While reading one of the communities on my friends list, I found one person who felt in strong need of chocolate. I thought, maybe I'd send this person some chocolate. But, of course, there is not enough identifying information to send a physical candy bar to this person.
Having been a fan of anon.penet.fi, my immediate thought was a physical re-mailing service.
A user would sign up for an account. For demonstrative purposes, suppose that the user chose the account name Alice. During registration, she provides an e-mail address and a snail mail address.
There are preference settings for:
- Require that mail have 'return username'.
- Require that mail have 'return e-mail address'.
- Require that mail have 'return snail mail address'.
- Accept only approved snail mail.
Technically, there will probably have to be something more elaborate so one can approve certain combinations: username + e-mail address, just username, just snail mail address, etc.
Then, suppose that user Bob wishes to send Alice a candy bar. Bob signs into his account. He selects Send package. He specifies to send it to Alice and gives a short (optional) description of the contents of the package.
If Alice requires a return username, Bob's username will be included. If Alice requires a return e-mail address, Bob's e-mail address will be included. If Alice requires a return snail mail address, then Bob's snail mail address will be included.
Assuming that Bob is willing to send that required information to Alice, he confirms this send request.
If Alice will only accept approved snail mail, she is notified of the send request which includes all of the return information and the short description of the package contents.
If Alice approves the send request or if Alice has not selected the Accept only approved snail mail option, Bob will then move on to buying a confirmation number.
Bob will pay a small handling fee ($3/$5/??) for which he will receive a confirmation number. Bob will snail mail the package w/confirmation number to the service's post office box.
The service will (assuming the confirmation number is one that has really been purchased) re-mail the package to its destination. Any associated return-address information will be included when the package is re-sent.