Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "statistics"

When we’re talking to other postcrossers at meetings, we often hear about their long term penpals, and how some people have kept up a steady correspondence back and forth for years. So it got us curious… how many postcrossers had or still have penpals? And if they never tried it, how many would be interested in giving penpaling a go in the future?

To find out, we ran a poll on the front page last week, and collected 8351 votes. These are the results:

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As our own suspicions hinted, postcrossers are naturally fans of letter writing, with most people either having one at the moment (32%), or having had one in the past (33%). A further 24% of the respondents had never tried, but are eager to give it a go someday, and only 11% of participants stated that they were not interested.

The breakdown of the results by country can be seen below, but please take these numbers with a grain of salt. The average age range of postcrossers varies wildly in places, with Asian countries typically being home to much younger postcrossers, while things are more evenly distributed in the Western hemisphere. Naturally, this has an indirect impact in the results, as younger people might not have had the time to try penpaling yet. That said, here they are:

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It’s always tricky to make conclusions from these kind of informal studies, but Japan seems to be the reigning champion of penpals at the moment, with over 50% of postcrossers still keeping in touch with theirs, and only 19% having given up over time.

Finland stands out as well — can you spot it on the graph? Over 97% of postcrossers have either tried, still have or are interested in penpaling. This does not come as a surprise, knowing their top spot on Postcrossing’s per capita ranking!

Which countries have more people looking for penpals for the first time, you ask? That would be China, India, Taiwan and Ukraine, all of which have over 40% participants in that category. (By the way, if that’s you, did you know that there’s a section in the Postcrossing forum dedicated to finding penpals?)

And Portugal, the birth country of Postcrossing, appears to be the one where people are least interested in penpals at all… Both Paulo and I have had penpals before, so I confess this is a somewhat surprising result for us. 😅 Perhaps other Portuguese postcrossers want to chime in on the topic?

In any case, how did your own country fare? Are the results more or less in line with your experience and expectations? Let’s discuss it on the comments below!

PS – As usual, only countries with more than 50 votes are included, so that the results can be more meaningful.

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Some years ago, we published a different ranking for postcrossers, one that focused on the concentration of postcrossers per 100,000 habitants in the different countries. Essentially, this ranking answers the question: where are you more likely to find a postcrosser in the street?

Things have changed since the last time we’ve compiled these statistics over five years ago, so we thought it was time for an updated ranking. Paulo ran the numbers and here it is:

Ranking
(current)
CountryPostcrossers
(per 100,000 inhabitants)
Previous ranking
(in Feb. 2013)
Previous ranking
(in Dec. 2010)
1🇫🇮 Finland38211
2🇹🇼 Taiwan37166
3🇧🇾 Belarus30438
4🇱🇹 Lithuania29423
5🇳🇱 Netherlands23044
6🇨🇿 Czechia1941115
7🇪🇪 Estonia18752
8🇱🇻 Latvia16377
9🇭🇰 Hong Kong134919
10🇦🇽 Åland Islands12010>50
11🇲🇴 Macao11985
12🇬🇬 Guernsey1061912
13🇵🇱 Poland841216
14🇮🇸 Iceland70139
15🇵🇹 Portugal661510
16🇷🇺 Russia642129
17🇩🇪 Germany621717
18🇸🇬 Singapore591411
19🇸🇮 Slovenia581813
20🇺🇦 Ukraine571635
21🇱🇺 Luxembourg452220
22🇳🇿 New Zealand442014
23🇧🇪 Belgium422326
24🇸🇰 Slovakia413638
25🇨🇭 Switzerland382425
26🇦🇹 Austria342528
27🇮🇲 Isle of Man31>50>50
28🇯🇪 Jersey312927
29🇦🇺 Australia292618
30🇨🇦 Canada272724
31🇲🇹 Malta263021
32🇮🇪 Ireland253133
33🇳🇴 Norway252823
34🇬🇺 Guam2341>50
35🇬🇧 United Kingdom233332
36🇧🇲 Bermuda23>50>50
37🇫🇴 Faroe Islands22>50>50
38🇭🇺 Hungary223434
39🇫🇷 France224442
40🇺🇸 USA213231
41🇧🇬 Bulgaria194748
42🇲🇩 Moldova184249
43🇲🇾 Malaysia183740
44🇭🇷 Croatia173530
45🇦🇩 Andorra17>50>50
46🇸🇪 Sweden164036
47🇧🇳 Brunei163837
48🇪🇸 Spain153944
49🇹🇷 Turkey134847
50🇲🇪 Montenegro114543

But first, some disclaimers: some countries or territories on this list don’t have 100,000 habitants (eg. islands), so the number of postcrossers per capita there can be a bit misleading. And as with the last time, to calculate the data above we took into account only countries with more than 10 members and excluded countries for which we did not have reliable population data.

As expected, some things have stayed the same, and some have changed. Finland is still the place with more postcrossers per capita, although Taiwan is slowly making its way up to the top of the chart. Czech Republic is the only new country in the top-10, with a very impressive jump to 6th place.

Some newcomers to this ranking include the Isle of Man, Andorra, Bermuda and the Faroe Islands, all of which now have more than 10 members. Hurray!

From those countries which were already on this ranking, Slovakia climbed an impressive 12 places (from 36 to 24) and Guernsey and Guam both went up 7 places (from 19 to 12 for the former and 41 to 34 for the latter). Other countries that moved up significantly include Russia, France and Bulgaria.

The biggest slides down the ranking happened in Brunei (38 to 47), Spain (39 to 48), Croatia (35 to 44), the USA (from 32 to 40) and Malaysia (from 37 to 43).

And apart from Finland, Germany is the only other country that has maintained the exact same position over the past 8 years, with a firm grasp on 17th place in the ranking. 😊

Curious for more data? Check out the Explore countries page for all the numbers!

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For the second post in this series about Postcrossing’s statistics, we wanted to find out when does more postcard registering activity happen on the project. Intuitively, we know most postcrossers probably register their postcards later in the day, when they’re back home after work or school… but when exactly? And in which day of the week is most mail delivered?

To find out, Paulo chose all the postcards registered last year, adjusted their registering times to each recipient’s local timezone and then compiled the numbers, putting them together in a graph. Here is the result, showing the total number of postcards registered in each day of the week in 2017:

Postcards registered per day

As one would imagine, many more postcards are registered between Monday and Friday than on weekends. Wednesday wins by a narrow margin, with a total of almost 900,000 postcards registered! Tuesday comes as a close second, while Monday is remarkably quiet in comparison. This is to be expected though, as many postal operators stop working during the weekend, and mail is only processed after they reopen.

Predictably, Sunday is the slowest day in Postcrossing, with a total of less than half a million postcards registered. As a curiosity, did you know that 2017 had 53 Sundays and just 52 of the each of the other days? Since there are 365 days in a year, there’s always an extra day to account for… but even with that extra Sunday, things were still quiet on the last day of the weekend.

Since we had our hands in the data, we decided to find out how these totals were distributed throughout the day! To do this, we summed the number of postcards registered in each hour of each day for the whole year, and then plotted this heatmap:

Postcards registered per hour

It’s easy to spot the red frenzy of activity, right? Despite Wednesday generally being the day with the highest number of registered postcards, the registering peak actually happened on Tuesday nights last year, with a cumulative total of 75,155 postcards registered between 8 and 9pm.

In contrast, the slowest time in Postcrossing in the whole year was on Mondays between 4 and 5am, with less than 1000 postcards registered in those early Monday hours throughout the whole year.

Do these statistics reflect your experience too, or were you perhaps surprised by them? Let us know in the comments!

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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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On last month’s poll results, Maria (aka Maria_Castro) from Portugal suggested we asked everyone’s opinion about the postal services in their country… admittedly a very subjective (and perhaps touchy) topic. Still, we thought it would be interesting to get a feeling of the national reputation of postal operators. Which ones stood out? And would their domestic image match the perception we have of them from abroad?

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Overall, the results are pretty heartwarming! The vast majority of postcrossers think their post offices are doing a good job, with a fair amount going as far as saying they’re excellent.

But since the question was about each national post office, the important analysis comes on a country basis. So how do these results compare on a national level? To find out, we had a closer look at the results from countries with more than 50 votes (for more accurate results):

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The results more or less reflect the general trend described above, with a few exceptions.

For instance, Italy pops out immediately as the country with the highest number of unhappy postcrossers (80% rate their postal service as poor or fair)… which I confess is a bit of a surprise. Is it the stamp prices? Or perhaps problems in the mail delivery? Maybe some local postcrossers can enlighten us in the comments! Other postal operators with mediocre results were Brazil, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Sweden (around 60% on the same metric).

On the happy side of the spectrum, Japan's Post has an extraordinary reputation: 74% of Japanese postcrossers think their post office is doing an excellent job and further 23% consider it good, with less than 3% in the remaining categories. Pretty impressive!

Other Asian countries follow closely behind, with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan all having roughly 90% happy customers (rating either excellent or good). In Europe, Switzerland has the most content postcrossers, also with over 90% satisfaction, with Austria, Germany and Latvia trailing closely.

Please keep in mind that the answers to this kind of “perception survey” are always subjective… so remember to take the results with a grain of salt. That said, what influenced your vote? And if you were in charge of your country’s postal operator, what would you change?

PS – Any statisticians in the house? 😅  If you’d like give us a hand in future polls, let us know!

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