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When is the contest over?

Randy Thompson (K5ZD) on December 4, 2008
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EZ4EBL and HK0T are two calls that have been discussed on the cq-contest reflector in the past days. People were more than happy to point out these calls were incorrect and what the correct call was� I was very disappointed and concerned by that.

What is contesting? It is a competition between operators. This competition involves working stations on the air during the contest period. Part of working stations is recording them accurately in the log.

When the contest is over the participants submit their log (the record of their activity) to the contest sponsor. The sponsor checks the logs and publishes the results. Some people are declared winners, but everyone is also able to compete with themselves and measure their own improvement.

Seems pretty simple�

If contesters sit around after the contest and compare their logs with others in order to make corrections to what they copied, is that within the spirit of the competition? You are still competing to work stations, but accuracy is no longer being tested. Same is true if you use other means after the contest to correct your log (looking at DX Summit records, listening to audio recordings, etc.).

In the "old days" ops would write their log using pencil and paper. They would then have to manually go back through and dupe the log. During this process they would correct errors they found or make the text easier to read. This process took time and is a big part of the reason there is a 30 day period to submit logs. It also lead to this perception that correcting logs after the contest was OK.

Today, we keep our log on computer. At most we should scan through the log looking for typos and fixing anything we kept a note of during the contest. These corrections should be done by you based on your own review and knowledge of the log. Not as a group effort or using outside tools!

Its ok if you didn't get every call or exchange correct. Yes, your score may be reduced by the log checkers. That's part of the competition. Request your log check report after the results are published and study it. If you confuse certain letters on phone or CW you know what to work on during the next contest. Its called improving your skills and should be the most satisfying part of contesting.

Do all contesting and yourself a favor. Follow the rules and work the contest as best you can. Put your log in the proper format. Send it in as quickly as possible after the contest. The result will be an honest and fair competition that can be used to measure your skills against others and yourself.

And if anyone asks you to confirm a call that was worked in the contest, just say no. Encourage them to do the right thing and send in their log as it recorded their activity.

Member Comments: Add A Comment
When is the contest over? Reply
by K3BU on December 11, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Back in "good old days" we had 30 days to rewrite or "legibilate" our logs so the checkers can identify the information without calling on Sherlock.
Nobody questioned or cared how or what you did to your log, as long as it arrived at the sponsor on time, or even late with delay and legitimate excuse.
Then it took 9 months to check the logs, produce and publish the results in the magazine.

Then the WRTC came and logs had to be "closed" and produced within minutes after the contest, which made sense, judges need to check them out and produce results ASAP.

Now with computer logging and post WRTC era we see discussions as what is legal to do to your log and when. Computers did the major favor to contesting with logging and some help like time keeping, SCP and mainly took off the druggery of writing by hand. That allows to have the logs ready after the final bell.
Do we make mistake even now? Sure, the most common are the wrong keystroke (next letter on the keyboard), squishing two calls into one window, hitting wrong key wiping out the call that you can't remember, etc. Some of those we are concious about, have no time to correct, just make a note and do it later, some will slip and become obvious after the human scanning of the log. They are own operator induced errors and I think those could and should be "repaired".
Errors or ommissions due to heat of operating and guessing game, should not be researched on the net and repaired.

Now the contest sponsors can move into 21 century by requesting log submissions within few hours of contest termination, with some exceptions for those who do not have immediate access to internet (expeditions) and process the results withing DAYS rather than the horrible 9 months delay. Argument that having results before the next run of the contest is somehow stimulating, is at best silly. I'd rather see the results ASAP, so I can asses my chances to improve station before the next (any) contest.

We seem to nit pick on some trivial "problems" while overlooking major and now illogical problems, like 0 point for own country, 3 QSO idiotic "penalty", 9 months "birth" cycle for results ....

Oh, and the "wise" have classified the new technology - Skimmer, the bunch of circuitry and some software as a human "assistant" relegating single ops using it now to the "ssisted" categories, established way back to take care of assistance by other OPERATORS via various means. Another piece of "ham radio logic"! One can argue about ways of "assisting", but spirit of ham radio contesting is to use the technology at the station plus operator to constitute the single operator entry. We should promote use of technology and toys to make us better, more fun, more participation or do we go back to sparks and touching two wires to make it "pure" single op? Using the same "logic" I could claim that going from tubes, keyers, computers, bla, bla ... is assistance.

It is all about pushing and using technology in this technological sport within the rules making sense trying to make it as fair and equal for all of us without going to north shores of Af and SA.

Good thing it is only a hobby/sport :-)

73 and Merry Christmas to all
Yuri, home of coming DXContestVention

When is the contest over? Reply
by n3ad on December 29, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Randy, thanks for posting. Your references to EZ4EBL brings back some memories for me - although clearly OT.

Many years ago - late 70s or early 80s - my wife and two children were traveling by car through Yugoslavia - when Yugoslavia was still intact and had a socialist (communist) government. My son Rob (KT3M) was an active contester at the time (a much better operator as a teenager than his old man ever was). He was also more of a social animal than the OM and actually talked to people on the air (SSB and CW). He had established a relationship with the ops at club station YU4EBL in Banja Luka Yugoslavia. He had arranged to meet them when we traveled through. Rob and I went over to the station (in a government sponsored social hall as I recall). They couldn't be more hospitable. After going back to our hotel, we told my wife and daughter that the guys had invited us back that evening. Rob and I went back and I recall some homebrew version of the local alcoholic beverage - strongest stuff I ever drank. Thinking back to the time, I wasn't aware of the ethnic makeup of these guys, but I believe they were mostly Serb, some probably Croat and definitely at least one or two Bosnian Muslims. I recall the Muslims because they showed us some of the Muslim areas, including a Mosque. Everyone seemed to get along and I didn't see any sign of ethnic strife.

When Bosnia attained independence, a Serb republic was created in northern Bosnia. Whenever I read of ethnic strife in Bosnia, I think of my friends in Banja Luka and all the suffering by people from all ethnic backgrounds. To this day, whenever I work this station on the air - they always remember me by name - a good reminder of old friends. I hope they all are doing OK, but I know they must have been affected by the strife and I suspect the days of Serbs and Croats and Muslims belonging to the same radio club in Bosnia are in the past.

I recall meeting a T9 ham at Dayton one year and asking if he knew my friends at YU4EBL. His comment "well they're still YU4" said it all to me. I am sure I speak for all of us on this site and sincerely hope that in Bosnia, and so many other places in the world including our country, in the words of Rodney King:
"Why can't we all just get along?"
RE: When is the contest over? Reply
by KT8K on January 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I appreciate what Randy wrote - every newcomer to radio contesting should receive information and develop an understanding as to what is right and wrong with regard to post-processing of logs, and the best place for that to happen is in an explicit expression of expectations placed directly in the contest rules. I also agree that, in this day and age, contest organizers should be able to process logs much more quickly and give shorter deadlines for submission with a special exception for those vanishing few who don't have the ability to submit by email (and I would guess that nobody in contention for an award is submitting their log this way).

I do appreciate the separation of all-technologies-applied competitors from those who want to operate without spotting, CW Skimmer, and similar technological advantages. We need to promote the advancement of technology in a competitive spirit, but without leaving behind those who choose to contest in a bare-bones manner and develop their "brain-skills" instead. Actually, as a budding contester without the wherewithal to even have a tower and beam, I like the idea of a category for stations using no directional antennas ("wires and verticals" doesn't go far enough in making this distinction). As it is, though, I claim a major victory if I can crack the top ten U.S. in my category against my much better equipped competitors.

It does seem that the contest organizers, in any case, are in the best position to set standards around post-processing of logs and rational categories that keep the fun and competitive spirit in radiosport. I hope they are reading this and working to improve the way their contests are designed and managed so that they keep up with the times.
Best rx & 73 to all de kt8k - Tim
RE: When is the contest over? Reply
by ZL2iFB on January 15, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
One way to encourage more rapid submission of entries would be for the contest organisers to offer a special bonus for early logs, one that decreases with every passing day (or hour or minute!) from the official end of the contest ...

Gary ZL2iFB / ZM4G
When is the contest over? Reply
by K3MD on April 12, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Agree. Wrote an op/ed article to the same effect for July/August NCJ. Got angry responses from the supervisor of WPX CW contest and the originator of log checking itself over the use of databases and tapes currently due to excessive log-checking, now they are taking points off for wrong serial number, analyzing if you copied too few or too many dits!!

John K3MD
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