Free Rice

I was going to go to sleep, but this site is just too cool for me to not write about. It’s Free Rice, and it’s a simple vocabulary game. I “donated” 110 grains of rice today by playing the game. It shows you a word, and you need to select another word with an equivalent meaning, out of 4 choices. For each one you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to hungry people. The site’s advertisers ultimately pay for the rice, and I saw names like Macy’s, iTunes, and Toshiba. However, these might be simple affiliate links as I see they redirect through I guess rice is relatively inexpensive. They have a sweet domain name–– and an attractive website design, as well.

Of course, we’ve seen stuff like this before. I remember one where they donate a cup of food and it works by showing you a page of advertisers up to once per day. This is more fun because it’s actually a game. It’s like those image tagging games. It’s a game, but it accomplishes something at the same time. It adds to their database of images and tags. This one doesn’t do that, as their database already knows the meanings of the words. Heck– why not modify things a bit so that we actually do do something productive? I dunno exactly what it would be– maybe they could have us digitize the world’s books? It would give advertisers the confidence that users were real humans seeing their ads, too, which means they’d get a higher ROI, which means they’d be willing to pay more…

2 Responses to “Free Rice”

  1. Stanley Lam says:

    That’s true; there is a lot of untapped potential in the time that people spend clicking around the internet each day. If only there was a way to channel peoples’ energy more than by simply raising advertising money. If enough users take from the hours they spend online each day a few minutes and put it into something productive, the end result of all those minutes pooled together could be quite impressive. Two catches: one, to figure out a way to pool together those minutes into a productive project and two, to attract and retain a critical mass of users into this new business project.

  2. Elliot Lee says:

    Hey Stanley, thanks for the comment! People like to spend their energy playing games. The best games are ones you learn from, such as the Free Rice one, which aims to improve one’s vocabulary. I’m not sure what a productive project would be.

    There are three projects that come to mind: (1) The various distributed computing projects, which do things like find E.T. communications or evaluate possible disease treatments. This isn’t human potential, but machine potential. (2) Digitizing the world’s books, which I’ve already mentioned above. (3) Labeling images to improve search and organization.

Leave a Reply