I think that picture of the year thread is being discussed elsewhere. Personally, I think the muted colors fit the mood better. I dislike modern dyed synthetic clothing splattered with brand names, they always ruin great pictures. So muting the soccer shirt helped.
I feel qualified to talk about standards. I worked for 15 years at Standard Register. For a while I held a patent for one of their first inventions (You can buy anything on e-bay. eventually I gave the document back to founder's family). Both statements are true but I am just kidding about any meaningful qualification. Following is my opinion, just an idea, valid or invalid as anyone else's. Take it at face value.
I think each of us works to our own "Standard". This might be related to measurable physical qualities of results. I might say "to be in my portfolio, a print must be sharp, fine-grain, blemish-free, full-scale".
But my Standard raises idea, emotion or thought, above technical.
Personally, I prefer portraits of someone the photographer took time to know (or grew to know over time). I believe photographs document relationships between subject and photographer. I prefer there to be something there.
I like discoveries and exploration. I mention adventure because I appreciate photographs of something new as well.
I envy non-straight photographers who show something that may not meet my Quality Standard, but exceeds my Idea Standard. I am especially envious of those who initiate ideas.