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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 10-26-2011, 08:50 AM   #1
ModelMaker
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Default Those dam judges

While keeping up with the BOD threads, discussions at contests, input from cook teams, one of the constant bones of contention is those damn judges and the lack of consistency between all of us.
I have given some thought to the problem (?) for some time now and have a couple suggestions to perhaps improve the perceived problems.

BOD candidates are touting continued education for the masses which I would look forward to, but how to implement it? One thought is since ALL CBJ's have to be active KCBS members and each have a renew date, why not incorporate a 10 - 15 question yearly test dealing with straightforward questions dealing with the KCBS rules and procedures (not like that goofy ass Masters test). Pass it you may judge next year, fail and not pass a second time, no card-no judge next year.

Secondly, since all CBJ's receive the Bullsheet why not use this platform to give a monthly topic of current issues to give all the CBJ's the same clarification at one time.

Third, have you ever read through the Rep advisory section at KCBS website? Anytime there is a major problem that requires a BOD decision it is added to the advisory vs a hard change in rule wording. Is there some reason a advisory section can't be set up for Judging problems?
Maybe it's being addressed now as it is and only needs to be presented to the masses more easily.
To me personally, a monthly Bullsheet column dealing with a current issue or rule, or action affecting judges and judging procedures that have a solution approved by the BOD would go a long way towards putting everybody on the same page and improve consistence, maybe.
Ed
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:06 AM   #2
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Bravo!
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:21 AM   #3
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I would suggest that the changes come, not from a test or requirement for renewing your judging/membership, but rather from the reps. Judges are as good as their reps so perhaps we should retrain our reps.

Consider:

At every contest the reps have a printed list they are required to review with the judges and then they hit the play button on the CD player. At that point everyone’s eyes begin to glaze over and heads begin to nod or they begin checking their smart phones for current sports scores.

This was not the experience this year when my husband and I judged in Rancho Cordova, CA. The reps, Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh run a judges meeting that can only be described as a continuing education experience. Kelly; affectionately called Mrs. McIntosh by her judges (as in Yes, Mrs. McIntosh and No, Mrs. McIntosh); read one or two instructions and then opened the floor to the judges. She encouraged everyone to participate in the judges’ meeting, occasionally prompting the judges to provide information that promoted discussion and in turn the judges’ meeting became a training session for new judges and a refresher course for seasoned judges. We discussed the things that should not influence our scores and things that as individuals we like to see in a well presented box. We discussed written rules and debunked theories such as a thick slice of brisket meaning the meat was overcooked. I think we as a group discussed every point that is made on the CD. But most importantly, she and Kelly engaged their judges. I can’t describe the meeting other than to say it felt like a 3-dimentional experience rather than a flat lecture.

At almost every contest we have anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes between the judges’ meeting and the time we are expected to be back at our tables. Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh have found a way to use that extra time that benefits both the judges and ultimately the teams. I'd like to see this approach used in every judges meeting I attend.

Julie
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:36 AM   #4
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I say put them in charge!!
One of the things I love about a Mike Lake run contest, is the control and order he demands. One of the things I hate about a Mike Lake run contest is his bias towards the cook team. There are two entities here and both need the same amount of attention.
Ed
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadragonfly View Post
I would suggest that the changes come, not from a test or requirement for renewing your judging/membership, but rather from the reps. Judges are as good as their reps so perhaps we should retrain our reps.

Consider:

At every contest the reps have a printed list they are required to review with the judges and then they hit the play button on the CD player. At that point everyone’s eyes begin to glaze over and heads begin to nod or they begin checking their smart phones for current sports scores.

This was not the experience this year when my husband and I judged in Rancho Cordova, CA. The reps, Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh run a judges meeting that can only be described as a continuing education experience. Kelly; affectionately called Mrs. McIntosh by her judges (as in Yes, Mrs. McIntosh and No, Mrs. McIntosh); read one or two instructions and then opened the floor to the judges. She encouraged everyone to participate in the judges’ meeting, occasionally prompting the judges to provide information that promoted discussion and in turn the judges’ meeting became a training session for new judges and a refresher course for seasoned judges. We discussed the things that should not influence our scores and things that as individuals we like to see in a well presented box. We discussed written rules and debunked theories such as a thick slice of brisket meaning the meat was overcooked. I think we as a group discussed every point that is made on the CD. But most importantly, she and Kelly engaged their judges. I can’t describe the meeting other than to say it felt like a 3-dimentional experience rather than a flat lecture.

At almost every contest we have anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes between the judges’ meeting and the time we are expected to be back at our tables. Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh have found a way to use that extra time that benefits both the judges and ultimately the teams. I'd like to see this approach used in every judges meeting I attend.

Julie
While that sounds like a wonderful experience, the CD's were actually produced to make all the judges meetings consistent so every judge at every contest received the same and correct information. In the past every meeting was different because they were presented by different reps. In my opinion there needs to be a happy medium. Yes the CD needs to be presented but the Reps also need to be given a little more freedom in the way the meetings are handled. If the reps are all properly trained it shouldn't be an issue. Of course that's a big if !
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YankeeBBQ View Post
While that sounds like a wonderful experience, the CD's were actually produced to make all the judges meetings consistent so every judge at every contest received the same and correct information. In the past every meeting was different because they were presented by different reps. In my opinion there needs to be a happy medium. Yes the CD needs to be presented but the Reps also need to be given a little more freedom in the way the meetings are handled. If the reps are all properly trained it shouldn't be an issue. Of course that's a big if !
They played the CD as well, they just augmented the CD with open discussion prior to playing the CD.

Julie
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Unread 10-26-2011, 09:59 AM   #7
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Ed, from my view as a cook more often than a judge I think remedial education needs to be saved for those that exhibit poor judging qualities. One example I can think of is this: You are at a contest judging and at your table you judge chicken and the table captain glances at the scoresheets and says, "folks you were all real close on scores." or "we had a score that was off by quite a bit". If the table captain notices that that one judge is scoring away from the rest of the group's trend then maybe there could be some type of interaction taken so this judge that may be judging his/ her first contest in a few years or for whatever reason isn't following the judging criteria can be taken asside in a professional manner and re-educated. Maybe put a note in an account associated with their KCBS number and if there are more than a couple instances of this poor choice in judging habit then a disciplinary action could be taken.
I cooked in Omaha in September and we had a very nice score on our chicken until we got to judge 5, that judge had a two point variable in each judging criteria column. We had turned in with two other teams on the same six box tray that we knew and low and behold judge 5 had done the same to them in comparison to the other judges.
I am unsure of how to hold volunteer judges accountable without forcing them out and making them feel alienated. One way to help judges realize what they are implicating as a result of a high or low score is to force them to write out a comment. In Omaha I would have loved to have known what we could do different next time to improve our results, not take the comment as, "Why did they hate my chicken?!"
While I hate to add more oversight to what is supposed to be a hobby, I am sure Tippycanoe BBQ, Big Bob Gibson, and Smokin' Hoggz BBQ are thankful that in recent weeks they got a fair shake that matched the amazing quality of their BBQ.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 10:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadragonfly View Post
They played the CD as well, they just augmented the CD with open discussion prior to playing the CD.

Julie
I was just looking at the Reps advisories and came across this.


Opinion: The CDs were produced so that the meeting instructions are repeated exactly the same at
every contest. Under no circumstances are KCBS Reps to deviate from the pre-recorded set of
instructions. If the CD fails to work, read the instructions, word-for-word. A copy of the
instructions should be available in your Contest Representative Manual (book), at KCBS.US, or on
the yahoo group.
You are not to offer your personal opinions! If a question about a rule is asked, you are to answer
the question to the best of your ability. Don’t offer opinions to judges on how to judge for
appearance, what tenderness means, etc.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 10:11 AM   #9
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Mind you, I'm all for anything that will get more consistency in scoring. As a cook the variance will drive you bonkers! That said, part of the beauty is the subjective nature of it. Meaning that one guy likes hot, another guy likes it salty, another likes it sweet, and another likes the sauce burned on there is part of what makes this fun. However, when those scores come back the cook doesnt know what to make of them. It's frustrating (as a cook). I've always been a fan of the check-box feedback form. If it was too salty for judge 5 and 6, I'd like to know it. That tells me that judges 1-4 like it salty and 5-6 dont. etc. For that matter, I'd actually like feedback from every judge every time. That may be way too time consuming and too much extra effort from organizers, etc. However, 7 or below would be nice.

I mean, part of the beauty is in finding out what people like and what NOT to change as much as to TO change/fix.

Also this should remedy the compete nonsense comment cards that are seen WAY too often. You know the ones; the ones that presume they know how you've cooked something and they're suggesting that you do it different, rather than stating the facts. I've seen plenty where the meat was tough, but rather than just say that, the judge would say "needs to cook longer", or "needs to foil". I know of plenty of meat that was foiled and actually was cooked TOO long so it was tough. Telling me to "cook longer" doesn't tell me what the problem was. The check-box approach will.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Dogs View Post
Mind you, I'm all for anything that will get more consistency in scoring. As a cook the variance will drive you bonkers! That said, part of the beauty is the subjective nature of it. Meaning that one guy likes hot, another guy likes it salty, another likes it sweet, and another likes the sauce burned on there is part of what makes this fun. However, when those scores come back the cook doesnt know what to make of them. It's frustrating (as a cook). I've always been a fan of the check-box feedback form. If it was too salty for judge 5 and 6, I'd like to know it. That tells me that judges 1-4 like it salty and 5-6 dont. etc. For that matter, I'd actually like feedback from every judge every time. That may be way too time consuming and too much extra effort from organizers, etc. However, 7 or below would be nice.

I mean, part of the beauty is in finding out what people like and what NOT to change as much as to TO change/fix.

Also this should remedy the compete nonsense comment cards that are seen WAY too often. You know the ones; the ones that presume they know how you've cooked something and they're suggesting that you do it different, rather than stating the facts. I've seen plenty where the meat was tough, but rather than just say that, the judge would say "needs to cook longer", or "needs to foil". I know of plenty of meat that was foiled and actually was cooked TOO long so it was tough. Telling me to "cook longer" doesn't tell me what the problem was. The check-box approach will.
AMEN BROTHER! I love the fact that you and I would both like to know the good things as well as the bad. I judged the contest in Mason City and I gave a comment card in each category to the entry that stood out. The quality of competition in Mason City was awesome and the entries I was priveledged to judged made it very tough and I wanted to make sure that the knew they impressed me and I appreciated their effort and knowledge.
The comment cards may be the best tool for improving and maintaining a cook's quality of entries. Comment cards take 30 seconds to fill out and for 30 seconds of a judges time they can immensely help competition.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 10:57 AM   #11
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I'm thinking that continuing education is better than remedial education because the first will eliminate the need for the second, for the most part.

How about this?: When something changes and/or needs clarification KCBS can publish it in the Bullsheet AND send out an e-mail blast to all members. If they can e-mail you an ad for T-shirts then there should be no problem sending "cook/judge advisories" just like the Reps get. In fact, why not send ALL such info out to ALL of the members at once? That way the Reps, cooks and judges are all on the same page at the same time.

Think about it: A little e-mail blast saying something like "It's come to our attention that a couple of judges are licking their fingers in between samples - please don't do that, it's unsanitary and disgusting" or "There have been more complaints about noise during quiet time - please respect your neighbor".

I think that this would be more effective than just issuing a Rep Advisory or putting it in the Bullsheet. What does it cost to send out something like that? Not much, I'll bet.

I also think that KCBS should encourage contest organizers to make the judging tent available on Friday evening for a "meet & greet" between judges & cooks. Invitations could be sent out to all registered cook teams and judges a week before the contest by e-mail. Some might want to turn this into a pot luck dinner, some might just go with a place to get together and meet each other. Will this work? I don't know, but I think that it's worth a try just to bring the two major groups at any comp closer.

I also like the idea of getting more judges involved on the cooking side of things. Maybe something like a pin for cooking with three different teams in a two year period? If more judges get to know the cooks more judges will stay for the awards to cheer on their new friends.

The annual or bi-annual test idea has it's merits, in fact it can even be done on-line at a very minimal cost. If more judges are knowledgeable about the rules, then we should have better, more consistent judging. If more judges have cooked with a team, then we have more judges who understand what goes into cooking a comp.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 11:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Dogs View Post
Mind you, I'm all for anything that will get more consistency in scoring. As a cook the variance will drive you bonkers! That said, part of the beauty is the subjective nature of it. Meaning that one guy likes hot, another guy likes it salty, another likes it sweet, and another likes the sauce burned on there is part of what makes this fun. However, when those scores come back the cook doesnt know what to make of them. It's frustrating (as a cook). I've always been a fan of the check-box feedback form. If it was too salty for judge 5 and 6, I'd like to know it. That tells me that judges 1-4 like it salty and 5-6 dont. etc. For that matter, I'd actually like feedback from every judge every time. That may be way too time consuming and too much extra effort from organizers, etc. However, 7 or below would be nice.

I mean, part of the beauty is in finding out what people like and what NOT to change as much as to TO change/fix.

Also this should remedy the compete nonsense comment cards that are seen WAY too often. You know the ones; the ones that presume they know how you've cooked something and they're suggesting that you do it different, rather than stating the facts. I've seen plenty where the meat was tough, but rather than just say that, the judge would say "needs to cook longer", or "needs to foil". I know of plenty of meat that was foiled and actually was cooked TOO long so it was tough. Telling me to "cook longer" doesn't tell me what the problem was. The check-box approach will.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rookie'48 View Post
I'm thinking that continuing education is better than remedial education because the first will eliminate the need for the second, for the most part.

How about this?: When something changes and/or needs clarification KCBS can publish it in the Bullsheet AND send out an e-mail blast to all members. If they can e-mail you an ad for T-shirts then there should be no problem sending "cook/judge advisories" just like the Reps get. In fact, why not send ALL such info out to ALL of the members at once? That way the Reps, cooks and judges are all on the same page at the same time.

Think about it: A little e-mail blast saying something like "It's come to our attention that a couple of judges are licking their fingers in between samples - please don't do that, it's unsanitary and disgusting" or "There have been more complaints about noise during quiet time - please respect your neighbor".

I think that this would be more effective than just issuing a Rep Advisory or putting it in the Bullsheet. What does it cost to send out something like that? Not much, I'll bet.

I also think that KCBS should encourage contest organizers to make the judging tent available on Friday evening for a "meet & greet" between judges & cooks. Invitations could be sent out to all registered cook teams and judges a week before the contest by e-mail. Some might want to turn this into a pot luck dinner, some might just go with a place to get together and meet each other. Will this work? I don't know, but I think that it's worth a try just to bring the two major groups at any comp closer.

I also like the idea of getting more judges involved on the cooking side of things. Maybe something like a pin for cooking with three different teams in a two year period? If more judges get to know the cooks more judges will stay for the awards to cheer on their new friends.

The annual or bi-annual test idea has it's merits, in fact it can even be done on-line at a very minimal cost. If more judges are knowledgeable about the rules, then we should have better, more consistent judging. If more judges have cooked with a team, then we have more judges who understand what goes into cooking a comp.
I like your ideas in regards to having judges cook with a team. That may be a good way to get them to see things from both sides of the turn in table. I wish I had more faith that putting a statement out about things noticed in judging that could be improved would work but I feel that it won't. Working in medicine I can tell you that doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals get notices frequently to help them and protect the well being of patients. We get Best Practices and Lessons Learned bulletins that often describe where something went horribly wrong, what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and how it could have been prevented. 99% of the time those bulletins are tossed aside, trashed, or filed without any review, and this is human life and well being, not BBQ.
Humans by nature don't like to be criticized and our busy lifestyles don't make reading the Bull Sheet a priority or routine email messages. Online education is a great tool and I use it with students of mine when I teach, the only thing is that someone always prints off the test, quiz, or handbook and shares it. Then that education is useless and we are back to square one.
While there is no clean cut solution one thing that seems to work is having some type of negative response given when bad behavior is exhibited by humans. I will leave the stonings and lashings to the folks on the KCBS rules committee.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 11:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadragonfly View Post
I would suggest that the changes come, not from a test or requirement for renewing your judging/membership, but rather from the reps. Judges are as good as their reps so perhaps we should retrain our reps.

Consider:

At every contest the reps have a printed list they are required to review with the judges and then they hit the play button on the CD player. At that point everyone’s eyes begin to glaze over and heads begin to nod or they begin checking their smart phones for current sports scores.

This was not the experience this year when my husband and I judged in Rancho Cordova, CA. The reps, Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh run a judges meeting that can only be described as a continuing education experience. Kelly; affectionately called Mrs. McIntosh by her judges (as in Yes, Mrs. McIntosh and No, Mrs. McIntosh); read one or two instructions and then opened the floor to the judges. She encouraged everyone to participate in the judges’ meeting, occasionally prompting the judges to provide information that promoted discussion and in turn the judges’ meeting became a training session for new judges and a refresher course for seasoned judges. We discussed the things that should not influence our scores and things that as individuals we like to see in a well presented box. We discussed written rules and debunked theories such as a thick slice of brisket meaning the meat was overcooked. I think we as a group discussed every point that is made on the CD. But most importantly, she and Kelly engaged their judges. I can’t describe the meeting other than to say it felt like a 3-dimentional experience rather than a flat lecture.

At almost every contest we have anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes between the judges’ meeting and the time we are expected to be back at our tables. Kathleen and Kelly McIntosh have found a way to use that extra time that benefits both the judges and ultimately the teams. I'd like to see this approach used in every judges meeting I attend.

Julie
Kelly and Kathleen (Kathleen is Mrs. McIntosh, not Kelly but I will tell him what you said) are the most respected reps on the west coast. They are honest, likeable, highly engaging and have integrity beyond reproach. They take time to get to know the teams as well as the judges. They also invented the Southwest shuffle system for seating judges.

They are two of my favorite people and both judges and reps could learn a lot from them.

BTW...they hand out a list of phone numbers to all of the teams at a contest.

1. Security
2. Contest Organizer
3. Kelly & Kathleen

They have a rule that if any situation gets so bad that they get a call, somebody is going home. Period.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 12:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModelMaker View Post
I say put them in charge!!
One of the things I love about a Mike Lake run contest, is the control and order he demands. One of the things I hate about a Mike Lake run contest is his bias towards the cook team. There are two entities here and both need the same amount of attention.
Ed
Just curious what you mean by Mike's "bias towards the cook team".

I've judged a number of contests he's repped, but cooked more, are you saying he favors teams over judges? Not trying to start anything here, just want to understand what you're saying.

Not to slam judges, as without them, there can be no comp really. (and I am one, as well as a certified table captain) But shouldn't the cooks be given the highest level of consideration?

The judges are there to judge the product the cooks made. The cooks are a lot more invested financially, timewise, etc. The judges pay their transportation and possibly lodging costs.

So do the cooks, along with entry fees, meat costs, ingredient costs, etc. So doesn't it follow that it's the cooks, whose product is being judged, deserve the utmost consideration?

I'm always happy to see Mike and Theresa repping. I know we have the best chance at a fair shake
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Unread 10-26-2011, 12:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModelMaker View Post
While keeping up with the BOD threads, discussions at contests, input from cook teams, one of the constant bones of contention is those damn judges and the lack of consistency between all of us.
I have given some thought to the problem (?) for some time now and have a couple suggestions to perhaps improve the perceived problems.

BOD candidates are touting continued education for the masses which I would look forward to, but how to implement it? One thought is since ALL CBJ's have to be active KCBS members and each have a renew date, why not incorporate a 10 - 15 question yearly test dealing with straightforward questions dealing with the KCBS rules and procedures (not like that goofy ass Masters test). Pass it you may judge next year, fail and not pass a second time, no card-no judge next year.

Secondly, since all CBJ's receive the Bullsheet why not use this platform to give a monthly topic of current issues to give all the CBJ's the same clarification at one time.

Third, have you ever read through the Rep advisory section at KCBS website? Anytime there is a major problem that requires a BOD decision it is added to the advisory vs a hard change in rule wording. Is there some reason a advisory section can't be set up for Judging problems?
Maybe it's being addressed now as it is and only needs to be presented to the masses more easily.
To me personally, a monthly Bullsheet column dealing with a current issue or rule, or action affecting judges and judging procedures that have a solution approved by the BOD would go a long way towards putting everybody on the same page and improve consistence, maybe.
Ed
I think you offer a good place to start.

My understanding is that there is a 'continuing education' program that is in the process of being put together that would be available online for members, not just CBJs. As long as that is kept current, I think it could be a great resource for ALL.

Some comments have touched on Rep Advisories. There is no reason for them not to be available, online and in one package for all members. If I'm a member and I miss a board meeting where a particular issue was discussed and some advisory issued, I'm out of luck. Why can't we have a system where that information is sent out in a blast, BUT give the member the option to opt out if they don't want to receive future communication of that sort. If it's up to the cook/judge/rep/or organizer to opt out...their ignorance of the rule/advisory is THEIR responsibility.

As far as everyone being in this together, I agree! I think it's important to realize that 99% of the complaints about judges are probably directed at 1% of them. Some issues are based on perception and not reality, some are based on cooks not recognizing they had a bad day, and some are because some judges just didn't follow the rules. KCBS is in the process of developing and deploying new scoring software that will track judges. Given time I think this will be a great tool. I say given time because based on experience with my day job I spend a lot of time crunching numbers, to include consulting with professors at institutions like MIT and Stanford. It takes time for numbers to tell a story. Once that story becomes clear it's possible to address individual issues with education or corrective action. Given time I think that will even out some issues, and reduce some of the judge bashing...but it won't ever go away. Just as some judges will always feel the need to offer advice, sometimes at exactly the wrong time

Right now, there are several generations of judges out there and their instruction was a little different with each generation. In addition an example given in this thread makes it clear that a give and take session at a judges meeting could potentially skew the current standard further based on interpretation. Standardization benefits everyone by reinforcing criteria that's the same from contest to contest. Everybody gets a fair shake that way.

Whether I'm elected or not, I'd like to see you serve on the rules committee Ed. I don't always agree with you, but you are a great advocate for judges.
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