From time to time, companies and project teams approach us about sending users stuff as a special thank you for participating in a particular tag or other activity on the site. Historically, our default response has been, "Sorry, we do not provide that type of access."
We actually had a well-known company contact us recently about an over-the-top-generous giveaway to a small number of users for participation they already had on the site; something for which the project team wanted to show their genuine appreciation, unconditionally; no strings attached. We would do all the fulfillment.
The project took a bit of a different turn, but it was an interesting conversation that got me thinking: Do you ever see the potential for Stack Overflow to become a facilitator of such connections? — a well-vetted (always optional) connection between interested users and the project teams you love and use everyday? This is an easy premise to test, actually — slowly with caution.
You're more influential than you realize
For a long time now, your impact as the Stack Overflow community has far exceeded the sheer size of the site itself. Is there a way we can (safely) forward expressions of appreciation, perks, and other opportunities where appropriate?
(this part never goes without saying)
I am not at all interested in creating a loophole where "approved partners and agents" of Stack Overflow have a way to spam users with seedy contests, gift-card drawings, and phony trial memberships difficult to cancel. This is an occasional thing, well-vetted for relevance. We would not share personal information: fulfillment would be done through Stack Overflow; email would remain private. We would remain ever-vigilant of giveaways interfering with the Q&A. And there absolutely needs to be an easy way for users to say, "I am not interested in this stuff."
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Frankly, I have no idea if there is really a demand for this type of activity or partnership. But it's an exciting idea to talk about… which is why I'm kicking off the conversation here.
What do you think? Is it doable? How can we make this work?