Does the algorithm choose addresses for each postcrossers fairly?


I wanted to open this topic to discuss how the algoritm chooses addresses for each postcrosser. In the Facebook group for Finnish postcrossers I have seen comments that the algoritm gives rare countries more likely to newbies than postcrossers who have more years in their back and old postcrossers can only dream of getting addresses to exotic countries. In other words some postcrossers think the algoritm doesn’t share addresses in a fair manner. Surely this isn’t the case?

What I have understood, the algoritm picks the next available address in the queue based on these factors:

  • have the sender and the recipient exchanged cards before
  • does the sender send to their own country
  • has the sender enabled or disabled the repeated countries option

Sure, it can be more likely that newbies might get rare countries because in the beginning they get more cards than they sent, but the claim that newbies would harvest the exotic countries makes no sense for me. Also I understand that you are more likely to get a card from or send a card to an exotic country if you are from Germany/Russia because the German and Russian members send a big portion of cards, but otherwise I have understood that postcrossing is based on statistics and luck. Or have I understood something wrong? :thinking:


How was it for you? What countries do you get? I can see that you’ve sent lots of postcards.

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I’m also interested in hearing the answer to that question, @Regndroppar .

I received 3 cards from the same person, sent in the same day (sent on 1 Aug 2021), from the same country. What’s the algorithm in them? CN-3202324, CN-3202406, CN-3202346. Is there any sense to receive three cards from the same country in one day - even if the sender isn’t the same?

I have also noticed that there are “the newbie-days” in the address delivery of Postcrossing to me. Sometimes when I took out f.ex. 30 random addresses, I got 15 newbies in them. Saying a newbie I mean a person who has sent 1-20 cards in Postcrossing. It would be more challenges (and I love challenges) to choose a card to person who has already received 100 from Finland (or 1500 from anywhere). I have sent and received over 4600 official postcards.


From my own experience, I noticed that when I started postcrossing I did get a wider variety of countries as I would rarely have two cards travelling to the same country at the same time. However, none of the countries I sent to or received from were ‘rare’.

Since hitting 50 sent postcards, the variety of countries I draw officially has significantly decreased. Now, the majority of my travelling postcards are always going to Russia, the USA or Germany. At one point 9/10 of my travelling cards were going to those three countries.

That said, I did come across a postcrosser from Russia the other day who had received just 11 cards and two were from ‘rare’ countries!


Oh, wow, a postcrosser with three profiles. That’s certainly not encouraged. I receive three cards from one country sent on one day regularly (most recently cards from Germany all sent on Dec 4).

You simply can’t have addresses that don’t exist - and I think the imbalance is only growing (hello Germany). I mostly sent cards to repeated countries anyway. But I wanted a break, requested five addresses and got a rare African country in the mix (the others were GB, TW *2, US)! That was a pleasant surprise!


My experience is similar. With my first 50 postcards, I’ve never had two or more cards traveling to the same country. After 50 mark, I rarely get any other country than the big three, so I think that newbies really do get a bit more variety. Although, I still have relatively low travel limit so it would be interesting to hear what more experienced postcrossers think :slight_smile:


When I draw addresses I noticed I send more cards to profiles with less registered cards(in the low hundreds vs thousands) I sometimes send a card to someone who already has a card from Puerto Rico!:woman_shrugging:t2:


Are you drawing the addresses in a batch? I have recently learned that the “very new” participants (1 or 2 sent) have their address verified manually by one of the @admins before they are going into the pool. That happens in big batches, so chances are that you’ll get a bunch of 1-0 newbies in a row if you draw addresses in batches.


The variety is completely gone I’m afraid. That’s why I mostly swap on the forum these days. There’s enough countries that are not that rare where I never received a postcard from but it’s always the same.


Yesterday Postcrossing sent a mail with my 2021 statistics. Actually I am allowed to mail postcards to 53 members. With this in mind I was pleased to read that in 2021 I sent 838 postcards to 58 countries and got 813 postcards from 54 countries.

If you really have the impression to send cards always to the same countries why not participate in the Bingo 2022 - All Around the World. You’ll become aware that in fact your cards go to many more countries than the usual 3 or 4 suspects. Have fun!


Are they talking about Finnish newbies only, or newbies in general?
How they define a newbie, do they count it in months/years or in sent cards? And a rare country? How did they take into account the mail halts and time periods mail wasn’t/isn’t sent to each country evenhanded?
How long they have observed this and have the old postcrossers also same option chosen (yes/no to their own country and yes/no repeated country)?

To me, sounds like it’s just something that might appear to be so.
Don’t deny it couldn’t be so but with so unclear terms used, it’s easy to see what they want to see :thinking:

Of course it can be, in a rare country is only this/these few, and they already sent or received from the old member. It wouldn’t be rare, if every member got it equally and in equal time periods during their postcrossing time.

(I started 7 years ago, and from my first 5, two were to Germany or Russia if I remember correctly.
And then the 6th address to Russia/Germany again. So I think there was never a time for me that I would have cards travelling to many different countries only. There has always been repetition. Rare countries appear rarely and unexpectedly :slight_smile: )


Well, I am certainly not a newbie and this (or rather: last) year I exchanged postcards with some countries I would certainly consider rare, such as Bangladesh, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, Martinique, Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan. And yet, of course, the vast majority of my cards are also going to the top countries. I’d actually say that the more cards you exchange, the more likely you are to encounter a rare country. But at the same time, the algorithm is random, and I have seen newbies whose first received card was from Peru - wow!

If you have already been lucky enough as a newbie to receive from or sent to many rare countries, that means the odds are getting worse for getting those countries again, simply because the number of “available” members from these countries is diminished, unless new members join. And considering that many newbies are happily joining in the chorus of “always the same countries, this sucks!”, I can’t really imagine they get all the rare countries that everyone else can only dream of. :wink:


That is my statistics for 2021. I do not see that I sent many cards to rare countries, even not if you count all counties as rare countries, except Germany (my country), USA and Russia. In fact I do not send to countries at all, but to humen beings. So I am satisfied with that mix. Repeated countries is usually enabled.

On the other hand Germany can send to nearly all countries, while others cannot do so. We still have a pandemic.


This ! I think has been the “problem” for the last almost two years. And as soon as every country can send again to any other country (just talking about the suspension due to Covid) it will be better and more variety.

I personally don’t care about the countries I send to, so this is because I put “problem” into “”


I don’t understand the problem. Each user is unique, don’t matter, where he/ she lives.


I think, a big part of the problem is, that some people exclude their own country and also unselect repeated countries. These functions should be inhibited.


I am a postcrosser for 8 years and last year I have received cards from three countries I have never received from before.

I do not think the algorithm does favor new members. It is random so maybe you are in luck and maybe you are not.

I send to mostely the same three countries all the time because I opted for repeated countries and sending to my own country.

The way I understand how the algorithm works is as follows:

Not sending to repeated countries:
The algorithm tries to give you as much variety as possible but cannot avoid any doublicates in countries as there are to may people from Germany, Russia or the USA waiting to receive cards.

Sending to repeating countries:
You just get whatever address is next in line


It has been discussed in the past that the algorithm tries to give users different countries to send to when they can only send a limited number of cards at the same time. So a newbie likely has five cards travelling to five different countries.

Once you can send more cards at the same time you‘re more likely to send two or more to the same country. When all my travelling cards have arrived and I draw new addresses the first few usually go to different countries (so same as for someone who can only send five at once). The first repetitions usually appear around the 10th address, sometimes sooner.

So it may seem like suddenly more repetitions occur after users have sent a certain amount of cards. But it‘s most likely due to them being able to send more cards. They don‘t get any less variety than a newbie does.

Btw, I have sent around 1450 cards and can have 38 travelling at the same time. I just got a new country to send to in December.


I think many postcrossers get the same countries (Germany, Russia, USA) because there are a lot of active users in those countries, and there are also a lot of cards from those countries consistently have their IDs registered. When a card is registered, the sender address will be up in the address pool~

Due to restrictions I can only send cards to USA, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia. Most of my cards went to USA and Japan and less to other countries mentioned above, and I think that because a lot of cards from Japan and US are continuously registered (more active members), so Japanese and American addresses will be also more available for me to be drawn



But to a newbie, Germany, Russia and so on are all new countries!

Unless an admin comes in to tell us otherwise (and really someone should just contact admin and report back!), I believe it starts out random and stays random. Anything else is just too difficult — and possibly unsustainable, given how many Postcrossers participate only briefly and then vanish!

It’s our nature to try to detect patterns in randomness. And for sure, with COVID complicating matters, I can post from Canada to fewer countries than I used to. But COVID isn’t part of an algorithm that favours newbies, it’s merely a newer factor limiting which countries I can post to. And as it happens, over the last month or two I received 3 cards from “rare” countries, despite being a grizzled two-year-old :wink:

As I said elsewhere, I’m grateful to Postcrossers from the “common” countries because they form the backbone of Postcrossing and ensure we always have people to exchange cards with. I really hope that folks from these countries don’t feel undervalued when we talk about wanting rare-country cards. In my opinion the German etc. Postcrossers are a great blessing!!