Does the algorithm choose addresses for each postcrossers fairly?

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:


It is also nice to remember that USA is not just a country, but 50 states + D.C. I compile my own private statistics about US states, so there are much more “rare countries” for me such as Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming… :slightly_smiling_face:

Yet I think I don´t send postcards to a country, but to human beings (and sometimes to dogs and cats :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: ) And I have received so many wonderful and unique postcards sent by people who live in “the common countries”. Stats are nice, but I prefer people to countries.

However there is one reason why newbie should not get an address to a rare country: mail can travel very slow to a rare country. The worst thing what could happen to a newbie is that all first five cards are expired. :worried:


I join the topic because I am a beginner. My statistics: 22 cards have been sent and 16 of them to Germany. Travels now 6 (4 to Germany). The Czech Republic and France are the rarest on my list. I don’t feel disappointed at all! The profiles of the Germans are completely different from each other, I really like to write to them. I didn’t even notice that there were so many of them on my list until I read this topic. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: I agree that there should be even more of them.


I think it would be an endless talk if only we normal users “guess” based on very few datas.

Maybe it is a proper time to request our admins to explain the algorithm, because they are the people who know this algorithm the best.


Welcome to Postcrossing! It seems like you enjoy it as much as I do.


I think we are talking about sending here, not receiving? And it’s not that newbies get more cards than they send, it happens to anyone at any stage, except people in the big countries:

Not a newbie here and I would say UAE is pretty rare!

I think the algorithm is random and really it is the amount of postcrossers in the big countries that makes all the difference, as well as the “sending to own country” and “repeated countries” options.
On the receiving front, it seems to me that the second/third received for a lot of people is a rare countries (I got Greece for my third ever received and never again). But it must be random. I have bumped on a couple of newbies (10-15 cards) with an incredible variety in their received, but I put it down to just luck and a little bit of the effect of postal routes not being opened for pandemic reasons.

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I sure got more variety in countries when I started. And I don’t know if I would call these “exotic” but in my first 6 months I sent cards to South-Korea, Romania, Brazil, Norway, Sweden and Estonia. So much more rare than the big three. I started in May 2020.

I’ve gotten more rare countries now but less variety when I pick addresses. But of course, in the beginning you could send less, so it woud be a bummer if you could send 7 cards, have 3 slots available and two went to the same country. When now, it still sucks getting many same, I understand it. There isn’t an endless amount of rare addresses to give out.

I think it’s fair, it makes the hobby more exciting and you want to continue, at least I did.

But I don’t know if it has been the same for people who started in 2021, or so I’ve heard from some people. But for me, I did get cool rare countries in the beginning. Still do, just occasionally.
Plus someone might still call me a newbie, it depends how you define it.

But after those rare countries in the first 6 months, after being more regular with this hobby, I’ve sent cards to Åland Islands, Uruguay, Thailand, Macau, Kazakhstan and Greece. That’s how I define rare and “exotic” for me, postcrosser who can send 14 cards at the time and have sent 250 in 1 and half years, who started in 2020.

edit: When I got South-Korea and Romania in the beginning, I’ve never gotten another address there after. So maybe there is a reasoning to give some rare countries to newbies?


I never really noticed when I first started,
Each year for me Germany, Russia, the USA have been at the top with the Netherlands and Finland not far behind.

My my first year in 2019, my rarest country was sending to Sweden whilst in Malaysia, Travel Mode.
In 2020, I sent to South Africa, New Zealand and Estonia, none of these countries have come around again.

But like many I’m here for the connections, I’ve deliberately switch on ‘Repeated Countries’ in January, because during December, German postcrossers go wild with the postcards and stamps for charity, so many are due postcards and almost draw Germany exclusively.
UK - Germany Post is usually quite quick thus cunningly pumping up my numbers and postcard allowances.

I have nearly 100 postcards sent to Germany, 64 where sent in 2021.


I joined in 2016 and I never sent to South Korea (or received from there), or Sweden. Only once to Romania, and twice to Brazil and Estonia. None of these in my early days but i used repeated countries a lot in the beginning because I felt it is helpful and because I wanted a lot of Russia.

The only one of this I ever got assigned was Macau and the card expired :rofl:

So I guess my fondness for repeated countries in the beginning meant that I really didn’t experience any newbie luck. My first 5 all went to Russia :joy: and I was aware it was likely to happen when I chose repeated countries after learning how Postcrossing works.


Well, in general I think I get a nice variety of countries even if it sometimes feels I get a lot of Germany and Russia. :smiley: Then suddenly the system might suprise me, and I draw Gambia or Chile. Almost every year I have sent to and received from some rare country even if the country isn’t necessary new for me. During my first year in postcrossing I sent cards to Sweden and Australia and got a card from Nepal among others, so I don’t necessarily buy the comment that only newbies get exotic countries. And like said, as a newbie every country feels exotic.

But regardless, I have noticed that during the pandemic I might draw a several addresses to newbies if I request many addresses at once. So postcrossing has attracted many new members. :hugs:

They were talking about newbies in general I suppose, but didn’t specify what they mean by a newbie. I guess some of them might be not aware of how covid is affecting postcrossing.


I believe the system operates fairly as it was designed to do.

I have found a method that works for me to obtain more of a variety of destinations. I tested it yesterday again to make sure.

I send for a string of postcards in quick succession. Yesterday I opened five Postcrossing windows and set them to be ready to ask for a postcard. Then I went from window to window pushing “Request Address.”

I received addresses from five countries (none from Germany or Russia).

When I request addresses one at a time as is my custom, I often get Germany or Russia.

I have used this method over the years with the same result.
If I request more addresses I’m more likely to get a more uncommon country.


But looking at your statistics you’ve sent to other rare countries (that I haven’t) so I guess it really depends just on luck! I saw Croatia, Malta, Malaysia, Morocco, Hong Kong, India and Indonesia in your sent countries. But I don’t know if the location could effect this too? Since there are now restrictions in many countries and some can ony send to a few countries, I guess.


By the way I really like your profile picture :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


This! I recognized this when answering a thread for direct swaps. I was rejected because I don’t live in a “rare” country. It’s quite a bit shallow.


True, but I’ve been Postcrossing for more years than you. Anyone who stays with it eventually gets more of a variety people to send to/receive from. :grinning:

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@DianeM I’ve actually had the opposite experience!

When I take many addresses (5-8) the same time I often get many to Germany, Russia AND USA. But when I take one → write it → take another address, I’ve gotten more variety! I mean it might be just luck too but that’s how I’ve experienced it.


This! The “trouble” with randomness is that it is random. So it comes down to luck. A funny side note - I believe Spotify had to change their random playlist because users felt it wasn’t random (or maybe better word would be “fair”) because it repeated some songs more than others. So they had to change the algorithm to be less random so that people would feel it was more random :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I feel we have a very similar “issue” here.


Yes, this is what generally happens to me too.

I think this thread is showing, through many people’s different experiences, that the algorithm is random - it’s working!


Ah that is certainly true - I would have countries that you don’t have :slight_smile: I don’t think I got any of those countries during the pandemic (just from memory) and from Singapore most major countries were not restricted. I received A LOT from Malaysia and Indonesia though, because they could not send to many other countries than Singapore. I loved that, because to me they are still exotic.

Oh thanks! It’s an accidental picture I took :rofl: You know when you move your phone and click accidentally. But it looked too good to delete :smiley:

That might be the heart of the matter here!

Interesting - I am on the side of “you get more rare countries if you pick a lot at once” - though I rarely do it so I only experienced it a few times which might be not very signficant to detect a pattern. But since I usually pick one by one, I expect one of the big three most of the time.


The algorithm is questionable. I am from Mauritius and I have sent most postcards to either Germany and Russia.

It is through postcard swapping that I travelled through the world. :blush::blush::blush:


Ha! I live just 90 mins from the border but it was closed for soooooo long that I now think of Canada as a very far away & exotic destination! I love getting Canadian cards