Giving out customer swags

Hey everybody,

Discourse provides an amazing framework to gamify and motivate its most active users, but I would love to hear if you folks had any experiences giving out actual customer swags (t-shirts, stickers, free products) to your most awesome community users?

Looking back, was this a good strategy, and any suggestions or mistakes to avoid?


It is always an idea, but has to fit into budgets, who/what you are, etc.

You also have to be careful that you aren’t providing extrinsic for everything and instead probably focus more on the intrinsic rewards with things like swag (extrinsic) being for bigger things and that you aren’t enforcing the wrong behavior

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I know that one of the reasons I’m here is a free t-shirt.


Same. I did some initial work on a Discourse plugin (that has now been officially adopted :blush:) as my first foray into open source contribution. At the time I was looking to contribute plugins for a few projects as a way to drum up some business when I was jump-starting my freelance work.

The free t-shirt the team sent me was completely unexpected and immediately sold me on Discourse. I’ve been a faithful follower ever since and now have close to 85% of my business revolving around Discourse.

So, yes. I would say it was well worth it. But then again, I’m no team member. :wink:


Yup, I’ve done it in many communities (including this one). If you are genuinely giving someone a gift to thank them for their work and to make them feel good, then I support it. If you hope it will motivate members to contribute value back, it almost certainly won’t work.

Both examples above (Joe and Jay) were already valuable contributors.

If you want to read more about swag and other extrinsic motivators, have a read of the Motivations and the Benefits and Incentives chapters of this resource that I wrote last year: Building Community Superuser Programs That Succeed


Well, I didn’t really feel like much of a “valuable contributor” at that point. I think that I’d contributed a trivial plugin, perhaps, though I don’t really know what the trigger was. And though my remark above was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, getting that shirt totally made my week and was a damn good investment, if I do say so myself.


And there was me thinking i was special for getting a t-shirt :wink: it was however worth every penny paying the uk custom charges on it lol

I think give aways are a fantastic idea if you can fit it in a budget especially branded gear. Everytime i wear my discourse tshirt people ask me what it is - so is a good subliminal marketing tool :slight_smile:


Perhaps I should have said “both examples were always going to be valuable contributors” – i.e. you were motivated by something other than the tshirt.

And this too.