Why I don’t do software giveaways

I have no idea just how many giveaway offers high-profile software blogs get. I know even I get them from time to time. Had to really think it over for first few offers, then formed an opinion and been politely declining them since.

I am no email person and can be abrupt there, so decided to write it out both for developers (so I can just refer to this post) and for readers why there are no giveaways at this blog.

Why giveaways

Simply put there is a lot of promotional value in “free stuff” concept. Even more when you seemingly get something that costs money for free.

I get bite of hype, developers get bite of hype, readers get paid stuff for free. Dream match up?

Not quite.

Why no giveaways

Giveaways are:

  1. Finite. There is specific number of licenses to give out and it’s almost always in range of few. This means several readers get something, rest don’t. I don’t do posts for several readers, I do posts for all of them.
  2. Not time-proof. Post on freeware from two years ago? Likely app is alive and kicking or at least you can fetch it from some archive. Giveaway of shareware from two years ago? Likely there are as many paid upgrades to reach current version.
  3. Obsolete. Some developers like to giveaway old versions to commemorate new releases. Yay, old unsupported stuff, while being bombarded with promises of new toys.

Alternatives for developers

  • free version, if app being reviewed has paid version I always cover additional perks in post;
  • invites, really extension of free version but proven and powerful marketing mechanism, I am not against spreading these because sending out invites makes more invites available (pyramid);
  • advertisement, if you are confident in your product back it up with money and profit from it, ads may not be our favorite thing but they are known and transparent business deal.

Note: not currently accepting private advertisement.


In the end won’t some free stuff be nice, even if for few readers alone?

Alas, I am not offering fish here. I tell how I fish.

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  • Rush #

    Good read. I'm kinda glad you don't get into all that. There was a while where I rode around on the "for free" wave, going from site to site grabbing free licenses. "First 100 to post", "5 winners drawn at random", "MASSIVE GIVEAWAY TOTALING THE US BUDGET DEFICIT!". I swear I had at least 100 of those Chinese Kaspersky licenses. I had learned enough Chinese to operate the interface, and was getting ready to try scanning before Ray posted the work around. Acronis, Ashampoo, Avira, Easeus, Eset, Paragon, SoThink, WinX, you name it I had it. I was bad on the GOATD junkieism too. There were times I stayed up til 3am just to see what the give away would be. I must have had 6 or 7 different (which were really all identical right down to the GUI)media converters, and licenses for every anti-virus product on earth. What I wound up with was a bunch of shit I didn't use. I like free software (open source or freeware), and like reading reviews but I've been skipping the whole give away thing for a long time now. Off the stuff, but surely prone to relapse for the right product. However, that's one of the things that makes this one of my favorite blogs. Good reviews, good articles and no bullshit. I think the thoughts posts are my favorite.
  • Rarst #

    @Rush Oh my. You don't do anything halfway, do you? :) Anyway I am glad you got that under control. However, that’s one of the things that makes this one of my favorite blogs. Good reviews, good articles and no bullshit. I think the thoughts posts are my favorite. Glad to hear this! "No bullshit" is one of the foundation ideas under this blog and to hear such from readers means I am doing it right.
  • Henk #

    @Rarst: As almost always, I highly value your well-argued, no-nonsense, take-it-apart-and-rationally-analyze-the-fad-of-the-day approach. In this case I fully agree. I'd like to add one more point to consider: often, those giveaways are licenses valid for just one or if you're lucky, two years. If you don't want to pay afterwards, you'll have to uninstall that piece of software you just got used to. Meaning it's actually not a giveaway at all, but just a loan.
  • Rarst #

    @Henk I don't follow giveaways closely, but time-limited license doesn't seem to be usual case (except for antivirus software that is more of subscription than software really). I agree on this case being especially crappy one. Still even without time limit there are often prices for major version upgrades... And such apps have to upgrade every year if not more often for some reason. :) Old version still works, but it is old... I think that buying shareware with lifetime upgrades is actually better deal than getting it for free but being trapped in cycle of paid updates.
  • Sandrina #

    I have received couple of rewards on giveaways, and it depends, I got really disappointed when one of my licences of a really good software stopped working after two weeks (I just got used to it and after a while it stopped working :( ), the other software was a free licence for software which I don't use regularly, but it was handy having it couple of times, so I really started liking that software and recommended it around afterwards (I am not sure if it gets updated regularly or they just gave me old version), third one (from a best answers contest) was a very good book.
  • kelltic #

    I don't visit blog sites for giveaways. I like your attitude. That's why I check out your site regularly. That said, I've gotten some great freebies (elsewhere), most notably Concept Draw, that carry huge price tags, which I could never have justified paying. Not the newest and can never updated but that doesn't really matter to me. Anyway, my point is, (Did I have one?) blog sites don't, in my humble opinion, seem the right places for giveaways. I applaud your decision.
  • Rarst #

    @Sandrina Well, you can get lucky but most of the time it's hardly the usual case. Books are much nicer than software for giveaways. Good book is meaningful to read at least once and there are no update strings attached. I do have few books from giveaways queued to read myself. @kelltic As above - you can score good freebies sometimes, and there is really no reason not to grab something you might have use for. But I completely agree that software blog just isn't good place for giveaways (well, unless it's completely dedicated to them).
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  • Pallab #

    Interesting reasoning. I am not averse to doing giveaways, but then I am not averse to reviewing sharewares either. However, I always review a product before agreeing to do a giveaway. No point in giving away a product, that I myself don't like.
  • Rarst #

    @Pallab Nothing against shareware, but it isn't focus of this blog. This post is more about my blog and less of some generic judgement on giveaways overall. I think review is natural part of giveaway or more like giveaway should only be bonus to review. Recommending stuff without caring what it is borders "selling out".
  • wdhpr #

    Sounds to me like your throwing the baby out with the bath water. Although I somewhat understand your logic you miss the point of give-aways from the consumers view. A chance to have unfettered use of quality software. Of course some free offers are not quality. If I the consumer likes what I see I will buy the product after it becomes obsolete. That is far better than buying something thats is over hyped and finding out its a dud. I guess its a matter of perspective. Wdhpr
  • Rarst #

    A chance to have unfettered use of quality software.
    Most of giveaway offers I get contacted about are low to mid range fluff, not high quality products with reputation.
    A chance to have unfettered use of quality software.
    That is what trial versions are for. Giveaways are not about giving a taste, they are cheap (literally) attempt to pull consumers` strings.