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Ask HN: What do you think of the Wordle guy not monetizing it?
186 points by avl999 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 278 comments
I have to admire the guy for sticking to his guns and his vision and not monetizing it. It would be so easy too- keep the existing version free but create an iOS/Android app with some bells and whistles like longer words and boom rake in the cash. Being so hell bent on your vision commands respect. But I can't help but feel that the guy is about to let someone else benefit from his creation and am not sure how to feel about that (see https://twitter.com/zachshakked/status/1481345622938685443).

Apple is cracking down on blatant Wordle clones in the appstore right now but there is demand there, there is going to be a different app with a different name with a different ui with some added features like multiplayer that is probably gonna make some good money for a few months.

If someone is gonna inevitably end up benefiting from it, I'd rather the guy who made the original rather than an app cloning team in China or some bay area tech bro. I am putting myself in his shoes and even if I had the vision that he has, I would not be able to stop myself from monetizing it even if just to not let the copycats make as much of a windfall.

What do people here think of this situation?






What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

I don't like ads, on the internet or TV, and therefore refuse to inflict them on anyone who plays the little game apps that I release, otherwise I'd be a hypocrite.

Well done to Josh for having the humanity for just making a thing that people enjoy, and stopping there.


To be fair, HN is run by a startup investor, which attracts a specific audience.

A lot of commenters here have kind of fetishized money and early retirement.


When I first started following HN, I remarked to my spouse: "On the east coast, you're nobody if you're not rich. On the west coast, you're nobody if you're not trying to get rich."

Totally agree and I see this trend worsening.

Although for me is still the best place to consume technical content.


I grew up not rich and not safe. You could say I've fetishized money because I've got a fair amount of it and greatly enjoy my work. But I see it as the most efficient way to protect me and mine. Living in a nearly crime-free neighborhood and having a shade tree doesn't seem like a fetish to me. This would put me in the group of people who are interested in, but not obsessed by, a choice not to monetize.

As I understood your parent, he/she was not talking about your kind of rich (what I'd consider a healthy rich) but rather a money at all costs and money for its own sake -kind of rich.

Without the early retirement part.

And often without the money part...

You can fetishise both and not have either.

Which is my fetish.

Buckhold

Because we know a creator's sacrifice by not monetizing, money can buy them comfort, security and freedom (less time working, quitting job even). I don't think most people will fault anyone for choosing to monetise their work.

Flappy Bird was reportedly making $50k per day during its short initial peak after going viral. If I was the Wordle dev, I wouldn't go crazy and try to turn Wordle into a full fledged company. However unless the dev is independently wealthy I honestly think it is a little stupid not to do any monetization. There is probably enough potential their to ride a month or two of popularity to lifelong financial security. Why not take that?

Why is it stupid to not do any monetization?

Josh built a fun game for his partner, and now a lot more people are enjoying it.

As long as it isn't horrendous in hosting costs, I'd say that is already a huge return on the project. Giving some great entertainment to folks is a win already in itself.

Using your skills to the benefit of your community (global in this case) is one of the best things you can do. You don't need to profit off it as well to make it an intelligent project.

It's not stupid to skip monetization.


Because Josh could potentially monetize this project and allow both him and his partner to spend the rest of their lives doing nothing but making these fun projects for each other, working to benefit the global community, or whatever else they would want to do having achieved financial independence.

I also don't agree with the idea that any form of monetization is inherently hostile towards players. The game takes up roughly 500px by 800px on a page that is receiving millions of hits a day. You can throw an ad on that page and barely impact the user experience while pulling in 4 or 5 figures per day. There is money to be made there without resorting to adding microtransactions or something actively hostile to users.


> the rest of their lives

I have dramatically underestimated the amount of revenue one can get from serving ads on a modestly popular game that everyone will have forgotten in a month's time.


It is more than “modestly” popular. I don’t know the exact users counts but I’m he could make well over a million dollars even if the game’s popularity only lasts a month… though I’m willing to bet it stays popular for much longer than that, seeing how it is becoming a daily habit/ritual for so many people.

> I’m willing to bet it stays popular for much longer than that, seeing how it is becoming a daily habit/ritual for so many people.

And therein lies the contradiction - it has become a daily ritual because it doesn't demand continual "engagement" or trick people into becoming addicted: 2 things that will increase monetizability.

My thoughts are it's commendable for someone to share their delightful creation with the world for free. Something pure, with no dark patterns or gray areas. It is a breath of fresh air, and legitimately makes the world a better place for countless people. Thanks Josh!


I agree with most of what you said, but I’d consider ads to be just as hostile to users.

Something good for users would be access to previous worlde puzzles, it provides added content and fun to users, and sustains creation. Pricing doesn't have to be exploitative either.

however then he has customers. And customer's demands can be annoying to deal with. Outcry from mere users who don't pay anything can be ignored.

One line at the top.

"Wordle, brought to you by Nike" or whoever.

A ton of money and no burden for the users at all.


That really sounds crass and gross. I genuinely dislike the idea and might not play.

As a changes, I’d like regionalisation. ‘Favour’ was the word a day or 2 ago. That’s not the spelling where I am.

In return I’d pay up front if requested, a one off or small subscription.


All words in Wordle are 5 letters. Are you sure it was "favour"?

It was favor. The ‘u’ is the alternate spelling.

I put it the worst way possible, sorry.‘Favor’ as already noted.

Can you explain why replacing whitespace with a static banner ad is user hostile? I simply don't understand how someone can view that as on the same level as something like microtransactions.

The moment you add advertising, you need to welcome a bunch of tracking and spying on users, an unavoidable cookie consent popover, a huge network of unchecked 'partners' any of whom can serve the latest browser exploits to your users, and the ads will be tasteless - scams, malware, and grinning mouths full of rotten teeth.

You don’t have to do any of that. You can sell advertising directly to companies, and moderate all content before it’s displayed to a user.

A lot of people don’t like that because it takes away from your true focus: content creation or software development.


None of this is a requirement of advertising. Adsense isn’t the only form of internet advertising. There is a reason I said a static banner ad. It can be as simple as a native HTML anchor element with an image inside.

If you do anything badly it will suck. Don't do it badly.

Doing it not-badly would take time and energy; likely more of each than it took to create the game.

One way to look at it: advertisements are trying to influence your thoughts and behavior. At least micro-transactions are (or can be) a simple and honest exchange of money for a service.

Here, I'll try to explain to you why (this message was brough to you by pierce and pierce aquisitions) replacing whitespace with a static banner ad is user hostile. It distracts (feeling too distracted? Try the new chrome extension distractionBlockr that will block all the distractions so you can focus on your work!) from the content.

You aren't replacing whitespace there. You are inserting an ad in the middle of your content. You also aren't making the ad visually distinctive from the comment. If there was an ad at the end of your comment and it was all in italics, would that be distracting or would it be easily ignored?

Considering most ads are more visually striking than the content they're being put in, I think putting the ads in the middle of the content itself is a good way to simulate that on a text-only website like hacker news. Also, ads are often on the top or at the side, not at the bottom. But let's try it and find out. Edit: I think this is still distracting, but that may be because italics is often used for emphasis on HN. I wouldn't call it very distracting though. It's a slight annoyance. But it does make things a bit worse.

This message was brought to you by hnaddr, the best way to get paid for your comments on HN


… or the dev could do what they like, which is the entire point. Taking a less beaten path is much more interesting.

> I honestly think it is a little stupid not to do any monetization.

This statement makes me sad.


> I honestly think it is a little stupid not to do any monetization.

This may be a popular sentiment on hacker news but thankfully it is an unpopular view among the best programmers. If everyone thought like this, there would be no Linux, no GNU. We’d all be reading this in Internet Explorer on Windows


Open source doesn’t mean there is no monetization strategy. For example you could be using Firefox on Ubuntu. Both of those are monetized. Plus most open source software couldn’t monetize as easily or harmlessly as a webpage.

Surely the real idiots are the open source developers who give away code for free.

Suckers.


What's amusing to me is:

a. Replies don't know if I'm being sarcastic or not.

b. I don't know if people who upvoted this comment thought I was being sarcastic or not.


While I appreciate the original sarcasm, I don't appreciate this: sarcasm is almost by definition hard to tell apart from real opinion because you are taking the position of someone who'd have such an opinion.

Since I consider the opinion of open source developers being idiots unlikely and silly, I am reading your message in a "consider best possible interpretation" way, which is that it's an ironic joke.

I would imagine that's what most people who've upvoted you thought as well.

Basically, if you resort to sarcasm, your "amusing" dilemmas should have obvious answers or you are misapplying it or using it in the wrong context (unless you are really aiming for just being an odd man out in a particular group, also known as a "troll" :).


No, I was (of course?) being sarcastic. But the confused replies leave me more than a little worried that people genuinely agree with the sentiment!

Explain the logic behind this.

Not the GP, but my guess would be: irony.

>Not the GP, but my guess would be: irony.

It's sarcasm, actually. A rare event here.

Surely, irony is depicted in the open-source, decentralised crowd, berating someone doing something not for money.


Sarcasm is, by definition, use of irony to be a bit meaner than just make fun of something. It's still irony, and I am not even sure it qualifies for the sarcastic qualities on top.

I find that sarcasm or irony are pretty frequent on HN, or maybe it's just me who thinks it is so. ;-)


I think your definition is acceptable, in this forum context.

And yes, I see it here too, and try to reward it, though, alas, you and I are few.


>Surely the real idiots are the open source developers who give away code for free. Suckers.

A perfectly sarcastic remark. Rare to see here.

"Take my up vote" (or something like that).

Oh wait... Or are you serious?


"I honestly think it is a little stupid not to do any monetization."

Maybe he does not care monetization?

Or there is no obvious path to monetization?

If you start an app phenomena from scratch with no inbuilt monetization mechanism designed from the start I would imagine implementing one would be non-trivial? Or is there an "obvious and simple" method to monetize said work?


> independently wealthy

He should have a sweet reddit IPO coming his way, soon.


Also… if you consider the size of most companies, 50k per day turns into 17 million a year.

Now you won’t be exactly poor, but it’s not the same thing as having won the lottery since you still need to pay for staff, marketing, etc.


The creator has a good resume of tech work including two years at reddit where he created two viral campaigns and probably received stock for their upcoming IPO. Seems he's pretty comfortable and just wanted to do this for fun.

Completely concur

Eh, because one’s time is valuable/expensive and most people would love to have more time doing what they love.

It’s cool that he doesn’t want to monetize it, but I would absolutely understand if he did. You don’t have a hit like that often and it could free him up for years (life?) to build more stuff he’s interested in without answering to anyone.


A lot of (most?) already super rich people monetize everything they can to the max. So I don't believe it's out of a desire to simply quit working. I think it's more about making money for the sake of making money, also known as greed.

A lot of them do, but don’t underestimate the number of people who are role-playing as being more wealthy than they are.

I’m not talking about people with successful business exits or those who have been in high-paying careers for a few decades who have a side business. It’s the people pleading with you to pay $10/month for their side Substack or trying to charge for mediocre podcasts and such. One of the oldest tricks in the content marketing book is to pretend to be very wealthy and then charge others for access to your knowledge.


For a lot of people it's not even just simple greed but more an easy way to measure them against other people. They are often very ambitious types who take great pride in being "type A personalities" and things like that.

> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

It really comes from the fact that money is often needed for survival, and the human propensity for overdoing everything.


It also doesn't hurt that recent generations were convinced to take on tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, as teenagers.

Having a negative net worth makes you desperate for money.


Not only that but their parents and grandparents were and still are encouraged to live spendthrift lifestyles so younger generation will inherit less. I get a laugh out of certain ads; stuff your spoilt brat kids, you worked hard, you deserve to reverse mortgage your house and travel the world, buy that motorbike, do that thing.

The astronomical costs of long-term care eat through any inheritance anyway.

Yes, there is a pamphlet for that as well. “No longer living life to the fullest, tired of being a burden on those around you, end of life services has a solution. For 5 easy payments of $39.99 a better place awaits you.”

In my opinion corporatism has worked with government to drive a wedge between family generations and I worry that the fallout will be quite brutal.

I have nightmares of desperate youth deliberately infecting their parents with black market Covid in an effort to speed up and preserve their inheritance.


I worry that parents will find illicit ways to off themselves to prevent their family's fortune going to the for-profit 'healthcare' system whose main function is to extract money.

My father is determined not to waste away like his father so is keeping an eye out for end of life options for when the time comes. I’ve been given instructions to pull the plug at the earliest opportunity. I suggested he take up rock climbing and progressively take bigger risks.

My cynical side tells me that the real reluctance to legal euthanasia is that the dying are a huge profit center in the U.S..

Not saying you're wrong, but considering the societal disruption of people (anyone, including people that the society would like to keep around for one reason or another) caused by people checking out because of their definition of decreased quality of life. It's not just about whether the doctors think that your meat sack is gonna fail critically in the next 6 months (one criteria for assisted suicide) but whether you like what you see when you wake up and look around each day. If it's not fun any more, it will become harder to sell the idea of sticking around.

I agree with you. When I made IMGZ.org, many people here wouldn't believe that I made it for me and don't want it to grow (even though it's "pay for what you use"). I always found it that mindset a bit odd, to be unable to fathom why someone might want to make a cool thing just to make it, and to believe that they must (and should) want to make money off it.

In the same vein, why does (nearly) every organization ‘have’ to be for-profit?

What does that say about our societies that we have embedded the profit motive in (most) organisations?

Worth noting that obviously there are many not for profit organizations, just that they are largely clustered in the fields of health, education, social welfare, etc.

And also note the difference between (unlimited or at least not capped) profit and earning or being paid a living or even high wage. People often confuse the ability to earn a ‘good’ wage and a very high wage.


Why do shopping malls build selfie traps into the walkways now? Why is everyone's backdrop on Zoom so aesthetic? Why are brilliant computer scientists spending their best years reinventing banking? Why are talented artists leaving their easels behind to draw pixel zombies?

“Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why did Judas, rat to Romans while Jesus slept? Stand up, you're out of luck” — ‘4th Chamber’ by GZA/Genius

Top 5 fav albums. Related: I saw the push cart from Lone Wolf and Cub (Shogun Assassin) back in like 2005 while visiting Japan.

> What does that say about our societies that we have embedded the profit motive in (most) organisations?

It says that capital management is non-trivial and full of risk that needs to be proportionally rewarded with profit to justify the outlay.

Even non-profits have to grow revenue, because organizations require resources. But non-profits are hampered by the fact that they can't reward people for taking risks on them. A for profit organization can seek outside capital and reward risk. A non-profit can only seek donations or charge for services.

Ultimately, society benefits a great deal from it.


Sure, some good points but ultimately, it’s all about proportionately.

One can still receive many financial rewards in not-for-profit organizations: a high wage, payments, etc. without those rewards being ‘unlimited’ in scope.

As an experiment, imagine if the FAANGS and the BATs of this world were not for profit organizations; appreciating the role that venture capital played for all of them so maybe the experiment is that they wouldn’t exist!

What I struggle to understand is the relationship between the financial interests of humans (extending between the two extremes of billionaires on one hand and absolute poverty on the other) and organizational design in the west.

In other words, revenue is not profit and wages are still income, so why does the current system benefit capital (owners, investors) to such an extent.

Could we live in an alternate economic reality - maybe one that is ‘fairer’ if more of our for-profit organizations were not for profits. Or is that a fallacy?


money in has to exceed money out no matter what format the organization takes

What about money in = money out? If an organization pays its expenses - including the wages of its staff - well, why does there ‘need’ to be some cream leftover at the top?

What I am trying to better understand is why there is a preference (morally, legally, societally) for for-profit organizations.

Is it because (most) people are inherently profit-focused, or, that it is just the way things are? Amongst many other possible options.


non profit institutions are bound by the same constraints

sustainable ones do not move all of it to expenses or purpose

the answer of why is that the buffer allows them to continue existing. if there is any disruption in money coming in, then they cease to exist.

I understand you are wanting a different discussion that I didn't offer, based on wanting a reason that has nothing to do with moral legal or societal. There are more for profit organizations because it is easier to set one up, it is "permissionless" whereas a non-profit requires approval.

for profit and non profit are bound to the same fundamental constraints and I think that is misunderstood by many. both types of organizations have the capability of having none left over. both types of organizations have the risk of having a disruption in their ability to exist. both types can keep more for themselves. this is not a moral issue.


Sounds like someone has never heard of government

Govt works exactly the same way. You think they spend more than they take in by ignoring the excess is lent to them by investors - even the govt is taking in more than it spends.

If you're considering the Fed, it too is a lender, and has a zero net asset sheet.


Yep, here’s the November 2021 balance sheet—clear as day, assets equal liabilities.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/files/balance_...


>why does (nearly) every organization ‘have’ to be for-profit?

The opposite, not for profit, usually means, for loss, which is not sustainable.

An organization designed to be zero net will also die during hiccups and downtimes.

So if you want something to be sustainable, provide stable jobs, provide continues benefits to whatever it serves, "for profit" means it runs on less than it makes, allowing it to survive.

Basically, all the "not for profit" things die, and you don't see them around very long.


> The opposite, not for profit, usually means, for loss, which is not sustainable.

Not-for-profit means that 100% of the revenue is reinvested in the business (“mission”), rather than have a portion returned to owners/shareholders as profit.

Successful not-for-profit companies can have a problem of having more money than they can effectively deploy. This can lead to all sorts of problems: Overpaid staff; Inefficient operations; etc.


They still turn a profit. You're conflating the tax status not-for-profit with the wider phrase not for profit, meaning not trying to do things where outflow exceeds inflow.

You are confusing the terms loss (revenue < expenses) with not-for-profit.

In the context of organizations, not-for-profit doesn’t mean they are designed to be not profitable; rather, it means their primary goal is focused on other goals than making the most amount of profit possible.

It’s also a misnomer that not-for-profits can’t make profits, it’s just that those profits are not distributed to the capital (owners, investors) of the organization.


Wikipedia, famously a non-profit funded solely by advertising, has consistently expanded for ~20 years, even while embarking on repeated, mostly useless projects unrelated to its current work (why does it need an internal search engine? it can already show a listing of related pages on its dominant service) instead of saving.

Thousands of nonprofits survive, according to the data.

https://nccs.urban.org/publication/registered-501c3-private-...


The more inequality there is in a society, the worse the consequences of not having money are. Money isn't about not having a second jet-ski or a five-star instead of a three-star hotel anymore - it's about not working 70 hour weeks while your kids are getting beat up in a dangerous school.

That's exactly what I have been working for. For instance, I love cars, I used to love it even more, but nowadays I don't imagine myself putting USD 1 million on car, that just obnoxious. I would rather use that money to change my next generation.

> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

The point is if he doesn't monetize it, someone else who works around the legalize and is less ethical about it will. It is going to very likely get monetized one way or the other, the only question is if the creator (for whom is is obviously a labor of love) is gonna monetize or someone else looking to make a buck.


Just because many people drive above the speed limit, doesn't mean you need to. Just because people dribble shit on twitter, doesn't mean you need to. Just because rich morons stick jade eggs into their vaginas, doesn't mean you need to. Just because there are greedy scumbags in the world, doesn't mean you need to be one too.

"But, but, someone's going to do it!" isn't even remotely a valid argument against having morals and ethics.


How does profiting from something valuable you created somehow makes you a greedy scumbag ? Besides, you're not addressing the main point : Someone is going to "steal" most of his hard labor, and will profit from it.

So if he monetizes it then others won't try to "steal" his hard work?

You can look at it like this: Most people get paid for the work they do, doesn't mean you need to.

Sure but there are reasons people work for money, often times out of necessity, but also greed.

Is it immoral or unethical to chose to profit from Wordle? I think most would say not


Consider Dwarf Fortress. It’s currently not monetized (directly) and yet no one can come in and steal the business for themselves because nothing can replace Dwarf Fortress without an incredible investment. Wordle is basic as hell and was never built to be competitive in a market place. I bet the author would have lost to competition so quickly that the profits wouldn’t be as great as a lot of people think.

It's not an original idea either so it would be a hard battle to fight for any sort of rights. Kids (and adults) have been playing this and very similar concepts for decades with pen and paper.

I don't play Wordle but I guess that there are some infrastructure costs at least? Like a server on which it runs. So why should the game bring fun and joy to people, and bills and cost to the creator?

It's a fully client-side app with one HTML doc and one JavaScript file, both of which come back with 304s once you've been there once. I'm willing to bet the monthly "infrastructure costs" are less than the cost of a pizza.

I didn't know that. Thanks for the pointer. So it is 7 requests, 122kb in total. It had 2 million users last weekend according to https://www.theguardian.com/games/2022/jan/11/wordle-creator.... So this is about 250GB of traffic. Yes, you are right this is not a lot of traffic once you get served the first time.

One of those, which is 60KB, comes from googletagmanager.com.

counterpoint: nothing has happened to us as a society.

we have always had pressures to monitize things and do things for money, but of course money isnt everything and there have always been happy generous people who are happy to make things for free.

In fact, the proliferation of freely released, happy things in to the world has probably gone up over time.


We let MBAs and the like get too much power.

The rot really set in with Thatcher and Reagan. My grandparents would be horrified at the way we live now. We pay people to make our coffee in the morning, we pay people to cook our evening meal, we pay people to look after our kids, we pay people to look after our ageing relatives, we pay people to change the oil in our car, we pay people to assemble flatpack furniture, we pay to exercise. We have succeeded in commercialising nearly everything.

It doesn't do us any good, do you know what correlates strongly with the likelihood of divorce? It's how much you spend on the honeymoon.


"What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?"

the desire to one day retire.


ripped from the void, forced to be employed.

This is not new to us a society. I’d argue that what is new is that our standard of living is so high that people who aren’t wealthy and have an easy path to monetization wouldn’t do so.

I’m not a historian, so I could be wrong, but it seems like in the past — if you weren’t wealthy and could sell something and make a lot of money then you’d do so.

I’m personally glad he isn’t monetizing. But that’s for purely selfish reasons.


As Warhol said:

”You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2019/january/31/...


Yes, applause to Josh for doing such a thing.

But I think getting paid for work is quite human, no?


Because we expect people who do good things to be rewarded. It will incitate people to do more good things.

And in our society, it generally means money. With money, you eat better, sleep better, you are able to do more of the things you enjoy and less of the things you don't. Money also allows you to become charitable, for example, if you think homelessness is a problem, with money, you can build a shelter. There a reason charities want money above all else.

Now, what are "good things"? In the context of game apps, that's an game that a lot of people enjoy playing.

Put everything together and you get monetization, it is a way to turn goodness into rewards.


That works only in theory.

I can name a plethora of good things that are not rewarded.

- teaching - writing good documentation - picking up trash - putting back your shopping cart - writing useful books (generally only the best of the best of the best get any real rewards) - helping a stranger - maintaining or improving the environment (don't drill baby drill)

So though I think the economic philosophy of providing incentive/rewards for good things, it is almost anything but that in practical economics


I think all of those things are rewarded, it's just that the rewards are intrinsic. If you do any of those things well, it will be enjoyable for you.

Don’t forget, especially relevant for thus crowd, writing open source software.

If that is the case, then the best way to monetize things would be to ask for donations; it allows the user to decide whether the person has done good work, rather than forcing them to have a less pleasant experience. Everyone should understand that the person who best understands how they feel is that person.

I mean, you could get rich with some simple tweaks probably, it take some strong convictions to not do it. I would probably not be so strong of mind.

Thank goodness you didn't make the game.

Yeah, probably, I'd milk you all until I could buy that nice country-side house with enough space never to have to hear my neighbors. It's my dream, I'm not giving it up so others don't have pay for their entertainment. I'm sorry.

I could use an employee who does work that is their passion. Based on your comment, will you do the work for free? It’s your passion like Wordle guy after all

> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

The assumption that this person is not privileged, and therefore, needs money? I mean if I had made something that could have generate a sustainable income, but chosen not to do so, and go to work to be a slave instead, there gotta be a good reason.


Who is us? Which society? Most countries today are composed of a thousand thousand different cultures worshiping a hundred different gods. The only truly common ground bringing people together to/in these countries today is money.

> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

If someone does good work then they should be rewarded.

In my experience, when I find a game I love I would like a way to pass some money back to the creator.


I agree, but surely money is not the only kind of reward our society can imagine.

Actually, what am I saying. Of course it's the only kind of reward most of us imagine.


I agree. I would like to be rewarded in the knowledge that I've made something good or useful for my fellow humans. Hopefully they can take it further and give something back. Expecting me to monetize it, to exploit my fellow humans for my own gain, is an insult.

When were we, as a society, so generous and selfless that we created products without a profit (or other reward) motive?

It's great to have exceptions like the wordle guy -- but the norm is perfectly fine, too.


Vim. Emacs. VS Code. Log4J. Java. Python. iOS. Android OS. Firefox. Chromium. Safari. There’s quite the precedent for free in the software development sphere.

VS Code, iOS, Android OS, Chromium, Safari all had huge backing and there are huge profit based reasons to make all of them. These should not be brought up at all.

Vim, Emacs, Java, Python: these are huge things. As a creator or high level contributor, your resume is set. Many of the creators of these and others have specific titles at Google getting paid well. Creating such big projects also allows you to get paid tens of thousands for speaking gigs or similar things. I believe it is the jquery creator who was making $500K+ a year doing speaking gigs.

None of these are like Wordle. It isn’t a huge coding achievement that will garner the same financial benefits every thing listed gives.

I didn’t follow the log4j thing but I’d expect the creator to have been able to get lucrative consulting and contracting work beyond what would normally be possible.


Public lending libraries.

Thankfully they're well established now. I can't imagine them being invented today.


Jonas Salk should have statues erected of him in every city and every small town.

https://www.salk.edu/about/history-of-salk/jonas-salk/


> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

Well, people need to eat.


A lot of people have 'real jobs' that provide them with the means to eat, have shelter, etc. Those same people may have hobbies that they do on their own time for any number of reasons other than making money to live, and may, in fact, be sufficiently compensated at said 'real job' that they can cover the cost of their hobby, even if it turns out to be a virally-popular word game, without significantly impacting their pocketbook.

How many of these people could survive a catastrophic life event for a long period of time? San example: something happens where some one can’t work for 3 years.

What happened to us, as a society, that we cannot imagine eating without first exploiting other people?

Maybe we should just let everyone eat and not expect them to first prove themselves worthy of not being left to starve.


I understand the hostility to making everything be monetized, however, workers do need to be paid. This might not be particularly relevant for a smartphone app, as software developers can easily get a job that pays 2x or 3x the average salary. Most "creators", however, are not as lucky as devs. The average creative person has a boring regular job and most can only focus on the work they care about if they charge money for it and/or receive sufficient donations.

This is often framed as a criticism of capitalism, or consumerism, or some other modern phenomenon. But for most of history, artisans and craftsmen were paid for their work. The expectation that they would be paid for their work is what established the profession in the first place, allowing for things like workshops and decades-long apprenticeships to exist. This is why things like the Italian Renaissance happened. In fact, I'd say that the majority of the historical artistic and cultural artifacts that we have today were created in this manner and not because the creator just wanted to make stuff that people enjoy.

It's only in the last century or two that (influenced by the Romantic movement) that the notion of art = self-expression has taken over the entire concept of culture.


Agree, but OP did not say ads.

> What happened to us, as a society, that creates the expectation that a thing should be monetized?

People need to put food on the table and provide for their families. How do you expect society to do so if members are just giving away their goods and services?


What if some of what was given away to others was the food and provisions that families need?

Then you would have a bartering system like we had 100's of years ago. Here's my 6x beaver pelts for your knife. Do I need to explain to you how inefficient that is?

No, that's potluck (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potluck), and, given its diversity across cultures and continued presence, it can't be very inefficient.

Potluck...are you serious? There's nothing efficient or inefficient about the concept of potluck. It's a cultural celebration, not a "I need this to provide sustenance to my being".

What if it wasn't transactional and people were just given what they needed?

It is nice that he's willing to give the game away for free, but bandwidth isn't free and it it becoming quite popular. I hope it doesn't get too pricey for him to pay for out of pocket or he has to do something annoying like include ads.

A $1 smartphone app seems like a reasonable way of preventing these sorts of issues.


> bandwidth isn't free

Isn't it?

The 100 GB free bandwidth from Github/Netlify would cover north of a million monthly page loads of Wordle (and many times that when you account for browser caching). AWS CloudFront's free tier would cover 10 million page loads/month.

Cloudflare pages currently doesn't even have a bandwidth cap on their free offering yet...


Wow. So it's free if he shut down the site last week?

Crazy how good your solution is. No, bandwidth is far from free.


He might have had to change hosting providers, and/or stick a new CDN in front, but for tiny (80 KB all told) client-side webapps like this with no database backend it's entirely feasible to host it for free pretty much indefinitely.

He uses Cloudflare.

Not all providers bill for network usage, you can also pay a flat fee for a fixed upload speed or a soft cap at a certain limit.

But then he’d have to spend the time creating and maintaining an iPhone and Android app. That takes time. As it is now the game is done. It’s an HTML page accessible by anyone with a browser. It requires nothing of him.

Anil Dash said it better than I can: "The real web is @powerlanguish making a game for someone he loves, not smothering it in surveillance-based ads or creepy growth hacks, and limiting it so it doesn’t even try to steal more than a few minutes of your time. Wordle deserves all its success."

Right now, his is ubiquitous because everyone has the same word. There's an odd network effect, where posting it on Twitter means something because everyone had the same exact puzzle. Nobody wants to see how you did on 6Word or whatever. It's a fun game, but it's not inherently fun (something like Scrabble already uses the same parts of your brain)... the fun comes from everyone having the same word every day.

He may not monetize it by selling it on the app store (honestly, who would buy? I think most people would just fizzle out rather than pay $1), but he'll definitely end up monetizing it in a unique way... the gigantic success of this will set him up for a huge number of opportunities (awesome job offers! promotions! raising money for a company! higher consulting rate!) that will last long after Wordle does.


Actually, going viral doesn't guarantee big money, not even a decent job.

It doesn't. But I guess if you manage it correctly it can be a great asset.

"I'm the Wordle guy" looks good on a CV.


As a hiring person I've interviewed great engineers with cool side projects who just weren't a good fit for the particular role I was hiring for. But also famously "I created homebrew" didn't get him a job at google. I've never had to use binary trees at work. :)

https://twitter.com/mxcl/status/608682016205344768?lang=en

https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-logic-behind-Google-rejectin...


I wonder what people would say if mechanics were tested for their understanding of mechanical engineering intead of how to do an oil change. That's what the emphasis on computer science knowledge seems like to me. It has no bearing on whether I can style a button or create an API.

“The author of core-JS is looking for a good job”

He already has reddit employee < 20, but this would seal the deal.

But not monetizing tells about character and motivation certainly.

Certainly – and the Web actually needs more of this, as it its blood and soul.

Didn’t flappy bird make 50k a day

>He may not monetize it by selling it on the app store (honestly, who would buy?

Millions.

>I think most people would just fizzle out rather than pay $1

You'd be surprised. Flappy Bird had no such problem - and tons of other small viral hit apps. The problem for the vast majority of apps is becoming that known and having as many users interested - this one has solved that already.


> Flappy Bird had no such problem

Flappy bird was free on release.


I see that Wordle has around 2.7 million users currently (based on searching "wordle daily users", if anyone has better data, let us know).

If he charges $1, that's $0.70 per user after the app store takes it cut. He could clear just under a million if half of the player base chooses to buy it. Then take off about half for taxes and whatever, and you have somewhere in the neighborhood of $475k.

If he adds a simple banner ad at the bottom, I don't know how that would translate.

And as for opportunities, I'm not sure either. Yes, it's popular. But, at the end of the day, it's Mastermind with letters. Sure, clever, fun, and all that, but you could clone this relatively easy. It doesn't really speak to his ability to write or design software.


why would you assume that half the player base would pay for this? Most free games have an average of closer to 5% paid conversion, to my knowledge. This would make him closer to $100k from one time purchases. Before taxes and expenses.

I don't think he should monetize it in any way. He didn't set out to start a game development business. I'm also really questioning the baseline numbers and averages used in your example.


That was a shot in the dark, to be honest.

For those conversions, is that when there's both a free version and a paid version?

Regardless, even with half of his users, it's a decent chunk of change, but it's not "fuck you" money.


I disagree. Sort of.

I agree on why folks like it. Is a fun shared exercise.

And it is the unique way of sharing that makes it popular with this crowd. This is a game that is fun to share, and does not ask for permission to my accounts to make that share.


I think we agree completely!

Ah! Apologies on my bad read then! :)

After reading this post I googled to see what Wordle is.

I immediately recognized Wordle as a clone of 'Lingo' [0], a popular TV game show that started somewhere in the 80's, and is still broadcasted today. It's very popular here in the Netherlands.

> But I can't help but feel that the guy is about to let someone else benefit from his creation and am not sure how to feel about that

I'm not sure how the creators of Lingo must feel about this Josh Wardle getting credit for 'creating' a game that they have been broadcasting for over 40 years.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingo_(Dutch_game_show)


But again Lingo is a variation on something like the peg game Mastermind.

He could have slightly tweaked the game to not be like Lingo.

But it's in a bit of an impossible spot now. A Lingo buy out could be a solution.

Anyway there's about a million Englishman ready to kneecap him unless he does i18n. ;)


Lingo was not the first but it doesn't matter. Wordle is not popular because it's a copy of an ancient game that had been played as long as language has existed. It's popular because of its execution, tapping in to our current day and age (shared word once a day, easy emoji sharing).

Sharing doesn't work in Firefox for me.

This has been fixed!

Works on Firefox for me, in boring old Ubuntu. Maybe font issues?

I've noticed that the emojis look like question marks in some clients (Slack etc) but renders fine when you actually post them.

This happens because Slack, Twitter, ... replace emojis with pictures.

Its basically the "word mastermind" boardgame from the 1970s with 5 letters instead of 4. Not that I think that matters.

It does seem like everything has been invented! It's possible that he arrived at the puzzle independently but what's more puzzling that this is the first time I'm hearing about this Dutch game show given the sensation that Wordle has been.

Not saying that you need to read every comment, but pretty much every "Wordle" post here has someone commenting that Lingo was the original.

And the "Dutch game show" was just an international version of the US original[0]. It's run in 16 countries and is presently airing in 5.

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingo_(American_game_show)


'Lingo' has teams drawing balls of different colours and competing head to head. It is not 'clone'. There are dozens of similar word games in various cultures with similar concepts of giving information about the presence of a letter and position of a letter in the word. Your response is a classical cynical mindset of a jealous person.

The question was about monetization, not about your engineer syndrome.


Questioning the novelty of a letter based game sounds perfectly reasonable to me and does not call for any sort of insults.

It certainly happens frequently that a new game idea is stolen to make money in some app store, but it also actually often happens that a seemingly inovative new game was actually not that new to begin with.


Everything is a remix of other things that look like it. In this case it's the fact that everyone has the same word every day and you can compare how well you did that made it go viral.

Pretend Wordle was an open source MIT licensed game that someone created and released online.

Or pretend Wordle is one of the countless examples of freeware (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeware) that exist online.

Would we be having the same conversation?

It's strange to me that many folks can't accept some people release things and don't necessarily care how it's further used, when the exact thing happens for many other examples of software and software products.


It's a form of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that's rooted in some personal insecurity. Some people can walk away from temptations of great wealth and power but I can also see how many people can't.

You’re attacking people as if every one has the same motivation and every one is only self serving.

I’d like people who are in opportunities like this and can’t retire for life if they wanted to, to make a quick million or what have you because I don’t enjoy our status quo of how society functions.


Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you…

It's such a common capitalist concept that a word was invented for it: Monetize.

I was thinking the same thing. Say that someone builds a fantastic web framework, or the very best package for Node... say a single package that brings together all the comforts that would normally require 200 dependencies. Almost one would ask why you'd release that for free, source code included.

Honestly I think it's great. More of us should find small project, where the current selection is just awful half-baked apps, develop by someone who only goal is to stuff as many ads as possible into your face, and just undermind them with free well designed apps.


Nearly every one who has built a fantastic web framework that went on to becoming very popular has financially benefitted from it. That kind of ubiquity can garner lucrative speaking gigs, consulting and contracting gigs, and more. These all being beyond what a normal brilliant developer would get.

Yeah I think so. Just because some thing is open source doesn’t mean it can’t be monetized.

I love the fact that I can only play this once a day and there's nothing I can do about it.

Likewise. I don’t let myself play games because I can’t regulate myself very well and play too much, or even if I don’t, I feel guilty for being unproductive. This strikes a great balance, personally - it’s a fun little distraction that lasts just long enough to be interesting, but not long enough to make me feel like I’m wasting time.

> I'd rather the guy who made the original rather than an app cloning team in China or some bay area tech bro

My two cents is don't think too hard and just enjoy the game. Let it be. Que sera, sera.

Isn't it said in startup circles that ideas are nothing and execution is everything? Isn't it also said elsewhere that money doesn't buy happiness?

Someone else's viral fad doesn't need to fit neatly into some preconceived idealistic notion of success. It's literally a viral fad; the whole point is to not fit neatly into predictable molds.


It's such a Western / Capitalistic thing to do - look at someone else's success and either assume he's being paid the big bucks, or on hearing he isn't start wondering why not.

And yet we live in a world where the Linus Tovalds, or John Resig's and literally a million others happily created enormous social value, and got nothing (directly) out of it. (Those who were around in the early days can remember some of the words bandied around to describe Open Source, Communist et al.)

>> I'd rather the guy who made the original rather than an app cloning team

You don't need to worry about Josh making money or not. He's doing what he wants to do for rewards other than money, and debasing his effort into some sort of money grab is not necessary.


> And yet we live in a world where the Linus Tovalds, or John Resig's and literally a million others happily created enormous social value, and got nothing (directly) out of it.

Linus Torvalds reportedly got $20M stock from the Red Hat IPO (appreciating to >$100M in later years), and receives at least a few million per year from the Linux Foundation. Fully deserved of course, and arguably only a miniscule fraction of his contribution to society. But he is comfortably Ultra High Net Worth category.


He didn't get that 2 weeks after his OS got viral right? :)

Sure. But you can’t directly compare a complex OS to a simple game. I’ll only go after one issue. 2 weeks compared to the amount of time this game will remain popular likely roughly equals the amount of time it took for Linus to begin lucratively financially benefitting from his open source work that doesn’t have a shelf life of popularity of a season.

Saying nothing was gained directly out of their work makes the argument moot. Since they got a lot of financial benefits because of their work.

I don’t adhere or enjoy western or capitalist things. So it isn’t just that sort of thing to do. It makes complete sense for hard leftists to want a creator to benefit financially from a viral sensation they created. We are playing the game of the west + capitalism whether we like it or not.


I've launched multiple successful things that have gone viral where I didn't earn a cent. It was simply not the objective.

More importantly I don't want to taint my things by selling out. It would destroy the soul of the project.


Totally agree. Moreover, most of the projects which still do have "soul", wouldn't exist in the first place, if the sole goal had been monetizing.

How viral?

Much less than Wordle but viral enough to be picked up by newspapers.

I once wrote a popular browser-based tool for a popular game. Other tools existed in the space at the time I started the project, but I felt the need to go at the problem my own way, and I managed to add some mathematical sophistication that the other extant tools lacked. I did all of this purely for my own benefit: I was playing this game, and I wanted this tool to exist to aid in doing so.

I threw it online for other people to use, and it quickly gained traction. I'd estimate that it has had over ten thousand users, possibly multiple tens. Some of these users expressed, unprompted, an interest in giving me money for providing this tool. I simply set up a page on a payments website that caters to creators, and linked it from the tool. I provide no benefits for contributions; it is purely to provide an avenue for those that wish to do so.

If you total up the amount of work I've put into the project, and the total amount of money I've received, I would estimate I've earned somewhere in the vicinity of $1/hour for my work.

I didn't do the project for the money. I did it because I wanted the thing I made. It is an entirely selfish project. That others find it useful is gratifying, but the motive wasn't profit, and to try to pivot to a profit motive would be nonsense to me. (Not to mention, I don't want to insult the developers of the game for which the project is an aid, by charging money off the back of their work.)

Some things just aren't businesses, you know?


I run a language learning site / web app that is totally free, no ads too, going on about 8 years now. It's for one specific language that has not had much attention from the software community but could use it.

I've never tried to promote it and have never updated it much, but there have been some random people over the years who have given me money. I had a few people send me 50$ unprompted, plus some people I met IRL pay for dinners and things like that when the topic came up.


Maybe monetizing it turns it into a job instead of the gift it was. Not everything has to be a transaction. If I volunteer my time or donate goods, it is a gift. I don't waste my time worrying about how my gift is monetized.

A pure simple idea well executed. Making money changes the relationship between us and Josh. If he is happy not to make money from the idea, that's great.

Well done Josh Wardle!


It reminds me of "Flappy Bird" and how the developer suddenly gave up everything. It was never said, but I suspected he was being extorted by some ranking (Vietnamese) government official.

Note: I'm not saying that the same thing is happening here.


I always thought that so strange. It did not cross my mind that he might be extorted

I don't think it means much, TBH.

Different people have different situations and different priorities. Maybe he doesn't need money cause he's already rich? Maybe money isn't a particularly important objective for him? Maybe this is part of a long-term strategy to get recognized as a leading viral game dev?

Who cares? His situation his his situation. I neither think much better of him nor any worse of him depending on whether he monetizes or not. (Though there's something "romantic" about just creating a thing because you like it existing.)

> If someone is gonna inevitably end up benefiting from it, I'd rather the guy who made the original rather than an app cloning team in China or some bay area tech bro.

Why? If people want to play this on iOS, and the creator chooses not to provide it, or even makes an inferior version, why not let some other team create a "clone" of it that satisfies a need people have?

For a forum in which so many people hate IP and copyright, this is a funny sentiment :)


Deduce, a somewhat similar game has been available for ten years on iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/deduce/id351558195

Differences:

* Deduce uses 6-letter words * Deduce just tells you the number of correctly placed letters, it doesn't show you where they are or give you wrongly placed letters. * Deduce can be played as often as you like * You can take as many guesses as you need * Deduce is paid, but reasonable and one-time

I've played Wordle a couple times, and Deduce is much harder.


I think he sounds like a sane (and caring) human being. Greed is a flaw while empathy is a basic and sound human tendency.

This. he may have future FOMO but I think that will be a small part of his make up, overrun. by the reality he made 100m+ people very happy

I like his decision as it feels like it keeps him unencumbered with worry. And of course the game is delightful in its light and simple state. He doesn’t owe me an unmonetized game, so were he to change his mind, I wouldn’t be upset. Anklebiter copycats are always going to profit off someone’s work. If someone does make a derivative, monetized game that surpasses Wordle, I don’t see how monetizing and defending Wordle in the App Store would have meaningfully delayed that. Games are an aggressive market.

Right now Josh owns Wordle. He can do what he wants with it. No one has any claim over his time or his game. If he started monetizing it he would lose that. He'd also probably have to start supporting it, or defending it. I can see why he might not want to do that.

I created the first online texas holdem poker game (1992). I did not monetize and definitely regret it :)

I have missed a lot of opportunities in my life, but that is the biggest one.

The thing is monetization isn't just about making money. The money is used for improvement so when you monetize you can possibly create something even more amazing.


It's his choice, his decision to make and then live with whatever positive and/or negative consequences stem from it.

It's definitely not my place to judge that.

I don't know how much money he could expect to make? But obviously he values his principles and convictions higher than whatever amount he estimates he could make - thus he choose the option that provides the most value to him personally. I see no problem with that - it's totally within his rights to do whatever he wants with his game.

There are many possible reasons to not monetize something. Like for example, if you do something and enjoy doing it - and then start monetizing it, you will be exposed to certain pressures and responsibilities. For example, once you enter a seller/buyer relation-ship, you have to treat your fans as customers, which comes with a set of expectations that you can dodge as long as the app remains free. These new pressures and responsibilities turn a hobby into a profession - and can totally suck the fun out of it. If you want to keep your hobby a hobby that you do just for fun, without big commitments, then it's probably better to not monetize it.

At least not in a way that creates any responsibilities. Maybe there's a way to accept donations as pure gifts, without any strings attached. But many people would still feel like they had to give something in return, when receiving donation money. Like that little nagging thought, that they should put out an update, since many people donated for it... that sort of thing.

I feel that when people say "He's stupid for not taking the free money he could get!" - there might be a bit of jealousy behind that kind of statement. To someone who's trying hard to come up with a startup-idea that could generate money, it must of course feel maddening to see someone sitting on such an idea and not generating money from it. Makes you feel: "I wish I had a viral sensation app like that...", doesn't it? ;)


Apparently I live under a rock and am just hearing about this, had to google what it is. Its a neat game play loop of one word and one play per day and makes it not really copy-able. I mean yeah you could create a game to copy the concept but then if someone is playing with friends and they are playing a different game with a different word it kinda won't work.

If people play once per day and it takes a few minutes, _any_ amount of advertising would probably kill the game.

I think its awesome to not monetize something. Not everything needs to get on that hamster wheel. Whats next? multiplayer? private games? corporate events? More versions that are just like it - 6 character words, then 7, etc. Maybe the person just wanted to create a fun game. His best bet is a tip-jar, if Apple allows that.



I think it is positive example. Creation for sake of creation not to profit. I really wish more of Internet were to go back to that.

Everyone has a price.

Here's an article about the IP around Wordle [1]. In short, people cannot rip-off the 'look-and-feel' of Wordle, but they may work around it. The idea behind Wordle itself is, as the article points out, not original.

Hopefully it works out for the creator. Maybe helping to spread the word that 'app X is not the original Wordle' might help to give him more visibility among people playing the game.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2022/01/wordle-and-ip-law-wha...


What I in fact find to be the most compelling reason for strict (as in non-optional) monetization is that making a service without monetization can make it significantly better than other services, potentially increasing the quality of the experience of the consumer, but reducing the potential for any other developer of entertainment to profit, which, if they were in need, could significantly harm them.

The solution to this, of course, is to set up a (government) service to pay artists, such as game developers, for their work.


I'd probably attempt to monetize it, but it looks like he might be generating more buzz by not doing so, which is an interesting strategy.

He's going to be competing with clones that will flood the app stores either way, and users aren't going to necessarily know which one is the original (a past drama about 2048 comes to mind), so it's going to be down to whoever does the most marketing and manages to get featured in the app store, which is a lot of work and stress, and may not be worth it in the end.

I guess he decided that the risk/reward is not worth it.


It's a fun game and I like that you can only play once per day. I have to admit I was surprised to find that the game was free, especially after seeing the NY Times article with its narrative of "Wordle is a love story". I thought for sure that was some marketing story tossed together. I think it says a lot about me (and society!) that my first thought was he was selling it.

I think I'm also disappointed that numerous clones are coming out and they're all going to cash in on the craze and will probably eclipse the original.


I still can't get over that I looked at the morning's news, saw something about this, recognized the same, and was like "I know that guy!"

Congrats on the viral hit and all the free press. Josh is a great guy.

I doubt there's much value here to squeeze. People lose interest in these things pretty fast. By the time it's productionized, it might be too late, and it ruined a fun hobby. The big value is he has a platform to launch something else, or enough attention to land a pretty good next gig.


Yeah the last paragraph is key. The repeated spreading of its a passion to project for his SO is great both outside of any financial capitalist aspect and also in that way too because who doesn’t love a genuine, great person who can also do kick ass work?

I came up with this idea 10 years ago (not knowing Lingo or alike) and made a game "Isogram Puzzle[0]" with Flash. It's listed by some Flash game portals, never got popular.

Recently I ported it to Android, it has 23 active users at the moment. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[0] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.gameva...


To be fair, "Isogram Puzzle", while it may be an accurate name, is relatively boring. "Wordle" is quirky.

Plus, I think the quasi-social aspect of it is a draw. If I post my Wordle score/grid for today, you can compare it directly for yours. Not only that, but since we both have the same word, that's all I have to do. Hell, all I have to post is "Wordle 3/6" and you just know what I mean. If feels like a shared secret. But also one we share in public with a knowing wink and nod.


Right, all good points. That's why it has only 23 active users after all. It's also harder to play, more cryptic hints with numbers and maybe the UI looks kind of old.

I agree with the general idea of sticking to your principles.

On the other hand, when it comes to your side projects, it truly is once in a lifetime that something becomes a global hit. A company or even a non-profit wouldn't hesitate to monetize this, and yet individual is the one who is given more scrutiny when they "sell out."

This simple little app being popular is something that could make a single developer financially independent (or just bring in a steady side income that gives you more career options). The author isn't exactly independently wealthy, he's still doing salaried work for a company. He is still (trapped, depending on your perspective) in the 9 to 5 like the rest of us.

It's not like Wordle is healthcare, something that is monetized that shouldn't be. It's just a game. A lot of people love it so much that they would gladly pay for some premium version of it.

Another way to keep the original product 100% free would be to open a store with merchandise or use something like Patreon.

I think of the Open Source movement not being about "freedom as in beer." It's 100% okay to sell open source software, but the point of open source is "freedom as in speech."

Monetizing is not the same as selling out or being predatory or immoral, because how you monetize is a very important detail.

Zach could stick to some kind of principles like those while still monetizing. Consider this as well: there's a good argument that not monetizing something as popular as Wordle is doing his family a disservice. All of our families, especially in a capitalist system to which we are subscribed with no opt-out, are basically little kingdoms that have to do their best to secure the stability of their future. Giving up a low-effort income source like this is kind of like turning away 10,000 soldiers who want to join your kingdom's army – it can only hurt you in the long run.


I never heard of Wordle until this post mentioned it so I'd say his decision is good advertising.

It is great and it is his choice.

But I also don't judge the copycats. Video games get copied all the time. In the beginning, we will get blatant clones which share the same ui and name.

Give it some time and we will see clones which add their own twist. The game will evolve.


Not everything has to be about making money. I can only speak for myself. I too build stuff for free without expecting to get rich off it.

I work part-time, 32 hours a week, and I'm reasonably well paid. I don't want to run a business, and becoming financially independent doesn't particularly appeal to me. I've already tried not working. Seems like a great idea until you do. Just took a year off and lived off savings doing whatever the heck I felt like. Turns out that gets kinda boring in the long run.


If he doesn't want to ruin his personal experience of it too much, he could license the name and UI in some way to a developer whereby the developer gets some return, but the bulk goes to a foundation of his choosing. That way he doesn't get too embroiled in the work aspect. The clones are inevitable, so might as well head them off and continue the positive vibe.

(My wife and I play it, as does our 9yo. It's a morning (LOL, 00:01...) ritual of sorts, playing and then later discussing our tactics and the logic involved.


I guess my question would be how the original creator monetizing his version would prevent copycats from making a windfall. If anything monetizing would remove a differentiating feature from Wordle, driving more traffic to copycats. The only way he can prevent copycats cashing in is to both monetize and use the revenue for marketing (and/or feature development). But then you have a business rather than a hobby, and it sounds like not a business he wants to be in.

I can't speak for the creator of Wordle, but some of us just want to put some nice things out into the world without the stinking pollution of advertising.

It’s a cool concept and nicely done but I’m not sure I see it as some kind of shining beacon of purity that must be protected from the dirty corruption of money. It’s a single-player word puzzle game, not a religious experience or scientific breakthrough or something.

He should monetize it, and donate the proceeds to a good charity if he really doesn’t need it and doesn’t think anyone in his immediate family or social circle needs help either.


I don’t think he’s foolish or wrong not to monetize, but at this point the opportunity cost of not doing it is truly enormous.

I understand he has a personal feeling that this was not meant to be monetized, and I can respect that.

But even so, it would make a lot of sense for him to put a tip jar on the site. He’d probably make $100,000 over the next weekend, and he’s certainly earned it.


It offends me, as someone who has never succeeded building something people want.

I say that a touch light hearted but it’s kinda true.


Wordle 208 4/6

⬜⬜ ⬜⬜ ⬜⬜

Awesome game! Got it on the fourth try. Maybe the guy can put a donation box somewhere. I'd buy him a coffee.


Wordle is cool in its simplicity and focus on 'once per day' but the mechanic is literally a clone of Lingo already (the UK gameshow version at least, which I think is also a clone of the American Lingo gameshow).

You can see the official apps here: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/lingo-official-mobile-game/id1... https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.twowayme...

There's tonnes of clones of those too in both app stores.

I also made a web based version recently, with unlimited words and choice of words lengths between 4-8 characters.


like art, not all software must be commercial

I am more surprised that there are no hundreds of clones around, it is so easy to do. Original is fully client-run, it is even has a dictionary unencrypted inside bundled js-file.

Its mastermind with letters... not original and not hard to implement. To monetize, the majority of work would be monetization stuff. That sounds like it wouldn't be fun.

It seems like people want an app and not a website? You don't have to monetize apps. Someone here could volunteer to make it for the guy for free. If they felt strongly enough.

Fun game, could be a nice interview test. Better than fizzbuzz imo

whenever i see some catchy game like this or the countless others like flappy bird or whatever, i think of that star trek episode and don't get involved

flappy bird guy freaked out on the monetization. When you aim for low 10k and get 16m it can be .. punishing. There are worse fates, but (the little I read suggests) he wasn't entirely happy with it

What happened in that episode?

Spoilers:

Tubas on a checkerboard turned out to be an addicting VR game, to the point where the entire crew of the Enterprise was essentially zombified. Wesley and Ensign Robin Lefler (played by guest star Ashley Judd) saved the day.


It's good that he wants to continue distributing it for free. If he wanted to make money off of it, that's also good too.

Just let the CIA implant words into the collective conscience via Wordle for mind control, and offer him a hammock in the Bahamas in return.

Good in him. Not everything is about money.

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