The New York Times Quietly Makes Big Changes To Wordle – Forbes

Wordle is getting some big rule changes under its new editor.
Big changes are afoot at Wordle under The New York Times.
The newspaper purchased Wordle earlier this year and largely left it untouched and, thankfully, outside the paywall many of its other games are locked behind.
Some changes were made to the game’s accessibility settings, and some words deemed too archaic, obscure or offensive were removed (though I submit that removing fetus from Wordle is ironically more controversial than leaving fetus where it was).
Not long ago, ads were added to the word puzzle game, though they’re not terribly obtrusive (and still preferable to a paywall, though it would be nice if they were turned off for subscribers like me!) It’s also been added to the Crossword App.
And there have been various changes to the Wordle Bot’s favorite starting word and analysis. Indeed, the Wordle Bot himself (my greatest enemy!) was a New York Times addition, and is a fun way to get some feedback on your guessing game.
Now other changes are being made to the game, including one big one: Tracy Bennett, who joined the Times in 2020 as an associate puzzle editor, will be Wordle’s dedicated editor—the first person to hold this job.
Part of Bennett’s job will be to curate the answer list, with the stated purpose of curation “to ensure that the game stays focused on vocabulary that’s fun, accessible, lively and varied.”
One big change:
“The answer list will consist of five-letter words that fit those criteria, with the exception of plural forms of three- or four-letter words that end in “ES” or “S.” That is, the answer will never be FOXES or SPOTS, but it might be GEESE or FUNGI. As the game is currently designed, FOXES or SPOTS can be used as a guess word to help narrow down the answer, but FOXES or SPOTS will not be the answer.”
This is smart, as it keeps the correct answers to dedicate five-letter words rather than three or four letter words that are made plural with an S or an ES at the end.
The Times is also once again allowing whatever offensive or crude guess you’d like to make—as a guess, not as the answer:
“While the answer list is curated, the much larger dictionary of English words that are valid guesses will not be curated. What solvers choose to use as guess words is their private choice.”
As these changes take place, it’s possible that you’ll start seeing different answers than other players. This is a caching issue, however. “If your answer word is different from others’, play on the app or refresh your browser,” the New York Times informs us.
Why does Wordle even need curation you might ask? Do we really care if we have some foxes in our Wordle? Do we really need it to be livelier or more varied? Isn’t it both those things already?
I would offer up one other explanation: The list of answers—already plotted out from #1 to #2,309—has been available within the game’s code since its inception. If you wanted to know what the Wordle would be a hundred days from now, you could find that out. With these changes, that should no longer be possible, making it that much harder for players to cheat.
As for me, I’ll continue writing a daily Wordle guide here on this blog (so please do subscribe!) and I’m curious to see just how much livelier and varied it ends up being!
What do you think of these changes? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.


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