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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "postcrossing"

Ten years ago today, Paulo launched a fresh version of the website, which included cool features such as avatars, maps, the inactive state, the little ticker on the frontpage that shows what’s happening now… aaaaaand this blog too! 🎉

Although the Postcrossing blog is but a small part of the website, it’s something that we’re particularly proud of. Through it, we share news and interesting stories, introduce members and their creative endeavours, talk about mail and stationery, celebrate milestones… and we also hear back from you on the comments, which is the best part!

Ten years of existence is definitely something worth celebrating, so today we’re digging the archives for some of our favourite posts and series.

Looking at tags on the blog’s Archive page, it’s easy to spot that our longest series of posts have featured spotlight interviews, in which we ask a few questions to members of the community. We’ve talked with 113 postcrossers so far, who have showed us their mailboxes, their mail carriers and their favourite postcards. We’ve talked to many other postcrossers too, about the wonderful meetups they’ve organised, their quirky postcard walls and nice friendship stories they’ve experienced because of the project.

We’ve also collaborated with museums, libraries, schools, charities and post offices — all of which we’re quite proud of.

Ten years later, we’re still fond of researching the history of post offices and postcards and finding out about other cool projects that use mail. And one of our favourite parts is coming accross cool new artists and stationery makers.

And last, but not least, the Little Mail Carriers were introduced to the blog back in 2010 and are very dear to our heart. They’ve traveled around the world several times over, reporting their adventures and showing us the beauty and charms of the places where mail travels to. Who knows where will they pop up next?

Here’s to another 10 years of bringing you nice stories from the Postcrossing community and the world of mail! 😊

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On our open poll, many of you asked to see more statistics on the blog, so we thought we’d introduce a new series of posts all about Postcrossing and numbers. And what better way to start than by looking at some of the data from the year that just ended, right? Let’s do this!

5,425,005 postcards received

That’s right — almost 5.5 Million postcards were registered last year, which was pretty neat! We’ve just passed the 45 million milestone a few days ago, and are on track to celebrate the big 50 later this year. Woohoo!

25.7 days (average) and 17 days (median) travel time

Do you know the difference between an average (or mean) and a median? To calculate the average of a set of values, you sum all the values in your set and divide them by the total number of items in that set. This is great if your values are more or less well distributed, but outliers (both large and small) often distort the end result disproportionately.

Enter the median, which can be roughly described as the “middle” value of a data set. If you put all the travel times in a looong ordered line, 17 days would be the value in the centre of this distribution. This is a more reliable value to determine how many days most postcards travel before reaching their destination. Some will be quicker, some will be slower, but on the whole, postcards seem to travel somewhere around 17 days.

27,380,992,088 km (or or 17,013,759,698 miles) of total traveled distance

That’s… yeah. I don’t have words for it neither. We’re way beyond Pluto at this point!

19,985 km (or 12,418 miles) was the longest distance traveled by a postcard

Below is the postcard that traveled the longest distance last year. Can you guess between which countries it was exchanged?

It’s a trick question because of the content… but if you guessed New Zealand and Spain, you’d be right! Postcard NZ-155857 traveled between a pair of antipodal points: from the north tip of New Zealand to the south part of Spain.

916,800 postcards were sent from Germany 🇩🇪

Germany was the most active country last year, with almost a million postcards sent from there! Here are the other countries and territories in the top 20:

RankingCountryPostcards sent
1🇩🇪 Germany916,800
2🇷🇺 Russia776,853
3🇺🇸 U.S.A. 606,439
4🇳🇱 Netherlands307,189
5🇫🇮 Finland 247,153
6🇹🇼 Taiwan239,432
7🇨🇳 China221,390
8🇨🇿 Czechia204,019
9🇧🇾 Belarus178,794
10🇫🇷 France152,051
11🇯🇵 Japan132,546
12🇵🇱 Poland108,721
13🇬🇧 United Kingdom102,245
14🇺🇦 Ukraine89,283
15🇨🇦 Canada85,731
16🇭🇰 Hong Kong70,432
17🇧🇪 Belgium61,333
18🇦🇹 Austria53,435
19🇲🇾 Malaysia53,050
20🇦🇺 Australia52,137

hepman sent the most postcards

Dedication and a speedy postal service helped the Germans climb to the top of the charts, where they took most of the top spots! Here are our 20 most avid postcrossers:

RankingPostcrosserCountrySent
1hepman🇩🇪 Germany2,586
2DJHK🇩🇪 Germany2,547
3uttia4a🇩🇪 Germany2,533
4Willi🇩🇪 Germany2,506
5rosenbusch🇩🇪 Germany2,473
6Klausdiemaus🇩🇪 Germany2,471
7gremlin1🇩🇪 Germany2,456
8tullipan🇩🇪 Germany2,411
9Antje321🇩🇪 Germany2,395
10Marcii🇩🇪 Germany2,385
11ned44440🇮🇪 Ireland2,384
12Minna71🇫🇮 Finland2,348
13mapcardcollector🇬🇧 United Kingdom2,336
14Matin🇩🇪 Germany2,316
15fisherman🇮🇪 Ireland2,314
16chrissybaby🇮🇪 Ireland2,309
17Bock🇦🇹 Austria2,272
18marie61🇩🇪 Germany2,255
19radiofan🇦🇹 Austria2,249
20TimSarah🇩🇪 Germany2,199

And that’s it for last year’s numbers! If you’re hungry for more, Postcrossing has a group of pages dedicated to statistics where you can find more data to explore.

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Late last year, Deutsche Post and Berlin’s Museum for Communications launched a video competition themed “Why do we still write letters?”, where people could post videos explaining the charm of written mail. They got over 400 video submissions, which you can see on their YouTube channel. They’re sweet, touching stories of why we still put pen to paper to write to to each other.

We only heard about the competition once it was over, but were happily surprised to find a video about Postcrossing among the entries! Have a look:

Johannes (aka joze-post) made this charming video, which does a great job of portraying the randomness of Postcrossing. He didn’t win the competition… but he stole our hearts with the cheerful music and fun details about some of the postcards. Well done Johannes! :)

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Good news, everyone! We’re happy to announce that Russia, the country with the largest number of Postcrossing members, is releasing a themed stamp to commemorate the project on January 27th!

The 23 ruble stamp was designed by O. Shushlebina, measures 37×37 mm and comes in sheets of 9 stamps. Here’s what it will look like:

I <3 Postcrossing!

Quite nice, isn’t it? I think you can guess what it says, even if you don’t know much Russian! :)

To celebrate the occasion, three postcrossers in Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Moscow decided to hold a lottery to offer 60 lucky members the chance to receive a postcard with this stamp and the first day cancellation mark! If you’d like to participate on this giveaway, just leave a comment below saying you’d like to receive one. We’ll draw 60 names by the end of the week, and send your addresses to the members who are going to write you a postcard.

You might find a surprise postcard on your mailbox in a few weeks! :)

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As promised, the first post on our behind-the-scenes series is about address validation. This is the process through which we check that all addresses in Postcrossing are (to the best of our knowledge) correct and complete.

The Little Mail Carriers helping us moderate addresses

“Red alert! Red alert! I think that one over there is missing the postal code!”

Addresses are one of the most important things in Postcrossing. Wrong or incomplete addresses would result in postcards being delayed or not delivered, and general unhappiness – which we would like to avoid.

There is specialized software to process addresses of course, but it’s either dodgy, specific to a country or just crazy expensive for our size. So, we chose to do this task ourselves, splitting the job between Paulo, Vicki and I. Each one of us picked a set of countries according to our strengths and learnt the UPU address format of those countries by heart. Most countries have their own format – and some are much simpler than others. We use this knowledge to go over thousands of addresses per week, spotting invalid ones, or just rearranging the order of the elements on the address. Most of the time, addresses will be read by automated sorting machines, which expect them to be written in a certain way. So if every address is formatted as UPU recommends, everything will go faster!

What makes an address invalid? Lots of things:

  • Parts might be missing: name, postal code, country name, etc.
  • The address might be written exclusively in the local script (Chinese, Thai, Cyrillic), making it hard to write for people who don’t understand that alphabet or those without a printer.
  • The address might be completely translated into English – which is usually a bad idea. For non-Latin scripts, transliteration works better and faster in our experience.
  • The address might not match the account’s location/country.
Technology helps with the last item on that list, because we can usually match your IP address to the location you’re signing up from. For instance, if a member with an IP address in Canada is opening an account in Fiji … something might be wrong, and we have to look into that. :)

A few postal operators also provide a list of all valid postal codes for their country, giving us the ability to automatically detect typos or invalid postal codes.

The Little Mail Carriers helping us moderate addresses

“Let’s just add the country name here at the bottom… I think it’ll help!”

The whole process of validating addresses has been streamlined over the years, but it still takes quite a bit of time, since every single new address needs to be checked and validated. We’ve been doing it for so long that by now we can tell at a glance whether an address is valid, incomplete or just in a strange order. We might not find all the problems – but we do spot lots of them!

Plus, we’ve learnt many nice things in the process too! For instance, did you know that an address in China should be written from the biggest component (province) to the smallest one (adressee) if written in Chinese characters, but the other way around if written in Latin characters? Or that there are no street names in Japan? Or that every house and building has its unique postal code in Singapore? It’s amazing!

I think that’s it for addresses, so I’ll leave you with one last tip: make sure that you write the address on your postcard exactly as it is shown – it’s already optimized for that country!

I hope you liked this first post on our behind-the-scenes series – we’ll get cracking on the next one! :)

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