r/place

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r/place
Logo of the original 2017 experiment
Logo of the 2022 and 2023 experiments
The canvas in 2023 on the last day of the event
OwnerReddit
Created byJosh Wardle
URLreddit.com/r/place
RegistrationReddit account required
LaunchedOriginal launch: April 1, 2017; 6 years ago (2017-04-01)
Second launch: April 1, 2022; 17 months ago (2022-04-01)
Third launch: July 20, 2023; 2 months ago (2023-07-20)
Current statusInactive

r/place is a recurring collaborative project and social experiment hosted on the content aggregator site Reddit. Originally launched on April Fools' Day 2017, it has since been repeated again on April Fools' Day 2022 and on July 20, 2023.

The 2017 experiment involved an online canvas located at a subreddit called r/place. Registered users could edit the canvas by changing the color of a single pixel with a replacement from a 16-color palette. After each pixel was placed, a timer prevented the user from placing any more pixels for a period of time varying from 5 minutes (depending on whether the user had verified their email address).[1][2] The idea of the experiment was conceived by Josh Wardle.[3][4] It was ended by Reddit administrators about 72 hours after its creation, on 3 April 2017. Over a million users edited the canvas, placing a total of approximately 16 million pixels, and, at the time the experiment was ended, over 90,000 users were actively viewing or editing the canvas. The experiment was commended for its representation of the culture of Reddit's online communities, and of Internet culture as a whole.[5]

Overview[edit]

The experiment, during the 2017 edition, was based in a subreddit called r/place, in which individual registered users could place a single colored pixel (or "tile") on an online canvas of one million (1000 x 1000) pixel squares, and wait a certain amount of time before placing another.[6] In 2017, the waiting time varied from 5 to 20 minutes throughout the experiment, and the user could choose their pixel's color from a palette of sixteen colors.[7][8] The 2022 edition started with the same size and colors as 2017, but the canvas was later expanded to four million (2000 x 2000) pixel squares, and the palette gradually gained sixteen more colors for a total of 32.[9] The 2023 edition also started with the same size as the 2022 and 2017 editions (1000 x 1000), and started with 8 colors. It was later expanded to 2 million (2000 x 1000) pixel squares, with 16 colors, then it expanded to 6 million (3000 x 2000) pixel squares, with 32 colors.[citation needed]

Reddit administrators have the ability to place as many pixels as they want and can use this ability to remove offensive content from r/place. Guidelines have outlined this content as nudity, hate speech, targeted harassment, or otherwise objectionable content.[10][11][12] This power was illustrated in 2023 when messages expressing violence towards the CEO of Reddit as well as some sexual imagery was removed.[13][14]

History[edit]

2017 experiment[edit]

The final product of the original 2017 r/place experiment
The final product of the original 2017 r/place experiment

The early hours of the experiment were characterized by random pixel placement and chaotic attempts at image creation.[15] Among the first distinct sections of the canvas to emerge was a corner of entirely blue pixels (named "Blue Corner") and a homage to Pokémon.[16] As the canvas developed, some established subreddit communities, such as those for video games, sports teams and individual countries, coordinated their user efforts to claim and decorate particular sections.[15][17] This frequently created conflict between communities competing for space on the canvas.[18] Overall, thousands of communities were involved.[19]

Other sections of the canvas were developed by communities and coordination efforts created specifically for the event. Several works of pixel art sprouted from the collaboration of these communities, such as fictional characters, Internet memes, flags, and recreations of famous pieces of artwork such as the Mona Lisa[20] and The Starry Night.[21][22][3] Several self-declared "cults" also formed to create and maintain various emblematic features such as the (black) void, the green lattice, the aforementioned blue corner, and a multi-colored "rainbow road".[23] At the time of the experiment's end on 3 April 2017, over 90,000 users were viewing and editing the canvas,[24] and over one million users had placed a total of approximately 16 million pixels.[5][18] An analysis found that the final version of the 2017 experiment consisted of art from over 800 communities.[25]

r/place was commended for its colorful representation of the Reddit online community. The A.V. Club called it "a benign, colorful way for Redditors to do what they do best: argue among each other about the things that they love".[26] Gizmodo labelled it as a "testament to the internet's ability to collaborate".[27] A number of commentators described the experiment as a broader representation of Internet culture.[28] Some also commented on the apparent relationship between the makeup of the final canvas and the individual communities within Reddit, which exist independently but cooperate as part of a larger community.[26] Newsweek called it "the internet's best experiment yet",[15] and a writer at Ars Technica suggested that the cooperative spirit of r/place represented a model for fighting extremism in internet communities.[29] The experiment did receive some criticism for the lack of protection from bot usage where users used scripts and macros to automatically draw on the canvas.[30]

Color palette of 2017[31]
                               

2022 experiment[edit]

The final product of the 2022 r/place experiment

On 28 March 2022, a reboot of r/place was announced.[32] It began on 1 April 2022, and lasted for three and a half days, including two expansions of the canvas to allow for more space. The color palette was also expanded on the second and third days.[33][34] Unlike in 2017, individual subreddits immediately began to coordinate in designing pixel art, and large communities were formed on Discord and Twitch in attempts to expand existing art, replace defaced pixels, and superimpose new images over existing ones.[34][35] By the end of the 3.5-day experiment, 160 million pixel changes were operated by over 10.5 million users, at an average pace of about 2 million pixels placed per hour. Of these pixel changes, about 26 million were redundant (same color as previously on the same pixel, but by a different user). These numbers, extracted from the raw data, are not as is mentioned in these erroneous articles.[5][36] During the final few hours before the 2022 Place event ended, users became restricted to placing only white pixels. The entire canvas was gradually filled with white space, returning it to its original blank state.[37][38]

References to popular culture, Internet memes and politics were commonly visible.[39] Fandom communities participated by creating representative illustrations of their respective subcultures.[36] Similar to 2017, much of the artwork was country flags.[5] This included support for Ukraine in the Russian invasion of Ukraine,[34] where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was depicted with sunglasses.[5]

Popular streamers on Twitch intervened in the event by instructing their viewers to quickly draw logos and symbols, often over existing images.[5][40] The streamer Félix Lengyel, better known online as xQc, peaked with 233,000 concurrent viewers on his stream because of the event, a personal record.[41][35] Lengyel's viewers would often get banned by Reddit admins,[41] and Lengyel said that he had received more death threats in a single hour than he had received in six years of streaming.[42][40]

Color palette of 2022 (day 1)[43]
                               
Color palette of 2022 (day 2)[44]
                                               
Color palette of 2022 (day 3 and 4)[45]
                                                               

2023 experiment[edit]

Reddit relaunched the r/place collaborative project on July 20, 2023, under the tagline "Right Place, Wrong Time", amid several unpopular decisions made by the company which had soured Reddit users, including one that had led to the API controversy which affected Reddit's third-party apps.[46][47] While announcing the return, Reddit stated: "Hey, what better time to offer a blank canvas to our communities than when our users and mods are at their most passionate… right?"[14]

Within the first day of the 2023 experiment, many writings of "fuck spez" ("spez" being Reddit CEO Steve Huffman's Reddit user name) were placed onto the canvas, some were large-sized, some were small-sized.[47] Another canvas writing, found among art of Germany, stated: "u/spez ist ein Hurensohn".[47][48] The Messenger website reported that an r/place artwork of "spez" under a guillotine was removed by Reddit; when The Messenger asked Reddit to comment, Reddit stated that it was enforcing its rules (which do not allow targeted hate of individuals).[14][49][50] Meanwhile, several other canvas writings simply stated "API".[46] There was also a canvas writing, "never forget what was stolen from us", which endorsed the Save3rdPartyApps community.[47] During canvas expansions, more protests against Huffman appeared, such as the message "spez = twat" done by users making British-themed art.[51]

In addition to art protesting Reddit, many of the early artworks were flags, plus a multi-colored canvas writing of "DICKS".[47] Among the most notable contributions came from users from the Touhou Project, osu! and Hatsune Miku subreddits,[52] who collaborated to re-create the shadow-art music video for "Bad Apple!!" on the canvas.[53] Artworks were also created featuring the game Genshin Impact, cats with sunglasses, a Pokémon card of Charizard, and a tribute to the deceased Minecraft YouTuber Technoblade.[48][50][51][54]

Reddit users collaborating to protest spez (Reddit's CEO) during the final hours of the 2023 experiment due to the 2023 Reddit API controversy.

The canvas was expanded six times, and the project concluded on July 25, 2023.[54] During the final hours, users were limited to placing greyscale-colored tiles.[55] Users coordinated to spell out "Fuck Spez" in giant white letters in the centre of the board as part of the protest.[48][55][56] The entire canvas was eventually filled with white space by the end of the project.[54]

Color palette of 2023 (day 1)[57]
               
Color palette of 2023 (day 2)
                               
Color palette of 2023 (day 3)
                                               
Color palette of 2023 (day 4, 5 and 6)
                                                               

Media response[edit]

The first experiment was praised for creating a sense of collectivism at a time when the Internet was to a great extent fractured and polarized.[5] The Washington Post compared Place to The Million Dollar Homepage, a 1000-by-1000-pixel website where each pixel was sold for a dollar in 2005.[5] The Conversation observed that, while the experiment demonstrated the ability of cooperation in the Internet to express people's passions, Place also showed the toxicity and exclusion of some communities.[38] The 2022 edition of the experiment caused Reddit's daily active users to reach an all-time peak.[36] Kotaku welcomed the 2022 return of the experiment, saying: "In an era where so much of the modern internet is trash, r/place has returned and it's still really cool."[34]

For the 2023 edition of r/place, The Verge commented that it was done at "perhaps at the worst possible time", as some Reddit users were still "furious" over Reddit's recent decisions to charge fees for its API, to delete its chat history, and to shut down the Reddit Gold system.[46] After the 2023 edition concluded, Polygon stated that it was "different" from the previous editions, because it was "defined by the way some Redditors used the canvas to protest Reddit CEO Steve Huffman".[48]

Atlas[edit]

After the 2017 experiment, an atlas of r/place was independently developed by Roland Rytz,[58] featuring a snapshot of the final canvas, and an interactive catalog with descriptions of its different sections.[59]

A new atlas based on the same software was initiated for the subsequent 2022 experiment[60] by student Stefano Haagmans. This iteration later introduced new features, such as a timeline by which to view the development of the canvas over time.[61]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simpson, Brian; Lee, Matt; Ellis, Daniel (13 April 2017). "How We Built r/Place". Upvoted. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  2. ^ Rappaz, Jérémie (2018). "Latent Structure in Collaboration: The Case of Reddit r/Place". Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. 12. arXiv:1804.05962. doi:10.1609/icwsm.v12i1.15013. S2CID 4941892. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b Voon, Claire (12 April 2017). "More Than a Million Strangers Collaborate, Pixel by Pixel, on a Digital Canvas". Hyperallergic. Archived from the original on 14 June 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  4. ^ Rauwerda, Annie (1 April 2022). "Reddit's r/Place art experiment has already devolved into beautiful chaos". Input. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Lorenz, Taylor (4 April 2022). "Internet communities are battling over pixels". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  6. ^ Weinberger, Matt (4 April 2017). "Over 1 million Reddit users waged a virtual war to create this bizarre work of art with 16 million pixels". Business Insider Australia. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  7. ^ Cuthbertson, Anthony (11 April 2017). "From Van Gogh to a marriage proposal, Reddit Place was the internet's best experiment yet". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  8. ^ Chen, Bodong; Håklev, Stian; Rosé, Carolyn Penstein (2021), Cress, Ulrike; Rosé, Carolyn; Wise, Alyssa Friend; Oshima, Jun (eds.), "Collaborative Learning at Scale", International Handbook of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 163–181, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-65291-3_9, ISBN 978-3-030-65291-3, archived from the original on 5 April 2022, retrieved 5 April 2022
  9. ^ Muckensturm, Baptiste (5 April 2022). "La mosaïque sur Reddit qui entraina une guerre mondiales à coup de pixels" [The mosaic on Reddit that led to a world war with pixels]. France Culture (in French). Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  10. ^ redtaboo (3 April 2022). "Hey everyone". r/place. Retrieved 20 July 2023. [there are] simple moderation tools [...] available to admins for this event. A small number of us have been utilizing this in order to keep the canvas safe for everyone.
  11. ^ How We Built r/place, Reddit, 2022, p. 2:40, retrieved 20 July 2023, We thoughtfully prepared safety tools, bot clustering detection, and tools to combat browser botting along with our heroic moderation team, and the humans working behind the scenes to keep redditors safe.
  12. ^ Nash, Payton (4 April 2022). "XQc's artwork gets censored by admins on r/Place". Dot Esports. Retrieved 20 July 2023.
  13. ^ Peters, Jay (20 July 2023). "Reddit's r/Place is going about as well as expected". The Verge. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  14. ^ a b c "Angry Redditors Take Over r/Place Subreddit to Insult CEO". uk.pcmag.com. 20 July 2023. Retrieved 26 July 2023. Others attempted to draw a guillotine executing Reddit's mascot, but they claim admins at the company have intervened to color over it.
  15. ^ a b c Cuthbertson, Anthony (11 April 2017). "From Van Gogh to a marriage proposal, Reddit Place was the internet's best experiment yet". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  16. ^ Weinberger, Matt. "Reddit's new 'Place' is forcing millions of users to work together to make something great". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  17. ^ Tindale, James (4 April 2017). "Reddit Place: April Fool's experiment reveals how the internet sees Australia". The Australian. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  18. ^ a b Vachher, Prateek; Levonian, Zachary; Cheng, Hao-Fei; Yarosh, Svetlana (17 October 2020), "Understanding Community-Level Conflicts Through Reddit r/Place" (PDF), Conference Companion Publication of the 2020 on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, pp. 401–405, doi:10.1145/3406865.3418311, ISBN 978-1-4503-8059-1, S2CID 222838256, archived (PDF) from the original on 2 April 2022, retrieved 5 April 2022
  19. ^ Chen, Bodong; Håklev, Stian; Rosé, Carolyn Penstein (2021), Cress, Ulrike; Rosé, Carolyn; Wise, Alyssa Friend; Oshima, Jun (eds.), "Collaborative Learning at Scale", International Handbook of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 163–181, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-65291-3_9, ISBN 978-3-030-65291-3, archived from the original on 5 April 2022, retrieved 5 April 2022
  20. ^ Litherland, Kristina T. (29 March 2022). "Instruction vs. emergence on r/place: Understanding the growth and control of evolving artifacts in mass collaboration". Computers in Human Behavior. 122: 106845. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2021.106845.
  21. ^ "Eagles, Flyers represented in final version of Reddit's 'Place' social experiment". PhillyVoice. 3 April 2017. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  22. ^ Oxford, Nadia (3 April 2017). "Here's the Best Game Fan Art from Reddit's r/place Canvas". USgamer. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  23. ^ Hathaway, Jay (3 April 2017). "A new phenomenon is taking over Reddit—here's what you should know about it". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  24. ^ Weinberger, Matt (4 April 2017). "Over 1 million Reddit users waged a virtual war to create this bizarre work of art with 16 million pixels". Business Insider Australia. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  25. ^ Israeli, Abraham; Kremiansky, Alexander; Tsur, Oren (25 April 2022). "This Must be the Place: Predicting Engagement of Online Communities in a Large-scale Distributed Campaign". Proceedings of the ACM Web Conference 2022. WWW '22. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 1673–1684. arXiv:2201.05334. doi:10.1145/3485447.3512238. ISBN 978-1-4503-9096-5. S2CID 245986682.
  26. ^ a b Purdom, Clayton (3 April 2017). "Reddit gave its users something to fight over besides anime and cucks". A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 3 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  27. ^ Serrels, Mark. "Place Was The Internet, In All Its Glory". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  28. ^ Rhode, Jason (3 April 2017). "Redditors Collaborate to Create the Iconic Picture of Our Time". pastemagazine.com. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  29. ^ Machkovech, Sam (4 April 2017). "Did Reddit's April Fool's gag solve the issue of online hate speech?". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Reddit's April Fools' Joke Spawned a Surprisingly Awesome Social Experiment". Nerdist. 4 April 2017. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  31. ^ "/r/Place Palette". lospec.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  32. ^ Lyons, Kim (28 March 2022). "Reddit is bringing back r/Place, its April Fools' Day art experiment". The Verge. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  33. ^ Rauwerda, Annie (28 March 2022). "Reddit is bringing back beloved digital art experiment, r/Place". Input. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  34. ^ a b c d Gach, Ethan (5 April 2022). "Reddit Is Hosting What May Be The Internet's Most Wholesome Fan War". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  35. ^ a b Clairouin, Olivier (4 April 2022). "Sur le forum " r/place " de Reddit, l'incroyable bataille de pixels entre internautes du monde entier" [On Reddit's "r/place" forum, the incredible battle of pixels between Internet users from all over the world]. Le Monde (in French). Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
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  37. ^ Santana, Steven (4 April 2022). "Texas symbolism is embarrassingly absent in Reddit's big art project r/Place". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022. UPDATE: It seems it's too late for Texas to add anything to r/Place. Around 5:50 p.m. Reddit users could only place white pixels on the mural. People who were trying to maintain their pieces started to erase them unintentionally.
  38. ^ a b Childs, Andrew (4 April 2022). "How r/place – a massive and chaotic collaborative art project on Reddit – showcased the best and worst of online spaces". The Conversation. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  39. ^ Baldacchino, Julien (5 April 2022). "Pourquoi des internautes du monde entier bataillent pour des pixels sur le site Reddit" [Why people around the world are fighting for pixels on Reddit]. France Inter (in French). Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  40. ^ a b Williams, Demi (4 April 2022). "xQc reports getting numerous death threats over Reddit's 'Place' canvas". NME. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  41. ^ a b Patterson, Calum (4 April 2022). "xQc breaks his Twitch viewership record as viral r/Place art stream censored by Reddit". Dexerto. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  42. ^ Datuin, Sage (4 April 2022). "xQc says he's received more death threats in April than past 6 years combined thanks to viral r/Place art streams". Dot Esports. Archived from the original on 4 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  43. ^ Sombodey. "2022 r/place Palette". Lospec. Archived from the original on 7 April 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  44. ^ Rayo75. "r/place 2022 DAY2 Palette". Lospec. Archived from the original on 7 April 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  45. ^ Infez, Paintspot. "r/place 2022 DAY3 Palette". Lospec. Archived from the original on 22 April 2022. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  46. ^ a b c Peters, Jay (19 July 2023). "Reddit is bringing back r/Place at perhaps the worst possible time". The Verge. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  47. ^ a b c d e Peters, Jay (20 July 2023). "Reddit's r/Place is going about as well as expected". The Verge. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  48. ^ a b c d Clark, Nicole (26 July 2023). "Reddit's 2023 r/Place turned into a battleground for dunking on the CEO". Polygon. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  49. ^ Seranno, Jody (22 July 2023). "Reddit Removes Community Drawing of Its CEO Under a Guillotine". The Messenger. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  50. ^ a b Serrano, Jody (27 July 2023). "Final Reddit r/Place Community Mural Underscores Anger at CEO Steve Huffman". The Messenger. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  51. ^ a b Peters, Jay (21 July 2023). "Reddit expanded the r/Place canvas, and users immediately wrote messages cursing the CEO". The Verge. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  52. ^ Maik (27 July 2023). "In r/place 2023 wurde ein komplettes Musikvideo mit Pixeln animiert". Langweiledich (in German). Archived from the original on 27 July 2023.
  53. ^ Glaze, Virginia. "r/place recreates iconic Bad Apple music video with jaw-dropping timelapse". Dexerto. Retrieved 25 July 2023.
  54. ^ a b c Peters, Jay (27 July 2023). "Here's how to watch the evolution of Reddit's r/Place canvas — including its protest art". The Verge. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  55. ^ a b Lausson, Julien (25 July 2023). "r/Place se finit avec des pixels en noir et blanc et un ultime « fuck Spez »". Numerama (in French). Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  56. ^ Peters, Jay (26 July 2023). "Here's how to watch the evolution of Reddit's r/Place canvas — including its protest art". The Verge. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  57. ^ "r/place 2023 Day1 Palette". lospec.com. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  58. ^ Rytz, Roland (4 March 2019). "The Place Atlas". GitHub. Archived from the original on 2 April 2022.
  59. ^ Kaser, Rachel (29 April 2017). "Atlas of Reddit's /r/place makes sense of beautiful chaos". The Next Web. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023.
  60. ^ MediaWeek (11 April 2022). "10.4+ million people get involved as r/place returns to Reddit". MediaWeek. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023.
  61. ^ Castello, Jay (12 April 2022). "Meet the creators of the r/place Atlas, the internet's living mural". Polygon.

External links[edit]