What are your experiences and thoughts as a lottery host (and participant)?

This is an interesting topic. I often enter lotteries but if I win usually ask the host to send the card to someone I am running an NonRAS lottery for. I am selective about which lotteries I enter. As a participant I usually try and add a message with a bit of depth rather than “Thank you for the lottery. I like X”. I notice there are a lot of people that enter every lottery and don’t put a lot of thought into their messages. I think it is an effort for the host to run one and it is a shame when people treat it as a freebie rather than a opportunity to connect. Like you, I do not begrudge it if I do not win…it is simply the luck of the draw. I always check postal monitor before I enter.

I have only hosted two lotteries, one chain and one regular lottery. In both I did hope some of the more thoughtful participants with interesting answers won. I have an unusual lifestyle in that I housesit most of the time so I am on the move a lot. When participants request the card send in an envelope it is inconvenient as I don’t try to just keep essential items with me and I don’t have a supply of envelopes that fit postcards easily (a regular business envelope is usually too small). I think if I was offering future lotteries I would just add a rule that the postcard would be written and stamped. The first lottery I ran was a regular one and it generated a lot of interest and great conversation. I was pleased with how it went. The second lottery was a chain one and I didn’t get a great deal of interest, which was disappointing. It is a lot of work to keep up with the comments and to remember to close it, send cards etc. This is why I value people who write thoughtful messages. One of the terms of the chain lottery was that the winners hold a lottery themselves. So far two of my winners have not done this (to the best of my knowledge). In the future when holding a lottery I think I would state that I will post the winners cards when their lottery is up and running and I would note this in the initial post to launch the lottery to prevent this situation. It is a bit uncomfortable to have to send a reminder. I was more inclined to go the extra mile for winners who entered with a quality message i.e. one was a stamp collector so I used lots of vintage mint stamps with themes that fitted their profile wishlist.
I have appreciated it when winners have messaged to say they got the card and when they really value the card.
I don’t have a preference for being a participant or host but I find it fun when a lottery creates interesting conversation or when I learn something new.

A shout out to @DaisyDekker who often runs lotteries and she manages to get some great conversation going.


I’m new here but I’ve entered a lot of lotteries and won a couple. They are fun! I only enter the ones I’d like to win and not just any. I don’t care about entering first, or how they choose winners, or whatever. It’s not that serious to me to worry about it.

I’ve hosted a couple. One chain and two non-chains. I used postbot for the random winner but also picked a couple of people that I just wanted to win. Why not? As long as I do the random winner, I don’t see why I can’t send my cards to whoever I want.

My child is the one sending and receiving cards and it has helped with the wait on official cards. And the low slots for sending. She loves both sending and receiving.


I have hosted two lotteries so far, finding the participants genuinely interested rather than just collecting more cards. The winners were not any names I recognized, but each seemed very pleased to win, with appropriate thank you notes when the cards arrived.

“A shout out to @DaisyDekker who often runs lotteries and she manages to get some great conversation going.”

She is among the most interesting people I’ve encountered here … and there have been many!


Do people usually like it if there are other comments/chats going on in their lotteries? From what I’m seeing in a lot of chain lotteries (I say, despite only being here for a few days haha), it’s just a lot of a numbers going down in a row. For mine, I’ve asked people to tell me some things about a national park they’ve gone to before/want to and I’ve gotten so many great responses to them, but I’m not sure what else to do besides liking it?

Although I do think that some of my hesitance comes from still getting used to the forum format. At least currently it’s all still just one post per person…


It’s totally fine to chat in your own lottery thread (if you are the host) and if you want to talk more about it, just send a PM.

There is no clear rules when engaging in discussion in a lottery. But it would be wise not to do it in lottery that is host by other than yourself. It may cause the entry number mixed and not in sequence.
The host may not like it when this situation happen.

If I want to add a lines or two, I will add a note to remind the next entry number as such on the top and bottom of my post.


+++ Next number is #78 +++

Write something here.

+++ Next number is #78 +++

This method will tell other the correct numbering and less mistake is made. At the same time, I get to join the discussion without making trouble to the host.

Sometimes host don’t mind at all and let the discussion flow. I think host will tell you if they don’t want their lottery clutter with discussion.


The randomness of postbot random number generator was discussed: [NOT A BUG] Postbot chooses the same numbers and even a test from statistical/math point of view was taken: https://community.postcrossing.com/t/postbot-randomness-test-results/155305, so at least there you can be relieved that it is truly random =)

And postbot chose #1 in one of my lotteries once (https://community.postcrossing.com/t/closed-chain-lottery-499-why-you-should-wear-white-if-you-have-a-white-cat/276516/17)


I keep seeing references to lotteries within the forum but I’m clueless as to HOW they work. Of course, I know all about the National Lottery in the UK with money prizes but can someone provide a link or quick synopsis of how it works for postcards? Prizes? I’m intrigued and would love to take part!! :smiley:


1 Like

Hi Gail,

Lotteries happen when the host has postcards that they want to share.

Usually what happens is the host posts the item they wish to give away (postcard, stamps, stickers etc), then people participate by numbering and tagging themselves.

Eg. #1 @Seracker

Each lottery will have rules set by each individual host, just follow them and you should be well on your way to participating.

Have fun!

There are normal lotteries and chain lotteries.
Normal lotteries means you don’t have to host a new lottery if you win.
Chain lotteries means you have to host a new one if you win - hence carrying on the chain



I think chain lotteries aren’t that popular as normal ones anymore, or at least earlier when I was participating and following the numbers more active it seemed so. I guess people are a bit bored to them after thousand(s) of chains.
I don’t take part of them anymore very often, only if the card is something I really would like to have. The latest chain I won, I ended the chain and got more people to take part.

When I take part, I also like to write something else than just my number and thank you. I really like the ones in which the host asks something.
I don’t mind being the first, I have won a lottery with number 1.

When I host a lottery I always ask a simple question, usually something related to the card and love to read the answers. I remember being a bit disappointed when one of my lotteries was won by a member who didn’t answer it, but luckily it was a popular one and I decided to have 3 winners instead of 1. Then used Postbot again and got 2 more winners who had wrote lovely messages.


An interesting topic. When I host a lottery, I put in what the lottery is. Example Iron Maiden cards and how many winners. So when people are looking at the lotteries they know at a glance what is being offered. I love hosting lotteries (you may have noticed!) :joy: I also put in the title if the lottery is open or closed.

My friend Moonbeanz picks winners for my lotteries now, before that I used postbot. If you want to host one, do so have fun with it. If you want to take part, take part.

It’s just another fun part of this lovely community :grinning:


I only participate in “normal” lotteries and only if I really like the cards or prize.
I always try to write more than just name, number and thank you.
But sometimes I just don’t know what to write.

I really don’t like chain lotteries and lotteries where you have to do a lot, where the 1st post is very long.

What is a lottery? (This is my personal opinion)
That is that you buy a lottery ticket and then have a chance to win a prize. You pay a small fee (Like name your favorite animal, favorite emoticon, something else small) with your name & number. That is a lottery in my opinion. Whoever organizes it gives something away. If you win, you get something.

If you first have to do a lot just to be able to participate or after you have won the prize you have to organize a lottery yourself, I don’t understand why that is a lottery. In both cases you pay for your price. A lot of people pay and only one (or a few) get a price. So many people pay “a lot” and win nothing. You just ‘pay’. You pay by having to do a lot to participate and maybe win a prize or you pay with a new lottery. The person who organizes it then does not give anything away and you do not get anything. Whoever organizes it wants something in return and you pay. It might be more of a trade / swap then.

  • I prefer simple normal lotteries
  • I prefer complicated lotteries
  • I prefer chain lotteries

0 voters

To be honest, when I first read about chain lottery, I thought of a different meaning. Not that if you win, you have to organize a lottery. I thought it had to do with the topic. So if it was a chain lottery about fruits and vegetables, then the next lottery should be in that subject as well. So that a chain lottery about e.g. Harry potter would really be for HP fans and they could win/give away all sorts of HP stuff.

About the participants. I see that some participants really try their best to do it right. They read the first post well, they respond nicely, write a really nice and serious response. And others write their name and number and sometimes not even thank you.

I think some people also participate in a lot of lotteries, just to win as much as possible. But do you only participate in the lottery if you really like the card / prize? Or do you also participate in lotteries whose prize you don’t like? (With “prize” I mean the postcards or things you can win)

  • I only enter a lottery if I really like the prize.
  • I also enter a lottery if I don’t like the prize.

0 voters

If you only participate in lotteries where you really like the prize, other people who may not win often or never have a better chance. Give other people a chance to win too.

I think there are often very nice prices. Not only postcards, but also bookmarks, stationery, stickers, etc. I really like that. Sometimes you can choose or you can get a mix. It’s fun for everyone. But it is also nice that people who have less money to spend or who live in countries where materials may be very expensive, can still collect all kinds of materials in this way.

What do you like to win?

  • Written postcard
  • Blank postcards
  • Stickers
  • Stationary
  • Bookmarks
  • Teabags
  • Special cards (wooden cards, double cards, 3D cards, homemade cards etc)
  • Washi tape
  • Something else, something not mentioned above.

0 voters

I also once organized a lottery and received many nice reactions to it. I see a lot of people reacting seriously and I find it a bit awkward that I don’t really respond to that. Someone makes an effort and you don’t really respond to it. It would be too much to reply to every message. While there are really nice messages that you would like to respond to. But with 80+ posts in the lottery, it’s just too much. It felt a bit like it was easy for me to just send a few cards, when I actually got so many nice comments and didn’t actually respond to them. It felt a bit unfair, I did little and got a lot in return.

I think it’s good to always look for a bit of balance.
Not too much, too often, too extensive, too little, too short, too large, too many reactions, too many questions, too many details, too easy, too complicated, etc. It is not easy, but it is educational and interesting to think about it. But that’s my personal opinion.

I think it would be nice to try and be a little more creative, come up with a little different kind of lottery than what we’re doing now. But I think it’s important to keep it simple. So that it really is a lottery, where the person who organizes it gives something and you have a chance to participate for a small fee.

I don’t win very often, but I have won a few times.
Sometimes written cards, once blank cards and a bookmark.

I want to thank everyone who organizes a lottery. Because it’s a fun part of the Postcrossing Forum. The intention is to give away a prize. And it also takes time to organize it, keep track of the responses, and send the envelopes. Some often organize a lottery, or with many prizes. That also costs money, time and effort.


I like to host lotteries more than I like to participate.

As a participant:
I usually only participate in lotteries I’m interested in.
I’m fine with either normal or chain lotteries.
I prefer random number generator these days since sometimes postbot doesn’t work.
And I check the postal monitor before entering.

As a host:
I try to switch things up a little, like recently where I did a multiple stamp lottery, a choose your stamp or card lottery, and the latest was a random poem lottery.

I also would like diversity in my lotteries - so entries from people I don’t see too often, or even at all playing in mine. (Though I realise this is something I can’t control, merely wish!)

I have fun hosting, and I hope my participants had fun playing too (it’s a pity about how some lotteries don’t generate too much interest)
I have no preference between normal or chain lotteries.
Postcards are usually sent written and stamped. On occasion I will send them in envelopes (and state accordingly on the 1st post)
I prefer random.org to pick winners (reason stated above).
Raffling items: usually postcards. Stamp brochure once. Maybe I’ll do stamps in the future.

Chain lotteries - sometimes I will start a chain when I win a normal lottery.
By hosting a chain lottery, my goal is to hopefully let more people have a chance of winning something - so it’s not just me who won something, but another person could win too.

When I host, I tend to ask for more than just a number and tagging oneself.
A resolution, a joke, a story - these are just some of the things I’ve asked for.
Of course, not everyone replies to these prompts, but that’s just it - they are just prompts.
Like the cherry on top - nice to have, but not strictly necessary.
[I appreciate everyone who’s taken the effort to write more than just the number and one’s name!]

I like to spread joy. And at least I believe I’m doing so when hosting lotteries.
I will continue to do so as long as it’s within my means and I feel up to it.
Side note: I’ll really appreciate it if as a winner of my lottery, you let me know when the item is received!


OooOooooo!!! That sounds like fun! I’ll have to look out for those. Many thanks for your help :heart:


that’s exactly the point of chain lotteries. it’s a kind of ‘pay it forward’. like when you’re at the starbucks and the person before you pays for your coffee, and it’s kind of expected you do the same for the person behind you.
the chain lottery once started with one kind person who thought it was a fun idea, which i totally agree with. yes normal lotteries (where you win money) are all about only winning but i like that on postcrossing we share a bit of kindness.
but then there were lotteries with 2 or 3 winners and now the lottery is about 80% chain lotteries and 20% ‘normal’ lotteries, which i can totally understand can be very overwhelming.
maybe we should find a way to bring it back to only one or two again.

what bothers me most is that there are a lot of always the same 20 people in every single lottery, that i don’t see posting anywhere else on the forum. i’m sorry, but to me that feels like just grabbing whatever you can.
it’s even more obvious when people host a very specific lottery, like about some author or film and they are like ‘no need to number yourself, just share your favourite book by this author’ and there are still people saying ‘#3 @mchay thank you!!!’ i mean. maybe leave some for people who truly want these cards.


This is a very interesting discussion.

When I host a lottery. At the back of my mind, I want a lot of people to participate because it means that I picked a nice card. I do want people with more interesting comments to win, but the post bot has its way.

In past, I used to offer normal lotteries with multiple winners. But, I was disappointed that a lot of winners didn’t even bother to inform me after receiving the cards. I seriously dislike this attitude of lack of gratitude :frowning: So, I have reduced the frequency of such lotteries.

I also host some very specific lotteries around themes like football, chess, etc. I naturally want people more interested in such topics to enter so that we can have a nice chat. It becomes obvious that some people just blindly enter such lotteries based on what/how they comment. I wish people left these lotteries for people more interested in such topics.

As a participant, I used to participate in almost all the lotteries in the past as I was excited to receive a lot of mail. Now, I am more selective and participate only, if I connect with the topic of the card.

I am also quite annoyed that the majority of hosts, still ask people to name themselves when it serves no purpose :frowning: (Why participants are asked to tag/name themselves in any lottery? - #32 by littlesthobo)


That in itself is a very good idea. In f.eks The Friends Club we also use “paying forward”.

But the thing with a chain lottery for me is in the obligation. “You must” and “within 5 days” (or so). While there are quite a few who have won a normal lottery and voluntarily organize a lottery when it suits them. I think that’s good and fun. The effect is the same. But the difference is whether you do it because you have to or because you want to.

I don’t know how to explain it, but when someone does something because they have to, they have a different “energy/motivation” than someone who does something because they want to.
Being nice and giving someone something unconditionally has to come from within, intrinsically. Not because someone else tells you to, and you have to do it in such and such a way.

If I enter a lottery, I don’t want to be “chained” until I organize a lottery myself.
And whoever wins then also goes “chained” until he/she “pays it forward” to someone else.
It would be different if it is written in the topic that it is nice if you organize a lottery yourself once you have won one or more times (without the obligation). But I don’t think it’s very positive to force someone to do it. We are adults and it’s a hobby. Someone who wants to organize a lottery him/herself can do so. But why would you force someone?

That there is an obligation in it, that you have to do something, and within so many days, that’s why I personally think it’s something negative. But others are of course allowed to like it and do it. I understand that there is no negative intention behind it.


I may be wrong, but I think one of the reasons for the 5 days limit is so that one won’t forget to carry on the chain.

Because when life gets busy and all, Postcrossing may get left to one side.
I know this can happen to me, so I tend to do up my chain lotteries as fast as I am able to.


no i understand what you mean. i actually read an article a while ago about a woman who stopped the chain at a mcdonalds or something. she said it’s kind of someone to pay for her but if there’s no end then no one is really gaining from the kindness (especially if you pay for a whole family when you just want a coffee yourself). there were a whole bunch of discussions but she definitely had a point.
here when you decide a chain lottery you know the consequence though. everyone has a choice to join or not.
but again i think it would work better if there weren’t 8372 chain lotteries all at once.

haha well some people just like tradition i guess. i don’t think it’s fair that if people accidentally put the same number twice because they’re posting at the same time they are out of the game, because topics number themselves. but host makes the rules :woman_shrugging:


Yes, exactly! Thank you!


I like joining lottery but chain lottery make me think twice because sometimes I don’t have time to host a new chain lottery during the five days period. I avoid chain lottery and join the normal lottery which interested me.

I like people to number their entry post and one main reason is knowing that they have read the “Terms and Conditions” of the lottery first before joining.

As a host, I like that people are not joining blindly just for the prize.