I don't think that just asking around with your buddies is enough:
- If they've never met the applicant, how can they know what his ability is?
- If they've trained the applicant, they can give him his qualifications directly
- If they've trained the applicant, but don't feel he deserves to be graded, then you probably shouldn't be giving him a belt.
How often do you award black belts based on video alone? Is it closer to 1 in 1000, or 1 in 10?