On Monday, the world of Wordle was rocked when the answer to puzzle #324 turned out to be two five-letter words instead of one.
“WTF, @nytimes?” “My wife gets SHINE and I get FETUS,” tweeted James Cowen, a Wordle devotee from Melbourne who was so annoyed by the double response that he disregarded all rules of the game by revealing the answer while it was still online.
“WTF indeed!” came the unusual irate reaction. What exactly are you doing by tweeting the answers? It was “poor form,” but it sparked a flood of speculations about what was going on.
Some detectives found evidence of cybercrime. “My spouse got the same as you and I got to shine,” a Melburnian tweeted. “Hacked?”
Perhaps it had to do with the technology. “I just tried it out on my iPhone and got the shine on Safari and fetus on Chrome,” a Brisbane-based player noted.
“For me, reverse,” said another. “Fetus on Safari, Google, shine.”
Was Wordle choosing the winners? “My son received the same treatment as you and I received shine.” Easy and difficult. Why?????”
“Perhaps owing to current happenings in the US they were trying to not have that word be drawn and it glitched and some still got it?” wondered Elle from Brisbane.
The New York Times, which bought the game from developer Josh Wardle for $US1 million in January, issued an explanation in the Gameplay section of its website.
“Some users may receive an outdated answer that appears to be linked to a major current news event,” Everdeen Mason, the masthead’s editorial director for gaming, said in a message. “Today’s original solution was loaded into Wordle last year.”
The Times treats the games section “as a place to entertain and escape,” according to Mason, who also wants to keep Wordle “different from the news.”
However, now that the US Supreme Court appears to be on the verge of reversing Roe v Wade, the famous 1973 decision that preserves women’s right to abortion, the word “fetus” – which her note didn’t really include – has become about as newsy as it gets to.
The problem is, according to Mason, replacing a word in the pre-programmed forward list that runs to 2027 is “tough.” “We switched it for as many solvers as possible when we discovered last week that this particular word would be highlighted today,” says the author.
Those that refreshed their browser window received the new word “shine,” while those who did not receive the previous term.
We’re sure it was quite traumatic for everyone involved. But have no fear: the Wordle elves are hard at work updating the program, ensuring that nothing as horrible as a double answer – or the news – can ever disrupt the game again.
He wouldn’t say whether the paper had received any “fetus” complaints.
Wordle was created as a gift for his partner by Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn software programmer, and took off after he posted it online. As the game tells them if their guesses contain letters in the word of the day, players guess words and narrow in on the correct answer.