What an interesting thread, danieq; thanks for starting this.
Most of my sampling has come by way of generous basenotes friends, and I've done my sampling spending one week with one friend's samples, another week with another's. I do draw a distinction between samples and decants. With hand decanted "care packages" I feel like I'm getting a self-portrait of this friend, who I've gotten to know through the internet and packages. Collections are as unique as people, as unique as handwriting, and I appreciate these glimpses into someone else's tastes. Likewise, I enjoy preparing sample passes to share my scent world, as well as preparing a mini-collection of decants for individuals.
Samples strike me more as a chance to "play the field"; I can appreciate fragrances that are just "not me" at all without any commitment. In fact I wasn't quite joking when I once said that fragrance is the safest promiscuity; it allows for blowsy one-night stands sans aftermath. You sniff, you move on.
I should also mention, I love the packaging; we are a creative bunch that believes in presentation.
In addition to FBs, I have quite a few minis, which occupy an in-between space. Sometimes with a mini, I worry about running out; other times, they are a reminder—life is short, enjoy! I also enjoy the aesthetic experience of the mini bottles; they are just so winsome.
So, Happy New Year one and all. Basenotes has been the most "real" of web experiences precisely because you can't email a scent. We touch one another across time zones. XXXOOO
Update: I didn't quite answer the question, did I? No, doesn't detract. FBs are my daily wear, sampling is often an evening activity.