- The acquisition of Wordle by The New York Times has already stirred controversy, with stories of streaks being broken and concerns that the game has become more arduous.
- Today, February 15th (game 241), the New York Times version of Wordle is irreconcilably out of sync with the original version hosted at powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle.
- As BoingBoing points out, terms like “fiber,” “pupal,” “slave,” and “wench” have been left out of guesses and solutions.
- You can download a list of the original Wordle answers here and compare it to the revised list provided by the New York Times using the processes outlined here.
- In response to a reader request regarding the adjustments, the NYTimes noted that it changed the word list to eliminate obscure phrases and inappropriate or objectionable language to make the puzzle more accessible to a broader audience.
The New York Times‘ acquisition of Wordle has already sparked controversy, with reports of broken streaks and complaints that the game has gotten more complex. However, the NYT is omitting one significant change: it has changed Wordle’s solutions. Today, February 15th (game 241), the New York Times version of Wordle and the original version housed at powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle have been irreconcilably out of sync.
The New York Times made changes to Wordle’s word list last week, as reported by various outlets, including BoingBoing. Although some assumed these adjustments applied solely to the words you might guess, it turns out the Times updated the list of viable solutions as well. (The Verge later rectified the situation.) This uncertainty was exacerbated by the Times’s campaign to convince newspapers that everything was the same in Wordle world. As NYT communications director Jordan Cohen told The Guardian, “nothing about the gameplay has changed.” Which is patently false!
While the game remains the same, the Times has modified the available guesses and the game’s future answers. And, for a game centered on word guessing, this is a shift in gameplay.
As BoingBoing notes, terms such as “fiber,” “pupal,” “slave,” and “wench” have been omitted from guesses and solutions. You can get a list of the original Wordle answers here, and you can compare it to the revised list provided by the NYT by following these procedures here. A warning: visiting these links will reveal future solutions if you browse too far ahead, so I’ll save you the trouble and state that the Times has bypassed today’s original answer (#241) of “agora” in favor of the following day’s (#242), which is [cough-cough-mumble-mumble].
Is any of this significant?
True, a little. Because if you’re still using the original version of Wordle — whether you downloaded it or haven’t refreshed your browser since loading the actual powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle URL — you’ll be out of sync with other players. And, considering how much of the game’s enjoyment is communal, dependent on sharing those small emoji solutions, this may be aggravating.
Apart from these annoyances, some may claim that the Times is being excessively sensitive in removing the terms “slave,” “lynch,” and “wench.” Other changes appear to be more aimed at maintaining accessibility: eliminating the British spelling of “fiber” and “pupal,” probably because it is too similar to “pupil.”
In response to a reader’s inquiry about the revisions, the Times stated that it adjusted the word list to exclude obscure terms and insensitive or offensive words to make the puzzle more accessible to a broader audience. And, although a large part of Wordle’s appeal is indeed its accessibility, I would argue that a gorgeous, assonant term like “agora” — which immediately conjures up images of a lively outdoor meeting venue — did not deserve to be dropped. Let’s only hope the Times refrains from interfering anymore.