Leaderboards good or bad?

Posted: February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
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A lot has been said recently about Dxpedition Leaderboards such as the feature found on Clublog.org

I’ve had mixed feelings about the Leaderboard until I have really made the effort to study them and their effects on those seeking contacts with various DXpeditions.

First of all, it’s important to remember the purpose of a Dxpedition. To go to a rare or much needed entity and to provide contacts on various bands and modes to those that need and want them. Most DXpeditions accomplish this pretty well. The trend in recent years has been for DXpeditions to become longer in duration, larger in size and complexity. Whereas we were once satisfied with 1 or 2 contacts “for insurance” from a Dxpedition, many of us now seek and obtain as many as 18-24 contacts with even the most rarest of entities.

So the question arises, does the seeker of his 15th or 16th contact actually deny a smaller station his first contact with a rare DX entity?  Do so called “little pistols” or small DX stations get denied a contact because of the big guy’s pursuit of many contacts on various bands and modes?

Having been on both sides of big and small Dxpedition pileups, I’ve come to the conclusion that a properly run and operated Dxpedition (such as FT5ZM) for example, who puts on a major effort on the most productive bands affords everyone an opportunity to work them.

Say for example that 20 meters is the most productive band day or night, if the Dxpedition operates diligently on this band, everyone big gun or little pistol will have a chance to work the Dxpedition. Most DXpeditions understand this and rarely is a region completely neglected of contacts.

Even small one-man DXpeditions can operate under this same premise. For example Vlad-UA4WHX is currently operating from CE0Z-Juan Fernandez. Vlad is on various bands and modes night and day. He is an excellent operator and he knows propagation well. While he is not using a Leaderboard, it would be very easy to obtain multiple contacts with him no matter where one is located or the quality of their station.

While I was recently a team member at XZ1J I often thought of the Leaderboard effect. We worked many JA and EU stations around the clock. The Operators always had the choice of what bands and modes we operated from. We had a simple checklist of what we had worked so that we could refer to it and make sure that nothing was being missed. Some of us also kept and reviewed notes from our first days of operation as to what bands were good at various times of the day.

From XZ1J probably the most difficult region to work was the US mid-west. W0/W5, however we worked many of them and on multiple bands. Could a W0 station say that he was denied a contact because a W6 station needed his 15th contact?  I don’t think so as we followed propagation and at times the propagation actually favored W5 over W6/W7. There were times where I asked the West Coast to stand by as I was following the sun as it moved from East to West during our early morning hours. The West Coast stations were S2-S3 and essentially noise as compared to the S5-S6 W0/W5 stations highlighted by the grey-line effect.  I think any small pistol in W0/W5 had a chance with us if he was QRV from his station at the right time.

So to answer the initial question, does the Leaderboard cause the small stations to be denied an initial contact with a properly run Dxpedition. No, I don’t believe that it does. A station that has already made multiple band/mode contacts with a Dxpedition is not likely to be competing with a small station seeking his first contact for the same band mode at the same time.  I would also like to close with this thought. In every Dxpedition that I have been involved with, there have always been times where we were lonely, calling CQ and essentially “begging” for contacts. Those “little pistols” had no competition whatsoever during those times.

What do you think?

 

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Comments
  1. ky6r says:

    The leaderboards would be a red herring if a DX-pedition decided to limit the bands and modes they were to work on. If they do work on all bands and modes, then yes, the Leaderboards suck.

  2. bonnie120rv says:

    I think that the Leaderboards are a bit of harmless fun. I don’t understand why they draw so much venom and ire.

  3. Wayne, N0UN says:

    DXers work DX. Leaderboards or not. Leaderboards are not a problem. People calling over the DX TX frequency is a problem. KJ4’s calling when “Whiskey Six go ahead” was specifically called are a problem. The tuners, idiots and jammers are a problem. Leaderboards aren’t even on the LONG list of why some little pistol didn’t make a QSO. Instead of crying how “unfair” Ham Radio is, they should spend that time upgrading their station, license class and skill-set. Big Gun stations are in and out, usually within minutes. They deny nobody. Little Pistols will spend 12 hours a day, 7 days straight calling and calling and calling (and calling) just to never get the fish! Who’s fault is that? That’s a Leaderboard issue? That’s some Big Guns fault? It’s my opinion they’re just looking for someone/something to blame for their radio frequency “impotence”.

  4. Larry NU4B says:

    Because they generate so much venom and ire. Just listen to the pile ups. I’ve been listening to pile ups for 30 years. They are getting more vicious, its undeniable.

    Humans are competitive creatures and we want to win. We just are. And to some people losing is not an option.

    I don’t think for a minute you can put the genie back in the bottle. We are now in this band/mode slot mentality. First we needed a DX Q for DXCC. Then we needed one for each mode for the 3 different DXCCs. Now we need one for every band/mode slot, except there is no award to go with it – other than the top of the leaderboard.

    Let’s assume FT5ZM worked all the demand for zone 4 USA, they had to have got pretty close. FT5ZM was a top 10 most wanted and they had some good prop and location and setup and were there for a long time. And they were left calling CQ the final days with good sigs. They made 16200 zone 4 Qs of which 11% were top Zone 4 leaderboard (remember there’s just not one leaderboard). More important (and I’m using the only figure I have) somewhere around 21.4 were probably uniques, or 3467 zone 4 stations.

    If we look at XZ, I would think the demand for it would be at least 3467 (probably higher) for zone 4 USA. XZ1J was a shorter expedition with not the best location and prop for z4. In fact there were only 2335 Qs with z4. The unique % for the trip was 33.3 but I guessing much higher for zone 4 USA because of the difficulty in the path. The top leaderboard Qs were 28% of the total, but lets blow the uniques to 40%. That means a bit over a fourth of the demand was worked. There’s still at least another 2500 stations out there that didn’t get worked. Now only a very few Z4 stations worked XZ1J more than the 10 Qs to fill every band and mode (not slots). (I didn’t include 160 since no Qs were made),

    I still need to be convinced that time spent working the same stations over and over and over again isn’t taking away from other stations that would get through.

    Somewhere between these 2 extremes it probably doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter anyway because we have created this band/mode slot mentality, along with the one, two, three, or whatever callsigns, and everything else. But just for argument sake, that’s my argument.

    The other thing we create is the publicity. This is huge. Take Vlad (UA4WHX currently at CE0Z). There’s no web pages, no leaderboard, no announcement at all other than what’s picked up on the air. Anybody could work him any day. Compare that to the IS0 operation a few years ago. A massive publicity campaign. Why you would have thought it was P5 on the air the pileups were so big!

    Do I think a big publicity campaign is bad. No, we need them. DXpeditions are expensive and we have to come to terms on how we as DXers will finance them. But it all adds to it.

    In the end there is a limited time, limited freqs, limited openings, Dxpedition equipment limits, operator limits, etc… and we are generating a massive demand without many times the ability to control the variables which I believe is and has led to the mess we see on the bands today. And leaderboards are a big part of it. You can’t ignore the fact that stations once looking for 10 Qs are now looking for 20 to 30…or more.

    Just my, well, 10 cents. 🙂

    • n6pse says:

      Larry- you make some really good points and I agree with you that pileup behavior is getting worse. I had suspected that annual awards such as CQ Marathon was the motivation for some of the rude behavior I’ve heard on the bands. Regarding Zone 4 Contacts and the numbers worked by XZ1J, it’s true the openings were brief and via the short path. I truly believe that we worked everyone who was QRV and “workable”. I recall even working a few mobiles on the East Coast.

      XZ1J had four stations running 24X7. We worked Zone 4 easily at our sunset via the Long Path and we asked for North America only during those openings. I don’t think the existence of XZ1J’s Leaderboard kept anyone out of the log.

  5. Larry NU4B says:

    Hey Paul,
    Oh I agree, CQ Marathon is another contributing factor. And I enjoy it very much. Looking back at what I posted, I think I concluded somewhere else than I intended.

    And that’s we have built this big massive demand, Now, what do we do with it? Kind of what Rich, KY6R, was saying, how do we manage through it?

    Internet spots are another contributor. I don’t care what anyone says, instantly spotting a DX station to the world is not the same as the calling on the phone or repeater alerts. You couldn’t make enough calls quick enough and there certainly weren’t enough repeaters to get the reach of the internet spot sites today instantaneously.

    Well I have definitely veered off course. And maybe XZ1J was a poor example because of the short and weak openings. If we assume the 3600 Z4 stations is at least in the ball park then there were a ton of unworkable stations (which is entirely possible given the location of XZ) Certainly the demand for XZ had to be at least or greater than FT5Z. For USA Z4, since so few went over 10 QSOs then the leaderboard becomes a non factor. Yes, poor example on my part. Back to the drawing board. hahhaha

  6. NE5EE says:

    You said working lots of bands doesn’t take away from working everyone on the money bands.
    That doesn’t make sense to me. I have seen plenty of times the DX is off on odd bands when 20m is open to W6 and I need a contact. That denies me a contact. If the DX runs the 2-3 money bands 24×7, and can still work others, that’s fine. If he works others and does not cover the money bands well, that is not good.

    • n6pse says:

      Dave, most DXpeditions that employ a Club Log Leaderboard run 4 or 5 stations on various bands simultaneously. You may be able to hear only one of those bands but others are going around the clock. Those guys that are racking up the check marks on the Leaderboard are able to hear and work those other stations. Most DXpeditions will operate on 20/17/15 meters as much as they can until there are simply no one else to work. They essentially work everyone who is “workable”. With your antenna situation (mobile screwdriver on your balcony) you may not be workable for some DXpeditions.

  7. Tony says:

    I think they STINK ! I have been working DX since the mid 60’s. They cause nothing but repeated contacts with the big stations currently active. Not that ALL big guns participate in the madness, but many do. On multiple expeditions during the past 3 years I have observed quite shameful behavior. The DX op would even ask for ATNO, or specific area, and the GREENIE crowd would show up and call. They don’t need the DX for even an ARRL fill. Just the GREENIE.

    Now my take on working DX is not the same as many today. Some like politicians are always in contest mode. I am sorry, if you want to contest there are plenty of them. The DXCC originally was about being ABLE to make the QSO. Not being 59+ on every call. So where I might have a DX station at S7 or so. The GREENIES show up for the 20 minute window, and the DX QRTs or the band fades.

    The online log is a good idea.

    73 N5UD

  8. Paul; I spent at least 2 hours a day trying to work FT5ZM. I carefully watch the postings on the NCDXC Chat Reflector. I note the times and frequencies of postings in my PDA, with an alram set to try to catch the next opening. After days of frustration, listening to the jammers and bad behavior of a number of ops, all the cops, etc; On 02-10-2014 at 03:13Z I finally got a reply to my call. The operator came back with K6CHL in reply to my first call. I corrected my call twice as I returned his report. He came back to me with my corrected call. I put the QSO in my log. I didn’t get another chance before the operation shut down. On 02-11-2014 I checked their website. The log for the previous day had not yet been uploaded. I checked the log daily after they had closed. Their log says, no record of a contact with K6CSL in their log. What a heartbreak. After all my patience and diligence, to come up empty, while I listened to big gun stations making contacts on every band and mode. I’m 73 years old this year. I’ve been licensed and active for 62 years. I really don’t expect I’ll ever have another chance. This past weekend I made a new record for my station, making 186 Q’s in 88 mults, including 6W/G3TXF in Senegal and ZM90DX, Auckland & Campbell Islands. FT5ZM ended up being a very bitter pill. So I sit here, trying my best with my little station, with restricted antennas due to my unfortunate location in a mobile home park. Trying to make “just one contact” while I listen to the big guns make every “band space”. I guess I’m a “persistent old cuss”. Bert, K6CSL

    • bonnie120rv says:

      Bert,

      Drop them a line because all is not lost yet. Your call may have been busted and it could be possible to still fix the log. Send them your details and fingers crossed.

    • Dwayne KD4POJ says:

      Bert, well here is another bitter pill to take. ZM90DX is NOT Auckland & Campbell Islands. Its just regular New Zealand. ZM90DX is just a special event call.

      “1st Oct 2013 – 31st Oct 2014
      Special Event Call Sign
      Location Is New Zealand, Not ZL9!
      New Zealand ”

      As for the main topic, I am one of the little pistols, 100 watts and 1 vertical antenna in the middle of the US. ND to be specific…no water to help my signal, no big tower, no beam, no amp a very modest station to say the least. Yet, I made it in FT5s logs ( and have been fortunate enough to work some other rares). It was not easy and took a lot of my time (which was very limited, with a family members recent heart attack.) Did the leaderboard keep me out of the logs? Nope! Did the short window to the DX cause me some trouble. Yep. Did the LIDs calling none stop, the up cops, the tuners and other idiots in the pile ups stop me. Sure made things difficult, took me more time but it didn’t prevent me from making it. Did any big guns prevent me from making a QSO. Nope. They were in and out before I could finish sending my call.

      So why then did I make it into the logs and others didn’t? It wasn’t the leaderboards What cause me the most grief, were other factors. Path, condx, timing, and my own lack of a better station (antenna, power and skills). I blame NO for my lack of working them on all three mode or several bands. I need them on all kinds of band/mode slots for DXCC Challenge (that is my favorite award to chase along with just plain old DXCC.

      While I am a bit younger than you, I doubt that I will ever see them being activated again before I pass on. And after I pass no other hams will remember me (or you for that matter) nor care if I worked every DXCC on the list nor care if I made it to DXCC Challenge 2500. Its only matters to me and no one else. I will never be in some hall of fame for DXing nor do I care.

      Back to the meat and potatoes, the biggest issue I had was the LIDs, Kids and Social misfits calling none stop, the tuners, and up cops. Most of them surely were not “the Big guns” as the big guns worked them and were gone as I said before. The others are the reason I have several dupe QSOs in the logs just on 30m. I rarely work a station, especially a rare one more than 1 time per band and mode. I work what I need and only what I need. Why are there 4, because, I could not hear them coming back to me due to all the other little pistols calling none stop without listening, the up cops transmitting on top of the DX when they were coming back to me, window closing, propagation changing. It was not the leader board guys that cause me to make those dupes. It was other factors that had nothing to do with leaderboards.

      As for my 1 and only RTTY QSO, its busted and I will have to wait and contact the QSL manager later when he gets home to have him check the logs for my busted call and cross my fingers. If not well I pray that I will live long enough to see another DXpedition.

      Good Luck and Good DX

  9. Jim says:

    I have a friend with the FT5 team, and he does not like the leaderboard listings. Too many big guns trying to work the DX on every mode and band. Makes it really tough on the little guys out there just trying to add the their modest DXCC numbers. Maybe I am also a little guilty, but I certainly don’t much care about my ‘leaderboard’ numbers. I work them for new band slots like a lot of guys, but even then don’t try too hard after that first contact for me shows up in the log. Besides, I am certainly NOT a big gun with my modest setup.
    BTW, he refers the them as ‘leaderboard commandos’, and not in an affectionate way.

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