Did The New York Times just ruin Wordle? Thankfully, no. When the popular puzzle game was purchased by the news media company in January for a low seven-figure sum, the deal came with promises that there would be “no changes” to Wordle’s gameplay after the move. But that appeared to no longer be true this week when a number of Wordle addicts discovered they were getting different solutions than others who were playing the same day’s puzzle. If that’s the case, this could have destroyed one of Wordle’s key selling points. After all, the joy in Wordle isn’t just guessing the five-letter word in fewer than six tries — it’s sharing your results on social media and comparing how well you did with others.
Spoilers below for Wordle puzzle 284 on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
On Wednesday, however, many Wordle players discovered the solution to their puzzle was different than others who played the same game, Wordle No. 284.
For some, the winning word was “stove” but for others, it was “harry.” The latter is not referring to a person’s name, we should note, but rather the somewhat outdated word that means to “persistently harass” or to “torment by a constant attack.”
Wordle players were surprised to find they had a different solution to their puzzle than others and took to social media to complain. Some noted they had experienced this problem before, indicating the game as they knew it had changed. The Wall Street Journal, for example, pointed out this issue had come up previously with game No. 241 when some users had the solution “agora” and others got “aroma.”
But as it turns out, The New York Times isn’t changing how Wordle operates. (Whew!)
Instead, the company told TechCrunch it did remove a few more obscure words from the game to make the puzzle more accessible. “Harry,” apparently, was among them. That meant the people who play Wordle daily — leaving the game’s webpage open on their device — weren’t getting the game’s updates. In other words, their version of the game was out of sync with others who loaded up Wordle in a new browser window.
“We did not change the way Wordle works,” said NYT spokesperson Jordan Cohen. “We have not made any changes to the basic functionality or rules of the game, and are committed to continuing what makes the game great. We will continue to review the solutions, and remove obscure or potentially insensitive words,” he added.
Fortunately, this problem is an easy one to fix. All you need to do is refresh the Wordle website to make sure your game is in sync. After doing so, you won’t receive the obscure words that have been removed from the Wordle database and you’ll be able to properly compare your scores with others.
We understand The New York Times is looking to create a more sustainable, long-term solution to this problem in the future, so this type of discrepancy will no longer occur. But that hasn’t yet rolled out.
The New York Times Games division attempted to explain the problem on Twitter. But its tweet instructed users to copy and paste a particular URL in their browser, and left some still confused as to what happened or why a fix was needed at all.
The fact that the issue of the “two Wordles” even blew up in the first place, however, is a good indication of how popular the game remains among its fans. In fact, it’s so popular that players weren’t even bothering to close their browser window when they finished the game — knowing full well they would be back tomorrow for the next puzzle. That level of addiction is promising for the game’s future. But the chaos caused by the small tweak also shows how sensitive users will be to further changes, bugs or anything else that changes the nature of Wordle gameplay.
Created by Brooklyn software engineer Josh Wardle, the puzzle first launched in October 2021. Only 90 people were playing it as of November 1st, 2021. But in two months, Wordle had grown to 300,000 users. Today, it has millions of players. What wasn’t yet clear, though, is how many of those players were actually launching Wordle every day.
As this incident shows, it must have been quite a few!