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The Real time expenditure
What can a few extra minutes matter? Considered one request at a time, a few extra minutes here and there would probably not matter much at all. Unfortunately, minutes accumulate alarmingly fast.
Considering all the sources I use (online lists, physical price lists, auction catalogs, eBay and eBid listings, magazines, collector contributions), new certificate discoveries take about five to eight minutes to list from initial discovery to fully finished entry. Previously recorded certificates take about three minutes to acquire and record serial numbers, prices, images, sources and additional details. Non-illustrated lists of serial numbers are the hardest sources of information to deal with and they always result in the least reliable information.
Based upon past experience, and assuming the most efficient method of data acquisition, I estimate that locating and recording data for off-topic certificates would add fifteen to thirty minutes per day.
Behind the scenes are two unseen and compelling reasons for preventing any project expansion, and the first is purely human nature. Without clear, distinct and strict limits, the requests for adding more and more companies would never stop with one certificate, one company or one industry. If I were to allow near-topic companies to expand my project, I would effectively be committing to spend time tracking those and subsequent types of companies from that point forward. Forever. (Or at least until I die.)
I know that the time spent on tracking a "few extra certificates" SEEMS fairly easy, but the hidden time committment is enormous.
The non-enjoyable part. The more burdensome and painful task is going backward in time. If I agree to list a SINGLE near-topic company, then I also agree to review every old reference, every old price list and every old auction catalog to discover all previous occurrences of certificates from that and similar companies. None of those sources are indexed, so I need to search thousands of pages usually page-by-page and often item by item. Altering the database to include a single previously-ignored company usually takes more than forty hours of mythical "spare" time spread over four to six weeks.
After enduring several trips through tens of thousands of listings in many hundreds of references, I have discovered the task is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.
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