Does the algorithm choose addresses for each postcrossers fairly?

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?

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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


The reason is, travel mode exists.

For example: San Marino has never had a member in postcrossing, therefor, never a postcard was written to San Marino. But on the otherside nearby 500 postcards are sent from San Marino (all of them are sent in travel mode). And this is the reason you get more postcards from, then ever send postcards to rare countries.


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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