Contests: less time means more activity?

K5ZD’s recent survey about CQ WPX and more precise Survey Results #4 – Operating Time Limits once again triggered a discussion CQ-Contest. Some people believe that adding new categories with less operating time, like 30 out of 48 hours in CQ WW, might bring more people into contesting. I beg to differ. Furthermore I don’t see why many some of the posters there always try to mould the rules to their likings. So I wrote a rather long reply that I decided not to post in the end. But since this is my personal soap box, I’ll just put it here so that the time spent isn’t completely wasted.

> If we want to know whether shorter time categories would lure more
> people into contesting, or make them more seriously active, we need to
> particularly ask that group of people.

> Dave   AB7E

It has been established here that the vast majority of contacts comes from hams active on HF that do not consider themselves ‘contesters’. Their motivation to make contacts in contests is irrelevant to us, as long as they keep doing it.

They like to be active on the air, they like HF, they like DX. I assume they don’t care about scores. Most of the time they don’t even submit a log to the sponsor. They only care about the contact for DXCC credit and a nice DX QSL card.

It is my believe that those people do not want to be hassled with polls and questions. They don’t care about how long a contest lasts or how long they can operate according to the rules. Their ‘on time’ is dictated by their daily life and how much fun they have on the bands.

The way I see it is that ‘we the contesters’ should offer ‘them casual operators’ a timeframe as big as possible to work as many of us as possible. If we reduce the operating time, activity in certain periods of the contests may / will diminish which in turn may cause casual ops to bail out and never to return again in that particular contest, because they get the impression that there is little activity that weekend. In stead of making more QSO, we make less. CQ WW is the biggest contest, with a huge number of callsigns appearing. Yet there is only one category: 48 or bust. I don’t think anyone who doesn’t turn his rig on that weekend will do so if there is a category 24/48 or 30/48.

This is the way I see it, because it is the way I ‘changed camps’ from a newbie HF DXer who worked a few DX stations off and on during the weekend, to a ‘contester’ who likes to make the most of the weekend. First I was on for a few hours on the daylight bands, then I discovered at night there was DX on 40/80 even with limited means. Soon I tried to operate the whole contest FOR THE CONTEST.

We have a nice set of contests, each with its own particular properties. I don’t think we need to mess with the rules by adding new classes or cut operating time. If you are in the game for a win, and you get beaten by the guy who does manage to stay awake longer than you, he is the better operator and deserves to win.

Furthermore, I can imagine that contest sponsors have a lot on their mind, like enforcing the existing rules and dealing with complaints and cheating. We should applaud their work by participating and not giving them more work by demanding new rules.

As long as the hardcore contesters operate as much as they can by being present on the bands, the casual operators will join us on those bands adding to everyone’s pleasure.

Most of us are not in the contesting game to win. Most of us know we can’t win for various reasons. Maybe we’re after a personal victory like beat your previous score? Or kick that fellow club member’s butt? But I think all of us are in this for the fun. And when it’s fun, it should last as long as possible, no?

Bottom line: Maximize your time on the bands, massive activity will lead to more activity. In the end, this might keep more casual operators busy for longer periods. Then we all benefit.

Sorry for the ‘them’ versus ‘us’ terminology when referring to contesters and casual operators. But that division was part of the issue. Sometimes this contester casually strolls around on the bands in a contest, like ARRL DX SSB, or RTTY contests.

73 de Franki ON5ZO = OQ5M

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