Wordle gets more intentional
Wordle has an editor now — every day's solution has been programmed by Tracy Bennett, who curates the word list. The result has not made everybody HAPPY (which was Sunday's answer).
Why it matters: Bennett picked themed solutions for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Wednesday's answer was DRIVE; Thursday's was FEAST; and Sunday's was HAPPY.
How it works: Before this month, Wordle solutions were randomly selected from a preset word list.
- Occasionally, that would cause problems, as when FETUS showed up as a solution during a major national debate over abortion.
- By programming the solutions, the NYT can avoid such controversy — and, at least in principle, can delight users by timing answers in a felicitous manner.
The big picture: In the wake of Wednesday's themed answer, many puzzlers — including Axios' Kate Marino and Felix Salmon — got FEAST on their first guess.
- "It felt cheap," says Kate, who felt cheated by the lack of problem-solving.
For the record: Back on November 10, John Farmer, a puzzler in Los Angeles, left a comment on the NYT website.
- "You don't want to think, Oh, it's Thanksgiving week and Tracy probably picked FEAST today," he wrote.
What they're saying: New York Times spokesperson Jordan Cohen told Axios that there were "two thematic choices" during Thanksgiving week.
- "While we have not made any decisions about future thematic content, Wordle will continue to be curated to respect the randomness of gameplay every day," he added.
- "HAPPY was random."
My thought bubble: You can be curated or you can be random, but you can't be both.
By the numbers: In an informal Twitter poll, about 85% of respondents said the themed answers were "too cute by half".
The bottom line: Puzzlers are conservative, and don't like change.