I know I'm late to the party, but I just need to express my thoughts as a pretty long-time Wooter.
From the beginning, the "inside joke" about the Barrels of Crud has always been that *everyone* gets something pretty cool. The contents weren't always valuable (although often they were), but they were always unique, quirky, and something which brought a smile to the face. What I found was that if one item was truly odd (a porcelain pack of gum comes to mind), chances are I'd look at another item and find something really cool (in my case, an external DVD drive, used but working).
There were plenty of copycat sites who copied your idea, but they all failed because what they gave out was REALLY carp, while Woot's Barrels of Crud were ALWAYS worth more than the $8 we paid for it.
The past few years most of us have adjusted our lives around the time Woot-Offs have come around. I've blown off important meetings, I've called in sick, I've locked myself in rooms just to have a crack at the Barrels of Crud For a company to have achieved such loyalty among its customers is something special.
This time, I finally convinced my girlfriend to get one for herself, which she did (staying up late on Christmas to do so).
We unboxed our Barrels of Crud together. Her Bag consisted of a cheap bag, a spitball dartboard, a towel, and an expired box of tea. Mine? A cheap bag, a spitball dartboard, a towel and a cupcake lip balm.
She was gracious, but ultimately I looked a little silly for getting so worked up about the Barrels of Crud--or about Woot.
I'd say the last 2 or 3 Barrels of Crud I've gotten have been along these lines. I know the Carp Commandments, so don't take this as complaining, but as some constructive feedback.
The reason the Barrels of Crud became so popular to the point of taking down servers every time is because they were GREAT in the beginning. Whatever the contents of the bag, we always felt like we got a great deal, whether due to the value of the contents, the uniqueness of the contents, or the most likely case--a combination of the two. This is why we curse you when we can't get through to the ridiculously big button, and we swear our lifelong allegiance to you when we do.
I'm not sure what in Woot is responsible for the huge drop in Barrels of Crud quality. Perhaps you're not getting as many product samples being sent in that you have to get rid of. Or perhaps now that Amazon's connected with you, you don't have to worry as much about clearing away warehouses as you once did. Or perhaps now that Amazon's connected with you, they're using you as an outlet to dump stuff that's in their warehouses.
Whatever the case, remember that the Barrels of Crud IS a huge part of the Woot brand. It took years to build up into the coveted treasure it is. While things like profit margins and inventory accounting are important, remember that as great as Amazon was, it could never do the things that Synapse Micro did back in 2004.