My experiences of meeting mail artists on the net are much more personal and ongoing than the ones you describe. How strange! I meet mail artists more online these days than off. In fact, my continued correspondences with these artists are conducted on and offline with a vibrant mix of words and images in the post.
I am involved with three main online communities (www.plexus.org/chalkboard/oneworld, www.crosses.net, and www.livejournal.com) and several other online communities on yahoo dedicated to mail art. In my three primary mail art online communities I have experienced mailed projects with continued relationships conducted via email and snail mail. In fact when I followed a link to the Ray Johnsons on ebay I found Rain Rien Nevermind selling Ray Johnson homages and dada collages with verve and humor. With a little research I found that he's been in the mail art network since the mid 1970s. His work using ebay as a distribution system and at the same time subverting ebay's rules is very interesting work for mail art on the internet. I have had an online and offline correspondance with Rain Rien Nevermind for the last few months in which he incorporates images that I send him into his collages on ebay and I incorporate his use of ebay into my research on mail art and the Internet. RRN is coming to Texas to visit his family in the near future and we are arranging to meet in the classic mail art tourism style.
This experience with RRN and ebay is one example of what I was talking about in my encyclopedia entry. Since encyclopedias are traditionally about current events as well as historical background I feel that the more current information, as well as historical information, you have the more useful your encyclopedia will be to contemporary researchers. It is essential not to paint the portrait of mail art as dependent on any one distribution system. Mail art is mail, phone, fax, Internet, performance, tourism and yet to be revealed methods. A whole new generation is generating mail art and it is not our job to tell them they are wrong. It is more our role to watch and see where the communities form, what values they develop, whether from traditional mail art systems and values or new systems and values. We are participating observers of these far-reaching and fast changes; and some changes we will help to shape by providing our research on the net; other changes will be surprises and we will have to think about how they relate directly to mail art or point in a whole new direction.