The new Scrabble word will be either ‘zen’ or ‘geocache’


Hasbro’s official graphic advertising the “showdown.” (Hasbro)

The people have spoken, and the final words are in: After a month of crowdsourced searching, the new addition to the official Scrabble dictionary will be either “zen” or … “geocache.”

Zen, noun: a Japanese form of Buddhism that emphasizes meditation.

Geocaching, noun: an outdoor recreational activity, in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world.

How geocache made it into the finals, of all things, we may never know. The free-for-all went down on Hasbro’s Facebook page, where some Scrabble enthusiasts have alleged that geocachers “hijacked” the contest. (Given the campaigning of several very popular geocaching Twitter accounts, that seems entirely likely.) “Geocache” would, of course, rarely come up in game play. And as Slate’s Stefan Fatsis pointed out on Monday, it’s certainly not the most lexicographically sound choice: It’s only been around seven years, so who knows if it’ll be here in another seven.

In either case, as Hasbro explained when it announced the context in mid-March, the new word will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary, which hasn’t seen an update since 2005, and will be playable in this year’s national Scrabble championships … apparently a real thing.

Of course, this whole charade — like Monopoly’s crowdsourced addition of house rules in March — is little more than a publicity stunt for Hasbro, a way to remind the Facebooking hoards that a calmer and more classic form of “engagement” exists far from their computer screens. Then again, some of the debate between geocachers and Scrabble-players has gotten pretty heated.

Wrote one geocacher in a back-and-forth with his (less-than-zen) Scrabble-obsessed opponent, “the real culprit here is Hasbro for allowing this type of competition in the first place.”

This is why the Internet can’t have nice things.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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