Re: Encouraging Casual Participation in Contests

Gary Hinson

We’ve seen some crackin’ suggestions for ‘improving’ things in this thread … but, with respect, what is it that needs to or should be ‘improved’ and why?  What is ‘improvement’, in fact, how much ‘improvement’ is desired, and what is that ‘improvement’ worth?


To explain, I have a professional interest in metrics.  There are lots of things that can be measured, and loads of ways to measure things.  Key to figuring out what to measure and how, in an actionable form, is to clarify the ultimate objectives.  In short, start right there.


In relation to contesting, here are some possible objectives, several of which have been mentioned on the thread already, some are examples I’ve chipped-in for good measure:

  • Encourage casual participation in contests (as per the original subject line)
  • Facilitate     “               “                 “          “      (related but different)
  • Get more hams on the air
  • Get bums in seats i.e. get people actively participating for longer [cumulatively, across various events]
  • Get a wider variety of hams to participate in contesting
  • Increase the number/proportion of hams who participate
  •       “          “         “                “             “     “        “          “             AND enter
  •                   “                             “                           “                           “                   seriously, competitively, determinedly …
  • Increase the number/variety of events/contests that hams participate in and ideally enter
  • Give event/contest entrants/participants more QSOs and/or more enjoyment
  • Encourage newbies to take their first baby steps
  • Provide socialising, learning and improving among all participants
  • Level the playing field for the oldies (at least)
  • Encourage and maybe reward innovation and effort
  • Discourage cheating and mickey-taking, prevent fraud
  • Bring hams together in social activities e.g. multi-op events, FD etc.
  • Stimulate friendly competition
  • Make new friends and catch up with old ones, both on-air and in person
  • Get hams to participate more often, ideally regularly throughout the year
  • Make it easier to participate, log, score, enter, win/gain recognition etc. in events/contests
  • Practice, develop and enhance operating and logging skills, accuracy, QSO rate etc. (=decrease error rates, NILs etc.)
  • Encourage DXing, whatever that means!
  • Increase the number of QSOs available for cross-checking/validation/QSLing
  • Persuade more hams to try out new modes, bands, locations, equipment, software etc.
  • Promote amateur radio as a fun, inclusive, and yes somewhat competitive activity
  • Promote ARRL and encourage membership
  • Act as a diversion or steam vent for hams in lockdown
  • Prove and improve the resilience, capacity and performance of ‘the station’ as a whole, and in parts
  • Demonstrate the value of contesting as part of the hobby, and demonstrate the value of hamming in general
  • Etc.  


With a bit of head-scratching, we could probably double that list and refine the bullet points, and I’m sure we could have a good old chat about all of that and more e.g. which are the priorities, which things we personally support or doubt etc. 


My point is that the situation is more complex than has been implied so far, with numerous objectives and numerous perspectives.


Maybe it would help to debate those ‘ultimate objectives’, perhaps develop a hierarchy or structure of primary, secondary and tertiary/supporting objectives, a mind map maybe.  THEN we could collectively get into the nitty gritty of what constitutes successful outcome/s, how to achieve that/those, and plan an approach accordingly.  I’m not necessarily suggesting that we should focus on just ONE objective and ONE approach, rather that we make more of an effort to agree, align and collaborate instead of all pulling in different directions at once.


Meanwhile, I’m really enjoying hearing about the things that have been or are being done already.  I’ve tried various approaches in adjudicating and promoting various contests myself over the past 4 decades, some more successful than others … and before anyone asks: no, I rarely got around to figuring out what “success” meant.  Too busy pedalling uphill to look at the summit!



Gary  ZL2iFB






From: ARRL-Contesting@... <ARRL-Contesting@...> On Behalf Of Jim Shepherd
Sent: 10 January 2021 07:18
To: ARRL-Contesting@...
Subject: Re: [ARRL-Contesting] Encouraging Casual Participation in Contests


It is NOT complicated to add your log to LOTW unless you 'paper log'... All contest logging programs and some of the general purpose logging programs can generate a Cabrillo for the contest AND an ADIF which can be sent to LOTW with a few keystrokes.  One of the key items in LOTW  is the ability to have multiple operating locations. I happen to operate regularly from 2 different locations that are in different counties and grid zones so that is necessary.

What is necessary to get more casual operators going is to EDUCATE and ELMER them on the FUN  of joining in on contests. In my column in our club newsletter, I try to use the word 'event' rather than contest. Our club highlights the next weekend's state qso and major contests with a link "above the fold" on the front page of the website (www.snars,org). Our Nevada QSO party allows the use of repeaters to get the handheld crowd involved, and these folks are now getting more involved in radiosport! 

Adding more awards to LOTW is DEFINITELY a way to attract more participation. Point out that most  contests are a good way to get a nice WAS award hanging on the wall or a definite path to DXCC.  The fantastic ability of lots of the contests having the means to download and print a certificate from contests is a great way to recognize these casual contesters---with the combination of power, mode, assisted, location, etc, EVERYONE in the NVQSO party got a certificate showing that they were in the top 5 in their class.... 

One of the really good things to help convert these casual contesters to more active ones is N1MM.  It is free, and can be made as simple as possible to use for the beginner.  Yes, the big guns use it to control everything from automatically turning their beams and it will do just about everything except refill the coffee pot. (next week's version may add that feature...Lol) Even without using rig control it is a great way to log and see needed mults and avoid dupes. At the end of the contest, a few key strokes can generate the Cabrillo, adif, links to the sponsor's log entry, and even 3830Scores.

Let's get more hams ON THE AIR for these contests!!!!

Jim Shepherd, W6US

Join to automatically receive all group messages.