FreeRice.com – Learn Vocabulary and Fight World Hunger

I saw this incredible site, FreeRice.com, mentioned at TreeHugger. The game is a simple concept: a word is shown, and you select the closest synonym from four choices. You’ll then be presented with a new word and choices. For every correct click, they will donate ten grains of rice to the United Nations’ World Food Programme. The site uses the first several words to estimate your vocabulary level and tailors the difficulty appropriately.

screenshot of FreeRice.com
FreeRice.com.

The implementation is wonderfully simple. There is no login, no registration required, and no e-mail address is needed. Just show up and start clicking. You can easily do it during downtime during work, between classes, or for a few minutes’ break at any time. It’s a great way to pass time, learn something, and help out an important cause. The distribution of difficulty levels ensures that people with a wide range of vocabulary levels will find the site engaging—the site easily found a level that would challenge me.

And you can be sure you’re effectively helping out a good cause. The money is donated directly to the U.N.’s World Food Programme, which as the food aid branch of the U.N. is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. (FreeRice.com is legitimate, too, so don’t worry.) Advertisers such as Office Depot, Apple, Fujitsu, and many more pay for rice. Their logos are small and unobtrusive at the bottom of the site, but I encourage you to patronize these businesses as a reward for supporting two excellent initiatives—stimulating learning and reducing world hunger

21 thoughts on “FreeRice.com – Learn Vocabulary and Fight World Hunger

  1. I played it for awhile until it just started making me feel stupid because I didn’t know definitions. But it’s nice to find a site that educates me and helps a cause at the same time. I’m bookmarking this one.

  2. The thing about sites like this is there is no way for an outside observer (such as us) to know how accurate the “10 grains of rice per click” thing really is. My insider experience with similar kinds of schemes, such as matching donations, is that the amount of the donation is known at the outset, and nothing that any members of the public do after that has any effect. The word game may be fun, and if you like it, play it for that reason, but it’s unlikely that each click is directly correlated with a certain amount of free food.

    If you really want to help the third world, you’d do much more good by working a few hours of overtime and donating the money you earned to a relevant charity, instead of using that time to click stuff on a website.

  3. → boutiquegirl, Nica Yes, I bookmarked it too! I think it’s quite an ingenious idea!

    → Cyde Weys I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience with corporate donation-matching programs. However, I’m not sure that’s applicable, and I think you might be missing the point of why some us enjoy this sort of thing. Donation-matching programs require companies to donate more money depending on how much money you donate. However, in this case, FreeRice.com likely earns advertising revenue with each click, so the correlation is logical. Then, too, I tend to be more on the trusting side than perhaps you are, but the UN’s statement seems to convey that they trust the site, too. Working overtime and donating to a charity isn’t a good equivalent. That might be a way to make a more powerful difference, but in doing so, you lose the appeal of this approach. The vocabulary quizzing and easy way to pass a few minutes is the benefit of this approach. I’m not advocating that people avoid giving to charity and instead play this game. Rather, I’m hoping to substitute games of Minesweeper or random web surfing to pass the time. For that matter, just because your job is structured that you can work additional hours for extra pay does not mean all people can do so (there is no such thing as “overtime” in my career, for instance). Finally, I think it’s counterproductive to dissuade people from doing something good just because you think they could put more effort in and do it even better. Expecting most people to work more and donate to charity is unrealistic. Programs such as these will do little to eat away at the pool of potential donors. And they have the potential to increase people’s awareness of issues such as world hunger and, over time, motivate them to take a more active role. If you discourage those who are making a tentative start by telling them they should invest much more heavily, I think you’ll just end up driving them away. I can understand that you personally don’t find this sort of thing appealing—there is no program that every person will enjoy. But I am a strong advocate of both knowledge (especially self-directed learning) and of social responsibility, and sites like this nicely combine the two.

  4. I agree, Darmok, and then some. As a school teacher there is quite often down time at the end of an assignment in the computer lab. For now on I am saying no to minesweeper and pinball but yes to FreeRice! Today we set a target of 200 grains each- they love it! I love how it self adjusts to the genius kids all the way down to the English language learners. Great site.

  5. Its nice to donate few grains, but here is how you could make a real difference – [content removed] program that answers the questions for you! Just run it and watch your pile of rice growing. It even “presses” the ads links once in while so everyone will be happy🙂 Dont forget to spread the word – [content removed]

  6. Noga, I’m afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm for such a program. Automated selection of the answers destroys the vocabulary-building portion of the site. And automated “clicking” of the advertisements certainly does not help the advertisers; it uses their bandwith and they pay fees per “click” or “view” but no one is actually viewing their advertisements. This seems to me to be unethical and if the site is abused in this manner, I would imagine advertisers would lose money and interest and pull out. I therefore removed the protam identifying information from your comment.

  7. → Teacher What an excellent idea! The level adjustment is one of the great strengths of the site, I think; it can keep people interested regardless of skill.

    → Ttechnotes That’s a cool idea for some added functionality. Thanks for letting me know about it!

  8. This is such a great experience for kids, they can learn by playing the games, they can have fun while playing the games too. They get excited everytime they donate the rice, not only because they are getting more points, but also because they are contributing to society! I THINK THIS IS A GREAT WEBSITE FOR PEOPLE OF ALL AGES!

  9. No fair. Everytime I get several hundred kernals of rice it clicks onto a can’t locate web page so I’m not helping anyone,.

  10. → Hunter The site mentioned by Jango may be similar, though I have not extensively evaluated it.

    → Ellen I am sorry you are having difficulty with the site. It would probably be more useful for you to ask for help there; I don’t know why it doesn’t seem to be working correctly for you.

  11. I go to 1000 several times a month and find it fun….and I like the way you reintroduce the words that you missed. Keep it up

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