|Type of site||click-to-donate site|
|Owner||United Nations World Food Program|
|Created by||John Breen|
Freerice is a website where users play various educational, multiple-choice games in order to fight world hunger. For every question the user answers correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated. The games include English vocabulary (the game the site began with), multiplication tables, pre-algebra, chemical symbols (basic or intermediate), English grammar, basic foreign language vocabulary for English speakers (French, German, Italian, and Spanish), geography (world capitals and country identification), and the identification of famous artwork.
The website went live on October 7, 2007 with 830 grains of rice donated on its first day. The second letter in its name was originally capitalized as "FreeRice."
On 20 November 2007, the WFP launched a campaign to "feed a child for Thanksgiving," encouraging internet users "to take time out from traditionally the busiest online shopping period of the year and help the hungry by playing phenomenally successful web-based vocab game, FreeRice."
For a brief while, the amount of rice donated per correct answer was increased to 20 grains, though this was reduced to 10 grains of rice per answer within a few months.
In March 2009 FreeRice website was donated to the UN World Food Programme.
Freerice 2.0 launch
In September 2010, the UN World Food Programme launched a new version of the game with social networking, groups, rankings and achievements. As part of the launch, the site dropped the second capitalization in its name, going from "FreeRice" to "Freerice."
Although English vocabulary is the original and default subject, players may choose from different subjects, including mathematics, chemistry, geography, art, and foreign languages (French, Spanish, Italian, and German). The maximum level of difficulty varies between subjects.
In exchange for advertisements on the website, various sponsors donate the money necessary to pay for the rice and other costs to run Freerice. The donations are distributed by the United Nations's World Food Programme (WFP), starting with Bangladesh. Freerice's partner is the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The most common countries receiving rice are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Bhutan, Uganda, and Nepal, even though Freerice can travel all over the world (as of early 2008). By this time, the site's creator had given over US$213,000 to the WFP which encourages people to visit freerice.com.
In its first six months of operation, Freerice donated over 42 billion grains of rice. One month after the inception of the viral marketing program, users had earned enough points for one billion grains of rice. The United Nation's World Food Programme stated that this amount could feed 50,000 people for one day, since it takes 400 grams or about 19,200 grains of rice to feed one adult for a day. Using this calculation, enough rice was donated in 2008 to feed over 6,000 people daily for each day of that year. Since its inception, as of October 15, 2010, Freerice players had earned sufficient rice to feed over 4.32 million people for one day.
Since Freerice became well-known through Digg.com and other news sources, many programming-adept users created scripts to automatically play the game for them. The scripts operate far faster than humans alone and run for 24 hours a day. At first, the scripts got only ≈1/4 of the words correct by random chance. Eventually, these bots were adapted with automated online dictionary search, dictionary files, and word database dumps so the programs can choose the correct answers the first time more often. The word database dumps were created so when the incorrect answer was chosen, the bots would record the correct answer the next page would show. Thus, the bot would choose the correct answer whenever it happened upon the same words later. Due to the growing number of scripts used on Freerice, the number of rice donated has remarkably risen. With a delay of about 3 seconds between iterations, it is estimated that a script can feed about 8 people per day, if running 24/7. The idea was taken even further to create a multi-threaded bot which can run fifty or more browser instances at a time, enough to produce as much as 600,000 grains of rice per hour or to feed 720 people per day. One script with 1,000 threads was able to donate over 3,000,000 grains in just a few hours.
Donated rice comes from the advertisements from sponsors. Therefore, abuse of scripts could lead to catastrophe, as advertisers prefer that actual people view their advertisements. Knowing the existence of the bots, Freerice updated their FAQ explaining the potential damage of botting. Some bots have made changes to make sure they won't spoil the Freerice spirit.
Yahoo! Pick of the Year 2007 – Charity Category – Winner
Berkman Award to Freerice.com creator, John Breen. He was recognized with a Berkman Award on May 16, 2008 for creating Freerice.com. At the Harvard University's Berkman Centre for Internet & Society’s tenth anniversary gala dinner, recipients of the Berkman Awards were chosen for their outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade.
|Month||Monthly grains of rice donated||Overall grains of rice donated|
|May 2010||1,273,109,000 (+1,410)*||78,562,768,500 (+1,410)|
|June 2010||690,482,290 (+5,800)*||79,253,250,790 (+7,210)|
|July 2010||441,562,950 (+20,430)*||80,840,611,840 (+27,640)|
|August 2010||605,922,360 (+18,155,100)*||81,446,534,200 (+18,182,740)|
|September 2010||671,694,660 (+476,215,490)*||82,118,228,860 (+494,398,230)|
^* FreeRice and Freerice 2.0 kept separate totals prior to mid October 2010. The above, where noted, displays the amounts from the original followed in parenthesis by the amount from the 2.0 totals. Both totals have since been merged.
Nov 01, 2010 - 28,980,940
Nov 02, 2010 - 42,202,950
Nov 03, 2010 - 50,098,870
Nov 04, 2010 - 55,894,230
Nov 05, 2010, - 60,171,650
Total All Dates 83,816,611,610
- October 7, 2007 – Freerice launches with 830 grains of rice donated on its first day
- November 10, 2007 – Freerice breaks the one-day 100,000,000-grain milestone with 122,377,240 donated grains
- November 28, 2007 – With continued sponsor support, Freerice doubles the number of grains donated for each correct definition from 10 to 20
- December 17, 2007 – Freerice breaks the one-day 300,000,000-grain milestone with 358,559,540 donated grains
- December 19, 2007 – 10 billion grains donated in total
- January 20, 2008 – 15 billion grains donated in total
- February 25, 2008 – 20 billion grains donated in total
- April 2, 2008 – 25 billion grains donated in total
- April 30, 2008 – 30 billion grains donated in total
- May 30, 2008 – 35 billion grains donated in total
- July 29, 2008 – 40 billion grains donated in total
- September 29, 2008 – 45 billion grains donated in total
- November 11, 2008 – 50 billion grains donated in total
- February, 2009 – 60 billion grains donated in total
- September 2009 – 70 billion grains donated in total
- June 2010 – 80 billion grains donated in total
- September 2010 – a new version of the game was launched with social networking and group functionality