NorthernDancers, the judges are instructed to score in a "corridor" and will have to explain marks outside the corridor (like if someone gets an 8 in SS and a 5 in CH). When IJS first came out, there was WAY more variability in scores across the PCS categories, but that has been wiped out by judges training...
If you look at the rules for how the corridor is calculated for program components, it actually encourages judges to give wide differences in marks such as 8 for skating skills and 5 for choreography -- IF the average (6.5 in this case) is within a certain range of the average for the rest of the panel.
Perhaps that has not been adequately explained to the judges.
Or perhaps they're afraid that if the skater deserves 8 for skating skills, then all the other judges will give scores close to 8 for the other components and the average will be 7.5 or higher, so their 5 for CH and 6.5 average will end up out of line.
Which will be true if only one judge is brave enough to use wide ranges, but not if they all do.
So if the Powers That Be want judges to give wide ranges of marks to different components in the same program when warranted, they need to explain to the judges that this will not be penalized per se.
Then we get into the question of what counts as "when warranted." Fans probably think of low marks like 0 or even 3 as appropriate for "the worst I've ever seen from a senior-level skater," forgetting that the same scale applies to all levels and the judges have frequently seen much much worse.
I encourage anyone who has ideas about how the sport of figure skating should be judged to try out my Hypothetical 6.0 competition, judging some junior skaters according to what you think should be valued. If you're especially interested in how program components in IJS should be judged but aren't, then use those components to score these skaters before factoring in their technical elements and show us how you think it should be done.
I think it's useful to try to apply the theories to some real skating at a level where some of the competitors are on their way to having the technical and presentation skills to compete with the best and others are clearly never going to make it to the top ranks but are already fairly far along in their development as average skaters.
If you really want a good sense of the whole field that the rules need to apply to, watch a whole JGP event (or a whole senior B, or a whole Four Continents or Junior Worlds short program . . . or a national championship in a small skating country or a qualifier for nationals in a larger country, and not necessarily at senior or junior level).
To get back to the topic of the thread, I doubt that the standard of judging has deteriorated. In fact, it must be about three times as demanding to be a judge nowadays as it was during the 6.0 era. The details they have to be in command of are staggering. I think the problem is that in a new system—how shall I put this—the match with what skating can achieve isn't yet exact. There are things that make skating spectacular that they haven't yet figured out how to quantify. The second mark took care of them in the 6.0 system. There are things that the new system measures that actually make skating less enjoyable to watch, for example those change-change-change spins and spirals that are strictly to gain points. So it's not the judging that has gone downhill. And maybe the other stuff isn't "downhill," exactly. It just all hasn't found its footing yet. Yes, pun intended.
Well, they got rid of the spirals for points. Now for seniors there's just a choreo sequence in which you can do whatever you want as long as you cover the whole ice surface (and include at least one spiral for ladies and pairs), and at other levels spirals are just transitions.
Which probably doesn't help the standard of judging one way or another, but seems to be intended to make the programs more enjoyable for the spectators and judges to watch.