I have been saying the judging system needs revamped for over 20 years. Our local center here has such a long litany of malfeasance, misfeasance, and downright corruption it is too long for a single post. I have spoken with two different AOS judging chairs and an AOS president about it. The result? Nothing. It's an old boy/old girl network which deserves to die like the dinosaur it is because it steadfastly refuses to acknowledge its faults or attempt to change. The training? Ridiculous. I'm asked to identify plants at shows for judges - and have had on numerous occasions to identify not only the genus but the family an orchid belongs to when a judge has made an erroneous identification. The general level of knowledge in judges here is minimal at best. And they have no interest in learning to cover areas of ignorance, a fatal flaw. Not a surprise given that the primary qualification for judging here is being convivial and "getting along". NOT knowledge, commitment, and an impartial attitude. A two year training would be better than what there is now - if it actually taught something. Years of being an "applicant" instead of actually entering the program while they use the applicants as gofers and decide whether they LIKE them enough. No other qualification required or accepted. Getting rid of the cult of personality would be a first necessary step, and the AOS codifying and homogenizing the program to oversee the process would be a good start. It needs to be redone from scratch. Of course no one wants to be a judge - I have three friends who quit in the midst of the program for the above mentioned reasons, they were so disgusted. When a longtime judge and center chair looks at a plant and says "oh, it has a clonal name [in pencil] - it must have had an award. We can't do anything til we find that". And everyone is afraid to contradict her because (their words) she's such a b*tch, there is NO impartiality - and the lack of knowledge - and hubris - is staggering. And another tells a plant owner who brought a plant to judging "oh, we can't find much on it (an uncommon but recognized, previously unawarded species, for which at the time there WERE a few references on the web) - bring it back when it has some awards and we'll take another look at it. [?????] Isn't that THEIR job?? Another plant of the species was awarded not much later at a different judging center. I could continue the list, but it gets old after the 15th or 20th incident. To say nothing of the AOS awarded plants I see at which I have to shake my head as they were clearly (due to damage, misshapen flower, or other misqualifications) unawardable - sometimes laughably so. Not even eligible. Fully 1/4 to 1/3 of the awarded plants in one specific genus are mislabled. But no one cares when it is brought to their attention. But when certain commercial growers or longstanding breeders bring in any plant - no matter how unqualified - it is simply awarded without question. Final quote from a judge about another judge's plant: "well, she went to the trouble of bringing it in - we should give it SOMETHING." And they did - a lesser award than previously bestowed on the cross, but this time on a plant with smaller, fewer flowers no better colored or shaped thant the awarded one. Caveat: I am aware there are some good, impartial, and knowledgeable judges and I personally know a couple. They are far in the minority and do nothing to change or improve the system which is so egregiously flawed. They can't because no dissension is acceptable.