Wondering why all your friends are posting colored squares? They’re playing Wordle, a new word game seeping into your Twitter timeline.Wordle is developed by former Reddit software engineer Josh Wardle. Originally, he made it for his partner last November, but it didn’t really take off until last week. According to the New York Times, over 300,000 players took part in last Sunday’s daily challenge.
Similar to the game show Lingo, you have six tries to guess a four letter word. If any of the letters you guess are correct, then they’re marked yellow. If the letter is both correct and in the right place in the word, it’s marked green. There’s only one puzzle a day, posted at midnight, and you only have one chance to try the puzzle. Once you’ve guessed the word correctly, you can share how you did that day to Twitter, which parses your effort as a series of colored squares.
Wardle told The Times that he thinks Wordle is successful in part because it’s not trying to engineer ways to get you to spend more time on it.“It’s something that encourages you to spend three minutes a day,” he said. “And that’s it. Like, it doesn’t want any more of your time than that.”Sharing your little grouping of squares online is the only way to interact with Wordle once you’ve completed the puzzle. Since there’s only one Wordle challenge per day, sharing and comparing your progress has become a part of the act of playing Wordle. Sometime after Christmas, these inscrutable colored squares were everywhere on Twitter, ubiquitous enough that people stopped saying that they were from Wordle at all. Wardle told The Times that he thought adding a link to the game at the end of the tweet would be “trashy,” and I think he’s right. Wordle has the charm of an older internet, which wasn’t always advertising itself or trying to promote the most growth possible. It’s just a little website you’re supposed to visit once a day, not one you’re supposed to live on.