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Another Hurdle for Wordle


Wordle is the word-guessing game that went viral at the beginning of this year. But why and how did it become such a roaring success?

What is Wordle?

Wordle was developed by software engineer Josh Wardle. No prizes for guessing where he got the inspiration for the name of the puzzle.

Wardle developed the game as lockdown entertainment before he put it online last October. Since then, Wordle has taken over the world. 

The aim of the game is to guess the five-letter word. With no clues or starting points, players have to simply put in a random word. If you have correctly guessed a letter in the word, that letter tile will turn yellow. 

Source: Priscilla Du Preez

If you have guessed a letter and also correctly guessed its position in the word, the tile turns green. Incorrect letter guesses are marked off the keyboard at the bottom of the screen. 

Using these hints, players have 6 attempts to guess the word correctly. You have to enter word guesses from the approved dictionary – the game does not recognise made-up words, for example. 

Each day only one word is released, leaving avid fans counting down the minutes until they can see the tiles turn again. 

Wordle’s Popularity

Wordle’s premise is simple yet addictive – clearly, since the game has gone viral. The Daily Mail reported that at the beginning of November last year, the game had 90 players. Now the number of users is believed to be in the millions.  

However, recently the game has begun to cause controversy among Wordle fans. Creator Josh Wardle sold the puzzle to the New York Times in January. Rumours immediately began flying and Wardle is said to have received a seven-figure sum for the sale of the game. 

Wordle for Sale

Although the New York Times has apparently claimed that initially the game will remain free, many fear that soon a paywall will be introduced or that adds will be added to the site. 

The sale has also left some fans indignant for other reasons. Many have complained that the game has become more difficult since it was bought by the New York Times.

Credit: samchills / Flickr

Answers such as ‘caulk’ and ‘agora’ were branded as too challenging and obscure by some players (understandably – caulk is not in my every-day vocabulary). 

Technical Controversy

Two weeks ago, there was also a technical error on the New York Times website that meant there were two possible answers to the Wordle of the day.

If users followed the new URL for the game, they got the answer ‘aroma’. Players that did not refresh their browsers, however, were given the old puzzle.

The New York Times decided to drop the original answer, ‘agora’, over concerns that it would be too challenging – although this did not seem to stop ‘caulk’ from getting the go ahead. 

In the world of Wordle, this provoked outrage and many fans took to Twitter to vent about the scandal.

Concerns Over Offensiveness

The drama does not stop there. It has also been revealed the New York Times has been removing words from the approved dictionary. Words such as ‘slave’, ‘lynch’ and ‘wench’ were deemed inappropriate or offensive by the publication. 

While some fans questioned why words such as ‘slave’ were deemed offensive, others pointed out that the censoring of the game has so far been inconsistent. Some swear words, for example, remain as possible guesses.

Gaming site Polygon reported that a New York Times representative had confirmed that offensive words will be removed from the approved dictionary, but that this process is still ongoing. 

English or American Wordle?

British Wordle fans have also noticed Americanised spellings of some words. Players in the UK could be caught out, for example, by words such as ‘humor’ (British spelling: ‘humour’) or ‘favor’ (British spelling: ‘favour’). Even ‘caulk’ spiked further controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, as it can also be spelled ‘calk’. 

“Did You Get It?”

The counts against Wordle seem to be rising. However, so, too, does the number of players. Despite the numerous hurdles the game has faced, Wordle seems to have managed to keep fans guessing.

Here at IB Insider we are counting down the hours until the next puzzle is released. No spoilers for today’s Wordle – but who else got it in three guesses?

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