I'll avoid the current oil thread as it is a rehash of the thread we had two years ago. I even see a bit of progress.
But quality? Well hey! How can one resist?
I suppose it depends if we are discussing the subjective or objective concepts of quality? I get the feeling you are looking for objective quality, right?
Subjective concepts of quality would be your own perspectives on the nature of quality and the inherent satisfaction that it brings you (and only you). If you are content, it's has a high inherent quality. It it brings you frustration, it is perceived as low quality until either your mindset or a physical change is made to bring you back to contentedness again.
For me, I generally like my boat, as it looks (to me) "right" and I have changed a lot of things to increase it's reliability and function to meet my needs. I also am encouraged when I have non-boaters see my screen saver at work and say "Wow, I like your boat!" which implies there is some kind of inherent quality perceived by the unwashed. Then I proudly show them some picture from my hard drive and they squeal "Oooo, it's like a tugboat on the outside and a RV on the inside! Why is the toilet so small? Is that real wood? Is it tippy? How much does it cost? What's with the funny stove?" I start to explain, but then they say "Let me show you my hobby!" and pull out their phone and show me pictures of some chromed out Harley with furniture sized leather seating, their Winston Churchill looking cross-eyed grand-baby (girl?), or (the worst) a maltese-shitzu-poodle-cross "with a sweater I knitted" sitting on Daddy's lap! I mumble something about being really kinda busy and have to get this inspection report done. Suddenly their just as busy as well. We both silently acknowledge the rip in the psycho-social fabric binding us that just occurred and move on.
Now objective quality would be measure of the nature of quality as it exists in a measurable criteria, independent of the way that it is being subjectively interpreted. If I'm talking about fasteners, I might specify a 2 1/2"-8 x 24" ASME SA193 Grade B7M stud fastened with a ASME SA194 2HM nut, lubricated with Jet-Lube Nikal and torqued to 10,000 lb ft. If all of the criteria are measured and met, I have achieved a quality assemblage.
Quality? Beautiful, isn't it?
But every once in a while, I might get someone who glances at the screen saver and says "Hey, nice boat." I peer at them suspiciously as they reach for their phone awaiting the onslaught of pictures of their jar collection (this one's a block letter Ball jar, before they changed to script in 1895...), but then relax as they say "What's that, an American Tug?" And we are off... I explain it's actually an ancient old 26' Nordic Tug ("no way really, it looks bigger than that"), and how I re-powered it, replumbed it, how I got this used Furuno radar for 100 bucks from some guy in Florida, how I'm working on sound deadening my auto pilot reversing pump, but I need to replace the worn seals on the ports, and blah, blah, blah...
It turns out he has a new (your favourite boat manufacturer name here)
Vacuum bagged vinyl ester infused resin foam cored decks made from a cnc machined mold. Kevlar and carbon reinforced parts of the hull and stringers. Aquadrive, dripless seals. All high quality (there's that word) stuff.
We both sincerely admire each others boats and comment on the build quality of both, even though they are thirty some years apart.
He admits his wife would never put up with the (lack of) amenities on my boat, but it sure is pretty. I'm happy my wife didn't see the pictures of his granite counter tops in the head, but I think his boat looks like it was designed by a robot.
So really, which type of quality is more important to you in the long run; Comparable objective quality, or subjective personal quality?
Really. Discount perceptions of "build" quality. Just because it is built to a higher standard that may not impart the same proportion of satisfaction or level of function. Persig went mad for a reason.
It's a recreational boat, not a tool.
Unless it is a tool; then build it to strict specifications, and ensure QC and verify QA...