My attempt to end this discussion, although I know it's pretty much useless, because many people just like to complain and express their personal view, just like me now. Anyway, here we go...
Whether MOCs or official LEGO Technic models, everybody has an opinion about them. Some are lyric about almost any model, others have always something to complain and criticize. This often leads to some hot debates, in which everybody tries to defend his/ her standpoint. So apparently it's not so easy to define what a good model is. Perhaps it's not even possible at all to come up with a uniform format, because in the end it's always a matter of opinion, right?
Well, yes..., and no. First why we're not able to define objectively what a good model is.
The fact is that most of us are visual orientated suckers, and that includes myself. What this means is that we are biased purely by the looks and presentation of something. Just look at how the whole advertising industry works, and you'll get my point. So when we see pictures of a great looking (LEGO) model we get all warm and fuzzy inside. That those pictures are probably edited to make things look nicer and shinier than reality is something most of us would take for granted. We just like to be fooled.
The few of us who still have a critical mind about things are often treated these days with fancy and well edited videos. So, yes, of course a video will give a better impression of the model, but most importantly is that now, o WOW, THINGS ARE IN MOTION!! I can't help it, but I get so e-motion-al and excited when things move! *snif*
So, yes, I suck even more for motion pictures. I reckon it's no different for you.
Oh, and one more thing, Technic models definitely have to be BIG, because bigger is better, and certainly more impressive! Although I can't really reason why...
Now that we're aware of this, let's see if we can objectively analyze a LEGO model. But then, what criteria do we use and more importantly how do we define the standard?
From the above we can conclude that the aesthetics are crucial, so it has to look nice. The problem is how to define nice looking, because I like brunettes and you like blondes...*
Well, let's totally ignore the visual aspect for now and set another criteria, which is essential in Technic models: all functions have to work properly and should be reliable. Even though the way this is written is not 100% quantifiable, it is way better measurable than the aesthetics. When we're talking MOCs, the problem here is that many of us have only seen the pictures and perhaps a video, but never got to test and play with the model in real life. So how can we then decide if the model works properly? Not, unless we are actually able to build and test the model ourselves.
This leaves us only with MOCs with building instructions and the official LEGO sets. Which brings us to the next point: should we include the overall building experience as part of what a good model defines? And then what is a good building experience anyway? Obviously Technic models should give someone a serious challenge to build it, but not become frustrating. There is a fine line between those 2 factors, and the problem is that for almost anyone this line is different, depending on skills, experience, and model. Again it seems like there is no quantifiable method to rate this, but completely ignoring this facet as well is ludicrous, especially because building/ creating is the whole essence behind LEGO!
Looking at official Technic sets we can assume that those models are designed in such a way that most kids should be able to build them. Anyone familiar with statistics knows that this means that someone with below average skills also belongs to this majority.
Based on this piece of information should we then set the same standard for MOCs? When we want to be absolutely objective, we should treat all models equally, but again many of us are biased, arguing that official models are mainly designed for children, whereas MOCs are mostly for grown-ups. Even though they have a point, it doesn't really change the parameters; truth is that most adults still have a hard time to build a (official) Technic model, and it's not unusual that kids these days actually outperform them.
" Yeah, but I meant grown-ups like me, who are technically skilled, like to build with LEGO, have plenty of experience, and really look for a challenge...", I can imagine some say. Without perhaps realizing, those people actually set a very specific list of requirements.
This list of requirements is the tool that most designers/creators set up in advance to be able to evaluate objectively afterwards whether or not a/ their design is good. The thing is that your preferred, individual, and - may I say - narrow-minded list is probably totally different than the model designer has got(ten) in the first place.
So in conclusion, a good model/design can be defined as one that meets the list of requirements that was initiated before the project started. A great design even goes beyond that. The problem is that in almost every case we don't know these set parameters, and are therefore not able to judge a model, whether MOC or official, objectively. (Besides the fact that most of us are visual orientated suckers anyway. Oh, and BIG) Sometimes it even happens that a designer just executes a design based on a list of requirements from someone else. If this list is poorly put together, and the result suffers, it's actually not the designer to blame. He can still claim he did a good job - and sometimes a great job -, delivering a product that matches the list, but it's the list itself that is debatable.
So summarizing, in our case, arguing whether or not a model is good (or in a similar way bad), is all a matter of opinion, leading to absolutely useless discussions, unless we know the original requirements or intentions. So instead of wasting everybody's time, just enjoy the hobby, appreciate what others do and actually go build something! That's what I do.
* Several studies have shown that beauty is not entirely in the eye of the beholder. Some guidelines can be set up on how something can be perceived as visually appealing, similar to the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio.