I've had mixed feelings about the discounts/giveaways in recent years, for two reasons: First, without a consistent, sustained effort that lasts indefinitely, it doesn't gain traction or attention. The second has more to do with an existential struggle with the nature of the site, and what we should be focusing on, and what we do well, and the (non-financial) costs associated with trying to do too many different things.. While at the same time it pains me that this is yet another example of folks volunteering to do something for the benefit of the site and me being less than enthusiastic. This gets at part of what i think we need to find a solution to.
Even with a consistent, sustained effort, it's not going to happen, unless that's a real focus of the site, and it's not. I thought just the effort would be enough- but in the end, I've found that it's not. The companies have to view their contribution as an integral part of the site, i.e. BDJ, Two Dollar Tuesday, etc. That's why I was thinking special occasions like the anniversary, or NANY, or to go along with some other event on the site. For such events, you can get a critical mass, and have a real event around it. The mass of companies surrounding helps also. When I was able to tell the companies about an event and other sponsors- they became more engaged and excited about it. Just a discount? In general, not so much, though I was able to push against that at times.
And I think that your second part gets to a conflict of DC. Is it a community site? Or is it mouser's site that we contribute to? I don't think that either is a wrong answer, but I think not having an answer to the question sort of drives the confusion. And that can be one of the things that is firmly decided in this 10th anniversary.