As of this afternoon, if you try to go to powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle — the confusing URL that used to host the internet’s favorite daily word puzzle — the website will redirect to the New York Times’ website. There, we’re greeted with an uncannily familiar webpage, yet something feels slightly amiss, until you realize: the title “Wordle” now sports the New York Times’ signature typeface, a departure from the classic Helvetica we’ve grown to expect.
It was only last week that the New York Times announced it would purchase Josh Wardle’s viral hit for an amount of money in the “low seven figures.” But already, the legacy publisher is making moves — a URL redirect! Even three hours ago, when the New York Times published a list of tips and tricks for Wordle, they hyperlinked to the old “power language” URL — perhaps those writers are as nostalgic as we are.
We knew this was coming, and the changes to the game are so subtle that you might not even realize it at first (now, there’s a hamburger menu in the upper left corner that will direct you to other New York Times games). But at least at TechCrunch, we grew fond of that strange URL.
We loved powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle because it was so counterintuitive, so clearly not designed to go viral. No one agonized over search engine optimization and discoverability, yet it blew up anyway. Even if you had heard about Wordle from a friend, you might Google it and be confused about whether that “power language” website is where you’re supposed to go — maybe you’d think it was an app and accidentially download some kind of fake.
Why powerlanguage? We did, thankfully, ask Wardle about the origin of his online persona when we talked to him last month, which must feel like a lifetime ago for the suddenly-sought-after coder.
“That’s just a username I’ve used online for a long time, which originates from mishearing someone,” Wardle told TechCrunch. “Someone was berating my friends and me in my youth. We were being told off for swearing at each other. I thought he said, ‘power language.’ In retrospect, he was saying ‘foul language,’ and I misheard it, but I was so delighted by the idea of swearing being called ‘power language’ and just kind of ran with it in a way you do when you’re 16 or whatever.”
Here’s the bad news, though — while the web migration retains your gameplay statistics, it appears to reset your daily streak. That sucks, but maybe this is a chance to untether ourselves from the necessity of perfection, allow ourselves to guess a really bad first word tomorrow, and simply bask in the power of language — how simply arranging and rearranging letters can offer us such joy, which we share with our friends as a daily ritual. Or angry-tweet about it, that’s also acceptable.