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What is Wordle, and why is everyone on Twitter playing it?

A screenshot of the browser-based game WordleScreenshot provided by Lauren Daley

If you’re on Twitter, you might have noticed that all of a sudden, everyone is tweeting cryptic emojis — green, gray, and yellow squares. It almost feels like you missed a day at school, came back, and the whole class had learned a new game.

Wordle is an online word game created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn. You play on your Web brower. It’s free; there are no ads, and you do not need to create an account to play. There is no smartphone app — those other “Wordle” games in the Apple App Store aren’t what people are buzzing about.

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To play: You have six attempts to fill in the blanks of a five-letter (real) word, aka “the wordle.” The word game seems to follow the same rules as the Scrabble dictionary: only real words allowed, both in guesses and the result.

If a letter you guessed is in the word and in the right spot, that square turns green.

If a letter you guessed is in the word but not in the right spot, its square turns yellow.

Letters that do not appear in the word turn gray, which helps in process of elimination as you continue through your six tries. .

You get one chance per day to solve each game and the website keeps track of your wins, plays, and streaks. And once you finish a puzzle, you’ll see a timer counting down the hours to the next time you’re allowed to play.

To get the emoji-fied version of your Wordle results (like the ones you’re seeing all over Twitter), click the “Share” button beneath a completed game. The site then produces a grid of colored cube emojis in the order of your six (or less) tries, ready to be copied and pasted and shared.

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So, share the grid — using #DailyWordleClub — but keep the word to yourself.

Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, created Wordle for his word game-loving partner, Palak Shah, according the New York Times.

What started as the couple’s pandemic pastime eventually grew into a favorite in their family’s WhatsApp group, the story reports, and Wardle launched his game into the world in October. Around Thanksgiving, editor Melissa Kirsch gave the game a shoutout in the New York Times’ “At Home” newsletter. The Internet being the weird unpredictable animal it is, the game slowly, then quickly, caught on, with the Times reporting some 300,000 people have played as of Jan. 2.

Wardle, it seems, has a knack for creating buzz: He’s also the guy who created the much-hyped “The Button” — an April Fools’ project turned social experiment that became an Internet mystery back in 2015 — and “Place,” a colorful collaborative subreddit that began on April Fools’ Day in 2017.

If you’ve played, you know: It’s refreshing to have an uncomplicated, ad-free, semi-competitive game that you can play only minutes a day.

“I am a bit suspicious of mobile apps that demand your attention and send you push notifications to get more of your attention,” Wardle told BBC4. “I like the idea of doing the opposite of that… Wordle is very simple and you can play it in three minutes, and that is all you get.”

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Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her on Twiiter @laurendaley1.