Please don’t send me free stuff

The title pretty much says it all. A while ago, someone saw my call for good summer vacation reading and the resulting pile of Amazon books that I bought, and they sent me a couple free books, maybe to get a review or a mention. I appreciate the creativity, but please don’t send me any books or other free stuff. If you’ve got a new book coming out, I’m happy to hear about it, but if I decide to read or review it I’ll buy my own copy.

A while ago, someone sent a big cookie with a “No spam” message like this:

No spam cookie

I appreciate the thought, but please don’t send me any free stuff. Google has a gift policy to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Even if Google didn’t have such a policy, I wouldn’t want to accept any gifts of value, because it’s important to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Usually I just give away any unsolicited stuff that gets sent my way. Thanks. πŸ™‚

59 Responses to Please don’t send me free stuff (Leave a comment)

  1. That said, I’m always happy to hear about cool gadgets — just don’t offer to get them for me. πŸ™‚ Anybody seen any good gadgets lately?

  2. – Google should have a spam investigators unit to visit webmasters with questionable websites and see if they tell the truth or not.

    P.S. Does unsolicited food gets labeled as spam too?

  3. Claudiu, unsolicited food gets honorarily labeled as spam. It used to be a cookie, but now it’s honorary spam. πŸ™‚

  4. Must admit the new line of miniature PCs are very alluring.

    They seem to bride the gap between tablets and mobile

    The latest ones have 9 inch screens and run WinXP, but 7 inch screens are expected later this year

    They seem to have about 1 Ghz and 80 -120GB hard drives and weigh about 2 lbs.

    Finally, something women can carry around in their shoulder bags without the being in pain at the end of the day.

    The other gadget of interest was the new ultra-thin HD LCDs that are made to look like large picture frames when not in use. You can choose any pic by inserting a USB drive in them, so the effect on the wall is just a large painting

    One good idea for a future post would be everyone guessing what gadgets will be popular during the next decade – it is hard to imagine how advanced they will be

  5. Matt, this is the type of post where you need to pitch my schwag site. πŸ˜‰

  6. Matt,

    “Usually I just give away any unsolicited stuff that gets sent my way. ”

    Talking about “give away”. Should I email you my mail address just in case someone send you an iPhone as an “unsolicited stuff” πŸ™‚

  7. Then the real question becomes…Does Emmy have this same anti-free-stuff policy?

  8. Well, we’ve established we can send free stuff to Tamar Weinberg, she likes free stuff. Matt, that cookie looks like it’s as big as a plate, would require lot’s of milk for dipping.

    Gadgets… I was in Vegas this weekend and dropped in the Sony store at Caesars. Was checking out the smaller laptops when I noticed they had a handheld Sony VAIO VGN-U750P. Played with it for about 10 min and it was pretty sweet. Would love for it to be lighter and was curious if it would support Ubuntu. Also noticed they had a portable Reader Digital Book, liked that very much and may buy one for the wife (and borrow it).

  9. Christmas and Birthdays must be hell? Just kidding – I understand completely on the gift policy rules.

    Gadgets, not really – I’ve been looking at backup devices for the home, would like RAID 5 but can’t justify it’s enterprise level price tag for home use.

    I had a look at the ASUS EEE PC last week, really liking that, would be curious as to whether I’d need to put Windows XP on to it, to get it to support my HTC PDA as a 3G/GPRS modem.

  10. well

    the neatest thing i have heard of recently gadget wise (for those of you interested in video) was the high def (4k) cameral Red are producing only $17,000 ! for the base camera.

    that sounds a lot but a lot of the competition is retal only and would be in the multiple $100,000’s for say a Ariflex D20

  11. Sorry Matt. Just too good a venue. If it’s software or hardware to review, send it right here. That’s exactly where I’m going in the coming weeks and months.

  12. What Matt?!! You mean… you gave away the diamond-encrusted, titanium-encased, iPhone special edition with http://www.hidden-italy emblazoned on it?

    Seriously, I agree and sypathize. I used to be a teacher in a private secondary school and would sometimes get expensive gifts at Christmas. While these were thoughtful, the most meaningful items I ever received were personal letters from parents (often from a low-income background who had saved every penny to send their child to the school) thanking me for my work.

  13. And since you talked about gadgets, here is a recent top 10 list of gadgets to watch for in the near future:,144127/article.html?tk=nl_wbxsld

  14. I can’t believe people would send you free stuff in the hope of a mention on here…even without the Google poolicy it’s plain to see from your blog that that’s just not what you’re about.

    Nice compliment though Matt, wish people care what I thought about things ;-(

  15. Matt, can you gimme your address so that i send you my freebies, i.e. free books and t-shirts :p lol

    Ha ha you are just bashing away the book publishers!!!

  16. You made me think .. to put my postal address on my blog .. so as to get some gifts .. Lol

  17. Go ahead and send ME free stuff!

    As far as the cookie, I would be a little afraid to eat something that a random person sent me.

  18. Matt,

    When I was a Top 500 reviewer on Amazon (UGC manipulation with automating reviews), I’d get free audiobooks all the time. The first one was cool but after that . . . it got annoying fast.


    Yeah, I wouldn’t be eating free food that’s for sure. I had a hard enough time drinking free beer that a group of women dropped off for me (4 Fat Tires) at The Exit (a Chicago Bar) on Saturday night. The fellow Trib that was with me had to convince me they were fine. I drank two but by then the others were warm. Warm beer is just nasty.

    Note: No I was not savvy enough to get the ladies’ names, nor follow them to the bar they said they were headed to next. I have a lot to learn about dating still. πŸ˜‰


  19. You realize that now you will get more then ever?

    I am sure people never even though to send you stuff before this post πŸ™‚

  20. Can I have your stuff? πŸ™‚

  21. If any one wants to give stuff away free to get try and links and maybe reviews (only if the free stuffs kind of cool) send it off to

    Loads of SEO’s read it and contribute stuff from conferences and they will pick up on cool stuff…

    @ Tamar – hows that for a pitch? πŸ˜‰

  22. I’m not sure how cool it is, but I came across this iPhone/iPod Touch accessory this morning and immediately ordered it; they even have Google Checkout. (I got mine for the iPod Touch; looks like the iPhone version won’t ship for a couple of weeks)

  23. Travis, that’s why I don’t take Emmy to search conferences. As a cat, she’d be a little overwhelmed anyway.

    SuperJason, that thought did cross my mind.

    Tamar and Ankit, if you want to receive freebies I fully support that — it’s not a good idea for me though. πŸ™‚

  24. Matt,

    This thought honors you… ban corruption everywhere in the world
    It is a small steps but very significant
    Very good ethic… I like it

    Was the cookie yummy at least? πŸ™‚

  25. Please send me anything – I need it πŸ˜‰

  26. This is perhaps the most disturbing post I’ve ever read on your blog. It makes completely no sense to me whatsoever in reference to why you would be given any form of free gifts or special treatment.

    Although Google is the Queen of Search, it still requires my (our) support to survive. Therefore – you “Matt” should be giving me free gifts instead. I particularly don’t want to glorify you or anyone who works for Google, it sets a very inappropriate situation that can lead to broader issues that can and will affect my integrity online. Only thing I want you doing is strengthening Google search so my clients can spend more and make more money so I can make more money too!

    On that note, how is it that we have not received a Google gift in the last 2 years or any year before, when everyone else has? Specifically one client, who this year will push over 100k in google adwords?

    So get wrapping and send young man – I’m not opposed to free gifts from Google! In-fact the lava lamp I received from over 4 years ago has burned out – I need a new toy.

    Oh and Hi Matt!

  27. I love my iPhone and all, but AT&T blows.

    Here’s a questions for you Matt, any tips as to when we will see the GPhone?

    Last months iPhone/AT&T bill was just under $3k… Sure its a swell gadget, but I’m thinking it’s time to hack it.

  28. Darn,

    Guess I need to tell Prince Modabu not to send you that 50 Billion dollars in Nigerian gold flake πŸ˜‰

    I love my sidekick 3 but am anxious to see what Google’s phone is going to look like and be capable of.

  29. Hey, what is the weirdest thing someone has given you?

    Somebody once gave me an urn, as flattered as I was, I wanted to run away screaming πŸ˜‰

  30. Hi Matt

    I hope you never ate the cookie. The BBC, for example ban their staff from (or certainly advise against) eating any gifts that were food. Basically just in case.

  31. bob rains, I don’t have any extra insight into Android or when you might see Android phones — sorry.

    Gordon, one that comes to mind off-the-cuff was a box of Tabasco mini-bottles. It was something like this:

  32. Aww, sorry to hear about the policy, Matt, we wanted to send you a case of Ale-8-One. Guess we’ll just drink it in the office.

  33. Crap, OK, just tell the driver to bring the car back then… fine.


  34. This isn’t a cool gadget Matt, but since you sometimes post about pictures you have taken, here’s a nifty way to use Moire’ Interference Patterns to test how accurate the auto-focus is on your camera. I figure you might appreciate a super-easy way to use some optical physics to fine-tune your camera gear and get the best possible pictures of your cat … especially when you tatoo ’em with the Firefox logo next April … πŸ˜‰

  35. darn I guess I’ll have to sell the limited edition directors cut of Princess Bride on Blu-Ray that was autographed by 6 of the stars from the movie on eBay πŸ˜‰

    Seriously is there a limit? like say you were in a hotel gift shop trying to buy a candy bar but only had $100 and the cashier couldn’t make change, could I buy it for you without creating an international incident?

    If I invited you to my house for dinner is that ok? Yes I actually can cook and do thanksgiving every year (except when brett messes me up with the pubcon schedule)

  36. You cut me to the quick, David Utter. Luckily I’m off of caffeine at the moment, so my heat doesn’t break completely. πŸ™‚

    alek, that’s really cool. If DSLR + LCD = MoirΓ© is neat.

    graywolf, you too cut me to the heart. with your Princess Bride talk. The Google gift policy makes allowances for gifts below a certain value that are considered “token” so that they wouldn’t influence any reasonable person. But I do try to avoid even token stuff if I can help it.

    P.S. You’ve got a great eye on decorating those desserts! It looks almost like marbling.

  37. Let me know if you ever run for a political position. With your ethical foundations trimming fat and not accepting goodies you might be a sure win.

    Maybe if you had bad parents or even good ones with a story of hope and audacity you might have a shot. Good thing for you is that you already have a list of people that know you well enough to be critical. Must mean you did something right.

    All the way with “MC” the spam Hammer <–I am going to go and TM that–<

  38. Matt, just forward all your free stuff to me and I’ll quietly dispose of it on eBay and we can split the proceeds πŸ˜‰

  39. But I KNOW you have not gotten rid of the Alex Chiu Eternal Life Rings!

    You are not aging!

    You must still be wearing them!


  40. You’ve already heard about the eee PC from ASUS.
    At around $400, it has got to be worth a try.

    I’ve got one, upped the RAM to 2GB, patching Xandros with a really easy guide to make it see the memory, bunged in an 8GB SDHC card; it has excellent wireless, lets me surf, blog, read email – and even access my corporate network. Very cool little toy, which is coming to the US with me on my next vacation.

  41. I do love getting free stuff and don’t have a problem accepting gifts at all. Saying that I’d not be desperately keen on eating something sent anonymously through the post – especially if it was labelled spam. I might make an exception with chocolate though.
    So what happens at Christmas? Are you allowed pressies then?

  42. Hi!

    I thought 4 this a while
    And another while I waited
    4 a chance to post it here
    at the right place.

    But I haven’t found it
    So I decide write it here at the right moment
    and put it at 88 place
    but it could help against spam

    MS and google try to collect Favicon.ico
    With toolbar or IE, I see them gladly
    Because I know: the cream will come up!
    But I also know, that in my case
    this will need more time than I have
    to hit my ambitions at lifetime

    Now is the Idea or Question:

    Interested in a program or place which allows us
    to send our completed collected Icons back to you?

    All the Icons I saw in the last time (6888 in 2008)
    only a very little percentage (0.05 or so) you (Google Desktop)
    a little bit more MS (*:IE-SearchBox)
    could have seen also

    You are able to launch something easely
    I think the good SiteOwners would like it.

    Better would be the program running by our hosters
    In which we can give you this kind stats information’s
    and in a outside Sitemap>i>
    the timestamps and data
    which and when we changed a pages contend

    this would bring your capacity up a lot
    and my stats are much easier to interpret.

    Greetings Karl

  43. “Maybe if you had bad parents or even good ones with a story of hope and audacity you might have a shot.” I like that, Chris Estes: “Hey, I’d like to order up one good set of parents, with a side order of hope and audacity.” πŸ™‚

    purposeinc, I turned them into a spamfighting prize here at Google. But they must still be nearby, because I can still feel their healthful aura. πŸ˜‰

    Diane, Christmas presents from family are fine. πŸ™‚ Maybe 1-2 SEOs have sent gag gift presents. I have a good laugh at the gag, but then give those away as well.

    Steve Ellwood, I actually ordered one but it got delayed for *months*. When Amazon emailed to say that it was delayed another month, I cancelled my order. At that point, new EEE machines were starting to be announced, so I figured I’d get a better, more recent one. They look like a ton of fun though.

  44. Hey
    Google sent me a free camelback water bottle. Now it comes out that some of these plastics can be toxic. (actually it is only a rumor probably spread by those wanting to sell more bottles). Since Google knows all, were they trying to tell me something?

  45. This is a common problem when you do business internationally – sometimes what can be seen to be a bribe here is simply a normal business pattern over there (ie buying lunch/dinner, etc).

    Because of this, my new general rule of thumb is that if it’s legitimately “hospitality” and normal for the area/culture, then I go with the flow, but if it’s more like “now you owe me” then I say no, and refuse to initiate the same from my side. I broke that rule once and have regretted it ever since.

    I agree in your case about the books, etc. It was more of a “trade” scenario and even under my most forgiving interpretation of my own rules I’d say no. Even if you were completely honest in the reviews (or even gave bad ones) there would always be a nagging doubt…


  46. Dave (original)

    Hey Matt, good to see you are moving away from “SEO” type posts. IMO, that DOES cause a conflict of interest and give those you help an unfair advantage.

  47. I really appreciate your sense of loyalty towards Google, but mostly towards yourself. This is rare.

    But anyway, if people have books that they want to give away for free for a review, just send it to me πŸ™‚ It would be a pleasure to read and comment about it.

  48. Matt, I can send you something you can pay me a shedload for if you like.

    I have this very cool old bunch of keys, a snip at 20k.

    An old commodore64 at 10k, a pair of worn 30 times size 10 reeboks just 2k.

    Let me know if you are interested.

  49. Matt,

    How about accepting all these gifts of gadgets and the like and making a point of sending them on to charity/schools/the needy on behalf of the original sender? Or even auction them all off on your blog for a good cause? There must be some way to utilise the fact that people want to send you stuff in order to do something good.


  50. Just to say, if anyone wants to send me anything free, then go ahead and thanks for the nice thought πŸ˜‰

  51. OK Frank, please give a call to the Car-Dealer not to send the new & free Lamborghini to Matt which we ordered 2 days ago. We have been asked not to send anymore free stuff. πŸ™‚

  52. Matt, I have come up with the perfect solution for your predicament. Please feel free to send all of your stuff to my house so that your conscience can remain clear. The β€œcleansing” process can begin with packing up that 82” Plasma, the set of new ping golf clubs, the book on β€œAlligator Wrestling” and the porcelain-gold-frog –reject from the old days of the β€œWheel of Fortune.” Also, I would gladly accept anything that you feel is too difficult to auction on Ebay as I know your time is precious. Please do not send anything that would be considered radioactive, perishable or potentially harmful if swallowed.

    The good news is that it will probably take a few more weeks for you to properly wrap my care-package…so I still have time to clean out the garage and explain to my wife how I met my new-bestest-friend-in-the-world on the Matt Cutts blog.

  53. This is a funny post to me because someone in my office gave a my Flip video camera that someone from Google sent them. LOL

  54. Oh and I wish someone would stop giving my husband free crap. He’s a diesel mechanic and we have mugs and pens other crap from every tool and part company in the tri-state area. πŸ˜›

  55. Thanks, PromoMasters. πŸ˜‰

    rob, I already have a Commodore 64 lying around somewhere, so I don’t need another one. πŸ™‚

  56. As I read your post I’m gazing at my Google fridge, Google memory card, Google glowing ball, and Google yo-yo. I feel so conflicted.

  57. Wow!

    Commodore 64, that wasnt even that long ago!

    The classic loading time of 4 hours to load a game from a floppy disc!

    What are we going to have in 40 years? Cant wait!!!!


  58. Yes, a comment in the twenty 10 πŸ™‚

    Anyway, you got ethics man, that’s running short in these world we living in today.

    May God continue to bless you and your family.

    You are famous you know. πŸ™‚

    Take care.

  59. It would be good if more bloggers followed your example Matt. Mind you, I guess most bloggers don’t quite have the same industry standing (or employer) as you do! Personally I’d be happy to take freebies, but would always disclose it in the post and try to give away a few things to readers when possible.