Does the algorithm choose addresses for each postcrossers fairly?

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!!


Of course, three of those five cards likely go to Germany, Russia and USA, just as it is for every other member.

Maybe it‘s another factor why some feel like they don‘t get any exciting new countries when they have been a member for awhile. In the beginning, every country is exciting and new, even the (for us seasoned members) most common ones. After a while, you will have cards sent to the most common countries and you will more and more get countries you already have sent to.

That doesn’t mean the algorithm isn’t random, just that there isn‘t an unlimited amount of new and exciting countries to send to.


I’ve just come back from holiday in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) so I used Travel Mode while I was there. I’d say the UAE would count as a “rare” country. I sent to 14 people and at least half were to people who were definitely not newbies.


What strikes me most is that I often have to send cards to Russia or Germany and that I myself receive a lot of cards from America and Germany, I had hoped that there was some variation in this, of the cards that I have currently sent out, 5 are to Russia and 3 to Germany

Yes, I think this is exactly it. Countries gradually strike us as less “exotic” as we become accustomed to seeing cards from them more often. For example, now I see cards from the Netherlands with some regularity, but in the beginning I believed it was one of the rarer countries! And so it was – for me, at that time. Maybe it is inevitable that we become a little jaded.

I do think perhaps this is a good reason to put a little effort into cards – from my side, at any rate. My country, Canada, is not as frequently drawn as the U.S.A., but nonetheless I sometimes wonder if people are not enthusiastic to receive a card from my country because they may regard it as “America with a different flag” :wink: So I do try to find a subject that the recipient will like, and also write a personal message and not just “Happy Postcrossing”. For me, irrespective of the card’s origin, the most important thing is always the message: the sense of connecting with a friendly individual who is sharing something of who they are. But it makes me sad to think that there are some people whom I can never please because I am not writing from a rare country.


I am a new member since October 2021. So far I think the algorithm is fair.

I have 15 total sent and traveling right now: 5 to Germany, 3 to US, 2 to Russia, and 1 each to UK, Ukraine, Belarus, Taiwan, and Netherlands.

I think that is a good variety of countries but I do not know if it is because I am a newbie.


I’m in the US. One of my first cards was sent from Canada and I was excited to receive it!


When I use the travel mode in rare countries I do not notice an over representation of newbees…

At home, when I sent 20+ cards in one day ( I request multiple right after another), I also notice that I receive multiple cards from Germany all sent on that day and with ID-numbers close to each other. So it seems that the system does not always wait for your cards to arrive before releasing your address.
Perhaps that is to make sure the difference between sent and received cards will not get to big?

A quick succession of drawing addresses could also force the algorithm to be less picky in dubbling countries. (When I draw 20+ addresses I have multiple to USA, Germany, Russia and China. Fine with me, I’m sending to people, not countries.)


Can anyone explain why this is “handled” that way? Or is this just a (bad) coincidence?

1 Like

I once had to send two cards to the same address on the same day - to a husband and wife. I assume that because they receive cards at the same time, they register them at the same time, and so are always close to each other in the queue of people eligible to receive a card.


This is really nicely said, thank you.


As was stated earlier by a previous post. I am sending a post card to an individual first! It doesn’t mater which country I’m sending to or receiving from! My rarest country I received is UNited Emirates out of almost 300 cards received!There are other ways to collect rare countries! Do you know any one going on vacation, ask them to send you a card. Direct swaps on the internet is the other way I’ve done. I have received Belieze, Cayman Islands, Vietnam, Antartica, South Georgia (all arrived just before COVID)and South Africa (200 days because of COVID) as examples in the last 3 years! Not one I have drawn yet! Today I’m waiting for my Qatar post card which was posted to me! Not all the trades will work out but it’s fun to try! I just drawn Brazil to send to today!


Is it even true?
Can be with some newbies, but not all.
These are sent - received number from my travelling ones and a couple randomly taken from front page, who I could think maybe are thought as newbies:

The algorithm certainly didn’t favour me as a newby - even though intuitively I thought it could be true…

But I had a look at my statistics, and it turned out completetly untrue! Starting postcrossing in December 2012, I did NOT get any address to a rare country before 2015 - even though it probably felt like I did…

What I mean is that you don’t really know which countries are “rare” until you are a few hundred cards into the game. Like for instance, I didn’t get to send a second card to South Korea until 2015, and neither did I receive any card from there until that year - so it seemed a “rare country” to me. And most postcrossers would probably consider Guernsey “rare” - but by now I have sent three cards to that little island!

Looking at the “really rare countries” - i.e. those I have sent ONE card to but NEVER received any from, my statistics look like this:
2013: -
2014: -
2015: Costa Rica
2016: Central African Republic, Mexico
2017: Aland Islands, Oman
2018: Malta, Tunisia
2019: North Macedonia
2020: - (Polish Post delivered only to very few countries that year)
2021: - (Polish Post still doesn’t deliver to many countries)

Interestingly I have considerably more “really rare countries” among my received cards:
2013: Vietnam, Bahamas
2014: Cuba, Panama
2015: Trinidad & Tobago
2016: Algeria
2017: Argentina, Nepal, Eswatini
2018: Monaco
2019: Iceland
2020: Guadeloupe
2021: Bosnia & Hercegowina, Senegal


I’d be perfectly happy to always send to “common” countries in Europe, because of the cost of our postage (Europe: €1, overseas €1,80 - gasp!).

I’d also rather have the kind of cards I like best, according to my profile, from the same countries again and again, rather than cards I don’t like all that much or that disappoint me from the rarest countries. :slight_smile: