No, you’re not going mad. The splintering of Wordle has arrived.
As the clock hit midnight around the world on Feb. 14 and a new Wordle refreshed itself on browsers everywhere, players discovered that for the first time, that day’s answer wasn’t the same word for everyone. (Don’t worry — I won’t spoil the solution until the end of the post.)
This apparent glitch also occurred in my household, where we solve it separately over our morning coffee — when my partner and I both had all five tiles flip green, we compared notes and found that we’d wound up with different answers, both correct, for the first time in over a month of playing.
The key thing here is that I’m still playing on the original site, powerlanguage.co.uk, where creator Josh Wardle first uploaded the game. Most players have been migrated automatically to the New York Times website, after the company bought the game from Wardle in a seven-figure deal last month — and that group includes my partner, as well as most of the friends in the group chat where we share our results. After losing a 12-day streak when I switched phones, I haven’t closed the tab where my current 44-day streak lives, magically refreshing each night at the stroke of 12. (Streaks were, after some brief issues, carried over to the new site, but I am both a huge show-off and selectively superstitious, so I’ve been putting it off as long as I can just in case.)
It soon became clear that Wordle game 241 was actually two different games, depending on which version of the site you’re using.
Here’s where you stop reading if you don’t want to know the answer to game 241 — just know that the green tiles speak the truth, whichever site you’re on.
The entire word list, in order, was visible in the site code for the game from day one, and is still online for anyone who wants to negate the entire point of playing the game. As noted by BoingBoing a few days ago, several words were removed from the list when the Times took over the game. These include, understandably, some loaded terms the NYT clearly preferred to avoid, including SLAVE, LYNCH, and WENCH, but also some less obvious ones, including PUPAL (?), FIBRE (the British English spelling of “fiber”)… and AGORA, the word originally slated for Feb. 15, 2022. (Some naughty words were also removed from the broader list of valid guesses, but at least there’s always Lewdle.)
The old and new game 241 solutions have all but one letter in common, with just one shared letter in a different position, suggesting the Times‘s adjusted solution — AROMA — was possibly selected for its similarity to the deleted original.
I reached out to the Times for more information, but Australian journalist Michael Slezak has shared an email from the company that suggests some of the more esoteric words on the original list are being nixed “to keep the puzzle accessible”.
This is highly unlikely to be the end of the universal Wordle, but it’s a bit of a prod to the OG-site stragglers to finally make the leap if we want to preserve that communal vibe. A quick Crtl+F of the original list reveals that at least one of the already-removed words is scheduled to come up this month, so anyone who’s still clinging to the pre-Times days is going to have this issue all over again soon.
However, there’s an undeniable lesson in today’s glitch: AGORA is a harder word to guess than AROMA, and those of us who got it? We’re simply better than you. SORRY.