That would be "judges"--quilt judges that is. My second guild is having a show in a couple of weeks, and in the planning stage, there was apparently some discussion of having a judge, instead of viewers' choice awards. This didn't happen because quite a few members refused to participate if their work was to be judged.
I wonder how many people share this attitude? I can understand the arguments: I quilt to please myself, judges are subjective, judges focus on technique and not design, judges only make negative comments. I would agree that these criticisms are true some of the time about some judges. I would add the point that judges' comments can be so generic and vague as to be useless.
Even so, I like to have my work judged, and not because I get glowing comments either. I've had plenty "needs improvement" comments about various aspects of the work. I'm not sure why I like to be judged. I don't exactly buy the argument that "you can learn something" from judges' comments. I've seldom had a negative comment I hadn't seen for myself already, and then there is the vagueness, which can make it hard to understand exactly what might be done to "improve."
I think what can be gained from having a judge evaluate one's work is a sense of context: you know you're not in a vacuum, quilting for yourself, judging yourself, or being praised (and criticized) by friends. There's a bigger world out there, and there's something to be gained by risking exposure to it. You may not learn specifically what to do about a weakness, but you can't just ignore it, and maybe you'll try something different next time.
One woman in the guild, an excellent quilter, was apparently so burned by a judge's negative comments that she never enters her work in judged shows. That's a loss for her, and for the quilting world. It's also a loss when someone is afraid to try even once.
I'd be interested in hearing from others, including anyone who's judged, about this topic. What's the benefit of having a judge evaluate your work?
*Image above is from Embroodles.com