Free stuff online


Senior Reporter

With the current economy, many people are looking for alternate ways to make money to supplement their income. While browsing the Internet, you may find yourself assaulted by ads that promise to reward you for doing practically nothing online. But are they valid ways to spend your time, either for income or for entertainment? And are they legitimate?

Websites vary in their requirements for signing up, and the rewards can be just as varied.

Microsoft’s Live Search Club — — requires only that participants provide a valid e-mail address and then allows them to play an assortment of flash games through their website to be rewarded “tickets.” The tickets can be redeemed for prizes, which can be as simple as a T-shirt or as extravagant as an XBOX 360.

The games are mostly based on word puzzles, such as games like “Spelling Bee” that gives you seven letters and challenges you to come up with as many words as you can using them, not unlike a game of Scrabble.

There is also the crossword-like “Flexicon,” which gives clues so obtuse that the game provides an Internet search option to look up the answer. Some of the games are repeated but with different backgrounds, so “Spelling Bee” with a baseball theme becomes “Word Slugger.”

Sites like ask visitors to sign up and fill out simple surveys from advertisers with questions like “How old are you?” and “How many all-terrain vehicles do you own?” The website pays participants for each survey they fill out, but site owners won’t issue a check until eight weeks after the time that a participant signs up. has a similar method, but pays participants for reading advertisement e-mails that they receive in whatever e-mail inbox they provide.

Like Live Search Club, both Inboxdollars and SurveySpot run based on advertising, but ask that participants provide their street address to send a check to, and Inboxdollars even requires a phone number. The website FAQs say this information is also used to send “relevant product samples” to program participants.

My Coke Rewards is yet another “something for nothing” program. Though more widely publicized, it allows people who collect codes from Coke bottles and boxes to enter their codes online and redeem them for prizes similar to Club Live. However, the product lineup on My Coke Rewards is frequently changing, and the only constantly available prizes are things like Coke T-shirts and subscriptions to “Entertainment Weekly.” Among the websites, examined above, My Coke Rewards takes the least amount of time, but also limits participants to enter only 10 codes a day, meaning that it’s also slower than the others.

How useful these websites are will depend on how willing you are to sift through ad e-mails that reward you a few pennies each or a 10-minute survey for three bucks. Live Search Club actually gives you a bit of fun in exchange for your time spent, but it takes many hours to afford a decent prize. None of them can replace a regular job, but even for someone who has time to kill, time may be better spent doing something else.