Learn New Words, Give Free Rice
October 17, 2007 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Give ten grains of rice for each word you get right. It builds up very quickly.
posted by divabat (131 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I keep wanting to see what happens when you fail, but I'd feel like a bastard for intentionally missing one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:04 PM on October 17, 2007


Is this funded by the ad refreshes? I don't understand where the rice comes from.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:04 PM on October 17, 2007


Who's the sucker who gets to count out the grains of rice?
posted by phatkitten at 5:05 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't understand where the rice comes from.

Or if they have a stockpile of rice, why they don’t just donate it all now.
posted by tepidmonkey at 5:06 PM on October 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


Didn't a Bond villain do this at some point?

Yes, Mister Bond, if you do not correctly guess the definitions of the following words, I will destroy the entire food supply of China!
posted by shakespeherian at 5:08 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Googling tells me that there are around one million grains of rice in a 20kg sack, so this might take a while. I think I'm up to an eigth of a cup but I don't feel as stupid as I did this morning, so that's something.
posted by Cyrano at 5:10 PM on October 17, 2007


The rice is paid for by the advertisers. Be sure and turn off your adblock while you play. Very cool.
posted by Manjusri at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2007


There are 50 levels in all, but it is rare for people to get above level 48.

It's really hard to stay in the high forties for more than a few questions.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:13 PM on October 17, 2007


Fun! I was at level 45 when I had donated 1000 grains. 47 was my level of incompetence. I never got above it and rarely even recognized root forms in that vocabulary set.
posted by mwhybark at 5:19 PM on October 17, 2007


Computer adaptive testing is fun.

I got 800 on both my SAT and GRE verbals, and for 1000 grains I was mostly hovering around 45.

The GRE tended to have words that were a little longer and WTF than this one, but that you were more likely to be able to figure from Latin roots.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:24 PM on October 17, 2007


Cute and all, but I'm with the poster who said they should cut out the game and just donate the rice ASAP -- I'm sure the people need it shouldn't have to wait while I'm clicking around.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Really, really hard to get above 47. And staying at 47 for longer than 10 or so questions is almost as difficult. I think it's because after 46, the latinate terms start dropping out in favor of all sorts of obscure anglo-saxon and germanic roots.
posted by felix betachat at 5:28 PM on October 17, 2007


Wait a second. So if I script this to just randomly keep answering "A" (remembering to pass and update the super secret hidden fields that the form is using to maintain state), maybe multi-thread the script, make sure the images get downloaded so that the advertisers are happy, and run it on a fast computer with decent bandwidth.....i will end world hunger right?

Sweet. 2008 Noble Peace Prize is all mine baby.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:29 PM on October 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


Thirded. I got up to 1000 grains, then stopped to figure out just how much rice that is. It's... really not that much. Just about 25 grams. That's like 5 cents worth, tops, for nearly 100 page views - I have no idea what actual web advertising rates are, but I wouldn't be surprised if freerice.com were actually pocketing the remainder.
posted by wanderingmind at 5:32 PM on October 17, 2007


Damn you ablative!

[this is good]
posted by infinitewindow at 5:35 PM on October 17, 2007


Yeah, at mid-forties I started feeling stupid. But what an awesome game concept. As stupid flash games go, this one left me feeling like I'd accomplished something a bit more important than, say, hamster shaving.
posted by verb at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2007


Do you get anything for hitting level 50? Like bonus grains?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:41 PM on October 17, 2007


This is pretty sweet, but I'm hovering between 42 and 43 and I think I've reached my limit.

I don't know if that should make me feel smart or dumb.
posted by quin at 5:48 PM on October 17, 2007


Lots of fun.

I keep wanting to see what happens when you fail, but I'd feel like a bastard for intentionally missing one.

I got up to 420 grains and Level 50 (with the help of a few lucky guesses) before blowing one; this is what it said:

Please try again. Your donation
total is 420 grains of rice.


Also, it dropped me back to Level 49, so I hightailed it out of there.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


How about they just give all the rice they plan to give, and we call it good? Assume we can use a dictionary, kthxbi.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:52 PM on October 17, 2007


Also, it dropped me back to Level 49, so I hightailed it out of there.

Now I don't feel so bad.

However, I'm frankly startled and shocked by the number of extraneous and truly useless words and/or roots I seem to know.
posted by loquacious at 5:55 PM on October 17, 2007


There's no end? I've hovered around 49 for awhile and am up to 2110 grains.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:09 PM on October 17, 2007


I felt the same, loquacious. Some words that I felt quite confident about I wasn't even aware of having seen before. Of course, a few were easily discernible by recognizing the roots. Overall, I hovered at a 45-46 level and felt fine about it. Plus, I donated 1000 grains of rice which, until the hive spoiled it, seemed like quite a lot!
posted by misha at 6:10 PM on October 17, 2007


Hmm, neat. But yeah.. stuck in the 45-47 zone.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:13 PM on October 17, 2007


How about they just give all the rice they plan to give, and we call it good? Assume we can use a dictionary...
The 10 grains of rice for each question is obviously a gimmick, but a good one. The sponsors donate some rice in return for some unobtrusive ads, the organisers raise awareness of their cause, and we get a neat game.
I’m not feeling the hate on this one.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:28 PM on October 17, 2007


The system is pretty wicked. I peaked at 48, but steadied in the 44-46 range. A couple thousand grains of rice doesn't seem like much though.

Probably good for student learners, studying for standardized tests, stuff like that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:29 PM on October 17, 2007


I assumed that the number of grains would double with each successive square, until the number exceeded the number of grains in the universe, and the Shah would have me executed out of sheer annoyance.

(Cool link, but after 500 grains or so I started feeling really stupid.)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:32 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I got to 50 at 700 grains (languagehat beat me good), but man, I kept slipping and sliding in the high 40s for a while, getting to 49 three times before I made 50.

I think it really, really helps if you're an amateur or professional medievalist, or at least a lapsed SCAdian. Or languagehat.

(Moi? Competitive?)
posted by maudlin at 6:32 PM on October 17, 2007


I'm with loquacious, only more so. This highlights an aspect of my own brain function that I have never understood or been able adequately to explain. I'm finding myself picking the right word, over and over again, and I don't know why it's right. I just have a gut feeling. Often I'm not even sure a split second later what the word I clicked was.

I seem to have a purely inherent genetic predisposition for understanding the English language. I've never learned the full taxonomy of the language structure, and while I can identify, say, an adverbial phrase, I can't even tell you the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb. But use one in place of the other and I'll come down on you like a large mass of cuboid building material, because it will sound wrong. It's nothing I've ever had to work at or study -- and since I'm lousy at studying, it's one of the few things at which I excel.

I don't have this talent with other languages. I've tried to learn others, and spent years studying them, to no avail. I'm simply born to speak English -- and I'm at a total loss to understand how that's possible.
posted by darksasami at 6:32 PM on October 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


Dammit, "palter," of course you mean "equivocate." I shoulda known that.

Still, 310 before I missed one. Level 47, though I had some lucky guesses.
posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on October 17, 2007


darksasami, I found I had the same quick reaction to a lot of the words I couldn't have defined before the test if you had held a gun to my head. As I mentioned, knowing a few archaic words helps, as does some familiarity with other languages, even if you don't speak them well. All I have in addition to English is some demi-cul French.
posted by maudlin at 6:37 PM on October 17, 2007


Dammit, if I'd studied Latin more diligently I'd have known nisus. Got up to 700 this time before bailing.

And what AndrewStephens said. Geez, people, if you're that concerned about maximizing rice, what are you doing wasting time on MeFi? Get out there and carry it to the hungry in your own hands! Sheesh. Can't we combine fun and erudition and do-gooding, even if on a tiny scale?

maudlin: heh.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 PM on October 17, 2007


Wow, those advertisements are tiny! This is the way to serve ads folks. Fun, each answer isn't much but then they can't be making much off those ads... I'd say it balances out about right.

I seem to be doing okay, going back and forth between 38 and 42.
posted by JHarris at 6:40 PM on October 17, 2007


Er, the "heh" was to your earlier comment. To this one, I say amen (and to darksasami): I know stuff I don't know how I know. Weird.
posted by languagehat at 6:41 PM on October 17, 2007


I only made it to 41 then I tossed in the towel.
posted by nola at 6:43 PM on October 17, 2007


Is this where we come to show off how well we did? Excellent link, I love the concept.
posted by Shutter at 6:46 PM on October 17, 2007


AH, made it to 44 a couple of times, whöt!
posted by JHarris at 6:46 PM on October 17, 2007


Ah, 45!

It's made a lot easier being in multiple-choice format. I'd love to be able to use some of the ones I got right in a sentence....
posted by JHarris at 6:55 PM on October 17, 2007


If you need to guess, I think a lot of the Latinate words refer to high concepts and relatively complex manufactured objects, or medical terms, while the Anglo-Saxon words refer to more common everyday objects, animals and geography.
posted by maudlin at 6:59 PM on October 17, 2007


Most people in this thread know about 10 points worth more words than I do.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 7:13 PM on October 17, 2007


Couldn't top 45.
Fun and frustrating.
4000 grains of rice (yeah, I had a long work day and this was like floating on words: very relaxing).
Greek and Latin roots were easy. Many more French words than I thought. I could see that some words came from India or South-Africa but their meaning mostly escaped me.
Thanks, divabat.
posted by bru at 7:17 PM on October 17, 2007


The choices are pretty good, which makes guessing tricky. I guess you could say I've been overthinking a plate of rice.
posted by rob511 at 7:18 PM on October 17, 2007


Amazing how many incredibly obscure words refer to simple concepts. Like many of you, I did very well, by "intuition." (That is, subconsciously - OK, sometimes consciously - recognizing word roots from English or other languages).
posted by kozad at 7:18 PM on October 17, 2007


Most people in this thread know about 10 points worth more words than I do.

Every one of us is rich, thin, and handsome, too.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:19 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I did this for quite a bit but I'm really, really dubious that this is going to end world hunger.

Once we lose interest in the game (a few hours, tops) they're back to starving again. And such small amounts. It's piteous.

As I see it, massive corporations so want to see us always be in a branded world that they're willing to release a few pennies to hopelessly starving people if we just spend a few more minutes locked into them.

And how is handing people rice going to do anything in the long-term anyway?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:21 PM on October 17, 2007


  1. Fun.
  2. Frustrating.
  3. Have got up to 47 a few times, only to be knocked back down. Dammit.
  4. Just got "amygdaloid", which I actually have used* in a previous Metafilter post, believe it or not.
* Upon further inspection, I actually used "amygdala", not "amygdaloid". The amygdala is named "amygdala", however, because it is amygadloid. So, sue me.
posted by Flunkie at 7:30 PM on October 17, 2007


610, level 49, with hovering between 45 and 48.

And I am right there with darksasami and languagehat. I've just always grokked language since I taught myself to read at 2.
posted by Samizdata at 8:12 PM on October 17, 2007


17300, level 50 all the time. I guess learning to read while still in the womb helps.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


In all seriousness, I bet the electricity you use doing this is worth more than the value of the rice you earn for the third world.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:21 PM on October 17, 2007


My years of compulsive crossword puzzling finally pay off...
posted by Hal Mumkin at 8:25 PM on October 17, 2007


...I got up to 420 grains and Level 50
...It's really hard to stay in the high forties
...I was at level 45 when I had donated 1000 grains. 47 was my level of incompetence.
...I'm hovering between 42 and 43...
...I peaked at 48, but steadied in the 44-46 range.
...man, I kept slipping and sliding in the high 40s for a while...
etc


Man, I suck at this -- I can't get above 35, and looking at that bowl is making me hungry. I'd best philanthropize somewhere else.

(philanthropize is too a word.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:28 PM on October 17, 2007


Neat!

re: the small ads; it kinda get you in the subconcious, doesn't it? Instead of directly getting you to buy stuff from them, it's just to impression you with a good image to associate with the logo.

I guess the web is starting to mature.
posted by porpoise at 8:30 PM on October 17, 2007


You have now donated
8000 grains of rice.

Got up to 50 and stayed there.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:43 PM on October 17, 2007


I cüdnt git mor than too werds rite, butt LOLcats taut me to reed. Houked on LOLcats werked fer me.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:46 PM on October 17, 2007


After 1000 grains I'm at 42. Lots of words I've never heard of and have to try and tease out a root word or just make a wild guess.
posted by aerotive at 8:47 PM on October 17, 2007


Houked on LOLcats werked fer me.

Hoock'd on fonicks whoa'nt werk fer me.
posted by ericb at 8:51 PM on October 17, 2007


I think most people who speak english as a first language can agree with darksasami. I know exactly what [insert appropriate gender] means, and I think it's the case with anyone and their native language. We aren't taught to speak or write with 'gerunds' and 'past participles,' and in the same way we aren't taught to look for those when we read. It's only when we are taught foreign languages that we get this approach and I think that the reason so many people find it so hard to learn a language (and I could very easily be wrong about this) is because we don't even know what those grammatical laws are in our own language. At least, this has always been my experience.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 8:53 PM on October 17, 2007


Reminds me of the Shawshank Redemptions "What, didn't you hear? Everybody at Shawshank is innocent!"

Apparently everybody on MeFi is a genius, because even though I got >90th percentile on the SAT verbal I'm getting in the low to mid 30s.
posted by Autarky at 8:57 PM on October 17, 2007


Sweatshop philanthropy?!

The ROI might be higher with gold farming. Sell a level 60 mage, feed a village.
posted by dhartung at 9:00 PM on October 17, 2007


inflatablekiwi: You would have to build a delay into your script. I got a tiny bit bored around 1000 grains and just started clicking random answers. After about 8 quick clicks I got:

Sorry, we are unable to process rice donations so fast.

Please click BACK on your browser and try again.


I'm thinking it I had to play this game to feed myself, I would get enough to eat about every three days.

And to the people who think they should just give over the rice without making people play this game...how do they get more when that's gone? The ad dollars will let them buy more.

And to the people who don't think this is that much rice, multiply your clicks by a few thousand, maybe a million if this catches on, and soon we're talking about real food.

I can't help thinking it'd do more for the hungy a lot quicker if everyone just gave a buck to charity.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:13 PM on October 17, 2007


Why don't they just give the rice they're going to get? The same reason the Red Cross doesn't donate every penny it receives. Well, let's see. They're using the money from the ads to buy the rice. No ads, no site, no rice. It's a small trickle, but it allows them to trick companies to slowly donating money and resources to a good cause, without the panhandling. The ad rates for tiny ads are low, hence the 10 grains of rice thing. However, each answer is a pageview, so it adds up.
As opposed to constant fund-raising and begging, which both companies and people get tired of, this is a small-scale, sustainable effort, and I'd love to see more of this.
posted by potch at 9:14 PM on October 17, 2007


i'm really glad i got 'aliment' correct.
posted by blendor at 9:19 PM on October 17, 2007


Be sure and turn off your adblock while you play.

How do the advertisers or the site know that you even have adblock on? I left mine on and the site appears to work the same.
posted by ChestnutMonkey at 9:30 PM on October 17, 2007


I managed to get to level 49 once, but mostly hovered around the 45-47 range. I think this is a good time waster, in that it is educational, challenging, (mildly) altruistic, and low stress. I got up to 2200 grains of rice, which is mostly meaningless - but is useful as a gauge for how long I was at it. Certainly a link worth passing around.
posted by birdsquared at 9:30 PM on October 17, 2007


Apparently everybody on MeFi is a genius, because even though I got >90th percentile on the SAT verbal I'm getting in the low to mid 30s.

Or perhaps those who did not score as high are less likely to post their scores on here.
posted by flarbuse at 9:31 PM on October 17, 2007


I hit 50 once, but I had a string of luck where I just happened to know weird words. A lot of the time it was roots that helped or just eliminating choices that didn't sound right. Fun.
posted by Falconetti at 9:37 PM on October 17, 2007


Fun. 45, but it's late and I'm going to kill that bastard tomorrow when I'm more awake. Rice balls for everyone!!

Also I hate to say this, but the thing can be gamed...usually the most obvious answer is the right one. If you start thinking to much you're screwed.
posted by Skygazer at 10:00 PM on October 17, 2007


My 15-year-old nephew hipped me to this a week ago.

He got me into his guild, and I started at level 50 and we soon had ten pounds of rice and a sweet raid on a horde outpost going.
posted by Camofrog at 10:21 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


At 1000 points my score started to sink below 40 where it had wavered, and head downward. It wasn't just words I didn't recognize (well, that too), but the realization that I was being paid to look at subtle ads, while being enticed by a game that constantly kept itself just ever so slightly above whatever level I could play at.

Somehow I was feeling used, even though it is for a good cause.
posted by eye of newt at 10:31 PM on October 17, 2007


You have to wonder how much energy it took over the five minutes or so spent on this to keep you alert, to keep your laptop awake, to keep some fat server somewhere clunking away, and to create the site in the first place...

You may as well donate $10 to the charity of your choice rather than trying to out smart-arse each other.

BTW, the USA has a pathetic record when it comes to Aid as a %age of income.

(Me: 1020 grains @ 42)
posted by marvin at 10:33 PM on October 17, 2007


Peaked at 48 and fell oh so quickly once I got cocky.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:51 PM on October 17, 2007


I found it very tough to stay on 50 for long.
posted by Wolof at 10:59 PM on October 17, 2007


I totally agree, the not-necessarily-rationally-known process of choosing the correct definition was a part of what made this so fun. The format meant that test-taking strategies were helpful, but the answers that were the most FUN were the ones where I fixated on a definition in ignorance of my reasoning.
posted by mwhybark at 11:00 PM on October 17, 2007


One of the options for 'decollate' was 'behead'. I knew it had something to do with separation, and and behead was the only thing remotely relating.

It's amazing how many of these can be guessed easily. A lot of these words, I'd never heard before but had a score of about 40.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 PM on October 17, 2007


oh, and FWIW, last time I checked, downstream referrals from mefui were more or less 5,000 additional site visitors. If the mefi surge here generated an average 700 grains per visitor (an optimistic outcome), that would be 3,500,000 grains, which according to figures upthread is about 65 kilos of rice, not bad for a weeknight's idling. Someone submit this to BB and /., puhleeze.
posted by mwhybark at 11:06 PM on October 17, 2007


ah, fkrssk. mefui = mefi, natch.
posted by mwhybark at 11:07 PM on October 17, 2007


mefi = mefui
.... sometimes.
posted by eye of newt at 11:21 PM on October 17, 2007


Does this game have any Achievements for level 50?
posted by Mikey-San at 11:46 PM on October 17, 2007


Got to 46 but then I gave up when it dumped me all the way back to 41 for getting 2 wrong in a row. That's just mean.
posted by juv3nal at 11:52 PM on October 17, 2007


50 was my limit: 47-8 was about where I hovered, but I'm a word geek.

Can't remember any trivia, but man I like me some obscure words.

Fun game, and it's nice to give a little rice while you're wasting time...
posted by jrochest at 12:24 AM on October 18, 2007


I got 51, but I did that by not visiting the site and just pulling that number out of my butt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:36 AM on October 18, 2007


Bored on the night shift.... so I played until I got to 3100. Peaked at 47, hovered around 42-43. Amazing how obscure some of these words are. Interestingly, I too found that I would sometimes just know the right answer, even for a word I didn't know. Also, I found that I did much better if I wasn't conscious of my current level. A few times I would get a couple wrong in a row, and dip down to the low 40s or high 30s. At that point I'd quit paying attention and a few minutes later, would notice that, hey, I'm at 45 again! Then I'd miss one.
posted by krash2fast at 12:38 AM on October 18, 2007


Heh, loquacious means talkative, I got that one. now what is the meaning of languagehat?
posted by Psychnic at 12:49 AM on October 18, 2007


He's a linguist. And he wears a hat.

Not all that arcane, really.

In case you were wondering, I am actually miraculous poultry.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:54 AM on October 18, 2007


I'll remember that when I see a hat-wearing linguist!

As a non-native speaker I find the roman-root words easier to use. Who knew 'persiflage' (lvl 50) means 'banter'?
posted by Psychnic at 1:28 AM on October 18, 2007


'persiflage' (lvl 50) means 'banter'?

Um, readers of Laurence Sterne?
posted by Wolof at 2:18 AM on October 18, 2007


Oddly, if the site had given you ten points for every word you got right, instead of ten grains of rice donated to someone in the third world, the amount of criticism in this thread would have dropped to zero.
posted by Prospero at 3:56 AM on October 18, 2007


Heh. This is funny. I just got 'meshuga'. Who knew Yiddish was suddenly as important to know as, say, latin derivatives.

(Meshuga came up at level 44)
posted by miss tea at 4:20 AM on October 18, 2007


the hunger site
also breast cancer, child health etc
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:48 AM on October 18, 2007


....from Blackadder, where Blackadder is tormenting Dr Johnson over his allegedly complete dictionary of English:

[Dr. Samuel Johnson presents his comprehensive English dictionary to the Prince Regent.]

Johnson: This book, sir, contains every word in our beloved language!
Prince George: Hmmm.
Blackadder: Every single one, sir?
Johnson: Every single word, sir!
Blackadder: Oh. Well, in that case, sir, I hope you will not object if I also offer the Doctor my most enthusiastic… contrafibularities.
Johnson: What?!
Blackadder: Contrafibularities, sir? It is a common word, down our way.
Johnson: Damn!
[Dr. Johnson scribbles in his book. ]
Blackadder: Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I'm anuspeptic, transmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation.

(its weird when you go back and watch BA, and realise that the prince is Dr Gregory House!)
posted by daveyt at 5:29 AM on October 18, 2007


I'm sure the people who put this together had fun.. one of the (incorrect) choices for the meaning of 'cockloft' was 'womb'.

It didn't offer me 'your new favourite exclamation', sadly.
posted by plant at 6:03 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


contrafibularities ... anuspeptic, transmotic ... compunctuous ... pericombobulation.

Sigh. Those are all such great usernames.

And daveyt, everyone on BA turns out to be someone else: Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Jim Broadbent... That's part of the fun, I think.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:12 AM on October 18, 2007


It's a fun game. I played for 1000 grains, then I posted about it in my journal and did a little digging. FreeRice's sister site is Poverty.com, which is founded by an individual named John Breen. With a little googling, one can find an opinion by him from last year against the practice of abortion.

Given the 1,000,000 grains in a 20 kg sack, from Cyrano, it may be worthwhile to ask whether you feel like you should support an organization founded by such an individual (or maybe play it obsessively, depending on your political/social opinion of the practice of abortion).
posted by kalessin at 6:12 AM on October 18, 2007


I'm sure the people who put this together had fun.. one of the (incorrect) choices for the meaning of 'cockloft' was 'womb'.

Yeah, I think that's why this is so much fun: the people who created it really care about words and have a sneaky sense of humor. Most "word game" sites use stupid words and/or definitions and pall quickly. With this, you keep going partly for the new words and partly for the fun of the fake definitions.

Cockloft is a great word, and the OED has some enjoyable citations:

1640-4 OWEN O'CONALLY Irish Conspir. in Rushw. Hist. Coll. III. I. 400 In the end, the Sheriffs of the City..found him hidden in a Cock-loft, in an obscure House. [...] 1865 Sat. Rev. 8 July 48/1 The notion of a prince having to climb into a cockloft approaches the tragic.
fig. 1667 H. MORE Div. Dial. iv. §29 Cuphophron has been so mewed up in his Philosophical and Metaphysical Cock-loft. 1708 MOTTEUX Rabelais V. viii. 32 Un~nestle the Angels from their Cockloft. 1859 GEN. P. THOMPSON Audi Alt. II. lxxxii. 42 The right.. of every man to view the past from his own cock-loft.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on October 18, 2007


On non-preview;

it may be worthwhile to ask whether you feel like you should support an organization founded by such an individual

Oh for god's sake. Do we have to turn every fucking thing into a political litmus test? Don't read Hemingway—he was mean to women! Don't study Bobby Fischer's chess games—he's an anti-Semite! And just wait till I tell you about Noah Webster's politics: you won't want to use a dictionary ever again.
posted by languagehat at 6:26 AM on October 18, 2007 [10 favorites]


Wow, languagehat, nice rant.
posted by kalessin at 6:46 AM on October 18, 2007


Meshuga made me laugh too. Hell, I knew that one when I was a little maydela.

But this is addictive and fun for geeks like me. If only it didn't reveal just how much word geekhood I have left to attain. 50, you're so close.....
posted by bassjump at 7:04 AM on October 18, 2007


If you need some coaching to get to the higher numbers check out Wordsmith's daily newsletter for some coaching.
posted by BlueMetal at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2007


Grains of rice in a 20kg bag: 1,000,000.
Typical cost of a 20lb bag of rice (retail): $15.99
Typical cost 50 lb bag of white long grain rice (wholesale): $11.00

Low estimate cost per 10 grains of rice: ($11 / (50 pounds)) * ((20 kg) / 1 000 000) * 10 = $0.0000970033954 / 10 grains of rice
High estimate cost per 10 grains of rice:  ($15.99 / (20 pounds)) * ((20 kg) / 1 000 000) * 10 = $0.000352519157 / 10 grains of rice

Estimated hit rate for 1,000 grains of rice: 66%
Total page impressions for 1,000 grains of rice: 150

Low estimate cost for 1,000 grains of rice: $0.09700 ~= $0.10
High estimate cost for 1,000 grains of rice: $0.35252 ~= $0.35

Number of advertisers per page at FreeRice: 3
Low estimate payout per 1000 impressions (CPM): $10
High estimate payout per 1000 impressisons (CPM): $40 (same link as above)

Low estimate payout for 1 page impression: $0.01
High estimate payout for 1 page impression $0.04

Low estimate payout for 150 page impressions: $1.50
HIgh estimate payout for 150 page impressions: $6.00

Low estimate profit for 150 page impressions versus 1,000 grains of rice: $1.15
High estimate profit for 150 page impressions versus 1,000 grains of rice: $5.65

Question: Where does the profit go?

(note: I didn't take the lowest of the low or the highest of the high costs that I could see to do the figuring. I tried to do middle of the road estimates, but ymmv, of course. At least it illustrates the potential ad-impression-driven profit power of your typical Mefite post.)
posted by kalessin at 8:07 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oops, I'm off by a factor of 3 for the page impressions. Please to multiply the high/low estimate payouts by a factor of 3.

Totals should be:
Low profit: $4.15
High profit: $17.65
posted by kalessin at 8:09 AM on October 18, 2007


I know all the known words--the words I know I know. I also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, I know there are some words I do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns--the words I don't know I don't know. And every once in a while there are unknown knowns--the words I know, but didn't know I know. I like those. Then there are the knews--knowns that I slowly stop knowing--like the word "know" when I look at it a lot.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:40 AM on October 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


...and then the math guys showed up.

“I'm finding myself picking the right word, over and over again, and I don't know why it's right.”

Me too. Maybe I played too much scrabble with W. F. Buckley. (Although I do read a lot of diverse stuff, almost obsessively) I’m hovering around 50 with ab. 760 grains.
I knew cavalla (king mackerel) only because there’s a famous sub named that. And gyve ‘cos I read a lot of Shakespeare. There’s some controversy over whether it’s provenience or provenance.
Do they seriously *want* to feed people?

Perhaps the intuative thing is related to that deal where you choose shapes y’know? There must be a relationship to the (mental or otherwise) sound of a word and it’s specific subject.
Like there’s an angled pointy sort of shape and then a rounded bulbous sort of shape and you have to choose (arbitrarially) which one is called a “boolba” or some such. And most people choose the rounded shape to be a boolba and the gray aliens typically choose the pointy shape.

...perhaps I’ve revealed too much.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:46 AM on October 18, 2007


Well, Smedleyman, it's just one math guy, and honestly I did it cuz I got frustrated with languagehat's rant, and wanted to go find out for myself. I flubbed the math twice, though. It actually turns out I was off by a decimal place for rice costs, making the rice more expensive than it would be. The low profit now stands at $4.44 and the high at $17.99, but these are just guidelines and estimates. I have no idea what the charity's real advertising/donation arrangements are with the advertisers in question.
posted by kalessin at 8:51 AM on October 18, 2007


Prospero: "Oddly, if the site had given you ten points for every word you got right, instead of ten grains of rice donated to someone in the third world, the amount of criticism in this thread would have dropped to zero."

Yeah, I don't feel used at all. Even if the site is only giving 1% of their profits to hunger, and pocketing 99%, it's not like anyone required them to give anything but points away.

I would like them to add a correct/incorrent ratio with total attempts noted.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:54 AM on October 18, 2007


HAY GUISE DOES ANY1 HAVE A WALK_THRU FOR THIS I CANT BET ABOVE LEVEL 38 I NEED TO LVL UP KTHX
posted by oats at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2007


Wow! I beat languagehat! I reached 50 with 350 rice grains. Granted, I'll still keep playing, since it seems to be going to a good cause.
posted by jonp72 at 10:57 AM on October 18, 2007


Wow! I beat languagehat!

You may well have, but it's not clear from what I wrote, which is "I got up to 420 grains and Level 50..." That means that when I quit I was at 420 grains and Level 50; I had been at 50 for a while, but I don't know how long. It may well have been after 350, in which case: Congratulations!

I got frustrated with languagehat's rant, and wanted to go find out for myself.

I don't understand what your math has to do with my rant. I was frustrated because a thread about a fun game that had nothing to do with politics got derailed by somebody determined to ferret out some reason we should feel bad about having our fun; your math, whatever the results once you correct for whatever errors you made, has nothing to do with it. I don't care how much profit they make. It's a fun game, for pete's sake, and playing it isn't hurting anybody.
posted by languagehat at 11:10 AM on October 18, 2007


languagehat, I'm sorry to have offended you. My philosophy is that the personal (i.e. playing games, flicking boogers, whatever) is the political (i.e. if I play games that are linked to finances by folks who do social activism and have political/religious views that inform that activism, it would be a better ethical choice [for me, and for me alone, not you], to find an equivalent charity game to spend my time with that promulgates my overall social goals).

You don't have to share that philosophy, but I don't have to share yours. That's where the necessity for personal boundaries while being a good citizen on the Internet come from, as I'm sure you already know. :)
posted by kalessin at 11:24 AM on October 18, 2007


Well, whatever the case kalessin, you’ve probably got more maths than I do.
*eyes slide rule suspiciously*
posted by Smedleyman at 11:59 AM on October 18, 2007


Probably, though I didn't use it very well, as I kept losing decimal places. I'll double or triple check my maths next time. :)
posted by kalessin at 12:06 PM on October 18, 2007


My score is (only) around 30. My excuse that my native language is dutch.
I do wonder though about the average score of people whose first language is non-english too.
posted by RobHoi at 12:23 PM on October 18, 2007


i love these sort of threads.

"I keep getting to 50 after 100 grains, the software must not be able to handle my ponderous brain. It's really been a burden for me, ever since I taught myself how to read in utero. sigh."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:10 PM on October 18, 2007


Looks like this is likely to be legit. On the freerice.com about page, it mentions that it is the "sister site" of poverty.com.

Poverty.com's about page
says that it is operated by an individual named John Breen. A little googling reveals a press release that mentions John Breen as the founder of "The Hunger Site", which was an ad-sponsored "click to donate" site from 2000 or so that (again according to the press release) ended up sending 3,000 metric tons of food to the UN World Food program (the same beneficiary of freerice.com).

According to Snopes and About.com, the hunger site was real, and did actually donate a lot of food. Sounds like this guy is trying to repeat his previous success.
posted by reborndata at 1:53 PM on October 18, 2007


I'm not calling FreeRice.com a hoax. If it lives up to its end of the bargain, that's great. I'm just saying it could be making a lot more profit on your time spent on the game (and presumably being exposed to ad impressions) than you think.
posted by kalessin at 2:29 PM on October 18, 2007


Perfect score with the oed open on another tab.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 2:39 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I struggled to keep at 40 (400-odd grains). Then again, being foreign and not a language buff (very little french and latin) those words kept me guessing.

I do like words.
posted by flippant at 2:58 PM on October 18, 2007


Although it's true that commenters in this thread are self-selecting, I do think that this thread demonstrates just how advanced are the English language skills of the typical mefite relative to those of most other web communities.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:01 PM on October 18, 2007


lolz. EB u rule - dat's Fer scher.
posted by quin at 3:27 PM on October 18, 2007


That's where the necessity for personal boundaries while being a good citizen on the Internet come from, as I'm sure you already know. :)

I FUCKED YOUR MOTHER LAST NIGHT.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:36 PM on October 18, 2007


Whoever put the site together has anticipated a pretty high potential amount of time that people may stick with it. The little bowls of rice that serve as a score for each 100 and 1000 grains have enough space to register about 11,000 grains - enough for the most work-shy office drone or biggest insomniac. Also there are sufficiently many word in the database that after a couple of thousand grains I have still seen few repetitions (although I have managed to get some that did appear wrong more than once!).
posted by rongorongo at 4:00 PM on October 18, 2007


The little bowls of rice that serve as a score for each 100 and 1000 grains have enough space to register about 11,000 grains - enough for the most work-shy office drone or biggest insomniac.

The score runs indefinitely -- the pictograms just reset after 10k. Don't ask me how I know that.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:15 PM on October 18, 2007


Hrm. I got up to 47 quick-like, then dropped a couple, and somehow levels 42-44 seemed much more difficult the second time around, and it took me a good long time to get back up again. Ah well, a fun diversion nonetheless.

If they hired third-world children to count the grains of rice, it'd be even cooler, no?
posted by po at 7:24 PM on October 18, 2007


I think it'd be more exciting if they forcibly took away ten grains of rice from starving people every time you got a word wrong.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:13 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the way, I hovered around 45, which I thought was pretty good until I read this thread. Is it just me, or does anyone else at about this level of vocabulary find it surprising that there's still so many words you don't know? I started out young with a large vocabulary and its just grown as I've aged and I hardly ever come across words I don't know these days. So it's a shock to be presented with a whole bunch of words I don't know all at once.

Other than languagehat—who is a linguist, polyglot, philologist, and editor—are you 50-scorers just naturally greatly endowed with vocabulary, or have you made special efforts to increase it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:45 PM on October 18, 2007


Learning a language or two other than English can be of help here.
posted by Wolof at 12:52 AM on October 19, 2007


Although obviously some are going to be more useful than others for this sort of task.
posted by Wolof at 1:07 AM on October 19, 2007


hmm, I had no idea there were so many words I didn't know.

I hit 48 once but mostly ranged from 44 - 46.
posted by lastobelus at 2:09 AM on October 19, 2007


I FUCKED YOUR MOTHER LAST NIGHT.

See now, the Internet is the only place I truly find out the expanse of my mother's sluttiness. It really is eye-opening.
posted by kalessin at 4:35 AM on October 19, 2007


EB, I got to 50 a few times on this. I speak English and some French (was semi-fluent during the my summer 1981 immersion course but have very weak French now), and have tried but failed to learn German a couple of times. I have a decent but not incredible everyday English vocabulary that I've never specifically tried to enhance. But I've always read voraciously, spent some time in the SCA, am pretty intuitive, and I'm generally pretty good at getting patterns from incomplete information.

So between my decent base vocabulary and my ability to guess effectively in this context, I was able to score well. But not as well as some people. Grr.
posted by maudlin at 12:40 PM on October 19, 2007


This happened while I was playing:

"Not Found

The requested URL /index.php was not found on this server."

Guess I will never know what nescience means now.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:03 PM on October 20, 2007


I think comparing the ad rates on something like this to general internet ad rates is probably not realistic. They're small ads, they're badly placed (with my screen in the default position, I only see the top half of them) and I'd guess the click through rate is truly atrocious. I'd be very surprised if they're getting anywhere near typical advertising rates for those placements.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:28 AM on October 23, 2007


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