I have found it helpful to view natural starters/preferments much as I view using commercial yeast. I mean that in the sense that what will primarily govern the useful life of a dough is the amount of leavening agent used and the type and duration of fermentation. I have used natural starters/preferments to make just about every type of dough, including NY, Neapolitan, American, deep-dish, cracker style and various clones of other styles, and when I stepped back at the end of the day and thought about what I had done, I came to the conclusion that I was using the starters/preferments in much the same manner as I would use commercial yeast. However, there are far more challenges in using natural starters/preferments than commercial yeast, especially when they are used in room-temperature fermentations where the temperatures can vary considerably over the course of a year and even within days. To complicate matters, there are so many different starter cultures with different genetics and with different and unique behavioral characteristics that it is very hard to generalize about them and to do comparisons with other cultures. Moreover, the amount of starter culture and preferments used, their water/flour compositions, degree of readiness and other factors will come into play and make each situation different from the others. If you were in Naples trying to make an authentic Neapolitan style dough on a year around basis using a room temperature fermentation, you would have to learn how to make adjustments to compensate for changes in room temperature that will affect the fermentation of the doughs throughout the year. Such modifications would include changes in the hydration values (usually by adjusting the amount of flour relative to a fixed quantity of water), salt values, water temperature, the amount of leavening agent (usually fresh yeast), or some combination of the foregoing. These changes have to ensure that the dough is ready for use when customers show up to buy pizzas. This takes considerable talent and experience to do, and is often greatly underestimated by those who think that because they have a starter culture they can do the same thing. I have done considerable experimentation making room temperature fermentated doughs using commercial yeast and have been humbled by the process every time, especially those cases involving very long fermentation times. Now I understand why it takes Neapolitan pizzaioli years to master their professions.
If you superimpose the use of natural starters/preferments on the above process, you have added another layer of complexity. It also means that you have to make naturally-leavened doughs on a pretty regular basis and maintain the starter cultures on a regular basis, just as Bill/SFNM does, otherwise you alter the "regularity" of the culture and have to spend time and effort to bring it back to its prime operating condition. For many people, that is a major imposition on their time and schedules. I view it like having a child or a pet in the house that cannot be ignored and has to be regularly fed and nurtured. However, if that thought does not deter you, the best piece of advice I can give you if you plan on making room-temperature fermented doughs throughout the year is to use a unit like the ThermoKool MR-138. That will at least take most of the temperature issues off of the table. I would also leverage off of the dough formulations and other good work of other members, such as Bill/SFNM, at least at the beginning and until you have found your own personal "sweet" spot through your own experience with your own starter cultures.
There are a lot of good threads on the forum that address many of the questions you have raised, many of which can be found using the forum's search features. However, I will try to offer some guidance to help you get started.
Most of the members who make room-temperature fermented Neapolitan-style doughs using natural starter cultures use a first bulk rise followed by division of the dough into individual dough balls that are allowed to mature/ripen for several hours before using. Marco (pizzanapoletana) has never said exactly why the two-stage process is needed, but he insists that it is necessary. On this particular point, see Reply 7 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7022.msg60428.html#msg60428
. On the matter of fermentation temperature, Marco recommends a fermentation temperature of 64.4-68 degrees F (18-20 degrees C) for an authentic Neapolitan dough. It is very difficult to generalize on the duration of fermentations, for the many reasons mentioned above. However, you don't want the dough to ferment too much, to the point where the dough breaks down because of the destructive effects of enzymes on the gluten structure.
As for the matter of opening and closing dough storage containers during fermentation, November says that you ideally want the gases of fermentation to escape while retaining moisture in the container. I don't see this as being as big an issue as it would be if you were using large quantities of commercial yeast that cause significant dough expansion, but you can always make a small hole in the covers of your containers. For more on this topic in general, see http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7980.msg68653.html#msg68653
The matter of "old dough" has been discussed before on this forum on several occasions. Some time ago, when I was on the learning curve for making naturally-leavened doughs using 00 flour, I used that method in the context of a Mangieri-inpired dough, as discussed at Reply 55 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg9547.html#msg9547
, and as elaborated upon further in succeeding posts. If you do a forum search on "old dough", you will find several other threads and posts, including several of mine, in which the old dough method was used. BTW, Marco favors the use of the direct method for natural starters as opposed to the indirect "old dough" method, but I leave to you to decide which is the better method for your particular purposes if you decide to explore the use of the old dough method.
It's been a while since I have made naturally leavened Neapolitan-style doughs, but a couple of posts that I often cite to others for dough preparation and management purposes are the posts at Reply 43 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2951.msg25809.html#msg25809
(using the Ischia culture) and at Reply 94 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg25807.html#msg25807
, as modified to use the Camaldoli culture at Reply 95 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg25847.html#msg25847
. At the time of the above posts, the preferment dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment_calculator.html
did not exist. Today, I would use that tool for the more accurate numbers and greater detail. For final dough hand kneading, you should look at the Images 4a-4c at http://www.woodstone-corp.com/cooking_naples_style_dough.htm
. You should keep in mind as you read the above posts that I was baking my Neapolitan-style pizzas in a standard unmodified home oven, which necessitated changes in dough ball weights, pizza sizes, etc. to accommodate my particular oven conditions.
The only other piece of good advice that I can give you and to others on the matter of making authentic Neapolitan doughs, especially those leavened with natural starters, is to read all of the relevant posts that Marco entered on this forum, as I myself have done on several occasions and am likely to do again. At one point Marco was planning to write a book on the subject, but apparently no longer plans to do so or has placed the matter on a rear burner. The closest we have to that "book" are Marco's posts on this forum. I realize that it is far easier to avoid reading those posts by asking the members for answers but you will get far more out of reading the posts directly rather than as filtered and interpreted (often incorrectly) by others.
EDIT (6/14/16): For a Wayback Machine version of the above inoperative Woodstone link, see http://web.archive.org/web/20090215125027/http://www.woodstone-corp.com/cooking_naples_style_dough.htm