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“Flavours” Challenge- discussion 2

Continuing the topic. Brian @G8ADD launched a consultation asking for participants’ thoughts as to the make-up of future “Flavours” type challenges.

I enjoyed a fantastic day out in G/LD yesterday, activating 5 summits:

Blencathra G/LD-008
High Righ G/LD-044
Great Mell Fell G/LD-035
Little Mell Fell G/LD-037
Hallin Fell G/LD-043

Great weather and views all day apart from the first summit which was shrouded in mist. Good to qualify all summits on 2m, and make contacts with several chasers on C4FM on each summit.

A note for prospective activators of Hallin Fell - the usual driving route from the A66 - the B5320 over the bridge into the village - is closed (scheduled to reopen at the end of this month). Heading there from the Mells I had to take a very long diversion all the way around Ullswater via Penrith to get there.

On the DV Flavour, I see Jirka OK2OP @OK2BDF and Jan @OK2PDT have a daily sked on 80m DV. I am presuming this is FreeDV mode, a mode I was hoping to use myself in the Challenge - but I would have needed to buy a new tablet. Interested to know more about how they got on with this mode. It isn’t being spotted on SOTAwatch, and no other stations are being worked, so maybe it isn’t particularly popular.

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You probably want to remove your reports to a different thread Tom as Brian suggested, so discussion is in one place and reports etc. are somewhere else.

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There is significant overlap between thoughts for the future of the Challenges, and reports/observations of current activity.

My post above invites participants’ comments about the Challenges, mentions my current positive experience activating C4FM mode (as inspired by the Flavours Challenge) and expresses interest in the daily HF DV (FreeDV?) QSOs between @ok2bdf and @ok2pdt. All relevant to the discussion about the future of the Challenges. In my opinion :wink:

Perhaps more interesting would be comments from the 99.9% who are not participating to find out why these challenges are generally such a flop?

The invitation is open to them as well. Did you calculate the 99.9% or is that a random figure plucked from thin-air?

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It was the latter, as the actual figures for non-participation in the 2020 Challenge are:

Chasers: 79.3%
Activators: 88.6%

Or in other words, more than 1 in 10 activators in 2020 have participated in a Challenge Flavour, and more than 1 in 5 chasers.

I can’t let you get away with that, Richard. 285 activators have taken part in at least one challenge so far. That is over 11% of the number of activators who took part in SOTA last year.

The “Flavours” program is a challenge because it invites us to step outside our comfort zone. We don’t have to accept that challenge, and we don’t have to take part in every challenge, it is “mix and match” if you like. The limited time span of each flavour though designed to avoid distortion of general operating habits can also be a disadvantage. For instance the 160/80m challenge has two weeks at an inclement time of the year for the northern hemisphere, reducing the chances of grabbing a good day - and the third week fell in the lockdown period! For those working full time each flavour week presents just two days of relative freedom to activate or chase, reducing further the opportunities in winter. The MT knew this and accepted it - though not without some arguments! :smiley:

What I am interested in is getting some blue sky suggestions from our participants.

PS I see Tom has posted some figures, too!

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Further to the above, an example of what I mean by a “blue sky” suggestion. At present we score by numbers of contacts, so every contact has an equal value. How about scoring by cumulative distance, one point per 100km on HF, one point per km on V/UHF? Or having a multiplier for the number of Associations contacted? Think outside the box - or use a Zwicky box!

I enjoyed the 10 and 12m activity as it fortunately matched with sporadic openings in EU. That was I guess what the intention of the challenge was.

But when it comes to rankings or points,

That makes it totally unsuitable for me.
If only the best scoring activation per challenge week would count it would be balanced a bit better for the ones that only find time during the weekend.

I would say those are the challenge dedicated activators:

And I am pretty sure the majority of “participants” did not actively took part but just had QSO i.e. on 17m, 10/12m or DV during the counting days and therefor show up in the stats.

I would suggest to have activity weeks or month in 2021 but avoid the points discussion at all.
It can and will never be fair for every operator, for every association and so on. So avoid to compare apples and pears.

my 2 cents,
Joe

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I was going to make a similar point but read Joe’s comment first.

As far as I’m aware I didn’t need to do anything specal when I participated in a C4FM Flavour last year. But since I use that mode at other times the SOTA database [and hence all of us] has no real way of knowing who actively participated or if it was just business as usual.

The great thing about statistics is you can pick and choose the numbers you want to back up your premise.

The questions I have are things like:

Do the number of fully engaged participants justify the effort in running the challenge?
Do the number of partially engaged participants justify the effort in running the challenge?

The challenge has always been based on getting people to do something they don’t normally do. I’m sure a challenge could be organised, say 20m CW or 2m FM that would get significantly greater buy-in than the current events but that was never the purpose.

The current level of full engagement is woefully low, just 7 activators have participated in all flavours and just 3 chasers have participated in all flavours. As 2 of those 3 chasers are also in the 7 activators it’s likely their chases are the result of S2S contacts when activating and so there is 1 chaser fully engaged.

Those above numbers tell me that few people are really being pushed out of their envelope.

On comments made so far:

As someone who works full time still, I knew I would never “win” as I would have 1/2 days per challenge period to be active. But with a bit of effort I should be able to put on a decent showing in my association. Atrocious WX and COVID lockdown stole 5/6 months of flavours from me. I do find Joe’s suggestion of just the best scoring activation in the week as a nice way of levelling those who can devote more time to those who cannot.

Check if they did “challenge flavour X” in the days outside the flavour window. That will show if they only do the challenge flavour when it is flavour of the month.

Then there are those such as myself who are finding it hard enough to get out on a summit let alone participate in a challenge. 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us, so perhaps trying to evaluate the success or otherwise of the programme will prove impossible.

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Well it’s true that many politicians and others regularly abuse statistics to give gravitas to their arguments. But – as those of us who listen to BBC Radio’s More or Less statistics-fact-checking programme have learnt – professional statisticians can readily identify that abuse.

That sounds good – I’m not a statistician – but I doubt if the ‘active participation’ you seek can be extracted in a statistically significant way. Most statisticians agree that the minimum sample size to get any kind of meaningful result is 100- but even 15 would be unlikely for most of us.

Also, How many days before? Threshold based on what ratio of before and during Flavours window? e.g. some active participants may be using the mode / band at a low level or even start to ramp up just prior to the window.

Possibly different idea - but not sure how it could be scored - number of different bands from a single activation?

For my part I never had any expectations that many people would take part in all the flavours. Why should they? The mix and match concept gave people a palette of challenges from which they could select those that interested them enough to assemble equipment and make antennas so that they could take part. Seen from that angle, calling it “woefull” that so few people were prepared to tackle the full palette is inappropriate.

What would be needed is to identify those who took part in a flavour who did not use that flavour before the challenge - and further evaluate its success by seeing how many of those who continued using the mode/band after the flavour was over. Perhaps, though, that would be taking it too seriously. When all is said and done we have to remember that it is a game. The spectators always outnumber the players, and the spectators are themselves a minority.

You can get a rough idea by looking at the activation honour roll for All Associations and select DV. No, it doesn’t show stations who have qualified a summit using DV but shows stations who are logging DV contacts on an activation. Anyone with 10 or more summits is probably using DV outwith the flavour window. Not perfect but indicative.

Tom, well done for getting round all those summits particularly with the road closures. I did 5 WOTAs that morning and one of my chasers told me you were on C4FM but by the time I’d worked through my FM chasers you were gone. Then once I got home I tried to catch you on Little Mell Fell but was too late. I stayed in the shack [typing up my WOTA logs] listening to the 2m DV calling frequency, but had to go out before you activated Hallin Fell. Better luck next time you’re in G/LD.

I’m sure the local die-hard C4FM chasers I work were there to help you qualify those summits.

73, Andy

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The suggestion of looking only at the Challenge counting dates (1st to 7th of the month) is another potential red herring. The Challenge flavours have certainly influenced me to use certain bands and modes more often generally - not just on Challenge dates (testing newly built aerials, finding new interests etc). So the influence of the flavours is not limited to the flavour dates.

Another red herring is the “working full time” thing. I do myself. I’d probably agree that having a 24 hour 365 day Challenge like the initial 12m Challenge is too much. But going down to a “best scoring” approach doesn’t really serve to promote activity. The “seven days” thing, I think is a reasonably well balanced compromise that keeps the activity inclusive.

From a chaser’s point of view, participation in the Challenge doesn’t need to be intentional. It’s the fact that this activity exists. All Flavours were selected on the basis that their representation in SOTA was significantly lower than in amateur radio generally. Therefore, I find the fact that one in five of all 2020 chasers have used one of these niche bands and modes to work an activator on Flavour days to be quite encouraging.

I am certain that the number of S2S I’ve had this year on 80m, C4FM, 70cm, 17m and FT4/FT8 simply wouldn’t have happened without those focused Flavour weeks. So I’ve really enjoyed it. But without doubt, the majority will be the armchair critics that didn’t try it!

I’m hoping to do a stint of 2m C4FM operating about 6.30pm local time this evening, ahead of the 2m FM and 2m SSB contests. Wx looks horrible, so I may not stay out for the duration of the UKAC.

I saw your WOTA alerts Andy and was surprised not to hear you at all! Yes I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of easy-to-work C4FM activity, even from the smaller shielded fells. I had a really good day.

It certainly wouldn’t have been a signal strength problem. I’m not good at coordinating S2S’s. Once I’m out walking I try to look at the ground not at my phone especially yesterday - the Shap Fells I activated were boggy underfoot as usual. If I manage a S2S it’s down to luck - once I work through my chasers, I have a quick look on other 2m frequencies in case other activators are on-air.

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