Play a game... donate rice?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rodimus Prime, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Rodimus Prime

    Rodimus Prime Sola Gratia, Sola Fide TFW2005 Supporter

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  2. Gnaw

    Gnaw Banned

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    Well, if it's true and they actually DO donate then I'll play it some more...got 200 grains.
     
  3. onesock

    onesock Banned

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    Yeah, this has been around for a few months. I got up to 2,000 one day.
     
  4. Prisoner1138

    Prisoner1138 TFW2005 Supporter

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    Wait... so they only donate rice if people play who have a decent vocabulary?

    Umm, why not just donate a couple a bag of rice and be done with it?
     
  5. Soundblaster1

    Soundblaster1 The Heisenberg of Toys

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    Just donated 500 grains of rice for the heck of it. That's about a serving, right?
     
  6. transmetropolitan

    transmetropolitan nonjon TFW2005 Supporter

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    This is legit. Here's an article from the local paper, Herald Times, that ran a month ago about it.

    -

    John Breen laughed when told that his Free Rice Web site is a current topic of interest on several Internet sites that vet "Internet hoaxes and urban legends."

    Free money from Microsoft’s Bill Gates? Millions from a Nigerian prince for just a little assistance in transferring funds? Free rice to feed the world by simply playing an online vocabulary game?

    Sound the buzzer on the first two. False. Too good to be true. But say, “cha-ching!” to the third. Yes, you can donate rice, at no out-of-pocket costs to you, and help feed impoverished people in Africa and Asia through Breen’s site at www.freerice.com.

    Since its start-up on Oct. 7, more than 16 billion grains of rice have been donated. That’s enough to feed 700,000 people for a day. And as the Bloomington-based software programmer pointed out, the program has only just begun.

    It’s helped that National Public Radio, the CBS Evening News and BBC Radio are among the national and international news organizations to run with stories about the free rice program. “It is nice to get that kind of notice,” Breen said recently from his office on Bloomington’s east side. “What it’s meant is that the program has grown a lot faster than I thought it would.”

    Breen became interested in poverty issues in Third World countries while studying economics at Harvard. He forged a career out of software programming after “being bitten by the computer bug” but maintained a personal interest in the paradox of hunger and starvation in a world with plenty of food to go around.

    He moved to Bloomington in 1996 when his wife, Patricia McManus, took a position in the sociology department at Indiana University. As an independent software programmer, he can do his work anywhere.

    In 1999, he created a Web site at www.poverty.com to illustrate the ripple effect of poverty as manifested in disease and death rates and access to education.

    “We tried to dramatize the hunger deaths — 25,000 a day,” Breen said. “It’s so big that people don’t want to think about it, so we tried to find creative ways to make those numbers seem more real.”

    Working with the United Nations and its World Food Program, Breen and other anti-hunger activists estimated that it would take about $195 billion a year to ensure that every person on Earth would have enough food to survive.

    At the March 2002 Monterrey Conference, 22 of the world’s wealthiest countries agreed to make “concrete efforts” to contribute 0.7 percent of their national income to meet that $195 billion goal. Some countries, primarily in Scandinavia, already have reached that level. Some, such as the United States, have not even announced a plan or schedule for meeting their pledges.

    As a result, the 50-year-old Breen started thinking of ways to more directly address world hunger. He recognized that if he could create a site that would attract advertisers, he could use that revenue to purchase food. Rice, a worldwide staple, appeared to be the best foodstuff to employ.

    How to attract viewers to his Web site would be the challenge. He knew from past experience that education is a key component in helping people pull themselves out of poverty. Influenced by his parental role of helping his teenaged sons with their homework and preparation for standardized testing, he thought of putting math questions on the site for viewers to answer and earn food to donate. Then he thought of science trivia.

    Finally, he hit upon vocabulary words. “To test it out, I started putting in words I didn’t know or vaguely knew. Like, ‘diaspora’, for example. I see that word a lot but was never quite sure if I really knew the full meaning of it.”

    Breen started putting in easy words, thinking those would be particularly attractive to kids and people learning English as a second language. Then he started building in more difficult words to create a challenge to various types of people. Now, professional lexicographers from Lexiteria, a Pennsylvania company, are providing vocabulary words to the site for free.

    Answer a question correctly, you earn 20 grains of rice. Five correct answers nets 100 grains of rice. The game automatically shows you how many grains you’ve earned.

    Breen has programmed the game to be intuitive, so that after three consecutive correct answers, it bumps you up to harder words. Miss a word and it bumps you down a level. “I never thought people would be interested in playing a vocabulary game but people really seem to like it,” the software programmer said.

    “At first, I thought adults would play simply to donate rice, but I’ve been surprised at how many people say they enjoy the vocabulary challenge,” Breen said.

    “With kids, they don’t like the vocabulary so much but they do like the idea they are giving rice to help the hungry.

    “They are idealistic people. I think it’s heartening that they keep at it because they know they’re doing a good thing.”

    The free rice organizer says his goal is to not just alleviate hunger but wipe it out. He believes that, just as poverty creates a downward spiral, access to food and nutrition can end starvation and subsistence living and make education and upward mobility possible. The World Food Program distributes the rice purchased by Breen’s Web site revenues and attempts to buy and distribute rice as locally as it can, so that it boosts the economy of impoverished areas.

    “Obviously, an international political solution would be the best way to address hunger issues but these things move slowly,” the Bloomington software programmer said. “And to be fair, things are better worldwide than they were even 50 years ago, mostly because China and India are forming huge middle classes. But 25,000 deaths a day is still far too many people in a world where we have the food, we have the money to get it distributed and we have the people who want to do it.”
     
  7. Random Autobot

    Random Autobot Soviet Kanukistani

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    2200 grains in about 10 minutes.
     

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