Christmas – the time of goodwill and gifts and all that philosophical stuff – is coming. So, in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to start up an unusual charity project/experiment. Here’s the idea in a nutshell – for every link you point to this page, I will sponsor one new tree through the Trees for the Future organization. The goal is to get one thousand links and plant one thousand trees per month. You can find more details about on the project page.
That page should answer most of the what? and how? questions, so in this post I’ll concentrate more on the why’s and what if’s. Basically, this’s a personal rant.
Where The Idea Came From
Have you heard about FreeRice.com? It’s a site where you can donate rice by playing various educational games, such as an English vocabulory test. For every right answer, the site donates 20 grains of rice through the UN Food Program. This was the main inspiration for my idea, though there were lots of other factors as well.
The rest was amateur soc/psych stuff. The activity required must be something simple and easy for visitors to accomplish to lower the perceived cost. It must also bring some actual benefit (even if it’s very small) to the project, as otherwise it wouldn’t be economically viable. For FreeRice, this activity is the educational browser-based game. For Tree Link, it’s linking to a specific page. I think it’s sufficiently easy – a lot of web surfers have a blog to post about it/use social bookmarking/etc. It also creates some benefit due to the potential to generate traffic and ultimately ad revenue.
Oh, and it’s a good thing to do 🙂
Domains & Design
Would creating a brand new site for the project be better than using a subpage of this blog? Perhaps. However, building an entire site requires design skill and resources, neither of which is particularily abundant in this human(oid). Using a separate page on an established site is faster and guarantees some initial visitors. You can also think of it as of a prototype – quickly testing out a promising idea and building up if successful.
There’s one scary question : why would you trust me that I will actually donate to Trees for the Future, instead of reaping all the benefits and giving nothing in return? I’m sure some cynics would ask that.
Lets see. For one, there is this site you’re reading. It’s more than two years old and contains numerous tutorials, free programs, scripts, WordPress plugins, and so on. A bit of track record that should indicate I’m not going to go and disappear at the drop of a hat. Also, I’ve promised (on the project page) to post photographical proof of the donations. Should be enough for now.
Some negative factors that I can think of are the lack of a comprehensive “About” page (it’s hard to do well) and the absence of enviroment-related posts (it’s a background interest). Of course, these don’t seem that bad in my opinion, but they may appear significant to an uninformed passerby.
What If It Doesn’t Work?
The worst scenario is probably : nobody cares. There are two possibilities here – either most people think the idea is crap, or my efforts of trying to make it noticed are insufficient and it fails to take off. In this case, I would still donate a $100 or so to Trees for the Future, but it would probably stop there (at least for the time being). [insert whiny justification mentioning the financial crisis]
What If It Does?
The ideal scenario is something like this : the project gets thousands of links, I get a lot of ad revenue and plant thousands of trees every month. Everybody wins. Is this likely to happen? I suppose it all boils down to luck, mostly. The network effects are innately chaotic – you can’t reliably predict if something is going to work unless you’re a bona-fide social marketing guru. Yet I believe the idea is worthwhile.
And on this cheery note
all hail the hypnotoad the rant is concluded 🙂