Some things we’ve learned

Nothing earth-shattering here on this hot summer day in Hong Kong, just thoughts built up over several years of managing this website.  We may adjust this list later, but for now, here we go, completely at random:


1.  The only certain grade for condition is “5” (space filler).  Nobody ever questions that.  For the most part, we think we’ve got the system down OK.


2.  Your scarce country or topic is not the same as my scarce country or topic–except when it is.  Macau is a good example.  Many people wouldn’t be able to find it on a map, much less get postcards from there, but for us it’s just next door.  Places like Guinea Bissau, or Djibouti, or Suriname are another story:  very, very hard to get (for us).  Not long ago we took a trip to Timor-Leste, a small country tucked away into a corner of Indonesia, and spent a fair amount of time just looking for any postcards at all.  (Yes, we found them.)  And as for themes, right now the one stumping us is Barber Shops.


3.  Pricing is absolutely arbitrary.  We’ve written about this before.  Keep in mind that 100-year-old postcards with stamp, postmark, and message often sell for less than a soft drink.  And for every customer who wants a fully-used card (stamp, postmark, airmail label, readable message), another wants the card to be completely unmarked and unused.


4.  There are size limits to these categories.  We are going to put a limit of 1000 cards in any one category, because that’s already well beyond most persons’ browsing tolerance.  (Good thing we got the search engine.)


5.  Any website these days can tell the owner a lot from the statistics it generates.  If you’re reading this, you know all about cookies.  Global Postcard Sales makes no use of these–they just come with the structure, so don’t worry.  Nobody should ever have gotten an unsolicited e-mail from us.  But things we can easily find, if we want to:  terms people put into the search engines, which cards get “hit” how many times, which search engine robots are doing their own scanning, and also the countries and cities where searchers live.  We don’t use this, or even look at it.  Yes, of course we know big sites use this for advertising.  We’re not that big.


6.  Ad cards are the most overlooked category.


7.  Scanning cards before entry is really, really tedious.  It is the most labour-intensive part of the process.


8.  China Post (we’ve written about them before, too) has bizarre items.  Going into one of their Philatelic units is like being surrounded by some sort of postal candy.


9.  Having the right web host, web structure, and web advice makes all the difference between happiness and total frustration.  After several false starts with hosts, we are satisfied now (touch wood), and with advice from our excellent web resource Triyanto in Indonesia, everything keeps running.


10.  Appreciate the value of a postcard that someone sends to you.  These little souvenirs don’t just appear out of thin air.  The card, the stamp, the mailbox, the thought … it all adds up.


Enough musing!  Back to work.