Procrastinate for charity

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What if you could procrastinate, and feel good about it? It’s possible with the help of a website called freerice.com. Launched in 2007 by John Breen, Freerice.com is a multiple-choice quiz website with the ingenious twist that for every answer you get right, 10 grains of rice will be donated to starving countries through the UN World Food Program. The website affords to pay for the rice through the advertisements, some placed by well known companies and others by private sponsors.

Freerice.com works by asking you a question and giving you four possible answers. Selecting the right answer will donate 10 grains of rice to charity. It is that simple. There are a variety of subjects available, ranging from maths to famous paintings, chemistry or geography. The original, and my personal favourite is the vocabulary test which ranges from the easy level one to the almost impossible level 60. You start at level one, and for each correct answer the questions get one level harder. If you get it wrong, you drop a level to an easier question. The game quickly becomes addictive as you try to beat your own best level. A little counter on the screen tells you how many grains of rice you have donated.

Freerice.com has come a long way since its inception in October 2007, on its first day 830 grains of rice were donated. On the 5th of May 2011 over 46 million grains of rice were donated, with 90 billion grains of rice having been donated to date. Since the UN food program took the website over, Freerice.com has been updated to include social networking elements so you can get your Facebook fix too. By signing up (for free) you can join groups of like-minded people donating, and you can record your scores.

It’s the perfect procrastination game because your mind is still active, and it may even expand your vocabulary (definition of apotropaic anyone?). but at the same time you feel like you are getting a break from the boredom of revising.

Of course, procrastination in large doses can be harmful, but in small doses it can provide a welcome break from the monotony of revision. So the next time you see an ad for a charity and feel guilty that you don’t have any spare cash to donate, or the next time you are watching Jeremy Kyle instead of revising, or using your internal phone line to call your friend in the room next door and ask if they are procrastinating too, then you should visit freerice.com, play the game, donate some food to the hungry and maybe even learn something while you’re at it.

Perhaps there is such a thing as a free meal…

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