First, you heard somebody muttering at their phone on the train.
“Spoke. Stuck. Stake. Sleke – smeke – is sneke a word?”
Soon, it got onto your computer. Well, your Twitter feed. In its first two months, Wordle was mentioned on Twitter 1.7 million times. And that doesn’t include those countless captionless result grids, at first enigmatic and soon tiresome. Green and yellow and totally excluding you from the club. What was this strange phenomenon everybody was talking about?
And then, the think-pieces started. Good heavens, the think-pieces! So you read one. But you needed more context. Just one go. But playing Wordle once, you realize how much better you could do a second time. Your techniques are, frankly, burgeoning. A shame not to try again tomorrow. Maybe you’ll be one of the Wordle greats.
Great: there’s a good starting word. But can you be the best? WordTips, the famous word unscrambler tool, loves Wordle so much that we even made a Wordle word finder to help everyone practice. But with a whole day to wait until the next Wordle comes out, we decided to spend some time analyzing Twitter data to find the countries, states, and cities with the best Wordle averages in the world.
Swede. There’s a solid five-letter word! And Swedes are the best Wordle players in the world. Sweden leads a European offensive (followed by Poland and Switzerland) with an average of 3.72 guesses to get the right word. Australia, the second country where Wordle went viral after taking off in New Zealand, occupies a respectable fourth place with an average of 3.80 turns.
There’s only one Wordle puzzle posed each day, and everybody in the world is doing it, so it can’t be a waste of time – can it? Tell that to Professor Barry Smyth in Ireland, who was obsessed enough to build a Wordle simulator that can play millions of games in just a few hours. The idea was to learn how best to play – although with a national average of 3.87 turns, Ireland is already pretty hot at Wordle.
In game developer terms, Wordle is “juicy” (the interface responds pleasurably) and has a carefully calibrated “flow” (balance of challenge vs. reward). But most importantly for its global success, Wordle embodies a not-doing-workism that doesn’t induce slacker guilt. An Australian city leads the way in prodigious slacking, with Canberra nailing it in 3.58 on average. Three other Aussie cities feature in the top 10.
It’s a closely-fought battle at the top. Malmö and Durban are separated by an average of just 0.00089286; Manila and Geneva by 0.00358209. We suspect that to a very niche and very passionate nerd minority, these figures count for a lot.
Wordle creator Josh Wardle has created a viral grid before: r/Place on Reddit. This 2017 interactive involved a single million-pixel canvas that users could decorate one pixel at a time, subject to certain rules, creating a kind of worldwide digital patchwork quilt. After 72 hours, the project closed. Following “a surprisingly beautiful clash of communities, nations, ideologies, and fandoms,” the final canvas ended with a neat US flag right in its middle.
This is how America colored Josh’s next grid. The US, as a whole, ranks 18th in the world for Wordle scores, with a national average of 3.92 guesses. But America’s ‘green state’ is North Dakota, with an average of just 3.65 – better than any national average in the world.
Wordle has around three million players worldwide but only one person has won a big prize: inventor Josh Wardle, who sold the game for upwards of $1m to the New York Times. “If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle,” says Wardle, “you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me.” However, natives of that journal’s city struggle a little with that puzzle: New York’s average score is 3.81, ranking the city #26 out of the 116 US cities with available data.
St Paul, Minnesota, leaves other American cities in the dust with an average Wordle score of 3.51, making it the US Capital of Wordle. Just consider that 3.51 average means many St Paulites are regularly nailing the daily word in three guesses or fewer.
We pulled 195,248 tweets with hashtag #wordle using Twitter API. We successfully extracted the game score from 142,669 tweets. To qualify, we were looking for the score presented as a fraction (e.g., 3/6 or 5/6) and the grid of colored squares.
We dropped the rare cases where fraction and image contradicted each other. We dropped 2,729 tweets with a score of X/6, which meant that the puzzle was not solved with six guesses and kept only numeric scores.
The worldwide average number of guesses is 3.919 based on 139,940 tweets (of course, only tweeted results were counted).
We attempted to get the user location and grouped the data by country, state, and city. At the country level, we saved only the countries with at least 50 tweets; in global cities and US cities rankings - with at least 25 tweets.
The data were collected in January 2022.