No, The New York Times Didn’t Make Wordle Any Harder

Tech

Wordle – the viral daily word guessing game recently purchased by The New York Times – has shed a tear in recent days. Brain teasers like “ULTRA”, “ULCER” and “ALOFT” have appeared, frustrating players, many of whom have taken to Twitter to complain that the game’s new owners are deliberately increasing the difficulty.

But while conspiracy theories abound that the rash of difficult words is the result of the New York Times Games division hanging around with a devilish grin, looking for the hardest five letter words in the lexicon, the truth is that The New York Times is innocent of Wordle crimes here.

That’s because Wordle’s solutions don’t contain every five-letter word in the English lexicon. As the creator of the game, Josh Wardle, in a New York Times interview (before buying the game), he had his partner, Palak Shah — for whom the game was originally made as a gift — help narrow the roughly 12,000 possibilities down to about 2,500 words she was familiar with.

It’s that glossary that makes up Wordle’s solution set, and the list is literally baked into the website’s Javascript itself. It’s one of the reasons the game was so easy to save locally before the NYT purchase.

And as a quick comparison between the pre-NYT list of fixes (which can be viewed here, with a HEAVY spoiler warning) and the list of still visible fixes on the NYT version of Wordle (you can follow PCMag’s instructions here to the Javascript list), the new owners of the game haven’t changed any solutions yet. The main change that the Time was made to remove some words from the list of valid guesses for the game (especially offensive language and defamation), but that doesn’t affect the list of solutions.

The truth is that Wordle has always had difficult words. TAPIR and REBUS have previous answers, as do PROXY, KNOLL, QUERY, and SIEGE.

Ever since The New York Times Wordle bought, these were the solutions:

  • THAT
  • DAMP
  • SHARD
  • PLEAT
  • ALOFT
  • SKILL
  • ELDER
  • FRAME
  • HUMOUR
  • PAUSE
  • SWEAR
  • ULTRA
  • ROBIN

Some of those words are indeed trickier, but there have also been a lot of kind words in the mix, such as THOSE, FRAME, and SHARD. And while the recent run of tough words is certainly a thing (including today’s puzzle, which, I admit, took me all six guesses to solve), it’s not because The New York Times ruins the game.

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