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Blog > Census 2021 — part 1

We’ve finally completed the analysis the 2021's census results, so here we are to report back and do some introspection! 🤓

This time around, we’ve greatly simplified some of the answers so that we could streamline the analysis, and also created a separate form for our members in China, who couldn’t access Google Forms last year. In total, 23,329 postcrossers replied the census, and here we have to make the usual caveat to point out that while this is a decent sized sample, we can’t quite extrapolate that this sample portrays all postcrossers. For instance, some people may be less likely to reply to questionnaires (maybe they struggle with English), which might skew the results. So, please take the results with a grain of salt!

The basic demographics haven’t changed much from 2020, so we’ll skip that overview this year but feel free to have a look at last year’s post for the rundown. One question we did tweak was the one about where people live, to give it more granularity beyond the rural/urban divide. Here are the replies:

Where do postcrossers live? Rural area (11.9%), Suburb near a large city (18%), Small city or town (34.6%), Large city (35.5%)

Last year’s results were 75% urban and 25% rural, and this year we see these numbers subdivide into smaller categories. It would perhaps be relevant to know how most people define large vs small cities or towns though, as this definition is likely to vary from country to country. Maybe this could be something to further improve next year.

Another new question for 2021's census was proficiency in the English language:

How fluent are postcrossers in English? Fluent/native (49.2%), English is ok (31.7%), Can understand basic sentences, and use a translator occasionally (17.3%), Don't understand English or  know just a few words (1.9%)

I guess there’s not much of a surprise here: most postcrossers are either fluent or relatively comfortable using English to communicate, but 1.9% mentions not being able to communicate at all in that language… This percentage is likely to be even higher, as we imagine long surveys are a challenge for someone that struggles with the language. One advantage that postcards have over letters is that they are smaller, and thus less daunting for non-native speakers. We know many members use Postcrossing to improve and gain confidence in their foreign language skills, and we hope the project can continue to be a good tool for this purpose.

I don’t think we showed this graph last year, so here it is: where did people hear about Postcrossing?

How did you hear about Postcrossing? Friend or relative (30%), Internet search (16.7%), Social media (16.1%), Offline media (13.3%), Don't remember (12%), Other (4.9%), Penpal (3%)

The biggest slice on that pie is still through friends or relatives, which is really cool — it’s great to know that you guys enjoy Postcrossing so much that you brag about it to your loved ones! 💙 Many of you simply stumble on the project while searching online or browsing social media, and a smaller slice learned about it on offline media (like radio or newspapers). Good to know!

Next, what is everyone’s favorite part of the core Postcrossing activity, sending or receiving postcards?

What do you like best in Postcrossing, sending or receiving? Both equally (74.4%), Sending (11.5%), Receiving (14.2%)

Turns out, both — which is brilliant! The percentage of people who reply “both” has even increased since the last time we did a similar poll back in 2017.

We also asked how easy the Postcrossing website is to use, and most people (63%) replied it was super easy, 29% chose easy, 6% picked the middle of the scale option and around 1.3% picked one of the last 2 options, indicating they have some or a lot of trouble using the website. Some of these issues were pointed out in the disability question of the census, giving us good tips of things to improve.

And last but not least, let’s look at friendships! Have you become friends with other postcrossers?

Have you become friends with other postcrossers? Not yet (62.8%), Yes but only online (26.4%), Yes and we have met (10.8%)

As expected in a project that is mostly about sending postcards to strangers across the world, the majority of people who replied to this question have not made friends through Postcrossing. Despite this, a significant amount of you mention having made friends — mostly online friends, but 10% have also met their new friends in person. It’s really cool to think that postcards and serendipity were the starting point of these connections!

There’s a lot more to unpack in the census, especially what people like/dislike about Postcrossing… so we’re saving that for a second post. Stay tuned for more insights soon!


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43 comments so far

abqgranny, United States of America
Thank you so much for caring enough about your constituency and your project overall to take the time and effort to seek this input and then to do the analysis. Your ongoing quest to make this site more responsive and inclusive is a model for how we all should live our lives and conduct ourselves. Then communicating back shows respect to all of us who love and take advantage of Postcrossing. Thank you very much.

-alterecho-, Finland
Well, if there is one thing postcrossers love more than doing postcrossing.. it's talking about postcrossing! So now wonder we are always suggesting it to friends, family and strangers. :D

Thanks for this, it was quite interesting having a look at these samples!

ned44440, Ireland
Great information and I think it's fantastic you take the time to find all this out 👏👏👏👏👏. Long may Postcrossing continue to survive and thrive.

LenkaLuna, Russia
Спасибо за вашу работу и больше красивых открыток

nadelhoelzchen, Germany
Wow, this is really interesting, I love such statistics! :))

Trans_Niqabi, United States of America
I love knowing these statistics! Thanks for sharing.

Artist56, United States of America
Congrats for being so open about what people say about Postcrossing. It is a GREAT project! Showing how people care all over the world, even when they do not know someone. I can not wait to meet other Postcrossers a a meet-up.

posticards72, Germany
I was already waiting for your statistics...I simply love it.

sealed4ever, United States of America
This is awesome. So interesting!! Thank you

portoraj, Portugal

HippieBex, United Kingdom
Awesome. Thanks For Sharing.

volvomom, United States of America
This is great data! Thanks for sharing it in such a format that everyone can easily understand. :)

sunshine_jumbo, Canada
Would like to make online friends from rural areas.postcard is the way to go???

Flippie, Canada
I'm so proud to be a postcrosser. I love to read, hear and talk about it. I hope that it exist as long I live.
Thanks for all the info, very interesting.

CindyMc, United States of America
Thank you for everything you do!

borealis, Norway
About the size of cities; I answered small town/city, even though it's the second largest in the country, because on a global scale it's puny. You might get better answers if you ask for population sizes.

Dr_Pepper, United States of America
In the midst of the pandemic, I heard about this website from a friend and I was hooked! Long live the written word :-)

Dustybee, United Kingdom
Thank you for the great work at PC HQ! Well done! Always enjoy reading the results and look forward to the next batch.

Silvanus_Tauris, Ukraine
It was actually quite surprising to find out that 49% of postcrossers are fluent in English. It seems to me that people exaggerate their abilities a little: I get a lot of postcards with a hell of a lot of mistakes in English sentences. I treat this with understanding, but it turns out that these 49% of fluent speakers simply do not write to me. :-)

Pangolin, United States of America
I love PC and if anyone gets me talking about it, it is hard to stop. I find everything about it interesting. thank you for taking us deeper.

Demmi, Romania
Well done & Great work!!! Always enjoy reading the results and look forward to the next batch for 2022!

#Kudos Postcrossing People!
xoxo :O :D

AgnesPauline, Netherlands
Thanks for sharing this, also thanks for all the info of postcrossing

cbayha, United States of America
Bravo & Thank you! I am as much a statistics geek as I am a Postcard geek and the statistics you provide us are another part of what I love about Postcrossing! I also agree with everyone who has said that if someone gets them talking about PC it is hard to stop! I even offer a pack of 200 postcards to anyone I know who signs up!

RowanP, Netherlands
I love postcrossing!
Thanks for the statics.

Ryuuen, Japan
I think it may be a good idea if we can provide multi-language versions when we are carrying on such annual census.

doryfera, Canada
I loved reading the results of your census - so interesting! Can't wait for part 2. Thank you for breaking out the results so ably for us.

mere5oh, United States of America
I talk about Postcrossing all the time. When buying a stack of postcards; When buying a stack of stamps; In profiles - we host high school aged foreign exchange students and I brag about PC there; Social Media; everywhere! It's one of my most favorite things, and as an extroverted introvert, it's the primary way I get my people connections without having to necessarily interact with people, if that makes sense!

mustardandpickles, United States of America
This is so interesting! Thank you for taking the time to share these results. I find it fascinating!

WhiskeyJack, Canada
This is amazing - great job!!

chessx, United States of America
Very cool site

NerdBird, United Kingdom
I have made a few dear friends this way - haven't seen them for ages, but blame lockdown on that!

Miguel-Isaias, Portugal
As always, this is so interesting!! Thank you.
I belong to that 10% that made new (good) friends in person through PC, mainly due to the meetups. And I miss them so much...

fionat, United States of America
Thanks for the interesting graphs and analysis and thanks to all the postcrossers who answered the survey! It's been fun reading all the comments here too. I can relate...

Lider, Russia
Great information! This is really interesting.

Pachaontas, Portugal
wow, that's great to know!
Thank you!

iksacul, Brazil
Thank you for bringing such interesting facts!!!

mikebond, Italy
Thank you for the interesting report!
I agree that the perception of a big city / small city / town depends on someone's country, but I would also mention language and home place to.
E.g. we only have one word for town/city in Italian (that is città), so I still find it hard to get at what point a place becomes a city. Also, my town is rather small in Italy, but everybody in France thinks that 50,000 inhabitants are quite a lot.
I'd like to add that I am happy I belong to the lucky few who have made friends through Postcrossing and met them in person. I can't wait to resume attending meetings and make new connections! ♥️

Zfirearm, Australia
Excellent wrtting and data anlysis. I would say this article can get a band 9 in IELTS exam.

Seahorse87, Ukraine
Good job with the survey, go on with making statistics like that!

Langfordlibrarian, United States of America
I love Postcrossing so much that I think if all of our government officials were required to be Postcrossers, we would have world peace.
I became friends during the pandemic with a person 4 states away that I now see on Zoom once a week with 4 other people for a book club! Postcrossing enriches our lives. Thank you!

Cynthia_Wei, China
Thanks for sharing, it's really interesting!

Robin67, Austria
I, too, am very happy, that I made some special real-life friends through Postcrossing and also some wonderful penfriends! <3

I can never emphasize enough just how much Postcrossing has enriched my life! :-)

Knerq, United States of America
Love this! Thanks for doing all this ❤️

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