In a recent discussion on our mailing list, we debated the question of what makes a good CW operator. Everyone seemed to agree that Harv, K2PI had the best answer:
Proficiency – Able to send and receive the code with high accuracy and consistency at their mastered speed for an extended time without fatigue.
Rhythm – Displays a well-developed sense of the procedures, timing, spacing, and formation of the character elements which allows them to accurately copy under adverse conditions and to send highly readable code, even without automatic devices . Able to adapt those elements to meet the band conditions or needs of the receiving operator.
Learning – Seeks to increase their skill, through on-air practice, training, and study. Volunteers to help advance the skills of other less-experienced or new CW operators.
Behavior – Is courteous, patient, and understanding. Recognizes that no one is born to CW, and that each of us is practicing an acquired skill the best way they know how. Upholds the telegraphic standard of on-air behavior that is above reproach, because they understand that they are part of a special fraternity with a long history of high standards.
Passion – Enjoys CW, regardless of attained proficiency, because he or she recognizes that they are part of a unique telegraphic tradition, and understands that amateur radio is richer and more interesting because CW lives on through them.