You might have noticed the marriage proposal in our daily word ladder on Friday May 14, 2011.
Folks have asked about the story behind it and how it came about. So here’s a little story about how it happened. Last week a user wrote into Sporcle feedback and made a simple request: Would Sporcle be willing to publish a quiz on our home page that featured a marriage proposal?
My first reaction was unsure. A marriage proposal via quiz would be pretty easy to do, but it seemed like a tall order to feature a quiz on the homepage that would be both fun to play, and have the intended effect. As the week went on, I wrote back and forth with Matthew (the proposer), and we started to spin up an idea about a quiz that included 7 separate word ladders that would spell out the proposal. As we put them together, it became clear that this quiz could easily become a ladder that other users might enjoy playing. Unfortunately both Matthew and I needed help. I’m not a word ladder expert by any means, and the ladder we working on featured both made up words and strange acronyms. We needed an expert.
Of course, on Sporcle, there is one man to turn to when you need help making an expert word ladder, and that’s SproutCM. I sent him a note about helping on the ladder, and he jumped at the chance. He rewrote and reclued some of the ladders entirely as well as adding an eighth ladder that featured Matthew’s last name. When Sprout was finished, I knew we had a ladder that we could both feature on the front page, and would work as an excellent proposal. I sent over the finished ladders to Matthew on Friday night, he approved, and we scheduled them to go up on the homepage, not sure exactly what our users would think, but happy with the final results, and glad we could help out an avid Sporcler.
It turns out, everyone was a huge fan. There were plenty of stories and good luck wishes in the comments and the quiz currently has a 4.89(!) rating. Matthew’s comment alone has been up-voted over 300 times. Here’s the story directly from him:
She started playing the quizzes on the front page and I went away for a second, got the ring and put it in my pocket. As she was playing the quiz it went something like this:
After she had solved the first two ladders she said “That was weird” as the spelling of her name with only one L is a little unusual.
Of course I replied, “Yeah, that is kind of weird.”
By the time she got to solving the first four ladders she turned to me a little flustered and said “Did you do this?”
I said yes and she freaked out a little bit, mostly saying: “No way! How did you do it?”
I got the ring out of my pocket and she said “Wait! I have to finish the quiz first! this is my quiz! I can’t not finish my own quiz!”
After quickly finishing it she said “yes” and has spent most of the weekend saying I can’t believe you actually did that.
She knew a proposal was coming sometime soon, but was completely surprised and caught off guard to see it in a Sporcle quiz.
For the blog readers, the title of the puzzle “we met in the old north west” is a reference to where we went to school and fell in love, at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL about 14 miles north of downtown Chicago. She was a Chemistry Major and is now in Law School. I am a Materials Engineer currently working while getting my Master’s Degree part time. We met through our mutual love of music as I was in Phi Mu Alpha (The Men’s music fraternity) and she was in Sigma Alpha Iota (The Women’s music fraternity).
Overall it has been a great and memorable weekend, and I cannot thank you enough for helping to make this something we will be talking about for years to come. Plus we now have a website link that we can send to friends and family with no explanation and wait to get their reactions!
Right now we are thinking about getting married late next summer, I will be happy to keep you updated and send in pictures down the line.
Thanks to everyone who played the quiz, and special thanks to Matthew and Alison, who gave us an opportunity to be part of such a huge moment in their lives.