With very few exceptions (and those exceptions haunt me), judges really take their duty seriously and try to give every entry the benefit of the doubt, if you will. You'll have variations in product itself, rib to rib, piece of chicken to piece of chicken, not nearly as much in pulled pork or brisket entries. I had one very skunky rib this weekend, and per the other judges they didnt have that problem at all (with that entrants ribs). Mine however was very bad; I assume it was probably from a different rack... Then, we all have different taste buds as I gave just one example of above. Some people are very sensitive to salt, others like a little BBQ with their salt. Some cant taste the burned/charcoal taste because of their smoking habits, others of us find it really nasty. I think the smoking is why some like their BBQ extremely smokey, some like it almost without (I'm in the middle personally). Then of course there is regionality, but IMHO taste has too many other factors, person to person in the same region to be able to generalize about regionality. People are still people. Even in cajun country, you can put on too much cayenne. Frankly, even in NC if you put on quite a bit of a good vinegar sauce you're likely as not to get scored down... Not everyone likes vinegar, not everyone likes a mustard sauce, not everyone likes a really sweet sauce, not everyone likes a very salty entry, not everyone likes a heavily smoked entry, etc...
Hance - Lake Dogs Cooking Team - MiM/MBN/GBA CBJ and comp cook
Lake Sinclair, GA (strategically about an hour from darn near anywhere)
Started competing in chili cookoffs back in the 1990's and have competed in more than I care to count. I became a CBJ in MiM in 2005, then MBN and in GBA in 2010. I've probably judged 130+- BBQ comps (sanctioned and unsanctioned) over this time. That said, I really enjoy competing more than I enjoy judging, and hope to get back to doing 4 or 5 a year in the near future.