A hot potato: You wouldn’t normally associate everyone’s favorite word-based puzzle game, Wordle, with potential controversy, but it’s why owner The New York Times has removed an answer that many could associate with recent news events.
Wordle saw a surge of popularity last year when it jumped from around 90 players to over 300,000 in just two months. Soon after that, millions were trying to solve the puzzle, which changes to a new word every day.
All the attention led to The New York Times purchasing Wordle from creator Josh Wardle. Today, the publication removed an answer in order to keep the game “distinct from the news.” The word in question was ‘Fetus,’ though not all Wordle players saw a different answer.
Some of you may have a different Wordle answer than the official answer. Please refresh your browser to receive the correct answer word. For more information, please read our editor’s note. https://t.co/3dY5nRu7yu
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 9, 2022
The Times wrote in a statement that Wordle answers are programmed into the system months in advance. When it discovered last week what today’s would be, it switched it for as many players as possible. However, those users who haven’t refreshed their browser windows will still see the original word.
“…some users may see an outdated answer that seems closely connected to a major recent news event. This is entirely unintentional and a coincidence — today’s original answer was loaded into Wordle last year,” the NYT wrote. “We’re now busy revamping Wordle’s technology so that everyone always receives the same word.”
Fetus, which isn’t mentioned in the New York Time’s statement, has become an even more politically-charged term in light of the US Supreme Court’s recently-leaked plans to overturn the 50-year-old landmark Roe v Wade decision that gives American women the constitutionally protected right to safe and legal abortion. Psychonauts studio Double Fine and Destiny maker Bungie are just two of the companies to have spoken out against the court’s decision.
Earlier this year, the New York Times removed several swear words from Wordle’s guessable words list. But while a few were deleted, some more extreme examples (f**ks, sh**s, c**ts, etc.) remain valid guesses.