Why we’re all obsessed with Wordle

The data geek’s dream game, Wordle is artisanal data collection at its finest.

One day last week, I forgot to play (NaN! UGH!) so I figured someone must be posting the solutions somewhere. Google returneth a gem: Forbes’ Today’s ‘Wordle’ Word Of The Day.

“Another great thing about Wordle is that you never have to deal with any ads or microtransactions. Creator Josh Wardle made it totally free, totally ad-free and it’s all the better for it.

Note also: This game is not on the App Store or Google Play. Instead, you’ll just need to play in your browser.”

Erik Kain, the author, hints at one of the several reasons I — and many others — love Wordle: the nostalgia! The sweet memory of a time before we were tethered to our social networks and push notifications by multiple devices we wear, or that extend our physical form as appendages to our hands. You know, the days before I slept with my phone in my actual bed. And there are no ads! And it’s free! Microtransactions are microaggressions!

I have to get off my ass and go to my desk or fetch my laptop to play Wordle. How quaint! No app!! There’s something so satisfying about a word puzzle. (Words With Friends, anyone? Scrabble?) And we’re all playing together (on Twitter, of course — we didn’t abandon technology altogether!), enjoying a simple puzzle as a brief escape from this incomprehensible, overwhelming, and traumatic time we live in. (Unless you speak the British variety of English. There’s a transatlantic kerfuffle over the spelling of words like “favor” and “color.” I’m not getting into that. The American spelling is more economical and therefore correct. Period! 😆)

We’re also very aware of how self-aware we are of why Wordle is so popular. Vox’s Aja Romano writes,

As it gained popularity, particularly over the long winter holiday, so did Wordle gain meaning. “We’re playing together, but we’re also playing alone,” mused Molly Roberts for the Washington Post, speculating that Wordle’s isolated connectivity makes it the perfect game for the moment. “Wordle is a love story,” gushed the New York Times.

I digressed before I even started today! ADHD is such a 🎁 gift.

Before I started waxing poetic about word games, I meant to convince you — or commiserate with you, as the case may be — that Wordle is a data geek’s DREAM. I shall lay out my case before my focus drifts to what-the-fuck-is-a-data-mesh-and-who-has-time-to-keep-up-with-this-bullshit.

We, the DataFam, ️❤️ love ❤️ Quantified Self data — or what I heard someone somewhere call “artisanal data,” which I think is both hilarious and apt. We like to see ourselves in the data like everyone else.

There are multiple data points we can track: our score, the words, the date, the word id. The really ambitious among us could also track partners’ or friends’ scores, or develop a methodology for assessing the level of difficulty of a given word and convert it to a numeric value. The possibilities! Naturally, I have a dataviz hot take here: PLEASE, I implore you, don’t make word clouds! I despise them more than 3-D exploding pie charts.

Of course, I STILL cannot gather Twitter data (easily, anyway). Still no developer API for me. When Twitter denies your request for a developer API account, there is no recourse, no appeals process. How undemocratic! WHY DO THEY HATE ME? But I do have a favorite Wordle tweet.

I think I’ll leave it there before I spiral about this whole API sitch. Do you have plans to viz your Wordle data? Have you already? I am so curious! Let me know in the comments, or find me on Twitter.



Data analytics, data visualization, cute photos of my dogs, vegan baking tips, bonus colorful language. I’ll probably also rant about healthcare policy, mental health (in general and my own), yoga, and interoperability. NOW DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUN?! YES, IT DOES.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Nicole Lillian Mark

data visualization developer | Tableau Social Ambassador | community builder | dog mom | vegan | yoga | mental health advocate with ADHD & C-PTSD