Direct swap etiquette?

@NotLydiaBennet I think you have every right to feel the way you do. If a hobby becomes an administrative burden then it’s no longer fun. Personally I think it’s okay you’ve set your own boundaries with how you’ll interact with direct swaps to make it manageable and still fun for you. You’ve also made it very clear on your profile. So no it’s not rude as you’ve managed people’s expectations from the get go. I’m sorry you’ve felt burdened with it, snail mail is snail mail, it doesn’t have to be snail mail + instant messaging :purple_heart:.


I think it’s nice to send a thank you but I don’t think it should be expected unless the sender says something like “please let me know when it arrives”, but I think that should be included in original posts or messages so it’s not a surprise after you’ve already agreed, and even then I feel we should all accept that it’s not realistic to be notified of the whereabouts of every mail. I don’t really agree with the suggestions that notifying that the swap mail arrived is your part of the deal, because I think your part is sending your part of the mail and anything else is extra.

That said, I do try to do it because I noticed if I didn’t I would receive a lot of messages (from maybe about 1/4 of senders) and then it’s more effort to try to figure it out on their terms than if I had just thanked everyone when the mail arrived. But I wasn’t able to thank for a large batch of incoming mail at the start of the year and I didn’t respond to messages at that time or participate in the forum (due to unexpected circumstances), and I hope people understood that things happen rather than just labelling me as rude.

I feel it’s very rude to conclude someone is rude for not acknowledging every piece of incoming mail, especially if it is noted on their profile as in your case.


Is it noted? Maybe the swap partners don’t know English well.
I know some, but still I don’t see it clearly that she won’t send thank you message or let me know when the mail arrives. Only that she doesn’t like people asking if she got it. Because she can’t tell if it should arrive in two weeks, months, or when. (And why they ask, because sometimes when people tell not to ask, they still expect the sender ask after some time :slight_smile: of course not everyone, but some do.)

Now when I know she doesn’t send receive message, I see “how” it’s maybe meant to read.

So I think perhaps no one is rude, only different understanding what for example the text in profile means, and different experiences what is expected and/or allowed to do.

I appreciate your point that we all have different understandings and expectations but, personally, I still feel that to assume everyone who doesn’t do as you would do is in the wrong is very judgemental and unempathetic. So, I think it’s totally reasonable for posters to say that they like receipt messages and think it’s nice, but here is an entire thread of people telling the OP that they are in the wrong for not acknowledging mail (and people invalidating OP’s experience by telling them that acknowledging or messaging on the forum is easy when they have already said it’s not for them). I feel that even if people who think messages are ideal should be able to take a step back and think ‘well not everyone can send messages all the time or likes instant messaging and I don’t know what’s happening in strangers’ lives, but there is a high probability my mail arrived, and I also received this lovely mail for it’ (even if there is no profile note to pre-warn about not acknowledging incoming mail).

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I am doing various tags, swaps and RR on the forum, and when I receive a card, I search for identifying informations, like if it has an ID number, if it has an username, it mentions a tag or RR… if there is none of that, I have no idea how to find the sender, if there is the infos, I use them to notify as appropriate (send a PM, in the RR thread, in the received tag cards thread, register as official etc…)
It’s also up to the sender to make it possible to identify themselves


Yeah, that is what I think too. I understand the feeling of OP because someone who doesn’t answer messages must have something going on in their life. In this case, the OP is not answering them because she is spending too much time on PC. So, if she doesn’t want to answer, it’s not like she is being rude.

And it is the sender’s problem for not writing their username on the postcards. The OP is having difficulty in identifying their identities. This takes time too. I also feel like these has become a burden and not really enjoying the direct swap experience.

And everything happen is down to swapping for one postcard. One postcard and all these mess? Don’t be too hard and judgemental, it’s not like she is not sending postcards. She has complete the swap request by sending cards. What is more important than these?


I don’t see that. I’m not saying the OP is wrong.
She asked what is the etiquette, and people are telling theirs.
She asked is she being rude, so I think then who think so, are allowed to answer or tell that in someones eyes it seems rude.

I even try to be helpful, and tell, her profile maybe is not clearly telling she wont message when receive.

When you swap, make clear points, for example:
Who asks, sends first.
I don’t send or need photo proof.
I will not message when the swap arrives, nor I don’t need you to message when you get mine.

And one more solution could be, when you have exchanged all the info you need, block the e-mail and you won’t get any more messages from this person.

I do know people often assume what is easy for them, is easy for others. The “empty hurray message” thread is so good example of how a self invented rule is considered universal, and who doesn’t follow it, is rude :slight_smile:

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@S_Tuulia thanks for your response! I didn’t think about the other way my profile message could be interpreted, but I can see how that would be confusing. Thanks for pointing that out, it’s very helpful.


I have been in the positions of you and those who swap with you, so let me give my two cents just in case it explains your situation.

I wouldn’t call you rude, even though I think in some cultures it’s an expected courtesy to acknowledge receipt (I can think of Japan for instance). I myself try to send a quick notification upon the reception of something as much as possible, because I remember most of people, and I am grateful for what’s been sent to me. But I wouldn’t impose this on everyone, especially you have stated clearly in your profile that you wouldn’t be doing the acknowledgement.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who did a lot of giveaway / swap on the forum (outside of the official postcrossing), I can totally relate to the difficulty of keeping track of every request. I tend to have multiple things going on at the same time, so knowing each individual by user ID can be challenging – this, despite my having better than average memory. Plus some mails just take a long time to reach me (I recently received a postcard sent from India in August), so by the time I received it, I already lost track of who the sender was and what for.

Second, I don’t know if this is a bug on the forum or I am doing it wrong – when using the ‘search’ function in Messages, my search for a particular user ID never shows up any result. I can only search the words that are included in the message and titles. This makes keeping track of a conversation very difficult, even if I have the person’s user ID. I have to remember what keyword(s) I had used in a series of conversations or around what date the conversation took place to track down the message. Sometimes I rely on profile pictures to identify people – but some people make frequent changes to their profile picture, so this is not ideal.

Third, as you said, people’s handwritten name / Postcrossing ID might not be always readable, not to mention most of the time people don’t include their Poscrossing ID in the mails sent through direct swap, or sign their PM with their real name (that may be searchable).

Now speaking from the point of view of someone who had sent messages asking if the other had received my mail – I rarely do this, as I don’t feel like imposing an obligation to reply on people and I just assume people are busy. In recollection, I did this a few times for 2 reasons:

(1) The other person has multiple addresses and moves frequently between these places. A few months after I sent out something to one of her locations without an acknowledgment of reception, I messaged her to make sure that she remembers to pick up her mails from this particular location.

(2) I was expecting some feedbacks from the recipient. This usually involves music / anime / book / etc. But since I don’t want to appear to be pressing on knowing what they think about those things I am passionate of, I usually mention it as a ‘By the way …’ in the next communication I will send to the person. I don’t compose a specific message just to ask if the other has listened / watched / read the thing I had mailed.

Well, those are ‘my rules’ of course, and they are in place for myself only. Judging from (2) though, I am guessing that people who did swaps with you might be wanting to know if you were satisfied with the swap items.

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Where can I find people to direct swap with?? Is there a direct swap forum? I can’t find it anywhere or figure out how to make a post :skull:

It’ll become visible when you’ve spent a certain amount of time in the forum. It’s deliberately kept hidden from new forum members. It won’t be long before you can see it.

Direct messages section on the forum is horrible. It´s impossible to find anything or anyone, and I believe this is a problem that has to be solved. The mobile version is even worse.

When I just started, most people thanked me in DM or in the “received” topics. So I assumed it was a common practice and started doing that too.
I exchanged about 300+ cards in the last 4 months as direct swaps and tags. I´m not sure if it is considered a large volume, but I know why the topic starter finds it difficult and time-consuming to thank people:

  1. Name on the card is unreadable
  2. It is impossible to find anything in DMs
  3. Receiving and having to thank 30+ people at once (I´m going to do it right now :joy:)

I solved it by creating a GSheet and adding all the swaps and tags there. Thus, I also make sure I´ve sent everything. It literally takes 10 seconds:

  • when writing a message to a user, I copy the link and paste it to the table
  • mark “send” or “receive”, add tag and copypaste user name.

It solves both problems:

  1. Even if the name is illegible, I can find it by a few letters
  2. I have a direct link to the chat with the person.
    And it takes me seconds to thank them.
    If I need to thank 20+ people at once, I do it in the “received” topic, not personally.

I don´t care that people don´t thank me, but I would like to know that the card has reached its destination.


Also, when I just started, everyone was sending me a photoproof of the card, and I did that too.
However, now I don´t send proofs unless people specifically require them.

However, I take photos of all cards that I send because I don´t want to use the same stamps or washi tape if I send various cards to the same user. I have them saved in a folder, both front and back, with the name of the user. Like this:
Image removed by moderator because it shows backs of the postcards. Please don’t share the backs of the postcards to keep private information (addresses and messagges) private.


Great idea - I’ve added it to my own excel sheet! :smile:


Hello! I would really like to know how you do to find the people you do that direct swaps. As a newcomer, I’m a bit lost about that. Thank you for your help!


If you click on someone’s profile, it will say whether or not they are interested in direct swaps. Below that it a button that says “send message”. The people swap with usually use this tool to send me a message asking if they can swap. They send a short message introducing themselves and asking if we can swap postcards, and then when I respond they send their address and I send mine. I have also used this to request swaps before. However, there are also places on this forum to do direct swaps that I have heard are a little easier to navigate. The problem with the messaging tool on the main postcrossing website is that there is no place to go where you can see previous messages, so unless you save them in your personal email, they will disappear. Because of this it can be easy to lose track of direct swaps (for me at least).

There is a section in the forum for direct swaps, you need to use the forum for a bit before having access to that tho

I write down the sender’s nickname, address, date of my sending, which postcard I sent and which postcrosser should have sent me, as well as the date when the postcard reached him and me.
After that, it is very easy to understand who the sender is and write a few words of thanks:)

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Thank u for your help!!