Why we should stay with TWL

         Most Collins players try to paint TWL advocates as insular, unopen to change, and regressive.  However, the grass is not always greener on the other side, and changes don’t always produce a better result.  While there may be some benefits to switching to Collins, I think that you and the majority of the North American Scrabble community would be better off sticking with TWL for these 5 reasons:

         1.  TWL will make it easier to reach the casual North American player.

         The casual player is the crown jewel of the North American scene.  These are people we need to reach and who we need to appeal to if we’re going to survive: people who watch videos, consume content, etc.  and introducing a new dictionary will further separate ourselves from the casual Scrabble player who already owns and plays with an OSPD, and many of whom want a *smaller* dictionary than TWL. For these players, maintaining a dictionary that closely resembles the dictionary they are familiar with will maximize their chances they will play tournaments and consume tournament Scrabble content.

         2.  Remaining with TWL leaves the dictionary question open for the future.

         One of the benefits of the existence of TWL is that it doesn’toffer a consensus, leaving open the possibility of major changes to the dictionary in the future. This allows us to pursue future opportunities that may require changing our dictionary in the future, whether it’s sponsorship from a rival dictionary, research indicating that most casual players want a significantly smaller dictionary, a further inclusion of slang and foreign words, or other unforeseen circumstances indicating that a drastic change in dictionary would be in order.

         Creating a single consensus dictionary would make change much more difficult in the future, as it’s much harder to make significant changes when a global consensus is in place.  While we can always switch dictionaries later, it’s much easier to change dictionaries when the dictionary remains an open question.   

         3.  Collins could cause TWL supporters to reduce their participation in tournaments.  As other Western countries like the UK and Australia have switched to Collins, they have seen a decline in their tournament participation. If a player was thinking of quitting before, any update can serve as a final straw for previously disgruntled players.  

         While Scrabble has been successful in countries where it’s used as a tool to learn the English language, it hasn’t been successful in countries where players have a preconceived notion about words. Many people *feel* that Collins includes many words that are not intuitive to native Western speakers who possess opinions about what should (and shouldn’t be) considered a word.          

         4.  Changing the dictionary affects Scrabble’s game play in ways that many players will find undesirable.   

         One of the major changes is that Collins makes it more difficult to restrict the board, as the additional hooks and early game bingos make quadrant control much more difficult.  This change makes it much harder for people with weak word knowledge to win: it’s simply too difficult to restrict the board since Collins introduces so many more bingo options for players with strong word knowledge. 

         Similarly, a lot more games lead to one-sided bingo shootouts, which can be very frustrating.  For me personally, this is the leastfun thing about Scrabble, as it doesn’t take a lot of strategic skill to bingo consistently, forces your opponent to also try to bingo, and doesn’t lead to a lot of strategic decision making. Scrabble is a zero-sum game, and when your opponent has 300 points by turn 5, there’s not much skill required (outside of knowing and finding the words).

         5.  We have no way of making Hasbro or Merriam-Webster follow suit.

         Logistically, switching is easier said than done.

         North America could switch without Hasbro and Merriam-Webster’s approval.  This would be a disaster, particularly in regards to reaching new players, as if we’re playing with a substantially different dictionary, it would be hard to get new players to participate in tournaments or consume our content. While we could do this and hope that Hasbro/MW follow later, this is enormously risky with potentially catastrophic results.

         Ideally, we would get there approval first, but how would we do this?  Hasbro and MW make a lot of money from this deal, and we have very little influence: we have no way of nixing or even altering this deal in any way. While its fine to say we want to switch, the practicalities of making this happen may not be realistic.

Counter Arguments

         America is the last holdout to a compromise dictionary agreed upon by every other country in the world!

         One of the things I often hear is that we need to join the rest of the world and switch to Collins.  The implications made is that America is stubbornly clinging onto TWL, resisting a consensus already of Scrabble players globally, much like we do with many of our international political decisions. 

         In Scrabble though, it’s a bit different. North America is a big part of the Scrabble pie, representing about 40% of all sets and casual Scrabble players. 

         Collins is the compromise that no one likes or asked for.  Many players who are against Collins would’ve been much happier unlearning words and would have embraced Collins if it *removed* words that were not in both dictionaries: they don’t reject the idea of a foreign dictionary as much as they reject the idea of a bigger dictionary.

         Joining the rest of the world” will open up doors for Americans and make it easier for us to collaborate with the rest of the world in growing the game!  

         This sounds good, but does this reflect reality?  The international community itself is not unified: it’s a set of smaller communities that don’t collaborate outside of their own ecosystems.  There’s Africa, there’s Asia, there’s Europe, and there’s North America, and these continents all act independently of each other. WESPA is not one unified community: it’s an aggregate of a bunch of smaller communities.  Thus, it’s likely North America would not collaborate much with players on other continents.

         What’s the harm in taking small steps and experiment to introduce people to Collins?

         Many of these sorts of actions are codified language that nerf TWL because they “promote the switch to CSW”.

         If you’re growing CSW, that’s a positive. Even if you’re advocating for TWL, seeing more players playing Scrabble is a good thing, regardless of dictionary.  But if you’re trying to nerf TWL, or your goal is merely to cause TWL players to switch without trying to grow the entire pie, or if you’re trying to undermine TWL events, then you can’t blame TWL advocates for raising objections.  

         Various CSW promotion tactics don’t actually grow the whole pie: they merely grow the CSW pie at the expense of TWL. Examples of this include dual Nationals streams, confusing new players by giving them dual lexicons before they know the 3s, or interjecting CSW words into TWL discussions.

         TWL advocates are hypocrites as they criticize Collins words as being ridiculous when there are thousands of ridiculous words in TWL!

Most TWL advocates are actually not big fans of TWL and gladly acknowledge that TWL has some ridiculous words that they’d prefer to be excluded from future updates.