Today’s Wordle answer was supposed to be “fetus,” and for many it still was, despite The New York Times trying to pull the word ahead of time. In light of reports that the Supreme Court is currently slated to overturn Roe v. Wade and toss out abortion rights for millions along with it, the Greylady said its latest intervention into the popular puzzle game was to keep Wordle “distinct from the news.”
According to a Monday blog post by The New York Times, “fetus” was pre-loaded as the correct Wordle answer for May 9, 2022 last year, and its current timing was “entirely unintentional and a coincidence.” Then last week, Politico reported on a leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court justices was preparing to dismantle nearly 50 years of federal protections for reproductive health. The Times decided to update the database and swap in a seemingly less “serious” choice, but due to “current Wordle technology” was only able to update the answer for players who refreshed their game before playing today.
“At New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain distinct from the news,” wrote Everdeen Mason, the section’s editorial director, explaining the decision. Notably, The New York Times refuses to even mention the word fetus in its blog post.
It’s remained fascinating to watch Wordle, now a cornerstone of the New York Times Games section after being acquired in a low seven figure deal earlier this year, follow in the footsteps of every other major game before it. Players devised optimization strategies to maximize their win-streaks, back-end tech issues have invited community backlash, and now The New York Times is trying its hardest to keep Wordle from appearing political.
The company started censoring answers and guesses shortly after it took the app over, culling words that ranged from naughty to potentially offensive. According to TryHardGames, which has been tracking these changes, fetus wasn’t the only word cut last week. “Butch” was also apparently taken out of the rotation around the same time.
The crossword puzzle is another mainstay The New York Times has tried to keep apolitical in recent years, despite the ongoing culture wars and genuinely terrible things happening in the world making that virtually impossible. Following the decision to remove “fetus” from Wordle, however, The Times appears to be more concerned that different correct answers once again split the player base than anything else.
“We’re now busy revamping Wordle’s technology so that everyone always receives the same word,” Mason wrote. “We are committed to ensuring that tens of millions of people have a gratifying and consistent experience, every day.” If you want to make sure you’re playing today’s intended word, just refresh the tab before you start.