Perhaps when using Wordle this morning, you came upon a rather common five-letter term. However, if you haven’t refreshed your page in the past week, you might have come across the answer “FETUS,” which The New York Times decided was a little too closely related to recent events because last week Politico leaked a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and reverse the right to an abortion. Though the original answer may still be visible to players who haven’t restarted the game, the New York Times substituted a term that is less controversial.
“Some users could come across an obsolete response that appears to be closely related to a significant current news event. This is purely coincidental and unintended, the editorial director of the New York Times Games said in a statement that was made just after today’s Wordle appeared online. Wordle’s solutions are predefined in its coding, according to Mason, and are drawn from a database of five-letter terms that its creator Josh Wardle came up with more than a year ago. Not all five-letter words are included in the list; he did it on purpose in order to make the game easier to solve more frequently (you also probably won’t come across a four-letter noun with an extra “S” at the end to make it plural).
Wordle “had been designed for a rather limited set of users” before we purchased it in January, according to Mason. We’re currently working to update Wordle’s technology so that each user always sees the same word. There have been a few times since Wordle joined New York Times Games where Wordle had two potential answers. The most recent instance of this was at the end of March, when consumers were presented with the options “STOVE” or “HARRY” as answers. This took place as a result of The New York Times eliminating some of the more esoteric terms that were still included in the Wordle solution bank, such as “HARRY,” which is not the name of a boy wizard but rather an archaic verb that means “to continually harass.”
However, some players’ games continued to utilize the old Wordle instead of the significantly modified New York Times version when Wordle moved from Wardle’s personal website to that publication. According to the New York Times, “tens of millions” of users play Wordle every day. The firm claims it experienced its greatest quarter ever for user growth in its subscription-based Games area, indicating that its “low seven figures” purchase of the wonderfully straightforward game paid off.