There is so much information available on the internet via web sites like The BBQ Forum, HomeBBQ.com, and other web sites like The BBQ Blog that it's almost possible to learn how to bbq without ever leaving the house.
You can get a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) delivered from Amazon.com and then order your delivery of bbq rub from ButtRub.com. After a quick trip to Sam's Club for meat, lump charcoal, and supplies, you'll be cooking better than restaurant-quality bbq in no time.
There's no doubt that the web helps flatten the learning curve for those new to the bbq hobby. The quest for competition quality bbq that used to take 5 - 10 years to learn by hit or miss experimentation has been and can be shortened into 6 - 8 months. I've heard tell of some people that have started serious bbq cooking in February and by August they were competing in sanctioned bbq contests (yours truly included). I also know several people that recorded category and top 5 finishes within their first couple of contests (we won 1st place chicken in our second event). I say this to make the point that although the internet is a wonderful tool to research and learn, it can sometimes hamper a bbq team's development at the same time.
When learning anything new, some of the most valuable lessons are learned during that "newbie" time period when you "don't know what you don't know" (to borrow from Darrell Waltrip). During this experimentation period, new cooks are free to try anything and everything and they haven't yet developed tunnel vision when it comes to bbq.
Using a certain spice rub or sauce just because so and so does it and wins alot, is not necessarily the best approach to take. Although so and so might use a certain brand, the real "secret method" is the other stuff they add to it like honey, jelly, sugar, etc.; and sometimes those "additives" make the difference between winning occasionally and winning consistently.
It's human nature to want to take the easy route, but when it comes to consistently producing prize winning contest entries; I'm just not sure "easy" always wins.