Translating/Transcribing postcard messages

No, sorry, we don’t need to add a consent feature to our profiles.

I think you’re making this way too complicated because there is an exception to the “don’t publish the back” rule with people getting help with translation of the back of the card & you don’t like that exception.

Postcrossing does its best to protect people’s privacy & have sensible rules to live by in sending & receiving postcards. And in the best examples of rules, this one has some flexibility for a few exceptions like getting help with translating a sent message.

I think those exceptions are fine as we do actually want people to understand the messages sent to them & between language issues & really hard to read handwriting, so that help is available.

We’re talking about a very few cards compared to the millions of cards sent & received in a year. I think Postcrossers & Postcrossing can handle a few exceptions to that general rule without needing to change the default practice.


I understand where you’re coming from, but I also worry such an option might give a false sense of security, like people would think that checking “does not consent” somehow guarantees it won’t happen.

Sometimes I even worry the passage in the guidelines is itself giving a false sense of security, because it’s completely unenforceable off Postcrossing. I wish it just said not to display the message side on your Postcrossing wall, but perhaps warned people that it might be displayed elsewhere on the internet.

No matter how clearly you request of a random stranger that they keep something private, they may or may not do so, so it’s best not to write anything too private to begin with.


Yes, you’re right. I don’t like it because the translation thread is an exception to the rule, is an official thread run by Postcrossing but is not mentioned on the Postcrossing website. So I feel it is the translation thread that makes it complicated…

Unfortunately, some have already pointed out questionable posts in the translation thread. which shows how difficult it is to moderate such contents. The effort is laudable, but if it doesn’t live up to its promise, it will backfire and hurt Postcrossing. The last argument I want to hear is “because the backside (sometimes info not properly removed) is posted in that official thread, I can also do the same”.

This makes sense to me. It will reconcile the unease of the translation thread. In addition, it will also give users the right impression of what Postcrossing is about.


No! That would be understood as a license to publish the text side elsewhere! The rules should stay as strict as they are. Maybe the moderators should be more strict with the translation thread and delete all Enlish backsides, for “I cannot read this writing” is exactly not “I need a translation”. If one cannot read the writing, then they can ask the sender for there is no language problem!


The problem I see here is how to send the sender the scanned image of the back. If they are a member of the forum, no problem, but if not? I don’t think you can add attachments in the private messages on the official site and I wouldn’t want to exchange e-mail addresses with someone just because they can’t read my message. And I certainly don’t remember what I wrote on every postcard, so I wouldn’t be able to say what was written on it “off the top of my head”.

For me, if in the translation thread someone posts a message in English that they cannot read, it’s equally valid as asking for a “real” translation. They got a message they do not understand and want to know what it says.

I also don’t see a need to change anything in the rules. Translation thread can stay as an exception. It’s better for people to come there, where the images are deleted regularly, then for them to post the scans on Facebook or whichever social media site they prefer, and that would be the result if we forbid the translation thread.

When I write a card to someone, I always assume the back of it can be posted online somewhere. It’s just the times we live in. I have no way to stop it, so best to just accept it and adapt to it.


The main problem I see is that the recipients cannot read the variety of latin handwritings and that the senders do not put very much efforts into the readability of their writing.
If I cannot read a text, I register the card with not much more than a thankyou.


No moderation on any site is perfect, but I think in balance Postcrossing does live up to its promise.

And I’m not worried about someone using the translation thread as an excuse to violate the rules.


Problem with this type things is, many members don’t understand what this means.
Some don’t know English and aren’t interested in learning it.

One possible solution with the translation thread would be, if it must be kept, that the images would be sent to the postcrossing team, who makes sure that there are no names and id’s visible, and if they published the messages, no one would know who sent it and who received it. Or that the message should be accepted before being visible.


I think it only makes a small difference, because it happens on Facebook and Instagram all the time anyway​:flushed::grimacing::no_mouth::sob:

I haven’t decided yet if I think this would be useful or not, but not understanding is the first thing that comes to mind. I think that if I was a newbie I’d be pretty confused about what that means, even with my English… Of course after a while I’d realise why it’s that and I could change my preference, but it does add a further layer of complication.

All in all, I don’t think such an option would make the slightest difference. People would still post things online. They might do it months after they’ve received a postcard and not bother to go and check what the sender preferred. And yes while not legally binding, people might expect this to be respected and enforced, which is not the case.

In fact, now that I think about it, imagine the headache for the postcrossing team. Since it would be a feature of the main site, people would go and complain to the postcrossing team :thinking: (like if you’re harassed on private message, you’d probably report that to the admins, but for posting content online they’d have a lot of grief telling off senders for things they do on other sites. And probably other admin troubles that are not coming to mind at the moment).


I agree, if the translation thread must be kept. That’s a lot more work than the report-then-delete mechanism but sounds right. With that said, it brings back my opinion elsewhere that the translation thread may not be worthwhile after all. Forum members have so many alternatives to seek help before posting the image in public.

I don’t think it is a good idea. It would make it seem like it is ok to post the back sides of postcards freely because Postcrossing allows that option. If I follow your example of direct swaps - there is the option of direct swaps, some people opt in, some don’t. And many people completely disregard that someone is not interested in direct swaps and still send that person a direct swap request. I believe that if the rules of postcrossing were that users may not contact other users to arrange direct swaps, there would be far less people breaching the rule.

  1. It doesn’t matter how many polls you have, the resounding answer seems to be “No, a change does not need to happen.” At some point, it needs to be accepted that most people are just not all that bothered by the translation thread.

  2. There is absolutely nothing illegal about posting the backside of a postcard, especially when identifiers have been removed. The guidelines are just that…guidelines. They aren’t laws and certainly aren’t enforceable outside of PC itself. So, while some might not like their words being shared, all the discussion in the world isn’t going to change the fact that it might be.

  3. Every time you send a postcard, it is beyond your control what happens to it. So it really doesn’t matter if you consent or not.


Thanks for the input above. To clarify,

Summarized possible fixes in the first post :arrow_up:

  1. Most people are not bothered by the fact that the translation thread chooses not to follow the guidelines. There is really no necessity to reconcile the two.

The suggestion of the consent/preference feature was intended as a potential add-on. Returning to the origin of the discussion, why can’t it be properly explained on the website too? Why do Postcrossing promote a thread that they don’t think some Postcrossers will ever understand…

I’m sorry but I don’t see how we can possibly know that, since most users of the main site don’t use the forum at all. Perhaps most forum users aren’t bothered (we’re already choosing to interact here on the forum, writing lots of stuff for all to read) but it doesn’t seem very fair that users of the main site (only) are being told the written side is private, then having it posted here on the forum.

And especially not fair when they did everything right by writing the message in English and quite legibly, and the issue is just that the recipient can’t read even the neatest of cursive handwriting.

1 Like


I just cannot reconcile the translation thread with how the Postcrossing main site is presented. This portion of activity belongs to the main site, but for whatever technical reasons, is put here in the forum, albeit without letting all users know.

When I suggested explaining the idea of the translation thread on the main site, some expressed that it would only make things confusing or complicated because some Postcrossers are not good at English. Now I begin to think a better channel to divert the effort required for the translation thread (all the moderation, etc.) is for Postcrossing @admins to enlist help from forum members and coordinate the translation of the community guidelines into multiple languages. This will of course include explaining the “Use English” rule too. The community-translated version is likely to be better than a machine-translated one. Once done, it will benefit all users once and for all.

I was referring to forum members and the polls that this thread are about. Obviously, we cannot know how every single user feels about this. But we can assume that a serious amount of complaints have not been received.

1 Like

Again, if people don’t know their message is published, how would they know to complain?
Even if they would know, many think postcrossing team should not be bothered.

At the moment the other poll shows 76% doesn’t think it’s acceptable to show the message without their permission.

"In general, is it acceptable for the recipient to post your writings without your consent?

  • 76%No

  • 24%Yes"

What I read from these polls is, that majerity doesn’t like their message been published but they don’t think the extra feature in profile would be the solution.