You say aroma, I say agora

Whether you’re an early adopter, a latecomer to the party, or a no-comer, you’ll surely be familiar with the grid of green, yellow and black squares popping up all over social media associated with the daily word game that’s become an online phenomenon in a matter of months.

Every day, people flock to Wordle to work out a universal five-letter word within the six-guess limit. It’s been described by users variously as “five minutes of fun”, their “singular, consistent joy” and the “one good thing in our lives”. Well, the fun and joy of the challenge was shaken last week, when Wordle #241 flummoxed everyone by having two different answers depending on how they arrived at the game.

It transpires that the discrepancy was linked to Wordle’s recent migration to the New York Times, after the publisher bought the game from creator Josh Wardle last month for an undisclosed seven-figure sum. Users who were still playing on the original Powerlanguage site had a different answer (agora) to those on the NYT website (aroma).

It seems the NYT had opted to skip that day’s initial answer (somewhat understandably, given the obscure choice of word, which riled many who got the “harder version”), and hence when Wordle #242 materialised, the NYT remained a day ahead of the Powerlanguage version, which had a familiar “smell” and made for an easy guess. 

A cunning bit of game play on the Times’ part? Intentional or not, it’s likely most Wordlers will be switching to the new site for their daily fix to keep in step with the rest of the addicted population.

Claire Cormack

Data Center
Data Management