The recent spate of DQ's from the CQWW's has raised the topic of rubber clocking again, especially in the Multi-Single category. Most of us thought rubber clocking had gone the way of the #2 pencil and rubber erasers when everyone starting using computers to log contests. Computer clocks are pretty accurate, and while you might fudge your clock, it's a lot harder to fudge the other guy's clock.
The real crux of most these DQ's was a failure for multi-single stations to adhere to the CQWW 10-minute rule. From discussions online after the fact, it became obvious that many contesters feel the 10-minute rule is about as convoluted as MLB's infield fly rule. I think the problem is a lot simpler.
The other day I was visiting my local Chinese take-out, getting my usual order of General Tso's and Broccoli and Beef, when I had an epiphany. You see, no matter when I go in and order at this Chinese take-out place, they always tell me my order will take the same amount of time before it is ready - ten minutes. It might be at 4:00 on a weekday afternoon and the place is as dead as 10m, or it can be at the peak of the dinner rush on a Friday night when they're as busy as 20m at 0005Z Saturday of CQWW. It's always ten minutes.
I've never actually timed them to see how long it takes for my food to come up. I'm usually reading the free local independent rag they toss over in the corner near the door. It's eye opening to read some of the classifieds for "alternative services" and checking out the bands playing in the local clubs is as close to being culturally relevant as I usually get. I can pretty much guarantee that they rarely, if ever, actually get my food up in exactly ten minutes. Most times it's more, sometimes it's a little less.
The point is, this restaurant can't stick with their own 10-minute rule (well, maybe it's not a rule….). They prepare hundreds of dishes a day, thousands a week, and their best guess is that it's going to take 10-minutes to fix my General Tso's. Most of the time, they're pretty close.
I figure these Multi-Single stations sort of operate like a Chinese take-out. The multiplier guys has a list of hot multipliers he wants to work on another band from the run station. The run station says, "Ok, you got 10 minutes to work them and then I'm going back to the run band." Just like the cook at my Chinese take-out with his smoking hot wok, the multiplier guy hits his hot new band and starts sweeping up multipliers, the metaphorical steam rising from the radio as the tally wheels spin on the score with each new multiplier.
Most of the time the multiplier station takes a bit longer than ten minutes before the steam starts to settle from the new band and he can toss it back to the run band. Those extra minutes spent on the multiplier band adds a little extra spice to the score and are well worth the time. But once in a while, the multiplier station runs out of steam a little early. His ten minutes might only last nine minutes. When I'm waiting for my Broccoli and Beef, I don't mind getting it a minute or two early, but in CQWW, it's a big no-no. On the average, these Multi-Single stations are following the 10-minute rule. In fact MOST of the time they probably easily exceed their 10-minutes before the band change. But most of the time don't cut it. It's got to be every time, all the time. That's why there are new rules and station inspections being implemented.
Cousin QRM is still anxiously awaiting the notice for his station inspection from the CQWW cops. We haven't been able to break into the Top Ten boxes, but if we can get that station inspection, then EVERYONE will know that we're real Big Guns. We plan to video tape it and post it on YouTube, just to document our Big Gun status. We don't mind putting black bars over the faces of the inspectors if they want to preserve their anonymity.