If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, you’ll have noticed something a little weird. Tweets with boxes. Yellow boxes, green boxes, grey boxes…
They look a little something like this:
Yes, that is my tweet. Yes, I have become a Wordle guy.
So what the hell is Wordle? Good question.
What is Wordle?
Wordle is a daily word game you can find online here. It’s fun, simple and — perhaps crucially — can be played only once a day.
I could try to explain the rules, but the site itself does a fantastic job of explaining the rules.
Essentially a word game, Wordle gives players six chances to guess a random five letter word. As shown above, if you have the right letter in the right spot, it shows up green. A correct letter in the wrong spot shows up yellow. A letter that isn’t in the word in any spot shows up grey.
Simple right? Yes, simple but also incredibly compelling.
So it’s just a word game? Big deal…
Yeah it’s just a word game, but there are a few tiny little details that have resulted in everyone going absolutely bonkers for it.
There’s only one puzzle per day.
This creates a certain level of stakes. You only get one shot at the Wordle. If you mess up, you have to wait until tomorrow to get a brand new puzzle.
Everyone is playing the exact same puzzle!
This is crucial, as it makes it easier to ping your buddy and chat about the day’s puzzle. “Today’s was tough!” “How did you get on?” “Did you get it?”
Which takes us to the next point…
It’s easy to share your results!
Once you’ve successfully or unsuccessfully done the puzzle for the day, you’re invited to share your Wordle journey for the day. If you tweet the image, it looks like this…
Note that the word and letters you chose are obscured. All that’s shown is your journey toward the word in a series of yellow, green and grey boxes.
It’s very compelling. If you get it easily, maybe in the second or third try, there’s a showoff element whereby you must show your followers how smart you are and share.
If you get it by the skin of your teeth in the sixth go, that’s also a cool story. But most importantly, the puzzle itself isn’t spoiled.
So Wordle isn’t just a word game, it’s a conversation starter and a chance to show off on social media. That’s why it’s going so viral.
Who made Wordle?
Wordle is the work of Josh Wardle. Extremely online people may remember him as the creator of Place, an utterly wild collaborative art project/social experiment that sent the internet into a tizzy in April 2017.
Place was a shared online space that allowed literally anyone to fight over what was drawn there. It resulted in huge, sprawling communities battling over space on this gigantic online canvas.
It ultimately ended up looking like this:
Wordle was mentioned in the New York Times in November but really got traction when the share element was added on Friday.
In a Reddit post, Wardle said he wanted Wordle to feel like a croissant, a “delightful snack” that is enjoyed occasionally. This is explicitly why there’s only one puzzle per day. “Enjoyed too often,” he explained, “and they lose their charm.”