Looks like this conversation is actually breaking up on two lines: 1) backcountry skiing and 2) in bounds, side country resort skiing. I actually see it that way too.
1. Backcountry: Unless I already know a person's skills (through a trusted friend or have skied with the individual in a group), I'm kinda picky when it comes to selecting BC partners. I usually have the person meet me at the beacon park at the mountain and we BOTH take turns doing beacon retrievals. Things I'm looking for:
- can they use their beacon effectively
- can they probe
- MOST IMPORTANT - can they dig like a mofo
I used to be a "you have to have taken Avy I" type guy but then I realized there are a ton of people in the BC who have never taken an Avy course but could school most people who have. Other red flags:
- plastic shovel
- unless we're hitting low angle stuff I don't want someone burning one or hitting a flask while skiiing
- attitude: life is too short to ski with a$$holes
So basically, know what your doing, have some real gear to dig my a$$ out and don't be an idiot. Also, I don't let followers team up with me or my group unless I know them. Not worth my time to take on the added responsibility and it rewards reckless behavior IMHO.
2. Inbounds/Sidecountry: Okay, this is different. Here in CB there isn't much in the way of sidecountry action - it is more inbounds stuff in the way of the extremes (west side, headwall, north face -> third bowl, and teo's I and II). I actually dig showing new people around that stuff. I basically just make sure they've got the skills. That being said, I run into followers all the time there. Usually tourist types who don't know the terrain. I won't wait for them out of hand but if I see someone getting into (or already into) something over the heads I'll stop and help them out. Unless it is 9:15am on a powder day - then there better be some blood in order for me to stop.
But seriously, I do think we as skiers owe each other a duty to help out if in need. I can't imagine anyone who would look the other way after seeing someone get caught up in a slide. It really comes down to whether you'll take someone into your group who might pose a safety risk. My favorite quote from a college kid from Gunny that tried to join up with me last year on the skin track - when asked if he had any avy gear he said, "no, but hey, it is my life so it is my choice". I replied that the only thing in a typical avy gear setup that is about your own life is the transmit function on a beacon. Everything else is about saving your partner's life.
Just my two cents.