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I do a lot of dev work with non-profits and such. About a year ago I was working on an extremely difficult project as a volunteer where I was insistent that a specific part was vitally important to getting the project to move forward (generalizing tables extraction from scanned OCR docs) and I was spending a lot of time on it. One of the devs I worked with, with 40+ years of experience, basically told me this exact thing. He argued that what I as working on was a waste of time and that I shouldn't work on "code golf" problems, because of the likelihood of failure and that ultimately I should consider the human side of the problem. He said it was best to work on other things instead.