Monday, July 10, 2017

Response from Postcard United

A few days ago I wrote a blog post about Postcrossing United, with some observations about its similarity to Postcrossing and a request for information from anyone who had tried it.

While I haven't heard directly from any of the users of the site, I did get a response from Postcard United that I would like to share here for anyone who, like me, is curious about the site and wants more information.

On June 24, I signed up for the site out of curiosity, and on that day I used their contact form to ask the following question:
"Hi there,
I am an active Postcrosser and just saw this website mentioned in someone's profile there. I am very curious and did not see this in the FAQ - how is this different from Postcrossing? (Postcrossing.com) And what country is this project based in? Thank you! Ilona / Missive Maven"
On July 6, I wrote my original blog post about it.

Last night (July 9), I received the following response to my June 24 Postcard United contact form inquiry:
"Dear Ilona,

Thank you for contacting us, it seems that you have joined the bandwagon of people who seems to have hatred for us, the reason we are saying so it seems to a lot of people that there's nothing good about PostcardUnited.com you mentioned that the blog is not updated, and we have issues with English maybe you can help us, by pointing out those to us for us to fix.

also you should advise your reader from the UK not to generate fake accounts at your website.

when PostcardUnited.com was created it was created with love and to united people trough Postcard Exchange, and even the website that you love so much is guilty of interfering with PostcardUnited.Com

Thank You
Admin (3)"
The email came as a no-reply address so I am not able to respond to the email. I certainly didn't intend to sow any "hatred" and was merely curious about the website, so it saddens me that the creators took my search for additional information in a negative light. My two original questions - how is this different from Postcrossing, and in what country is the website based - remain unanswered.

I share this information as an update for any of my blog readers who, like me, are curious.

19 comments:

  1. Whilst I am pained also that anyone would claim hatred from another web site or its users, and find it difficult to believe, the other points raised seem to be confirmed with this reply from Postcard United. The site is registered through GoDaddy and appears to be in a Canadian server.

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    1. Agreed - and thanks for the domain registration research! Good to know.

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  2. I'm a longtime Postcrossing user and I actually tried Postcard United for a very brief time (Solely due to my inability to wait to send more postcards through Postcrossing. It's addicting!) and was extremely disappointed. I put the same effort and enthusiasm I use for Postcrossing into my first batch of postcards through Postcard United. Well, it was all for nothing. I finally received a couple of postcards back but it took MONTHS. I also had users emailing me and threatening me if I didn't register the postcard they had sent - when I had never received it! I gave up on the site rather quickly and called it a lesson learned. After several months I received a message that they were deleting my "inactive" account if I didn't send more postcards. Why would I send more when I didn't receive more than a couple back from the original ones I sent out?! If you read the user comments here: https://www.postcardunited.com/blog/inactive-account-and-late-or-non-registration-of-postcard. It seems I'm not the only one with this experience. Like I said, lesson learned. It's only Postcrossing for me from now on.

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    1. Nikki, thanks so much for this valuable feedback! You're the only person I've heard from who's actually used Postcard United to exchange postcards (or not), and this is very illuminating. I can't get directly to the page you referenced because every time I enter a link the PU website kicks me back to the dashboard page, but I navigated to it and am reading the comments now. Very interesting.

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  3. I use Postcrossing and PostcardUnited in about equal measure in recent months and they both work fine for me. I find that a few more go expired on PostcardUnited than Postcrossing for whatever reasons but not to the extent that it is extremely concerning for me and I realize that such actions are out of control for the site owner--people have to be responsible for registering your cards even if they choose not to continue sending them. I receive return postcards on each without a problem. I'm not sure why it would take months to receive them in return as I didn't have that experience when I started out but...I don't know! There seems to be some "animosity" of some sort between the sites that I cannot speak on at all but I simply have to wonder if it is warranted in whatever capacity as there is no "legal right" to the usage of that idea, right? I really would have no clue to the official answer on that but it's hard to imagine that were to be the case! I can say that I mentioned PostcardUnited in a Postcrossing DM to someone once upon a time and it got "blacked out" and the URL was replaced with some verbiage about being a "copy cat site" or something of that sort and that was really odd! I've emailed PostcardUnited with questions several times and they have been polite about it though I'm not quite sure where they are based from and I've asked that question as well. I also joined simply because I wanted to send and receive random postcards at a larger volume and it has accomplished that for me. PostcardUnited does have some slightly slower servers as the site moves a little slower but I've never had an issue with a user there and the site does ultimately work. That's simply my own feedback from my personal experience with it!

    Soooo...that being said...these are not the only two postcard exchange sites out there but probably are the two most popular at this exact point in time. I also use PostcardHub and IntPostage though they work just a little bit differently. I don't know where PostcardHub is based from but I would say IntPostage is most definitely Russian based being that the bulk of the users are Russian but it can be used by non-Russian speakers. I have to use Google Translate some on a few of the profiles but I can otherwise understand how to use it.

    Ultimately...I use both sites and like using both of them. Postcrossing is most certainly the more developed site though, of course, has been around for many years now. PostcardUnited is a decent solution if you're looking to send and receive more postcards at time. Just my "two cents!" :)

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    1. Christina, thank you so much for writing out your two cents - this is really great to know, and I appreciate your fair and measured account of the experience. I am glad to hear that there are happy Postcard United users out there (and you are among them!), and that the site works well for you. Interesting about the animosity between the sites, and I would venture that Postcrossing does have an intellectual property claim if nothing else. The legalities vary, of course, based on where each site is based, so in fact there may be a "legal right" beyond intellectual property, especially if Postcrossing has done any trademarks. I am all too aware of this based on my own experience with "copycat" sites to Missive Maven. I have little recourse in some countries, and that is in part why I find it so ... disconcerting ... that Postcard United won't say where it's based. But really that's all semantics. Ultimately I trust Postcrossing without reservation because those who run it (still maybe just Paolo and Ana?) are transparent and extremely professional. I've been on that site for 11 years and have been a supporter (financially) for most of that time, and any time there is a problem (even when I wasn't a paid supporter), they are super-quick to address it in a very kind and professional manner - everything from a programming glitch to a problem with another user (long story, who refused to register a postcard because she didn't like it!). So from their standpoint, I can understand how frustrating it would be for someone to copy the idea which has been their labor of love for so many years. However... these things happen, imitation is the highest form of flattery, etc... and ultimately we all make our own decisions. I'll stick happily to Postcrossing since I've already proven to myself that at this point that it is impossible for me to max out the number of postcards I can now have traveling at once (45!), and I find Postcrossing users as a whole to be a really great bunch.

      Fascinating that a reference to Postcard United was blocked from a private Postcrossing message - it was on a Postcrossing public profile that I first learned of Postcard United!

      Now, on to your next point - WOW, I had no idea there were so many postcard exchange sites out there! Thank you so much for mentioning the others, since that may be of interest for someone looking to exchange more postcards with other services. Very cool to know!

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  4. Oh...regarding the response from PostcardUnited...it seemed a bit presumptuous...I agree...as you didn't imply hatred of the site in just asking some questions. I am guessing that they are a bit on the defense due to their consistent comparison to Postcrossing when, really, it is a different site with the same premise. I think, again, this goes back to whether this is okay or not and, well, if there is no legal right to Postcrossing to be the only one to use their platform then I would say that not much can be said about it but I wouldn't really know!

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    1. Yes, that response is what concerned me more than anything. It strikes me as illogical to be on the defense about the comparison to Postcrossing when the latter was the original and Postcard United is clearly a copy about that. How can the comparison even be avoided? It seems more reasonable just to "own" that and move forward, but again, I don't know the legal issues.

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    2. I agree! I think the issue would be unavoidable as a whole being that Postcrossing is the original postcard exchange site and PostcardUnited is quite similar in many ways, therefore, they should expect such questions. I don't want to go in circles on the idea but I see your point regarding the intellectual property claim. I agree that the owners of Postcrossing are always kind and professional--they run a great site and I'm a stickler for loving how organized they are about their statistics!

      I will continue to use both sites but I had just wanted to put it out there that PostcardUnited did genuinely work for me albeit it is slightly more glitchy but I wouldn't say it is so much so that it is unusable for the purpose of getting more mail and, hey, that's why I'm there...global and cultural insights, friendship and mail!

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  5. Erm... did you see the latest post/rant on their blog? https://www.postcardunited.com/blog/postcard-united-we-stand-divided-we-fall.

    I feel like they're somehow replying to you... though they do sound awfully bitter about it. :|

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    1. Yup, saw that, thanks - someone else pointed it out to me also but I appreciate the heads up. C'est la vie.

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  6. Have I generated fake accounts at your website, Ilona?

    Although I signed up to Postcard United, I didn't receive the confirmation email from the site - wasn't in spam or anywhere. I had forgotten about it as I was almost completely offline for 3 weeks (hence late noticing your blogpost). I clicked on their FAQ but there doesn't seem to be one. I don't think I will follow this up.

    I did see the new blog posts on the PU site. I didn't notice they had ads as I use adblock. Have turned adblock off for Postcrossing though.

    Postcrossing still only has Paulo and Ana, plus Mundoo to run the main site - their hard work has been paying off what with quite a few countries' postal administrations celebrating Postcrossing on their stamps.

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    1. Interesting... and no, I don't think it's possible to make accounts on this website, fake or otherwise!

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    2. I just checked the spam folder now. The first verification email came through 3 days after I signed up (I didn't check it before my previous comment). Then, as I hadn't validated my email, more verification emails came daily. Did they really have to spam me that often? No wonder they ended up in the spam folder.

      Earlier this month, I sent my first Postcrossing postcard in years. I forgot what a thrill it was to receive the Hurray message.

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    3. Oh dear... well, Happy Postcrossing! :-)

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  7. So, I realize I am late to the game, but I thought I could add a few notes about Postcardunited.
    I have been a user of postcrossing for some time, and enjoy it. It operates smoothly, I can look up users, I can get help if an ID is wrong, and everybody seems to have some basic understanding of postcard exchange.

    Postcardunited on the other hand... the site is less than perfect, there seems to be no way to look up other users (for direct exchange etc), and you're in the dark if the ID is wrong.
    I personally have not seen that it takes months for cards to get anywhere. I have noticed though that users seem less relational and will literally just write the ID on the card instead of a note about themselves. This occurs much less frequently with postcrossing.
    The biggest pro with postcard united is that it is still small, so the chances that you may receive a card from a "rare country" are much higher. For example, I always have cards in my box from Malaysia because of PCUnited, but Malaysia seems to be a hot commodity on Pcrossing.
    So one site you are going to be flooded with Germany, Russia, USA and The Netherlands. The other will be Malaysia, and China heavy.
    But those rare cards make all the annoyance worth it to me.
    - Atratus of Postcrossing

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    1. Hi Atratus - Thanks for this feedback - very useful info, and I appreciate you taking the time to share it. I get a lot of postcards from Malaysia on Postcrossing, but that could be because I send so many, and I've been participating for so long.

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