Programmers explore the secrets of Wordle – The New Stack


As Wordle-mania sweeps the internet, programmers, math geeks and assorted nerds have decided to have fun – and they’ve unlocked an explosion of creativity.

Every day the simple but suddenly popular game gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word – each time highlighting their correctly guessed letters (and the correct letters that are also in the correct position). Earlier in January Hannah Park, recently graduated from boot camp, created a pun clone as a teaching exercise (using popular tools like React, TypeScript and Tailwind).

And then a data scientist/physicist based in London, Richard Mann (with Imogen Mann) came up with the idea for a version where instead of letters, players guess numbers and operators in a math equation.

They derived Park’s code (with help from Marcus Tettmar, the co-founder/CTO of personal finance app, Untied) to create Nerdle. “We think it’s just as fun to play with numbers as it is with letters,” the game’s info page explained. “See if you agree!”

But they’re not the only ones trying to turn the game into something more technical. Earlier this week in Norwich, England, an 18-year-old programmer named James Livesey established Byte, a game where players try to guess – can you believe it? — an 8-bit unsigned integer.

The catch is that player inputs must be normal base-10 numbers, preferably a number between 0 and 255. But each guess is converted to binary before eight green and yellow boxes are displayed (which mean now only which of the 8 results bits are correct).

Developers Ian Ross and Colin M. Saunders even created a Python module that plays Wordle against local bots – and they challenge developers to test their creations in 1,000-word contests on

Looking for answers

But other programmers try their hand at creating Wordle solvers. Christian Genco, a Colleyville, TX-based developer, has built an impressive multi-featured word solver which also allows players to enter the words they have guessed – then attach every remaining possible word. (Click on the letters in your guess to change the color to green or yellow.)

It also calculates your next best guess – the choice that will eliminate the most remaining words. “HAHAHAHA THIS WORKS SO WELL,” Genco posted jubilantly on Twitter when his tool resolved puzzle #203 with only three guesses.

And Genco’s Wordle Solver can also be used to replay the game with your own guesses, just to see how close or how far you got.

But soon this army of Wordle solvers were faced with their dark doppelgangers, with more than one developer trying out a variant called “Evil Wordle”.

The creator of “Absurdpromises its own AI “is very evasive and it takes real effort to force the game to drop useful information and back it into a corner.” (“If you liked Absurdle, try HATETRIS, my contradictory version of Tetris. “)

Other developers have also implemented similar evasion algorithms. “Each time you guess, I look at all possible 5-letter words that would match all of your guesses, and choose the matching pattern that yields the most possible words,” said the evil word page created by Ravi Parikh, the programmer who co-founded the in-house app building platform. “My goal is to maximize the number of guesses needed to find the word.”

Recent Hacker News Threads Now Finding Solutions Creators share stories on how their word-solving programs handled those sinister word-changing clones!

The social contract that we all respect so as not to ruin the day of the day gave me a little faith in humanity.

— Sarah Bessey (@SarahBessey) January 25, 2022

Thursday CNET reported that a game developer named Guilherme Töws had created a “much more evil new clone” called Dordle, in which the solution consists of two five-letter words, side-by-side, with players trying to guess them both (always guessing a single five-letter word).

The Kotaku game site describe Dordle as “a nightmare that breeds nothing but pain and heartbreak, so only accomplished word guessers should try this one unless you like being possessed by a video game”.

But Kotaku also calls the spinoffs “stellar examples of what happens when smart people have fun for fun… These games can be as simple or complex as they want, and probably get weirder and weirder as they go along.” time.

“I’m excited to see what incredibly weird guessing games will emerge from the collective consciousness next.”

If Wordle was a town

Other developers are also trying to make a better Wordle. Hello Wordl replicates the mechanics of the original game – but adds a slider at the top of the puzzle that extends the word length (and your guessing words) up to 11 letters.

Someone even created a variant which he describes as “Crossword: Sudoku meets Wordle”, a challenging and surprising puzzle where you try to fill in a set of guesses that lead to a word – including the appropriate letters for each yellow or green box.

Meanwhile, some developers have focused their efforts on bringing the joy of Wordle to other parts of the globe. There are now versions that use Yiddish and Hebrew words, and one where the words are Norwegian.

Look a little longer and you will find at least two versions using French words, plus two versions using Danish words — including one at the estate wø There are versions in Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Finnish, Romanian and even one in Bulgarian.

All over Twitter, there are wonderful stories of Wordle unlocking even more unexpected forms of creativity. Laura Tilton, a technical education professional, recently tweeted that she created visualizations of the game’s most frequently used letters with Google Data Studio. Julien Glander, a graphic designer, converts his blocks in fancy 3D images.

the WordleInPaint The Twitter thread tried translating its guesses into cartoons using Microsoft’s Paint. David McFarlane, associate lecturer in computer music design at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, claims to have built a word sequencer “that transforms your results in music.”

And a developer even created a web page which turns tweets with spoiler-free colorful blocks from Wordle into colorful skyscrapers from the game Townscraper.

Endless fun

In the end, there may be something primal about the technical mind that sees the whole Wordle phenomenon as just another new toy to take apart and explore.

Another person looking at the game in a new way is Ben Hamner, the CTO/co-founder of Kaggle (a Google subsidiary formerly describe as “an AirBnB for data scientists”). On Thursday, Hamner announced that he had found a way to determine the word just by crunching all the yellow/green/gray squares people shared on Twitter.

“Since I started collecting Twitter data (Wordle 210-222), this method has generated the correct Wordle response on the first attempt every day!” Hamner wrote on his blog.

Although they discovered that some tweets are more useful than others…

But perhaps the true colors of the tech community shine brightest in the history of Steven Cravotta, who, at the age of 18, created another entirely different application, which he also named Wordle. Four years later, its downloads increased unexpectedly this month, according to Cravotta’s Twitter account, suddenly attracting over 200,000 downloads in just one week.

This tale has a happy ending. Cravotta contacted Josh Wardle, the true creator of the now viral Wordle game, with Cravotta promising to just donate the money to charity – specifically, a tutoring/mentoring program called To strenghten! West Oakland.

Yes, there are less inspired variations of Wordle. A recent article in Slate noted other forgeries – such as a blasphemous version called swear words – and there is also a satirical one-letter version of the game (consonants allowed) which of course takes much longer to solve.

But to get an official reaction, Slate also followed original Wordle creator, Wardle, a former software engineer at Reddit and Pinterest who (as of December) is a software engineer for the New York artistic collective MSCHF.

Wardle said all of the clones left him feeling warm and satisfied inside.

“As someone who creates stuff, to see people so inspired by something you’ve created that they want to riff on it, it’s amazing,” he said. “It makes me feel so good.”

Image courtesy of Wordle.


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