In this new, limited blog series, “20 Ways to Collect While Stuck at Home,” we offer ideas for enjoying your collection at times when a standard hobby experience is not possible. Illness, financial constraints, or any number of factors might temporarily keep collectors from participating as they normally would, but that does not mean that their hobby needs to be put on hold.
Hobby forums or message boards are an excellent part of hobby life that have grown significantly in the internet age. It used to be that hobby interactions were limited to in-person meetings, telephone calls or letters written between collectors. However, online forums now allow collectors to interact in real time, exchanging ideas, making sales or trades, and building a sense of community.
Share Your Knowledge
In addition to the ideas above, forums are also an excellent source of hobby information. Collectors from all areas, who focus on many different subjects, join together to share their collecting experiences with each other. The end result is vast and an easily searchable resource that hobbyists can use to learn more about their particular areas of interest.
The most important thing in a successful forum is activity from the members. Along these lines I would encourage collectors to become active members in at least one forum. Sign up, read several threads to get a sense of the community, and begin to share your knowledge with other members.
What is a Brain Dump?
One way that collectors can really help a forum such as the Collectors Universe Message Boards, and the hobby community in general, is by posting brain dump threads to forums. For those unfamiliar with the term, a brain dump is just what it sounds like, a thread detailing as much information about a particular subject as possible. Brain dumps, along with the subsequent comments made by other collectors, quickly become a treasure trove of information for collectors wanting to research particular subjects.
I’ll give you an example of what you might include in a brain dump. Let’s say that I was an advanced collector of a particular set and wanted to share my knowledge with other collectors. I would post a new thread and be sure to include the following:
- Basic Set Info – Card size, number of cards, single or multi-series release?
- Set Construction – Expensive singles and/or rookie cards, errors or variations, single-prints vs. double prints. Were cards numbered randomly or by teams? Checklists or other specialty cards?
- Distribution Info – Mainstream set or regional? Issued in packs or as an insert in some sort of product? Pack types (wax, cello, rack, etc.), packs-per-box, pack prices, were vending boxes produced?
- Quality Control Issues – Are these cards apt to be found off-center? Are print defects a problem? These questions can be answered in a general sense for the set, but also more detailed if specific cards are particularly affected by certain issues.
- Rarity – How difficult are these cards to locate? What information does the PSA Population Report provide?
- Popularity – Are a lot of people working on this set? How many sets are listed on the PSA Set Registry? How close to completion are most collectors? Who else is collecting the set and might be open to trades, etc.
- Value – What kind of prices can collectors expect to pay for these cards? Obviously many factors affect value, but are we talking about 1952 Topps-type prices, 1990 Topps-type prices, or something in-between?
Other than having all of your knowledge written down in one place, brain dumps provide a number of other benefits. First of all, you are sharing information that might help someone else down the line. That alone is good for the hobby. But after you have shared your knowledge, other collectors will likely contribute as well, giving you the opportunity to possibly learn something new. This gathering point for collectors of a certain set can then lead to friendships, get-togethers, alerts when cards become available for sale, trades, and anything else.
The possibilities are endless. So in starting a brain dump you really have as much opportunity to help yourself and grow your own collection as you do to inspire other collectors. What could be better than that?