Free Rice - The problem with viral campaigns

A new day, a new site. "Free Rice" this time.

Play vocabulary games and the site will donate 20 grains of rice to the world's hungry via the World Food Program for every question you answer correctly.

The trouble with this site (and many others) is that
a) it is not for profit (how boring!!!)
b) its founders probably think 'oh what a good idea, one day we'll have 10 milion people clicking away and everyone will be well fed as they'll have free rice from our advertisers' (yeah right!!!)

Internet users are bored of such games. Sure, there'll always be 20 geeks in every country in the world that click through and get your rice count up or a few weeks and months, but then what? You've got your press coverage (and obviously, the journalists that do this coverage are just blinded by the simplicity of the idea rather than by its long term potential) and you've got your one minute of fame (okay, maybe 6 months). But now what?

So I checked. At this time, Free Rice seems to be 'donating' 250 million grains of rice everyday. Googling a bit, a kilo of long grain rice (Long grain? Unlikely donation) has about 50K grains, so 250 million grains equate to about 5000 kilograms of rice. Thats 5 metric tons. At about $200 (wild but fair guess) for a metric ton of rice, thats about $1K in advertising revenue donated towards buying rice for the WFP every day.

Thats actually pretty phenomenal for a website thats about a month old.

How long is that going to last? My guess is that this figure is probably going to grow a few times (so maybe $5K a day?) and then its going to slow down...slow down really quick. And then the internet is going to look for its next big fad.

The founders of this site however, are creating a graph in their head. A line chart that rises exponentially every month, until there is no hungry person left in the world.

If only the internet was this easy. If only the world's problems were so easy to solve.

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