New York Times (NYT) Wordle editor Tracy Bennett didn’t get this role she considers her dream job until November 2022, when she was in her 50s. Below I’m linking to a great Business Insider profile of Bennett’s career story, and here are a few excerpts. Two of these excerpts answer the dreaded puzzle addict question: When does Wordle end? Spoiler: the answers — bolded below — are encouraging.
Bennett has been doing puzzles since her teenage years, and eventually started building her own puzzles and submitting them to NYT. Her first puzzle wasn’t published in NYT until July 2013. Then she applied to be NYT associate puzzle editor in 2020 and got the job. Here’s Bennett in her own words:
Almost no one gets to spend their day making puzzles – it was a dream. When the associate puzzle-editor position opened up at the Times in 2020, I just whimsically applied. When I got the job, it was exhilarating and scary. I was in my 50s moving from somewhere where I was the expert to somewhere I’d start at the beginning. I knew how to edit puzzles prior to joining — making sure clues are grammatically correct, fact-checking, and ensuring there’s enough variety. But with New York Times crosswords, I had to learn about editing for difficulty — as they get increasingly hard throughout the week — and editing for themes.
I think they chose me because I had experience as a manager. They felt I could handle the scrutiny that comes with a high-profile byline.
The scale of Wordle is very different from other Times games. It has tens of millions of players who tweet and post on Reddit about every word choice. People write in with complaints sometimes.
We inherited the list of words that John Wardle, the game’s creator, had curated. [WHEN DOES WORDLE END?] There are enough five-letter words to last until 2027. The Times integrated the game and we got the tools to start editing the list in September 2022. With the current version of Wordle, we can’t add words — we can only remove and reorder the words John Wardle had programmed. We remove words if they’re too obscure or have a derogatory secondary meaning.
I choose the words about six weeks in advance using a random-number generator to select words from the original list. I’ll then research it to check any secondary meanings and judge its fit with the other words that week. I will also do letter runs to see how hard it is, or how much luck I think is involved in guessing the word to avoid clumping together really hard or really easy words.
[WHEN DOES WORDLE END? OR DOES IT?] Eventually, I’ll be able to add words to the list. I want to add “bling,” which I predict might make a stir, and words that will create more representation in the game like “latke” which is Yiddish.
Here is the link to Bennett’s story. And also including a link to a blog by Owen Yin for all you Wordle cheaters