June 11th, 2004


Gmail Swapping

Awhile ago, I was given an invitation to GMail. It was officially a swap, but in fact the guy nicely said that it was just a gift and I didn't need to send him the penguin. (I mailed it anyway, in the spirit of fun and random kindnesses.) I posted my swap offer on a whim, when I read about it online. GMail sounded kinda interesting, and the whole "swap" concept amused me, so I figured I'd give it a try. I was actually rather surprised when somebody took me up on the offer.

A few days ago, GMail gave me 3 invite codes, so that I could invite new people also. I gave the first one to a friend of mine who had asked me for one some time ago. I felt the next two should be used on the gmailswap site myself, since that's where I had gotten mine. ("Play it forward", as they say.)

My first swap was a silly and whimsical one of no actual value -- much like the swap I had done originally. Somebody offered to send me a picture of a yellow lab wearing a tutu, and that sounded kinda fun. They emailed me the picture; I gave them an invite code. I considered my "gmailswap karma" to be validated, since I had given a free code to a stranger who had amused me.

I intended to use the 3rd code for myself. I did not want money for it (why charge for something that was given to me for free?), but I thought it'd be fun to find somebody who was willing to send me something in the mail. Cookies perhaps, or a t-shirt or something. Just something small and inexpensive that would be fun to receive on my porch. I browsed through the swaps, looking for something like that.

Then I saw somebody had offered: "$25 to the charity of your choice". Now there was a fine suggestion, and much less selfish than the one I had been contemplating! I liked his idea -- I didn't want money for my invites, and he wouldn't pay for them, but his contributing to a charity we both liked seemed like an excellent solution. Everybody wins.

I sent him a link to my Race for the Cure donations site. He approved of it, contributed the money, and I sent him my final invite. I feel pretty pleased with my transactions. One to help a friend, one to help a random stranger much like the way I got one, and one for charity. Much better than some of the gold-diggers I've seen out there, just selling their free invites for cash.