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Rice for the world. April 25, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to tell you about a fun word game that tests your word savvy and feeds the poor. It doesn’t cost you a penny—just the amount of time you’re willing to spend on the quiz. When my girlfriend, Bridget, showed me the story about it in Sunday’s Parade magazine, I knew I had to check it out!

The site is called Freerice (www.freerice.com). As the Parade feature says, when you take the quiz, “For every correct answer, 10 grains of rice will be donated to needy countries through the World Food Programme. Eighty-nine billion grains—enough to feed 4.6 million people—have been donated since the site launched.”

Now ten grains per correct answer may not seem like much, but the numbers build quickly. I had racked up over 4100 grains of rice by the time Bridget finally dragged me away from the computer so we could have dinner, and the quiz showed no signs of slowing down.

The quiz is multiple-choice, and the words range in difficulty from 1 to 60. The better you do, the higher they raise the level of difficulty (giving you more obscure words to define), but if you start faltering, they’ll lower it. They’ll also show you the correct answers, then ask you the same word later to give you a chance to get it right (and donate more rice!). Sadly, I seemed to be stuck at level 55. I’ve challenged our friend Ben to try to beat that, and enlisted Silence Dogood to make sure OFB stays honest and tells me how he does.

I consider myself to have a pretty good working vocabulary, but I tell you, once you get up to the 50-plus level, the words were pretty darned obscure. Part of the problem is that the site is based on British English, and many words that would doubtless be child’s play to Brits were real posers to me. (Billingsgate? Wasn’t that a prison in London? What do you mean, it means “profanity”?!) I have to say that some of their definition choices also leave something to be desired, but at least if you know the word, you’ll be able to spot the closest match, even if it’s not the way you’d define it.

In any case, the quiz is fun, fast-moving, and definitely challenging. As the site says, you can learn something while you’re donating, so you get to help yourself while you help others. What a great idea!

Try it today and let us know how you do!

                 Warmly,

                             Richard Saunders

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