Saturday, 4 February 2017

RSGB VHF Contest Rules, Contested.

This is a response from David Dix, who is leading a campaign to challenge recent RSGB changes to VHF contest rules:

Picking up trouble. Image: KB5WIA.

"Until this year the scoring system for RSGB UKAC contests was based on a “multiplier” system where each new main QRA square, ie. IO82, gave a multiplier of 2 to the points per kilometre, PPK, score. So a station making 20 complete QSO with a sum total distance of 3600km with stations in 5 different QRA squares gave a total contest score of 3600 x 5 x 2 = 36000 points.

Some stations on the periphery of the UK, felt they were disadvantaged under this system, so the RSGB VHF contest committee tried to originate a scoring system that would "level the playing field" this despite the 2015 RSGB Presidential Review of contesting final document concluding:-

"It is difficult to achieve fairness across the UK and there is a danger of adding to the complexity of the scoring system. A practical approach is to do the right thing for the bulk of the population at the same time as taking all reasonable steps to eliminate bias."

The proposed revised scoring system, B2, is based on the same PPK but different QRA squares attract a one off bonus for the first station worked in that square. Colour coding of QRA squares gave red squares a bonus of 2000 points, green squares 1000 points and blue squares 500. Generally speaking red squares are Scottish, green squares cover northern England while blue squares cover southern England and east anglia.

VHFCC did much computer modelling and declared the new B2 system fairer however many regular contesters did not agree and warned that the system would skew results as the data used was averaged and hid a number of anomalies.

Despite these representations and more people in a consultation not voting for the introduction of B2 it was introduced in January 2017 and already the skew of results is clear. Just as an example:- in the 23cms contest on 17th January a Scottish station made just 5 QSO's with a total distance of 353 km but accrued 6000 bonus points giving a total of 6353 points. He beat the next station in the results table who was in England made 26 QSO's with a total distance of 2444 km but only 3000 bonus points giving a total of 5444 points.

This clearly demonstrates that rather than “levelling the playing field” the reverse has, in fact, occurred.

Much analysis is available at which compares the different scoring systems derived from actual contest open logs.

What became clear when looking into the process is that no VHFCC meeting minutes had been published in breach of the RSGB's own bye-laws (now published) retrospectively but their accuracy is questionable as the March 2016 minutes carry the footer from the November 2016 minutes.

The whole operation of VHFCC and it's “consultation” was far from transparent or responsive, as required by the RSGB's own code of conduct, and some key questions still remain unanswered despite representations to the main RSGB Board whose governance during this period is also open to question.

This lack of transparency and active communication with members has resulted in bad feeling that a set of rules has been foisted on the VHF/UHF contesting community, despite a majority having voted against them, and has bred an atmosphere of distrust and the circulation of many conspiracy theories.

A possible light at the end of the tunnel is that the current RSGB President, Nick Henwood G3RWF, has announced a review of the 2015 review which may provide an opportunity to rectify some of the irregularities.

The aim of the petition is to try and get 300 signatures by 24th February which may well open the door for a discussion at the forthcoming AGM in April."

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