What I can't stand, or UNDERstand, is when the site says 7 people are seeding but I can't get it to transfer, or if I'm lucky it goes at 0.1kb/second. I'm downloading the ManifestMen collections right now and they really ought to have been done in a few hours with 7-ish seeders each, but they're not!
If both in a swarm seed and leech are not connectable, no communication will be possible between them, and the clients will prefer connectable clients.
Being not connectable can have multiple sources:
1/ Firewall is blocking: check Windows Firewall to have an exception for incoming connections for your Torrent Client (or activate the option to create an exception in the Windows Firewall, if it got it). If you got another firewall on your computer, e.g. from the Antivirus suite, create an exception for the port used in your torrent client.
2/ Your Router/Modem (the box from your ISP) is not sending incoming requests to your PC.
a) If it supports UPnP and your client, too, activate them in both
b) Else, give your PC a fixed local IP address (read the operating system help how to do, read the modem manual for the IP address range to chose from, typically 192.168.1.xxx or 192.168.0.xxx) create a thing which may be called something like "Local server", "Port forwarding" or "NAT (Network Address Translation")" for that IP and the port number used in client. For this you need to read the manual of the modem / rouer or it's suppliers (ISP) online help. portforwarding.com has help for many models
I will leave it to others more knowledgeable about torrents to confirm the stuff in your post.
So reducing download speed becomes factor only once a full copy of the original file has been seeded. correct?
No, reducing the download speed is important, if the downloading does not take place linearly - for example, I download parts of the beginning of the file from one seeder and the last parts of the file from someone else, both taking place simultaneously.
When I started this thread, I thought it would be simple, but the more I thought about it and wrote, the more I realized how complicated it is, because we need to know how the system of leeching and seeding works.
This is where Administration steps in, to tell us how the seeding and leeching processes actually work, or point us in the right direction where we can find out.