The CQ WW Contest Committee conducted a survey of contesters from September 2 to 29, 2015.  Invitations were sent to everyone who had submitted a log in the 2014 CQ WW SSB and CW events.  Public invitation to take the survey was also made on the cq-contest email reflector.

We received 5,117 responses from contest operators around the world (after removing a few duplicate responses).  This blog post will be the first of several to present the survey results.  Thanks to Doug KR2Q for doing the data analysis and producing the charts below.

Responses by Continent

Responses were received from all continents.

Survey responses by Continent

Responses by Age

The age distribution of responses is very interesting.

Survey responses by Age

There is a large concentration at the higher ages and not many youth participants.  This is especially true when we look at the age distribution in North America.

Survey responses by Age for North America

There is very little survey participation in North America from those under 40 years of age.

The story is a little more optimistic in Europe.

Survey responses by Age for Europe

Even so, we see the same curve but shifted about 10 years younger.

While the missing young people could be a symptom on the survey methodology, any look around a ham radio club meeting or convention reveals similar findings.

Should we be concerned about the future of radiosport (and amateur radio)?  What can we do to encourage more young people to participate?

Responses by Interest Level

Survey respondents were asked to state their level of interest in contesting ranging from serious competitor to just having fun.

Survey responses by competitive interest level

The results imply there was a good representation of all interest levels, with a slight bias towards those who are more competitive.  This is to be expected in a survey that required participants to follow up on the invitation – more serious competitors are more likely to make the time to respond.

Responses by Operating Mode

We asked respondents to identify their favorite contest operating mode.

Favorite operating mode by continent


Compare that to what modes they operated in CQ WW 2014.

Participation in CQ WW 2014 by Mode

By both questions, it is clear the CW remains an important mode. This general breakdown remained the same when sliced by continent and by interest level. We did see that younger operator’s tend more toward SSB.

Favorite mode by Age group


It was very gratifying to receive so many survey responses in such a short time. The CQ WW community is passionate and engaged – both on the air and in considering the future of the event.  It is very helpful for us to understand the opinions of the participants as we work to improve the contest.

Europe is the leader for contest activity. We see this in the survey results and in the number of logs that are submitted.

We are getting older.  This may have an impact by lowering the number of operating hours, increasing number of multi-op entries, or eventually leading to less overall activity.

There is a wide range of interest levels among participants. Rules and categories have to balance the need for structure among those who are seriously competing as well as not causing an undue burden on those who simply want enjoy a few hours of DX chasing.

CW is the favorite operating mode. Perhaps a future survey can determine if this is for historical reasons or because CW is a more effective mode for DXing.

A future blog post will have results of the questions related to possible rule changes.