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The New York Times addresses today’s ‘unintentionally’ timely Wordle answer

The original solution, which seemed "closely connected to a major recent news event," was swapped out last week, but still showed up for some players.
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Monday’s Wordle underwent a switcheroo. Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

“Amend” isn’t the five-letter solution to today’s Wordle, but it is what the New York Times did to the popular word puzzle after the solution originally selected for Monday's game was deemed too closely related to "a major recent news event."

Warning to fans of the word game who haven’t played today's Wordle yet: Spoilers ahead!

Players on social media noticed something unusual was going on when they discovered that their own answers to Monday’s puzzle didn’t match up with the answers their pals, parents and partners got.

"My wife gets SHINE and I get FETUS," one fan tweeted about Wordle #324.

But the New York Times, which acquired the simple puzzle that lets players guess a five-letter word in six tries earlier this year, offered up an explanation for the double-solution in an article entitled "A Note About Today’s Wordle Game."

"Wordle continues to delight millions of people every day, but as we move it over to The Times’s technology, we have continued to discover challenges," the publication noted shortly after 12:00 a.m. ET.

"Today, for example, some users may see an outdated answer that seems closely connected to a major recent news event.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 statement continued.

The Times doesn't delve into specifics of the "outdated" solution. However, the original answer, "fetus," does indeed seem "closely connected to a major news event:" A leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico and published last week indicated the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that secured abortion rights.

"We want to emphasize that this is a very unusual circumstance," the New York Times continued of the solution, seemingly in conversation with headlines.

The Times noted, "We want Wordle to remain distinct from the news," and that the intention of Wordle and games offered by the New York Times is to "entertain and escape." 

The New York Times acquired Wordle in Jan. 2022. The popular word guessing game was originally developed by Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, as a way to entertain his girlfriend, and later went viral.

Today's isn't the first hiccup during the transition from an independent game. In Feb. 2022, players were confused by two correct solutions, depending on whether they played on the Times' website or the original link.

The Times also edited the solutions list, eliminating words like “slave” and “wench."

The connection between today's original five-letter solution and the new was identified a week ago, with a new word selected as a replacement, according to the Times' statement. However, due to "current Wordle technology," the change did not reflect for all solvers.

As for why some users continued to get “fetus” instead of “shine,” despite the replacement? The discrepancy came down to whether players hit refresh on their browser window.

“You won’t receive the outdated version if you have refreshed your browser window,” the publication explained. “But we know that some people won’t do that and, as a result, will be asked to solve the outdated puzzle.”

The publication says it is working to avoid errors like this in the future. "We’re now busy revamping Wordle’s technology so that everyone always receives the same word," the Times said.

Is Wordle getting harder?

Feb. 17, 202203:48