Note: This is no longer 'today's Wordle', but I am still smarting about it. If you want to find out what happened today (Friday, 14 April) then check out my Wordle hints and commentary page.
I will readily admit I'm a sore loser. As anyone who's played Scrabble, or FIFA, or Mario Kart with me will attest, I like to win, and I get grumpy when I don't. I also take my daily Wordle instalment far too seriously. But even so, today's Wordle really hacked me off.
In one sense, I didn't lose: I solved it in 5/6, and without using any hints. But a score of 5 is very low for me, and indeed it was below the average for today's game of 4.7, as reported by the New York Times' official AI helper tool, WordleBot. That annoys me.
Usually, I can swallow my anger and move on with the day, especially if I know that either I made a silly mistake or that I just got unlucky. But today? No, today I'm mad – because today's answer is just stupid, and unfair.
SPOILERS FOR TODAY'S WORDLE, WEDNESDAY 12 APRIL, FOLLOW BELOW.
Today's Wordle answer is what?!?!
I wrote recently about how Wordle has entered a new era. It now has its first dedicated editor, who is curating the answers.
When Wordle was created by Josh Wardle, he set it up with a list of just over 2,000 solutions, with each one set for a particular date. But the editor, Tracy Bennett, and the NYT are now mixing things up, moving some answers in the list forward and others back, and including, so far, two extra answers that weren't among Wardle's original list.
We had the first of these a few weeks ago (game #646, GUANO), and the second last week (game #659, SNAFU). Both were harder than the average Wordle, pointing the way to the NYT deliberately seeking to make the game more difficult.
Today's answer – BORAX – is not one that Bennett has added into the answers list; it's been there since the start, a fact I know because I downloaded the original solutions list from the website soon after I started playing. (No, I didn't do it to cheat – I used it to compile some Wordle analysis for TechRadar's sister site Tom's Guide, and I never look at the list before playing.)
But regardless of whether it's always been a solution or not, it is an unfair one. BORAX is by any measure an obscure answer for a popular online word game.
So, what does it mean? Well, according to Merriam-Webster it's "a white crystalline compound that consists of a hydrated sodium borate Na2B4O7·10H2O, that occurs as a mineral or is prepared from other minerals, and that is used especially as a flux, cleansing agent, and water softener, as a preservative, and as a fireproofing agent."
More simply, it's a chemical that's used in cleaning products. But – and this is why I'm annoyed today – it's not used in the UK, where I am. In fact, it was banned here and across the EU in 2010 over health concerns.
Wordle is a global game, but including BORAX puts many non-Americans at an immediate disadvantage. And it's not like the NYT didn't have the option to change it. As I said, the game is now being curated. Words have been moved or skipped, and the NYT could have taken that decision today.
When the NYT announced that Wordle now had an editor, it stated that "The game will have a Times-curated word list and will be programmed and tested like the Spelling Bee and the Crossword.
"Wordle’s gameplay will stay the same, and answers will be drawn from the same basic dictionary of answer words, with some editorial adjustments to ensure that the game stays focused on vocabulary that’s fun, accessible, lively and varied."
That last line is key – it may make "editorial adjustments" to keep it "accessible". How accessible is BORAX, really, for someone who lives in a country where it's not available? Plus, it's not like the NYT hasn't made 'adjustments' of this ilk before; when it purchased Wordle in February 2022, it removed several words to "keep the puzzle accessible to more people."
One of those words was FIBRE, spelled in the British rather than American way. The American version was left in. That's fine – more people play it in the US, and it's not like we Brits can't adjust our brains to look for an ER rather than RE pattern occasionally. But BORAX is a level above that – it's just not a word that many people here know.
Anyway, I found the answer in the end, and it's hardly a big deal anyway; it's just an online word game. But I enjoyed my daily Wordle fix a lot less than usual today, and that's a shame.