Don’t know contest exchange? You are an idiot!

FinishAfter virtually every contest, the e-mail reflectors light up with posts about the stupidity of contesters (usually new) who do not understand the exchange. Or the exact, best way to format the exchange to maximize every second of the expert contester’s time to achieve a winning score.

The e-mails range from quietly supportive to out-and-out elitist, as if our new contesters need to figure it all out before the contest and perform at the 10,000,o0o point level right now. Or else they aren’t good hams.

We’re an exclusionary hobby

The great feature about ham radio as a hobby is that there are many different segments for the hobby. Bored with SSB? Try CW. CW drive you crazy? Try DXing.

But in each of our little segments of the hobby, we build our own little walls. You want to be a CW contester? This is what you need to do. Do it any other way and you are outcast.

SSB? You do it this way or you aren’t a real man…er, woman…er, contester.

We don’t need exclusiveness, we need inclusiveness

There are enough challenges to the hobby without beating our own members as not being perfect enough to get everything right the first time. There is a difference between pounding on people and constructive criticism in a contest.

When we, as a hobby, take up pounding on people as not being ethical, smart, or not doing the exchange correctly — and therefore are idiots — we defend the status quo and don’t embrace those who are trying to learn. Instead of being Elmers, we become elbows pushing ourselves to the front of “I’m right, your wrong, so get over it.”

The next time you want to go over the top about how people are contesting, think about when you started. Did you know the exchange? Did you know how to contest? Even if you had an Elmer, did you do everything right the first time? Never experienced ONE frustrating moment when you couldn’t get it right? Never felt shamed when someone flamed you for being a dunce because you didn’t know everything to do in the heat of battle?

If you did, you’re a genius. If your like the rest of humanity, give your fellow hams a break. We’re all in this together, we all need to learn, and we all need to use the spectrum in order to protect it. Exclusivity for your part of the hobby is a poor way to encourage growth of ham radio. But it’s a great way to push away hams and potential hams from the hobby we love.

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