the one item that is going to make someone win or specifically beat your score, then you need to understand, there were probably a bunch of other tools they used also to obtain a better score.

I have used Real Time Scoring the last several contests and it makes the contest more interesting and fun. At this point, not many are posting scores, but if everyone did, it would add another feature to contesting that may attract some of the techies to join us in the ham radio contesting ranks.

After all, if you don't want to use the tool, don't --- it is your choice. Just don't shove all operators that would like to have the fun into a dark corner.

73 Red K0LUZ
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by va7st on December 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If online scoreboards ever turn into online logs (actually posting callsigns or sections of stations worked, for example) -- then there are big issues to grapple with. They are not like that, however. Basic online scoreboards are inert and will be good for contesting in all categories. Don't limit their enjoyment by lumping them in with the overt assistance of packet clusters.

I have used the system whenever possible this fall. No hand-wringing angst necessary, folks. They sky is not falling, and my dear unassisted single operators have nothing to worry about with online scoreboards as they exist today.

Looking at an online scoreboard is no different than hearing what serial number another station is handing out (in contests with serial number exchanges). It gives you a sense of where you are, but nothing more.

More experience would show detractors of this tool that there's no aid being given, other than motivation to continue or to try harder.

Until there's some evidence that I am being assisted by using an online scoreboard, I'll keep using it and I'll be entering single op unassisted. And I will have a heck of a lot more fun in the contests than the guys who choose not to look at the scoreboard.

These are not online logs. They don't tell you where a band is open to (a tally of mults says nothing about where the mults are from).

Don't move me to an assisted category for using an online scoreboard. If that happens, the same should be done for everyone who reads 3830 postings during a contest (deriving motivation from others) or who uses propagation tools -- software or online (assuming you believe the red herring that an online scoreboard is a propagation indicator).

Let the scoreboards live, and let everyone who wants to enjoy them do so, regardless of category. It's about adding enjoyment, not adding assistance. If you haven't tried it first-hand, try it and you'll see.

CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by KG5VK on March 7, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
it's simply just another tool
and I have a hard time seeing how it can influence people to work someone that is using it
However the benifits are that it can get this attractive as a spectator sport, maybe.
Live scoreboards should be embraced !
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by W9SWL on April 25, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by NT4XT on July 12, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Sure feels like I was driving the pace car.
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by kk1l on July 12, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
I think this is a great idea. I don't view it as very useful for the serious operator to gain any advantage. It is something for the casual observer to watch. This past Field Day weekend I watched the faces of some kids really light up as they worked stations at the GOTA radio. They were truly excited counting the contacts they made. Real Time scoreboards are much like that. These kids in particular would really get into seeing how they are doing relative to others. They would be also be fascinated to see just how quickly the top dogs can rack 'em up.
RE: CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Score Reply
by KT8K on October 11, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Last Field Day we had wi-fi logging (via N1MM) and it was a more fun than ever, a LOT more fun, watching the log entries live on my screen as stations competed to see who could rack up the Qs fastest. Next year we want to have a monitor at the visitor/information table to display the contest in progress (real time scoring), just only for our FD operation.

After reading all the preceding discussion, I am not sure that real time scoring is a problem, especially since the ops who take the time to look at it are probably slowing thier QSO rate. I hope you implement it.
Maybe the "unassisted" category should be limited to only stations that use NO computer at all? (Separately, how about a category for stations that have NO directional antennas beyond dipoles ...)

For the purposes of contest organizers, it is probably better to keep things simple as possible. Real time scoring sounds fairly easy and more fun than problems, and also could attract more people to the hobby who are of a competitive nature and intrigued by radiosport.
73 & tnx for all ur hard work de kt8k - Tim
CQ WW Committee Seeks Input on Real Time Scoreboar Reply
by OK1VWK on October 13, 2007 Mail this to a friend!
Be or not to be, thats question... I have had similar discussion in OL4HQ team about benefits when we are using internet logging software during IARU HFC, like WT, WL etc. I received different opinions for that. One opinion was no advantages, no benefits, only frustration from watching score next workplaces of HQ station. Second opinion was yes its super. We have info about other workplaces and its motivating for increase ourselves activity. I think its mainly about us, about anyone of us, our preferences. Each new thing or article brings new requirements for anyone who wants use them. The major problem is, we arent able to accept news, because do or use known things is more confortable specially for our brain. We would have to study news and search benefits not disadvantages from new things. Its too easy search disadvantages for new thing than advantages or benefits.

By this one I would like to say YES for RealTimeScoreboard activity.

73 de Milan,OK1VWK/OL7R team

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