Thanks for that. I always thought myself more of a gamer than a RPer so I always have been more into rewarding things as outlined in the DMG. But I had not returned my thoughts again to ad-hoc rewards as you outlined. Of course you are also more of a nurturer than I am.
I guess what brought the whole discussion up for me originally months ago was what would encourage people to participate more. New members join and some stay. Many don't and I don't know their actual reasons, but I don't think there is much we can do differently there except be as welcoming as we can.
However, those of us regular veterans of the sight are probably not going to go anywhere and these ad-hoc rewards are nice touches, but the help people provide and things they do in game are all part of who they are and why I like playing with them. The one thing I was looking to improve was people lurking in their own games. One of my pet peeves is seeing someone post in another game 2-3 times and leave another game hanging, waiting for them to take their turn or just participate. This is not a big issue at the moment, but there were times where that really annoys me.
However after careful consideration, I have concluded that players are fickle. What interests some, doesn't necessarily interest others. And never mind RL getting in the way. I don't think the ad-hoc rewards would really change these people that prioritize their games differently or keep new players from staying if they are leaving. Though a player like me could potentially clean up on those rewards when I look at some of the things I have done in the past year.
Rather than discuss ad-hoc rewards and free swag, let's look at something else. Of the players currently active in the Guild, is the leveling up progression too slow? I look at Saltmarsh and those guys are on the brink of 3rd level. Their pace is not as high as games in the Guild, but they have almost been running a year now. Then I look at the characters that started in the first groups in the Guild and have remained active this entire time. Raddick is in the lead and he can see 3rd level not too far off, but Brunhilde will pass him after Group C's next encounter. But with Uthgar and Sefrenia leveling up, almost all of the original characters still active have gained a level. Aukan and Germain are the exceptions.
I look at this and realize that is quite an accomplishment. But was it too slow? Dunno. However, I have been beefing up encounters in PbP more to help accelerate things and have been doing that since the beginning.