That thorny perennial subject, “armchair modellers” (I have been here before!), has cropped up on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum. I have copied my response directly:
I watched a film recently. I felt that the script was weak, the direction poor and the acting wooden. I have never been involved in producing a film or video. Does that make my opinion invalid?
I have been involved in amateur theatre in various forms, although not for many years. Am I “allowed”, therefore, to comment on plays?
I used to play the guitar, and have even appeared on stage in a couple of bands, Does that qualify me to be a music critic? Does that make my opinions somehow more valid than a non-musician, but less valid that a professional musician?
Surely we don’t need to have “qualifications” to be able to express an opinion about our hobby? Yes, if one has never made anything, then it is hard to credibly tell someone else how to do it, but to comment on how good something is, or to suggest an idea of how a problem may be solved, surely that is nothing more than taking an active interest?
I’ll accept the opinion anyone who has an interest in the hobby, a brain, and thoughtful respect for the opinions of others. I might disagree with it. I might not even be interested in it. As long as it is clear whether it is the voice of personal experience, a reference to someone else’s successful technique, or an untried idea, then who cares whether it came from a workbench or an armchair?
There is enough division and bitterness in the world already. Do we really need to bring it into a hobby, our avenue of escape from the outside world?
But, horror of horrors, I am writing this on a tablet, sat in my armchair. Ah well, that at least qualifies me to comment on this topic…