Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What is Postcrossing?

Postcrossing is a website set up to let people send and receive postcards to and from randomly selected strangers. :-)

The site was set up by Paulo Magalhães in the summer of 2005, based on his opinion, or one might say feeling, that it's nice to get mail. :-) It's grown very quickly and there are now more than 130,000 users, and more than 3 million cards have been sent.

The system is very simple. First of all you must register as a user - this is quick and easy and completely free of charge. (The site is free to use, although you must of course buy your own postcards and pay for postage. You can make donations to the site if you want, but there is no requirement whatsoever to do so.) You then request an address to send a card to. This will be selected randomly - the list of recipient addresses changes constantly. The address may be anywhere in the world. You also get a unique ID code - eg, NO-26893 - which you must write clearly on the card. You then write a few words - whatever you want to write - on the postcard and send it off.

When it is received by the recipient, that person will use the ID code to register the card as received. Your address will then be added to the list of people due to receive a postcard, and someone else will be sent your address when they ask to send a card. This person, again, may be anywhere in the world, and they will not be the same person that you sent your card to.

At any given time you can have up to five cards travelling; as soon as one of these is registered as received, you will be allowed to send another. This number increases in increments with the number of cards you send. You will receive the same number of cards as you send out, from various countries all over the world.

And around and around we go ... :-)

Postcrossing is a wonderful way to get real mail, snail mail, for those of us who enjoy that type of thing and regret the more fleeting presence of electronic mail (although we may appreciate its efficiency and speed). It's also quick and easy - writing a postcard takes only a few minutes - and you don't have to commit to the more long-term responsibility of proper correspondence. A colorful card in the mailbox can brighten anyone's day, and who wouldn't love to receive a friendly greeting from the other side of the world?

When you sign up you also get a personal profile on the site - mine is here - where you can share some information about yourself, your interests, and what types of cards you would like to receive. (But please take note: You can express wishes, but you cannot demand.) If you collect anything, for instance, that would be a good thing to mention. Those who are given your address will also be shown your profile and will usually take this into account when selecting a card to send to you.

It's so easy and so much fun. I'm hooked. I hope you will be too. :-)

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