The online game of Wordle has been online since November last year but it broke into popular view in January when the yellow and green chicklet pictograms started showing up in people’s social media timelines.

The game is elegant in its simplicity.

Wordle refreshingly lacks any viral loops (players are limited to a single game each day) and there is no flashing banner ads or login requirement. Wordle is an old school, web 1.0 mobile web site that sets a cookie to see if you’re a new user or returning user, that’s it.

Most people learned about Wordle from a Jan. 3rd NYT article, Wordle is a Love Story that profiled the creator of the game, Josh Wardle. Here we learn that Josh created Wordle for his partner and that Ms. Shah helped narrow down the list of words. We also learned that Josh was an Product Manager for Reddit and was also behind two other popular “collaborative social experiments,” The Button and Place.

We also learn about Wordle’s counter-intuitive viral success.

The breakthrough, he said, was limiting players to one game per day. That enforced a sense of scarcity … which leaves people wanting more

Wordle is a love story

The colored grids that have blossomed all across social media were inspired by players that were manually sharing their results using manually constructed grids using emoji (BuzzFeed digs into a group of New Zealanders who were part of this). Wardle built a way to automate the creation and sharing of the results but, again, chose to remove the normal elements that are “table stakes” on a mobile game,

If he were optimizing the game to gain as many players as possible, he would have included a link at the end of the tweet that the tool generates, he said. But after looking into it, he said it would have looked “trashy” and not as visually compelling, and he liked the grid’s mysterious air, which he felt piqued people’s interest.

Wordle is a love story

The result of this manufactured scarcity and mystery has been that the game exploded into the zeitgeist.

It also resulted in people rushing to the iOS app store and pay for an 5-year old game called Wordle!. Touchingly, Steven Cravotta, the developer, contacted Josh and the two worked out a charity to donate the proceeds.

Since then, there have been hundreds of posts going into the best “start words” (I like this Wired piece). As an ultimate badge of honor, Google even added an easter egg when you search for “wordle” on the site.

Due to the open nature of the site, there are several spin-offs including (credit to @waxpancake, the /r/wordle subreddit, and #wordle on SmartNews Slack for this list)

  • Absurdle – “adversarial” as the word changes on each line
  • Cladder – rapid guess three-letter words
  • Crosswordle – like wordle but backwards
  • Custom Wordle – confound your friends
  • Framed – five frames to guess the movie
  • Fraudle – when you just want to cheat
  • Heardle – name that tune wordle
  • Hello Wordl – configurable
  • Horsle – like wordle but the word is horse
  • Letterle – one letter, you have a 1 in 26 chance
  • Mathler – wordle using math equations
  • NSFWordle – just what you think it is
  • Poeltl – wordle for basketball players
  • Primel – instead of words, prime numbers
  • Queerdle – the self-proclaimed yassificaiton of the original
  • Semantle – guess the word based on semantic clues.
  • Sweardle – guess the four-letter swear word
  • Wordle Together – competitive? You can race against someone.
  • Wordle.ja – in 日本語
  • Duo Lingo put together a list of Wordle sites in other languages.
  • Worldle – guess the country

There are also a number of sites & services that have sprung up to make the Wordle experience more interesting.

  • @WordleStats will let you know how your results stack up against everyone sharing their results on Twitter.
  • Townscaper will take your results and turn them into a weird, stylized building.
  • Worldle Archive lets you go back and play every Wordle since launch.
  • Worldle Helper is a python script that will help narrow the possible solution
  • WordleBot for Slack – add a Wordle leaderboard to Slack

Finally, if you want to mute Wordle results on your Twitter feed? Someone wrote about that too.







2 responses to “Wordle”

  1. Ian Kennedy Avatar

    Update: Twitter bans jerky bot that spoiled next day’s Wordle solutions – https://www.polygon.com/22899270/wordle-twitter-bot-spoils-next-day-word

  2. The week that was Avatar

    […] The online game Wordle moved to its new home on the New York Times’ servers and all hell broke loose when players discovered their winning streak and stats were cleared out during the migration. Wordle also helped disrupt a crime in progress. For some Wordle variants, I’m keeping a list. […]

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