Read part 1 first.

Q4. Should the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories be combined into one Single Operator category?

This question was included for several reasons.

  1. The CQ WPX Contest Committee has become very good at using statistical techniques to identify entries that did not claim use of assistance (i.e., the spotting networks or the DX Cluster). We then spend a lot of time writing emails to participants and confirming if it is an error or cheating. Since there is little difference in score, we wanted to know if the participants felt there was a need for separate categories.
  2. The WPX RTTY Contest does not have an Assisted category. All single ops are grouped together. Combining the categories would make it easier to merge all 3 modes into the same rules.
  3. We wanted to see how attitudes have changed since this question was asked in 2009 and 2010.
Response Count Percent
Yes 1863 47.36%
No 2071 52.64%
Total 3934

It was close! The majority still favor keeping a category that is “pure radio” in that there are no outside connections or assistance provided. This group was quite vocal in their support.

Some of the comments from both sides:

  • A single operator assisted has a greater advantage over non-assisted for extra multipliers, etc. I have operated assisted and unassisted … a difference between night and day!
  • Absolutely not! I do not have internet service at my remotely located shack. I am ok with the Skimmer. Keep the single op class as is, please.
  • Absolutely not. Just because some people must cheat to do well doesn’t mean we should change the rules to legitimize their cheating.
  • Actually a lot of hams are using Cluster and they are not informing about. If you allow for all entrants, no more problem with this issue. Nice idea!
  • Alternatively you could give the non-assisted operator a bonus for not using the spotting networks.
  • Any assistance of any sort is a ‘second op,’ and it results in unfair disadvantage to the unassisted single op if the two were combined into a single category. Let’s keep the assisted/unassisted categories separated, even if the unassisted op is a dying breed.
  • As a casual operator, I prefer ‘spinning the dial’ to see what I get. I feel that people who use spotting aids should have their own category.
  • As most don’t even understand the difference, and quite often mess them up.
  • Assisted gives unfair advantage to those seeking new multipliers. It’s like ‘hamburger helper’…takes the skill out of S&P. I’m old school…not a fan of assisted operation.
  • ‘Assisted’ is a critical difference in radiosport and should be distinctly separate from pure SO. Maybe it doesn’t impact WPX that much, but it does in the bigger contesting picture. Explaining/managing the differences across multiple contests would hurt the overall contest participation and enjoyment.
  • Assisted make for a more interesting contest for SO. I almost always find the DX using S&P before spotted, but can help with the multipliers.
  • Being Assisted does not really help much in this contest as virtually every suffix is a multiplier. Rate is the key to winning.
  • Bit of a conundrum this one as looking at past results the unassisted get better scores. I am sure only a minority cheat so the conclusion is majority of entrants in ‘assisted’ are not intent on a full time serious entry. From my view I wish to remain in unassisted mode and know who my peers are. You have created ‘assisted’ class why not stick with it?
  • By forcing all serious competitors to be Assisted, and making ‘Assisted’ unlimited in its breadth of spotting options, you’d be encouraging the spotting of everybody in creation, and forcing every competitor to have all of the spotting aids you mention – including Skimmer – even if they don’t want to have them or deal with them. The skills involved would then have less to do with radio than with automatic and semi-automatic QSOs, and the WPX would no longer be a radio contest, but rather a computer contest, or a ‘point and click’ internet contest.
  • Call me old fashioned. I’ve been into computers since the early 70s, and have played SDR and lots of other emerging technologies. But I still like to find my own multipliers, and compete against those who do likewise. We could do-away with CW, too, as old-fashioned, but lots of folks like to test their core basic skills. Finding your own stations to work is one of them. (My preference, instead, would be to have the default entry classification allow assistance, but provide an unassisted class that operators could specifically elect to participate in. So opt-in to unassisted, instead of the present opt-in to assisted.)
  • Computer spotting networks add to the fun. I would think almost all hams have a computer today.
  • Contesters operating portable do not always have internet access. The unassisted category allows them to place higher.
  • DX cluster are not much use down here in the southern hemisphere.
  • Everyone is allowed packet in WPX RTTY and that’s fun.
  • Guess I’m a dying breed. Contesting isn’t the same if I have to compete with guys having thousands of ears filling in their band maps. I’d rather just quit.
  • Hardware and software requirements make these categories very different.
  • Hey, it’s just fun and it’s a hobby. I don’t like to see the spots causing mayhem on the bands, but why not take advantage of the new technology?
  • I always believe that the most of competitors use all this helping either go to simple or assisted category. So it would be more honest to be only one category.
  • I participate as Assisted hoping I might pick up a new DXCC entity as I am not a big gun station. I would prefer SO2R/SO3R were a separate category.
  • I am tired of the macho attitude that real men and real contesters do use packet or anything else. They run all contests naked. There are so many mults in this contest that it really does not matter. Merge them and let the chips fall wherever.
  • I am vehemently against the combining of the two categories. I think the number of participants would decline. I know that I would no longer participate.
  • I believe that the cluster is used by almost everyone.
  • I do not believe that would be fair. There are those of us who want to go it alone and measured against our peers. I have nothing against those who would like to operate in an assisted category; just don’t measure us against each other.
  • I have no internet access at the place I used to operate from during contests, it would be difficult to become competitive against operators using assistance.
  • I don’t see the logic in the single assisted category. Single op means single op and nothing else.
  • I don’t use spotting, and I really would rather be counted separately from the ‘Assisted’ group.
  • I enjoy finding stations by turning the dial, and I would feel slighted if another ham with a similar station set-up turns in a higher score by using spotting networks.
  • I feel that there is little real advantage to electronic assistance but that there are some who would prefer a more ‘purist’ approach.
  • I find it fun as a casual operator to give out points and search and pounce or maybe looks for states or countries. More and more stations use a contest logging programs that have it built-in.
  • I like contesting without any help. It is more fun to search the band for multis instead of just clicking on a cluster spot.
  • I love the old style, Single Operator. Remember we are radio amateur, not ‘internet radio’ amateur.
  • I say no but there are times I would like to peak at the cluster, but not have to enter the assisted category. Still, I do enjoy having an old fashioned category that doesn’t rely on technology.
  • I think this is already happening.
  • I want to be radio operator, not an internet chatter part-time operating a radio.
  • I don’t have clear opinion about it. I would better vote ‘I don’t know’. Assisted category is fast growing as many people start to use different kind of assistance massively – on the other hand it create heavy disadvantage for those still contesting without any assistance.
  • It takes more skill to work multipliers w/o the aid of packet and other means.
  • It’s OK for WAE but not for WPX. Please keep CQ contests just the way they are now.
  • I’ve gotta believe these tools are becoming ‘SOP’ for anyone remotely serious about contesting.
  • Keep them as two categories. It shows how good an op is when as a SO they get better scores than most (or all) of the SOAs.
  • Let’s keep the real operators apart from the ‘push button ones’
  • Making assisted the premo first class category would seem to embrace the future and we need to get into the habit of future orientation rather than dragging anchors.
  • Maybe more part-time hams would join the contest.
  • Maybe turn off all DX clusters during the contest.
  • Most hams are honest. Aren’t they?
  • My feeling is that I am a radio operator and not a data processor. If I can’t find a contact by either turning the dial and listening or finding an empty spot and calling, I have chosen the wrong hobby.
  • I enjoy the assisted class and there is a degree of additional work and skill to use the cluster to make and find contacts.
  • Not everyone enjoys using Packet. It is clearly an augmentation to the fundamental RADIO portion of the hobby. As an example, I don’t have packet in my shack and actually enjoy having to find the DX and other stations to work. It allows me to more fully enjoy the hobby without non-RADIO distractions.
  • Operators with no access to internet would be punished.
  • Please improve techniques to expose cheating and name and shame the cheaters instead.
  • Single Ops enjoy the challenge of ‘doing it on my own’!! Why take that away from them? Let the ones that want/need help compete amongst themselves and vice/versa.
  • Spotting networks, just like computers, are a fact of life in amateur radio. It is not really the same advantage to a single op as to a multi but knowing where a multiplier is operating on your band would be – provided conditions allow a contact. Again more of an advantage to large amateur population areas.
  • That’s exactly what happens in reality. A friend of mine never claims assisted and though he’s not using it too much, he just keeps an eye on it.
  • The more ‘categories’ there are… the better for us little guys to make some ‘top three’ showings, eh?
  • The word ‘Assisted’ causes problems, but the intent is clear. Maybe ‘SO Traditional’ could be used for unassisted, and ‘SO(A)’ would become ‘SO’.
  • There is so much tradition behind the unassisted category that it would be a shame to eliminate it.
  • There should be at least one category (SO) where operator skill determines the score instead of who has the best robot. Any idiot can buy an internet robot. It takes a REAL contester to make all points by themselves.
  • Too hard to police anyway, since it’s so easy to bring up a spots page on your laptop.
  • If you want to be purists, OK, no computers at all! Let’s go back to straight keys, paper logs and paper dupes. Ready? I don’t think so.
  • Working without spotting is an added challenge that should be recognized, just as QRO and QRP are distinct from each other in the scoring.
  • Wow. This again. Eliminating SOAB and substituting packet/Skimmer will guarantee I would never again enter the WPX. Where does this hair-brained idea come from?
  • You cannot check if a ham has been assisted or not. One of the aims of a contest is for every ham to improve his technology. Let the hams use any technology they want.

How did the results for 2011 compare to previous years?

Response 2011 2010 2009
Yes 47.4% 41.1% 40.3%
No 52.6% 45.9% 46.5%
Don’t care N/A 13.0% 13.2%
Total (count) 3934 4895 4032

We removed the “Don’t care” option in order to force respondents to take a position. It appears the 13% of “Don’t care” split their vote along the lines of those who selected Yes or No in previous years.

Q5. If the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories were combined into one, would you operate:



More 552 14.25%
Less 525 13.55%
About the same 2797 72.20%
Total 3874

This question was designed to gauge what the impact might be if a rule change was implemented. Despite the emotion on both sides, it appears that most people would not change their operating very much at all.


The CQ WPX will keep the Single Operator and Single Operator Assisted categories for 2012.

Editorial Note

It is not true that everyone in single operator is using the cluster. If you think someone is, you should speak to them and ask them to follow the rules. We don’t find every log where someone looks at the cluster, but we do find the ones where someone is making a big difference in their score. It would help us and make the contest more fair if everyone would follow the rules and submit their log in the correct category.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey and shared their opinion!

Randy, K5ZD