Monday’s original Wordle response couldn’t be more controversial

Trying to distract yourself from recent news by playing a game of wordle? You might want to rethink that.

The original Wordle answer scheduled for Monday was a word very related to a some major current event and, because of this, the newspaper tried to change it, but was not completely successful. (Stop reading now if you don’t want to risk knowing the answer – which may not even be the one your puzzle gives you.)

Early Monday, when East Coast Wordle’s first fans were just figuring out the puzzle, the newspaper published an explanation. The tweet seemed harmless enough. It read: “Some of you may have a Wordle answer that differs from the official answer. Please refresh your browser to receive the correct answer word. For more information, please read our editor’s note.”

But when you enter the editor’s note, you realize how sensitive Monday’s Wordle response was, given recent events. Some players saw the word FETUS as the answer to the puzzle, while others saw the substitute word that Times tried to add. (We won’t reveal it because it’s not relevant to the story.) Of course, the word “fetus” can send many (most? all?) players’ minds thinking about the past week. Supreme Court draft opinion leaked it would nullify Roe v. Wade.

“Some users may see an outdated answer that seems closely related to a major current event,” the Times editor’s note explains. “This is completely unintentional and a coincidence – today’s original answer was uploaded to Wordle last year.”

The Times memo went on to say that the paper wanted its Games section to be a place for entertainment and escapism, not tied to current events.

“But due to current Wordle technology, it can be difficult to change words that have already been loaded into the game,” the note continues. “When we found out last week that this particular word would be featured today, we changed it to as many solvers as possible.”

According to the note, players who have refreshed their browser window, likely since the NYT patch was made, will see the new response, but not everyone does.

Naturally, players had opinions.

“It would be so disgusting if the funny pun accidentally reminded people that their basic rights are taken away, the rich aren’t supposed to have to think about it, they’re special,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another tweeted, “This shows how sensitive we can be to current events and be afraid to just think about things. Even just mentioning a word related to a hot topic was too much for the NYT. Can -be that we should accept to come across words that make us think.”

Says another, “Josh would NEVER let this happen”, referring to Josh Wardlecreator of Wordle.

This isn’t the first time a Wordle answer has been edited. Once the newspaper bought the game at the end of January, it started to change some of Wardle’s preloaded answers.

At that time, New York Times communications manager Jordan Cohen said, “We update the word list over time to remove obscure words to keep the puzzle accessible to more people, as well as insensitive or offensive words.”