If you try to access powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle, the confusing URL that used to host the internet’s favorite daily word puzzle, the site redirects to The New York Times. We’re greeted by a familiar-looking webpage, but something seems off, until you notice that the title “Wordle” now uses The New York Times’ signature font, rather than classic Helvetica.
Only last week, The New York Times announced it would buy Josh Wardle’s viral hit for “low seven figures.” Now, the legacy publisher is redirecting the URL! Just three hours ago, The New York Times linked to the old “power language” URL when it published tips and tricks for Wordle. As nostalgic as we are, perhaps those writers are as well.
The changes to the game are so subtle that you may not even notice them at first (now, you’ll find a hamburger menu in the upper left corner that will direct you to other New York Times games). Nevertheless, at TechCrunch, that strange URL became familiar.
Powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle is so counterintuitive and clearly not designed to go viral. There was no agonizing over search engine optimization and discoverability, but it blew up regardless. In spite of hearing about Wordle from a friend, you might Google it and be confused about whether the “power language” website is what you’re supposed to visit – maybe you’d think it was an app and download something fake.
Powerlanguage: why use it? When we talked to Wardle last month, which must seem like a lifetime ago for the suddenly sought-after programmer, we did ask about the origin of his online persona.
“I’ve been using that username online for a long time after mishearing someone,” Wardle told. During my youth, someone was berating me and my friends. It was because we were swearing at each other that we were being reprimanded. I thought he said ‘power language.’ In retrospect, he was saying ‘foul language.’ I misheard it, but I was so delighted by the idea of swearing being called ‘power language.’ I just kind of ran with it in the way you do when you’re 16 or whatever.”
While the web migration keeps your gameplay stats, some users are reporting that it resets their daily streaks (Mine reset yesterday, but it’s back now – so don’t give up hope). It’s a bummer, but maybe it’s a chance to let go of perfection, guess a really terrible first word tomorrow, and just bask in language’s power how just arranging letters can bring so much joy, which we share every day with our friends. Alternatively, you could tweet about it.