Contesters & DXpeds: PLEASE ID when you QRZed!

Why do operators make contact after contact on a run frequency without throwing their callsign out? This has become a bad trend by many contesters and by a fair number of DXpedition ops.

Time to get out my soapbox and start jumping up and down. And I’d like to hear from all you contesters and DXped chasers out there too!

The ARRL DX SSB Contest just ended and I had another great time, except for two irritating things that kept happening over and over and over – stations that wait forever to ID and stations that rush through their ID so fast that nobody can understand them.

First up: “Thanks, QRZed?” over and over.

Soooooo many stations that are running on a frequency, waiting for the world to come to them have picked up a very nasty habit – they will answer call after call after call without throwing their own callsign out. They acknowledge one QSO and immediately call “QRZed?” without ever saying their own callsign. This repeats over and over. The degree of offense varies widely. Some stations will make two or three contacts before identifying with their own callsign(tolerable). Others will make a dozen or more contacts(really bad), and still others will not ID at all until they hear someone else ask them for their callsign(usually illegal). A small few will even ignore this.

I understand that a lot of the big gun station ops want to get through as many QSOs as they can and as fast as possible. That’s understandable. But when you make a lot of QSOs without identifying, you’re forcing everyone to sit there and listen for a long time while you clear the pileup. That’s valuable time we lose, and in big chunks! We want to make a lot of contacts too! To be honest, when running, I will occassionally go from one QSO to another without identifying, but it usually means I asked a specific station to stand by. I’ll almost never go more than 3 QSOs without throwing my call out. (It usually ends up in the exchange anyways.)

Why is this so irritating? At the start of the contest, it’s not too big a problem. We haven’t made many contacts yet, so you’re probably going to be a new one. After 24 hours of a 48 hour contest though, we’re probably hitting over 50% dupes, so we NEED to know your callsign as soon as possible. Near the end, that percentage goes over 90%! Also, some people that you have already worked are going to call you because they haven’t heard your call and are trying to find out who you are! That wasted their time, your time, and the time of everyone else that’s listening for your callsign! It helps you to identify at the end of each exchange!

If you think it takes too much time to ID, think about this. Instead of saying just “QRZed?” at the end, why not throw your callsign in with it, “Z1XY, QRZed?” It takes probably an extra half second. You think that takes too much time? Then say your callsign INSTEAD of QRZed. We know you’re ready for the next call because we’ve been sitting there listening to you. If you’re doing it well, we don’t have to listen very long and you’re likely to get more contacts because you have fewer “oops, dupe!” calls.

The really good contesters throw out their call at the end of EVERY exchange! Oh yeah, there’s one other little detail, at least in the US (and I expect in pretty much every country.) You’re required to ID with you callsign at the end of every exchange.

So, how about ending each exchange with your callsign so that we can figure out who you are without having to sit on your transmissions for precious minutes at a time during a contest?

Next up: Callsigns at the speed of sound!

Another trend is for operators to speed through their callsign as fast as they possibly can. Sometimes, it isn’t an issue. Other times, nobody is going to be able to translate the call into a valid log entry. This becomes a monumental when the operators on each end of the QSO are from different cultures and speak very different languages. Accents get in the way very quickly! Slowing down a little can ultimately save a lot of time by eliminating a dozen “again, again” requests.

If you want to see this in action, listen in on any contest that is based between W/VE’s and the rest of DX land. The problem is on both sides!

One variation on this problem happens when operators say the letters in the prefix but give phonetics in the suffix (or vice versa). A letter in one language may not sound like anything in the alphabet of another language.

The solution? Speak at a reasonable speed, not too fast, not too slow. Use standard phonetics. When people start asking for fills or repeats, slow down a little. They’re still asking for repeats? Use phonetics. When the standard phonetics fail, don’t be afraid to use alternate phonetics. Use something that will probably have global recognition. Major cities or states are good choices. For example, when FOXTROT or TANGO fail, I’ll use FLORIDA or TOKYO. Don’t get fancy or cute. That will just make it worse. Just remember though, if lots of people are asking you to repeat the same thing over and over, maybe you need to think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. Maybe the world is telling you to find something better.

OK, that’s my soapbox speech for today.  Do you have an opinion?  You agree or disagree?  Leave a comment!


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3 Responses to Contesters & DXpeds: PLEASE ID when you QRZed!

  1. Thanks so much for your thoughts! Im a new Ham and i was wondering about these same ?? I can’t understand why no I.D. And i asked one dx i was working for his call sign and he made a big speech that he said his call sign when he started and we should listen and he would not give it out every contact! Big shot! anyways everything you said is true and has been great info to me!! 73s to W4FT from KK6HUB Bob Wolcott.

    • w4ft says:

      Bob, you’re absolutely right. The problem isn’t just contesters, but includes DXers and DXpedition ops. Fortunately, the majority of ops wouldn’t do what you describe. When asked, every ham I know would gladly give their call sign out. Sounds like that op needs a visit from the Wouff Hong!

      Your comment did prompt me to change my post though. I’ve added the DX world to the conversation. And I still invite comments from all on this!


  2. Kihup Boo says:

    I cannot agree more. I feel the same pain with many DX and/or DXPedition stations (I know if turn on my computer and google on the internet, I may find the station’s callsign but then it becomes a burden than a fun).

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