Communities, a social tsunami: r/Place

A – Once upon a time… Reddit

Reddit is the archetype of what we today call a forum. It is the most used forum actually. The reason is simple : it has no topic. Or to be more accurate, it has your topic. Indeed, at a time when you had to ask every forum owner to add your subject as a category or you had to create a full forum by yourself, Reddit had a revolutionary idea. Letting people speak of what they want. On Reddit, you can create a sub-reddit which is essentially a small forum inside Reddit’s systems. No need to code, ask someone or pay anything : your sub-reddit can be created in less than ten minutes.

B – A genius idea

In 2005 a guy named Alex created the one million dollar page. A one million pixels internet page where you could buy every pixel for one dollar. He sold everything. Well, Reddit’s guys took that idea to adapt it to their needs. In 2017, for April 1st, they created a page of one million pixels. But they don’t want people to buy them for they would have no reason to sell and the page would not move after all pixels would be sold. Besides, they don’t get their money through donations but through ads. What they need is people spending time on reddit. And to achieve this objective : one solution, people need to know and be part of as many communities as possible. Hence their idea : every five minutes, you can change the colour of one single pixel on the page. People can see who you are and what community you’re part of. Seems like nothing but to draw something, you’ll need some help and help can come from only one place, your communities. Whole communities went on the page to start drawing their emblem. This is the sub-reddit r/Place.

C – One issue tho

You don’t own the space. That’s a detail. But the whole experiment is based on that tiny detail. What are you going to do if someone wants to draw on your emblem ? You will understand the title of this blog. Let me tell you the story of the Pixel War. OSU is a game where you click a button to follow a rhythm. It is very challenging. When OSU players found the r/Place, they immediately started drawing their emblem as they wanted to be represented. However, people found their emblem to be too big. Half the communities on r/Place choose to attack. Led by the streamer Tyler One, thousands of viewers tried to get rid of the logo. On the other side, a mere thousands of OSU gamers. But they were ready for battle. Immediately, they started organising, posing pixel after pixel every minute by dividing their community by month of birth. Then they discovered that by refreshing the page just before adding a pixel, you had a better chance of not missing a pixel already changed. Finally OSU gamers developed the most used technology of r/Place : a canva pointing the pixel you need to focus so that you always put the right colour at the right place. They won after hours of battle.


The story I just told you is not the pixel war. It is one of the many battles that were fought. If you like internet stories, I strongly recommend you search on youtube your community and r/place to find every story. 3 days after the start of the experiment, Reddit freezed the page with the final result. But in 2022, Reddit announced the return… And the war began…

Additional sources

This is an interactive map of the last shot of r/Place in 2012 : atlas2017

This is the same map for 2022 : atlas2022

This is the french video that inspired me to write this blog : TheGreatReview