How Words With Friends Bots Impact the Game

bot playing words with friends on phone

Adapted from Getty Images

It’s right there in the name. The assumption is that you’re supposed to play Words With Friends with your friends. And while you can start new games with strangers too, many players have encountered what might be Words With Friends bots. These are computer-controlled opponents posing as real human beings. Is this a problem? How can you spot Words With Friends bots and what can you do about them?

Does Words With Friends Use Bots?

Have you ever played a game of Words With Friends and wondered whether your opponent is actually human? And are they using a Words With Friends cheat to win? You’re not alone. Many players have suspected that Words With Friends uses bots. However, Zynga has never formally acknowledged the existence of bots in Words With Friends, let alone whether it created them. No one has ever been able to confirm one way or the other.

By comparison, this is one of the major differences compared to Scrabble GO. When you look at your potential opponents in this similar word game, cloud graphics surround some avatars. These clouds designate that the player is the bot. If there are no clouds, then the player is human. 

How to Identify a WWF Bot

Several signs can help you spot suspected Words With Friends bots. These may not all apply, but they can each give you a reason to be suspicious.

  • Profile picture looks like a stock image.

  • Player appears to be an attractive female player. 

  • You may receive a “challenge” from them out of the blue, even if you disabled the option to receive challenges from strangers. 

  • Because these suspected bots often play weird words, you might think they’re cheating. However, they may also make strange, low-scoring moves.

  • Some bots play in six languages, which is even more suspicious. 

  • They never respond to chat messages, particularly if you ask directly whether they’re a bot.

If you see someone with the username "Zyngawf" or "Zyngawf" followed by some numbers (like Zyngawf123), they're probably not a Words With Friends bot. Instead, it's a temporary username that Zynga assigns to real players when the game cannot access their actual name or username.

Are Bots a Bad Thing?

This is a matter of debate and personal opinion. If all you want to do is play the game, and you don’t care if you’re playing against the computer or a human, then the bots in Words With Friends are harmless. They’re no different than playing against the computer in other games.

The impact on the game is more of a moral one. Many players would prefer if Zynga were more transparent about its practices. If the bots are clearly identified as such, they’re not inherently bad. It’s more because their secret existence is deceptive and players don’t like being misled. Players can’t know whether they’re playing against a human or an AI bot.

A recent study revealed that word game players are more inclined to use a word finder type tool when playing against the computer. It levels the playing field when you're playing bot vs. bot.

Words With Friends Bots List

This list is likely only partial. Some Words With Friends bots may no longer be active and new ones might get created all the time. As it is practically impossible to confirm whether they are bots or “real” players, use this information only as a point of reference.

  • Albot

  • Alexa Dimitrov

  • Ami Jayne (Ami J.)

  • Andrea H.

  • Carlita Lopez

  • Christine Gordy

  • Elia Tobin

  • Ella Haugerud (Ella H)

  • EllaHykes27 (Ella Hikes 27)

  • Emma Radcliffe

  • Gaby Speirs

  • Helena Pruitt (Helena P.)

  • Holly Rose (Holly R.)

  • Jackie Danhauer

  • Jennifer Krismen (Krismanfamily4)

  • Kara H. (Karalynnh1)

  • Kayleigh Abrams (KayleighA1120)

  • Kendra C.

  • Kristen Cotreau

  • Maddie J.

  • Maria T.

  • Serena Cooper

  • Tara McCluskey (Tara M.)

  • Trina P.

Bots vs. Fake Profiles

As frustrating or even infuriating as it might be to learn that you’re playing against an artificial intelligence (AI) and not an actual person, it is important to differentiate between bots and fake profiles. Both of these are among the most common Words With Friends complaints, but they are two distinctly different concerns. 

Why Bots Exist

A bot (short for “robot”) is a computer-controlled opponent. It’s not a real person. You are essentially playing against lines of computer code. It’s possible that Zynga, the publisher of Words With Friends, creates these bots to keep you playing. The more you play, the more ads the game can show, and the more money the company can make. 

Why Fake Profiles Exist

By contrast, Words With Friends fake profiles are “real people” pretending to be people that they are not. These fake profiles can be scammers, trying to extract real money directly from their victims. They’re often very chatty and attempt to take the conversation off-platform to Google Hangouts or WhatsApp Messenger.  

Should You Play With Bots?

That’s up to you to decide. You can certainly play Words With Friends with bots, even if you don’t know for sure if they’re bots at all, and still enjoy yourself. For an alternative, you might consider switching to the Scrabble GO app instead. It’s quite a departure from the traditional Scrabble board game, so it’s worth checking out. When you do, you might decide to delete your Words With Friends account. If you need help figuring out how to do that, WordFinder's comprehensive tutorial walks you through that process step by step.

Michael Kwan is a professional writer and editor with over 14 years of experience. Fueled by caffeine and WiFi, he's no stranger to word games and dad jokes.


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