Tech news
Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

The deceptively simple secret to Wordle's social media domination

The deceptively simple secret to Wordle's social media domination

How Josh Wardle's 30 boxes became a social media phenomenon.

Wordle! One word, five letters, six tries, once a day. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter or really any kind of social media, you’ve almost certainly seen these white, yellow and green boxed letters, almost always posted without commentary. For a game, the rules are simple enough to understand. But that simplicity disguises a surprisingly stimulating exercise: Letter elimination is as important as (and sometimes more than) actual correct guesses. And it’s one of 2022’s hottest fads.

The game is available free on a website (there is no app to download). There are imitators who tried to make monetized versions to sell on Apple and Google Play. (They were shut down after thousands reported them.) There are unofficial spinoffs like Absurdle and math editions like Primel. It’s already a meme on social media. Twitter even had to go so far as to ban The Wordlinator, a bot that figured out the (actually quite simple) code and threatened to spoil the fun.

But what is it about this simple black screen with 30 empty boxes that has enticed millions of players globally?

Perhaps it’s the color block motif that provides a letter-less way of sharing your results. (Josh Wardle, the inventor, released the game back in October, but it didn’t go viral until he added that update, inspired by one of the game’s users.) This letter-less way of posting your results allows people to talk about the game without spoiling it for others — only people who have played the game that day understand what they’re looking at. It’s speaking in a code that only other players can understand, a universal language of white, yellow and green.

That universality (at least for English speakers) is key. As we round into Year Three of the pandemic, we have become desperate for communal experiences. The media landscape splintered long ago, with the proliferations of cable channels and then streaming services and the siloing of radio stations. And now millions of us work from home, without even casual interactions at the water cooler to sustain our social appetites. Throw in dozens of news sources insisting we are all further apart in values than ever before, and it starts to feel mighty lonely staring at a blue screen all day.

Perhaps it's how easy it is to join in. It’s like the sourdough starter craze in April 2020, without the homebound connotations. It doesn't take a genius to play, it's not complex like a crossword, and it makes us feel safely together even as we're upping our mask games and testing ourselves at every cough. Is posting a small block of colored emojis actually being social? We’ll take it.

In the Discord channel where I post my daily results over breakfast, there are people who proudly discuss their strategies and how to pick popular consonants. Is using “ADIEU” (which sorts most of the vowels in one go) better than “TEARS” (which contains some of the most popular letters in English) or “HORNS” (which hits a lot of popular two-consonant combos)? Then there are people who insist “vibes” should guide you — the words you “feel” in the moment. Everyone can agree that double letters are a typographical abomination, while the Brits, the Canadians, the Australians and the New Zealanders grump about our Americanized spellings.

But most of all, Wordle feels like the perfect game for a collective, and perhaps global, sense of burnout. So many of us simply don’t have the time or the energy to pour into a new hobby as we wait for the dreaded announcement that schools are closed once again or that plans have been dashed at the last minute because of positive cases. After all, it's only once a day, and then you forget all about it until tomorrow. It's not an endless road, like “Two Dots,” or a money suck, like “Candy Crush.” It’s just all of us, playing the same word, in our homes, on our phones, trying to best ourselves and our scores as much as we are one another. No matter who you are, every Wordle player can agree that the word “KNOLL” is outrageous. And if you didn’t succeed in six tries this time? Don’t fret! There will be another fresh puzzle again tomorrow.


Related Articles

FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to
The future of sports
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
UK Crypto and Stablecoin Regulations Become Law as Royal Assent is Granted
A Delaware city wants to let businesses vote in its elections
Alef Aeronautics Achieves Historic Milestone with Flight Certification for World's First Flying Car
Google Blocked Access to Canadian News in Response to New Legislation
French Politicians Advocate for Pan-European Regulation on Social Media Influencers
Melinda French Gates Advocates for Increased Female Representation in AI to Prevent Bias
Snapchat+ gains 4 million paying subscribers in its first year
Apple Makes History as the First Public Company Valued at $3 Trillion
Elon Musk Implements Twitter Limits to Tackle Data Scraping, but Faces Criticism for Technical Misunderstanding
EU and UK's Slow Electric Vehicle Adoption Raises Questions About the Transition to Green Mobility
Top Companies Express Concerns Over Europe's Proposed AI Law, Citing Competitiveness and Investment Risks
Meta Unveils Insights on AI Usage in Facebook and Instagram, Amid Growing Calls for Transparency
Crypto Scams Against Seniors Soar by 78% in 2022, Experts Urge Vigilance
The End of an Era: National Geographic Dismisses Last of Its Staff Writers
Shield Your Wallet: The Perils of Wireless Credit Card Theft
Harvard Scientist Who Studies Honesty Accused Of Data Fraud, Put On Leave
Putting an End to the Subscription Snare: The Battle Against Unwitting Commitments
The Legal Perils of AI: Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Relying on Fictional Cases Generated by Chatbot
ChatGPT’s "Grandma Exploit": Ingenious Hack Exposes Loophole in AI, Generates Free Software Codes
The Disney Downturn: A Near Billion-Dollar Box Office Blow for the House of Mouse
A Digital Showdown: Canada Challenges Tech Giants with The Online News Act, Meta Strikes Back
Distress in the Depths: Submersible and Passengers Missing in Titanic Wreckage Expedition
Mark Zuckerberg stealing another idea: Twitter
European Union's AI Regulations Risk Self-Sabotage, Cautions smart and brave Venture Capitalist Joe Lonsdale
Nvidia GPUs are so hard to get that rich venture capitalists are buying them for the startups they invest in
Chinese car exports surge
Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Communities Protest "Ludicrous" Pricing Changes
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts