Why do you Postcross?

I’m really curious about what brought people to postcrossing, and what you enjoy most about it, and how that interacts with what other people like about it.

For some extra context about what I mean, there’s a framework used to describe Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) communities called Bartle’s Taxonomy, which was used to understand how games catered to different desires, and also to understand conflicts between different types of players:

  • Socialisers - play for interactions with other people, less interested in the game itself
  • Explorers - play to find new things, delight in the unusual, get bored once they think they’ve found everything
  • Achievers - play to achieve goals (e.g. master a character ability, find all the hidden collectibles, etc.), can be highly competitive
  • Killers - will do anything to win (e.g. find bugs, exploits, or in really extreme cases prey on new players)

Now, I’m not suggesting this specific taxonomy applies to postcrossers. It’s not exactly a game in the same way MMOs are. But it doesn’t take long to realise that there are different kinds of postcrossers, with different priorities. For example:

  • Do you prefer sending or receiving? Why?
    ** e.g. if you prefer sending, are you more interested in whether the receiver likes the card you sent, or the process of selecting and/or writing on the card?
  • What’s more important to you, the postcard, the message, the stats (countries/travel time), something else?
  • Are you a collector? Stamps? Postcards? Facts? Specific theme/s or generic see-what-you-get?
  • Do you use the forum (obviously everyone who sees this post is going to say yes to this one, but lots of people don’t, and even if you do there are variations on how you use it - e.g. forum games, telling stories, getting advice, giving advice… etc.)

And the second part of my interest in this is the interactions between these priorities. It doesn’t take long looking at the forum to find people happy or not with certain kinds of behaviours! Like:

  • Collectors with specific collections - some people love the challenge of trying to fill the request, while others are frustrated because it’s important to them that the receiver likes the card they sent
  • Empty profiles - is a challenge to people who want to send the “right” card, but liberating to those who are more interested in the stats and want to limit profile-to-postbox delay
  • And I’m sure there are heaps more examples of stuff like this where the size and randomness and constraints of the hobby make for great or not-so-great interactions between postcrossers but this post is getting long and I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

Just to finish though, this is me:

  • I enjoy sending postcards more than receiving them, because I like to write, I like flipping through my stash of cards (which usually have memories attached because only buy postcards from brick and mortar stores, unless I’m really running out), and I like the walk to the post box.
  • I’m into stats. I find the distribution of countries I send/receive to, postage time/distance, all that SUPER interesting. At one point I was maintaining a separate spreadsheet of all my sent/received postcards so that I could easily calculate standard deviations by country and stuff like that. But I’m a bit busier these days…
  • I collect stamps, but no specific topic (again, this is a bit of a stats exercise. I’m more interested in changes to the stamps different countries issue over time—themes, postage rates, etc.—than any particular theme or type).
  • I’m don’t generally use the forum. I stumbled on it by accident a few days ago and reading responses in some of the topics spurred my interest in “postcrosser types”. I’ll probably disappear once my curiosity has been satisfied.

And how does this interact with other postcrossers?

  • Probably the biggest conflict is between my stamp collecting interest and postcrossers who want their cards to be treasured, because the process of salvaging the stamp usually means destroying the card. So I learnt to take that info off my profile after getting a few postcards saying it made them upset
  • Because I like to write, I enjoy profiles that ask me to write about specific things
  • Because I’m more interested in the process/stats side of things, I’m less bothered by things like empty profiles, no hurray messages, long travel times…
  • Because I only keep a small stash of cards, and don’t want to mess up the stats by delaying posting in order to find the ‘perfect’ card, ultra-specific or negative profiles (“I only want…”, “No X…”) can be intimidating. But the other person liking my card isn’t a huge priority for me anyway, so I tend to brush it off pretty easily and just send whatever I have that seems most appropriate.

What about you? What postcrossing “traits” do you have? And how do you think they interact with other postcrossing traits? No judgement! It’s such a diverse and complex community, with so many ways to engage.


I like to write and get non-bill mail. That makes me happy. :slight_smile:


I wanted a reason to paint. And, like deciding what to make for dinner when you get stuck in a rut, I needed recipes and ideas. Receiving cards gives me ideas and inspiration. That’s my wish on my profile page and that is what I get! Senders have not let me down. It not only makes a connection but gets me to pick up my paints. Winner!!


I like the ever so brief connections with someone far away. The idea that there are all of these people doing something simple but thoughtful like choosing and sending cards for people they don’t know is heartening. Sending and receiving brightens my day.

An added bonus is that it’s getting my kids (ages 6 and 8) interested in global geography and things going on around the world. We aren’t financially in a situation where we can travel abroad with them, but a card landing on the doormat gets them interested in the world beyond where they live - they look up the countries on the map and often want to find out more about them.


I like to interact with people))
And love learning about different cultures)


Thank you for your interesting post and question! I’d never heard of Bartle’s Taxonomy, so that’s something you’ve taught me today, thank you. I know you said it’s not directly transferrable but I think as a Postcrosser I’m probably 80% Socialiser and 20% Explorer. But to answer your questions:

  • I prefer sending. I think whether or not the receiver likes my card is a little out of my control, because you can never tell with people (even if they do list their favourites etc), so I really enjoy the process of selecting the best card possible. But I do also have periods of time where I don’t feel like sending, but check my mailbox eagerly. So maybe I swing between both, depending on the mood?
  • The message is most important to me. I think it’s a great chance at making a connection, however brief. The stats, while not my end goal, are enlightening in an academic way as a breakdown of how I use the site. The second most important thing to me is the postcard and the stamps used, equally. As a deltiologist and philatelist (as we almost all are on this site), I enjoy seeing the cards and stamps that people choose for me based on my profile.
  • I am a collector of specific types of cards, but I try not to make that the focus of my experience on Postcrossing. It’s about the connection, not the cards (but also, not judging anyone who thinks it’s about the cards). This is sometimes directly contradictory to my previous point about the message being the most important, but I will prefer to get a “boring” card with an interesting message over getting a “nice” card with a boring message. Unless the card is something I collect, then I won’t mind how plain the message is.
  • I use the forum as a way to connect with people and chat with them about interesting topics or random topics. I occasionally join in a tag or lottery. Or I play the infinite threads just to alleviate some boredom. I have specific topics which I frequent the most and cannot do without.

I recently changed up tactics and when I draw a profile of a person where I have no idea what to send them, I take the thought out of it and pick a card randomly. This is my attempt to align more with my “it’s about the connection not the cards” ideology. But I also get a bit distressed when I don’t have a card that I’m absolutely certain the receiver will like. So that takes the fun out of it for me sometimes (because of the pressure I give myself, so it’s my own fault).


I love sending more than receiving. I like the challenge of trying to figure out what the postcrosser would like. I’m not a collector; I don’t care about collecting stamps, although I do admire the stamps of other countries. I also love empty profiles because then I can send whatever random card I want. I haven’t used the forum yet.


I love the act of writing and sending cards most. I enjoy picking out the perfect card for each person, choosing the washi and stickers and stamps I’ll use on them, and writing long messages. I find the process therapeutic. Still, my love of receiving cards is a very, very close second to that!

The most important thing to me is the message on the back of the postcard, and sometimes I’m disappointed by short messages or plain “happy postcrossing” ones. I truly love reading about even “mundane” things about other people’s lives, so it’s sad when cards arrive with almost no words on them. Another very close second, here: I collect certain types of postcards, so I do care about the cards themselves, too! I also collect loose playing cards and tarot cards - not much luck getting those here, but it’s still worth mentioning. I also often take the stamps off of any envelopes I receive so I can save them for collectors.

Although I like sending cards to people most, I don’t mind what they do with them after. They can take the stamps off or paste over the message to reuse the card if it’s a duplicate. The cards I send are gifts to their receivers, and as such, they belong to those receivers. I like profiles that tell me what they want (even if it’s “I like all cards!”), as I’d like to pick cards that the receipient will truly enjoy. That’s part of me thinking of postcards - both ones that I send and ones I receive - as little gifts.

On the forums I mostly join tags and RRs. (I also host lotteries at least once a week - another way I think I express my view of postcards as gifts.) The tags and RRs are where I can get opportunities to write more cards, pick out more specific cards for others, AND request cards for my collections, so I’ve found I really love participating in them. I also like answering question threads like this one!


Thanks for the interesting question. I’m a gamer, but hadn’t heard of Bartle’s Taxonomy. I never seem to fit into any one ‘box’ when it comes to MMOs or my play style in other games.

As for postcrossing, I was thinking about this the other day. WHY do I postcross. What makes it enjoyable what do I want out of it?

Like other people have said I really enjoy sending cards because I like to try and match a card and stamps to a profile. I have stickers & washi that I sometimes also use. Then I realised that sometimes when I get a card I’m in such a rush to register it that I don’t always see the washi and the stickers.
That said I also enjoy that brief connection with someone else. Reading that someone else shares the same hobbies, or has played/watched/read the same things as I. I think it’s one of the reasons that I link my instagram account as it’s a way to ‘collect’ people from across the world and get an insight into their lives without algorithms getting in the way and deciding which type of posts I should see.

Thanks to postcrossing I’ve also taken an interest in stamps. I do ask if people can send cards in envelopes anyway - for two reasons. First, a lot of my cards end up with rubber marks from the rollers and also this way I get to collect the stamps! I don’t know much about stamp collecting at the moment, but I’m learning more. I’ve been toying with getting a dedicated stamp album but I don’t know how I would even begin to organise it. I’ve also taken some time to arrange the stamps I have by colour to make ‘art’ out of them… although I haven’t been able to do that quite yet because the act of ‘destroying’ something is difficult for my perfectionist sensibilities!

I used to have a sort of shower curtain with clear pockets for postcards on my wall and I would put some of my favourites in them. Unfortunately, my cat decided it made a better toy than a wall hanging and eventually I took it down (and replaced it with bookshelves!) Now I put my postcards in albums, although this has started to get a bit frustrating for me because there’s no ORDER. I can’t decide whether I want to sort them by when they arrived, or by country, or by type. I get a lot of cat postcards (which I absolutely love) and also map cards which end up in the same place. I’m probably not going to get too upset by them being out of ‘order’.

I also really like the stats page, and have a secret wish to be in the top 10 postcrossers for the UK but then I worked out how long that will take. I’m also aware that one of the current top 10 passed away a few years ago and it would be a shame to knock them off the top 10…

Getting cards from ‘rare’ countries is always a delight but I love every postcard I get and haven’t felt disappointed much in the 13 years I’ve been here.

I’ve also recently started using the forum, but mainly for meet ups and general topics like these (as well as information regarding the postal service and stamps). I’m hoping to go to my first meet up in London in April which is equal parts frightening and exciting.

I’ve rambled on enough I think!


Great topic.

I don’t fit into any of those Taxonomy groups.

As for your questions

I like both halves - sending & receiving.

I enjoy reviewing profiles & learning about people, therefore, I find a blank profile annoying & a let down. My interest in that card drops dramatically too, so they usually get a rather generic card.

I love receiving, as it’s a connection with someone in a far away place, that I’ll likely never visit. I love fully written cards & am disappointed when I get basically nothing written on the card.

I want my sent card to be enjoyed. I am seriously disappointed when I send a card from the receiver’s favorites wall & barely get a thank you for the effort. At those times I wonder at myself - why keep at it? But then, I’ll get a long thank you note, & my faith is restored in the process. Then I’m good.

Mostly it’s the humanity of the thing. We have so much in common with each other. And we can make another person happy with just a little square of cardboard, a postage stamp & our time. Truly, I count it a joy to be able to do that hundreds of times a year.

I use the forum regularly for the Weekly RR. Very little else.

I do not collect but I have come to really appreciate postage stamps. I study them with a magnifying glass. Before Postcrossing, I never gave a thought to those little beauties.

I’ve been at it many years now. Ultimately the USPS will decide if I continue. With the cost increasing every 4-6 months there will come a decision time.

Thanks for asking.



Now where’s that like button for me to smash it up :laughing:
I would give this multiple likes if I could!


Wow, @KettleofSeveralFish - what an excellent, thought-provoking, and extremely engaging post!

I’m sure this was not your intention, but I want to put some of your questions in my profile for others to answer as a possible writing prompt, and I also want to pull out some paper and send you a letter with my answers!

I am going to come back to this post over the weekend. I want to take time to read everyone’s responses and get some of my own thoughts together. But I can tell you right off the bat that it’s these kinds of posts that draw me in and make my intellectual, analytical, deep-thinking side so happy. Lots of other stuff about Postcrossing makes me happy, but this is really right at the top. :slightly_smiling_face:


This is the power of Postcrossing :green_heart: I have a bunch of WhatsApp messages to answer but right now at 3:30 am while rocking my baby to sleep, I’ve chosen to hang out here for a while.

I’ve been a member of Postcrossing since 2009 but had a several year break where I didn’t send or receive any postcards. In the end of 2019 I remembered about it. If I could summarize my Postcrossing activity, I’d say I’m still an amateur: I have only a little over 100 sent and received postcards, I don’t really choose stamps—I use what they have in local tobacco shops and most of the postcards that I send are touristy because these are the only types I can get here where I live though I plan on start ordering postcards online at some point for the sake of variety.
Sometimes I only send a postcard a month and I don’t really collect anything.

For me Postcrossing is about human connection. It may sound cliche but despite all the conflicts and negativity going on in the world, Postcrossing is the real bridge builder, that truly brings people closer. It is such a needed project nowadays. I’m originally from Russia and when I saw that Postcrossing’s statement about the war in Ukraine and its impact on the project, it melted my heart. Because Postcrossing is about ordinary people, whether that be a Serbian doctor, a Chinese student, or a German retiree. So different but so similar. They want health and peace for themselves and their loved ones. They all go to buy food and think what they are going to have for dinner. They pay their bills. They worry about their mother/child not picking up the phone for the second time. They do the best they can.

And all these things I get reminded about every time I use Postcrossing.
So answering your questions, yes, stats, cool cards and stamps are great but they are not why I’m here.


Oh, go for it! I think it’s a great idea (in fact I am planning to update my own profile like this, but I already have a different “experiment” running, and it probably needs a few more months before I’ll feel satisfied enough to change it up again). And if you ever pull my name in the postcrossing lottery and remember this thread, I give you permission to send that letter :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

An excellent and thought-provoking question! Thanks so much for this thread!

With regard to Bartle’s taxonomy, I’d say i am 80% explorer and 20% Socialiser, within the context of Postcrossing. I prefer sending over receiving, but the longer I have participated, the smaller that margin of preference has become, because i have been sent some very beautiful gifts. I think I prefer sending more, because it involves an intellectual challenge; it is like a puzzle. I desire to send a gift that will be appreciated, but I have an extremely small dataset to know what will be appreciated, as the recipient is a stranger. I am also constrained by my own mood, my available time, my available suite of cards on hand and my own values and preferences. One might argue that the set of constraints I just described are a set of things I have control over, and I think for the most part one would be correct, although some of that is driven by economics. I take great delight in finding the right combination of card, stamps, washi tape and message to build the gift. I should also note that I am most focused on message, card, stamps, decoration in that order. Those are my personal preference rankings for what is most important, and they likely skew the degree to which some recipients may appreciate what I send.

The stats are interesting from an academic standpoint, there is a part of me that likes to assess them from time to time, to gain an understanding of the overall trends, but they have no value whatsoever to me with regard to competition. I tend to avoid confrontation, and competition always heads in that direction. I have no interest in that in general, and absolutely no interest in that with regard to postcrossing. Rankings are meaningless to me from that standpoint.

Am I a collector? Well, yes, now I am. But going back to your overall question, that is not why I postcross. When I started, I may have vaguely know that there were people that collected postcards; now I know that there is a whole world of deltiology, that postcards come in a variety of formats and materials, that there was a “golden age” of postcard exchange and that there are postcard shows and collectors and clubs and groups. In this context, I would offer that one of the reasons I joined postcrossing was to expand my world, to learn more about other places and cultures and people, and from that standpoint, it has been a goldmine. My thoughts as a geographer was that I would primarily learn about places and their peoples, but I also have learned much about the culture of postcard (and stamp, and postmark) collectors, and about postal distribution systems in various countries. This is a fascinating domain, and as an explorer just a delight! So am I collector? Well yes, a collector of knowledge and experiences. Do I collect stamps? Not really, no. Do I collect postcards? A little bit. I am certainly accumulating them, but that is not quite the same.

Do I use the forums? Yes. Primarily for to answer questions and share my knowledge and experience, and to track topics that interest me, and to participate in round robins. I initially started in the forums with round robins, as it was a way to exchange more cards as regular draws were slow going at first, and it broadened my exposure to this world. Now I am on and off with them, mostly with topics that are of interest to me. I don’t like the fact that round robins are referred to as “games” as I take them more seriously than that, and I have no use for other games on the forums (tags, bingo, lotteries etc.). Not that I am against them, just that they are not for me. One of the most useful functions of the forums is the scheduling and management of postcrossing meetups, and I find it curious that this was a topic that you did not ask about. That is an area where my 20% social piece shines.

As for interactions between priorities, I suspect what I’ve written thus far has already addressed this to some degree, and certainly my other forum posts address much of this, but here are a few more direct thoughts: blank bios offer an opportunity to rise to the challenge. I don’t mind enabling collectors when I have the means to do so, and I keep a large stock of cards on hand that cover many interests, but I’ve never gone out in search of a card to meet a specific interest. The cards people receive are drawn from my stock on hand. Same is true for stamps. I don’t send postcards in envelopes. Once it goes inside an envelope, that is a letter, and this is a postcard exchange. My peccadillo. I don’t log cards I have not received. While I am not overly into the stats, I am very much into data integrity. I am most delighted when the random connections lead to a longer interaction. I do think the “hurray” messages matter. I also try not to make up stories; I don’t know how well the people I interact with here, can read and write in my language. I am certainly very aware of the brutal reality of the universe and the entropy involved with it. Once I release a card out into the world, there really is no telling what will become of it. That even a few of them show up and get registered, having travelled across continents and oceans, through cities and all manner of weather, via plane and ship and truck and bicycle or on foot, is nothing short of a little miracle, and that is most definitely to be celebrated. If I have brought a little bit of love and joy to the recipient in the process, that is icing on the cake. And that, KettelofSeveralFish is why I postcross.


I really appreciated the context you provided at the beginning of your post. I had never heard of MMO communities or Bartle’s Taxonomy, but the little bit of it that you shared is fascinating to me, and I do see how some of it can be vaguely applied to other, large, non-gaming communities.

I definitely prefer sending. I like the act of doing something for someone else. I like giving. I know it takes effort and motivation - the same effort and motivation it takes to do anything else in life - but because I have so much love for snail mail as a whole, I do not notice the effort at all. Engaging in this hobby feels so natural and easy, so joyful and gratifying to me. And those feelings come through most intensely for me when I am sending, not when I am receiving (though of course there’s happiness on that end too, but it’s not as strong and it tends to be more short-lived). I like sitting down to write to someone, like choosing a card, like writing out an address and trusting that it’s absolutely correct, like choosing stamps and carefully sticking them on a postcard or an envelope, like the feeling of reviewing what I’ve put together and then deciding, “Yes, this is ready to go out into the world and begin its journey.” And I really do hope that the receiver likes it. I hope it brightens their day or makes them smile or gives them some kind of emotional lift if that’s what they need.

The message is the most important part to me. I enjoy postcards, there is some appeal in stats, and stamps can be pretty, but the whole point of this for me is connecting with people. I love reading the profiles. I love finding out whether someone is completely different from me or whether there is some commonality between us that I can mention on the card.

I am not a collector. When I get a piece of mail from someone, I don’t keep it simply to collect it. I keep it because of what it represents: someone took time to write to me, to share a piece of themselves with me, to surprise me, to brighten up my day and make me smile.

I do use the forum. I tend to be more active in the forum than on the main site. I feel more relaxed and laid-back here, like I can kick off my shoes and get comfortable. It’s also nice to see people engage and participate in different areas. It truly is a community of like-minded souls. There’s a lot of validation and affirmation in simply being here, a sense of “These people get it. They like this thing too. I’m not weird.” That’s a really good feeling, maybe even the best feeling.


Loving this! An answer to this is in my profile, I love connecting with people with other cultures (or even the same one really) and I love doing it in writing. I had penpals etc. since I was a child, way before the internet.

Sending without a doubt. I love writing an address, I love choosing what to say and trying to fit it in. The choice of card is, in some way, more about me than the receiver, selfish as it sounds. If the receiver hates viewcards, okay I won’t send a viewcard, but if the receiver wants cards with dogs I couldn’t care less, because I am not going to buy cards with dogs - to me cards are about places, or at most little pieces of art, so anything else to me is a waste of a card… Like all those series that people like, I find them so impersonal.

The message. The most beautiful card in the world is less beautiful if the message is lame. An interesting message will make an impersonal-looking card more personal.
The stats on Postcrossing are amazing and I like to look at them, but I don’t “care” about them, like they don’t make me set any goals. I just love the way the website is laid out.

No. I like to help people improve their collection if it is about geography (like "hey, I’m going to country X, do you want a card?), but collecting is very far from my nature. The more I stay on postcrossing, the more I am fed up with stamps. I couldn’t care less about stamps and the emphasis people put on them puts me off…

I like chatting and every time I see a forum I jump on it, been doing that for over 20 years. At the beginning it was also a way to learn more, to kill time between cards, and to make myself send less to keep costs down - talking about postcards instead of sending them! It’s just something I do casually to relax. I don’t do swaps and games very much, just sometimes if I am in the mood (maybe once/twice a year). I don’t like the transactional aspect of swaps, I prefer the randomness. Most of the time, a swap would happen because someone is looking for something and I am happy to send it to them.
I have regular correspondences though.


Honestly, I completely forgot that meetups were a thing people do :joy: (I’m not much of a socialite myself—I’m more system/process-oriented) But I hope my limited perspective and questions don’t constrain people’s answers too much! It’s been so interesting hearing everyone’s thoughts.


What a wonderful, thought provoking response @eta55!
Missing the meet ups!
Be well.

Postcrossing is a good stress reliever for me. I like to choose a postcard, write and decorate it. I enjoy sending more than receiving, especially these days when mail is delivered 2-3x a week and I always get too many cards at once. Unlike writing cards, registering them is quite stressful.

When I need a break from everyday life and something creative and relaxing to do, I write cards. It always helps! I’m not a collector, although I have many wishes on my profile. I’m happy with almost anything.