Looking Back at r/Place (2024)

Josh Wardle & Justin Bassett
(u/powerlanguage & u/Drunken_Economist)

In just 72 hours, over a million redditors placed 16.5 million tiles to transform a simple, white, 1000×1000-pixel canvas into a surprisingly beautiful clash of communities, nations, ideologies, and fandoms. Because each user could only place one tile every five minutes, any single individual would have struggled to create a meaningful image on their own. However, through community collaboration, users quickly produced complex creations, surpassing all of our expectations about how this project would turn out once the 72 hours were up.

As with our previous April Fools’ projects The Button and Robin, Place was created to explore human interaction at scale. Because of their experiential (and temporal) nature, adequately summarizing these projects is always a challenge (though the fact that Place has a visual artifact does make this a little easier). Last week, we shared the technical story behind r/Place, so today we wanted to share a (very incomplete) collection of some of the amazing creativity that emerged from Place. We encourage you all to share your favorite moments in the comments. We have also released a complete dataset of Place data and are looking forward to seeing what emerges on r/dataisbeautiful.

What Is This Place?

If you have no idea what you’re reading right now, don’t worry, redditors have got you covered with a variety of summaries for you to dive into.

If you are wondering what all the images and iconography plastered across Place are, you may want to visit u/draemmli’s Place Atlas. The community-sourced, interactive map provides information and metadata about the different images that make up the final version of Place.

Surely This Will Not End Well…

Providing an empty canvas to millions of anonymous internet users? What could possibly go wrong? We knew there was an inherent risk to Place, but our previous projects have taught us to assume the best of the Reddit community. Fun outweighs fear. Part of the success of Place was due to the expectation that it would be largely self-policed. We thought that for every one person that wanted to do something negative, there would be thousands that wanted to overwrite that with something positive—and we were right. It turns out collaborating to make something bad is far harder than collaborating to make something good.

Factions, Alliances, & Destruction

Soon after it launched, redditors within and across different communities were working together (and sometimes against one another) to create upon the canvas. Collaboration was compelling.

byu/powerlanguage from discussion

Countries staked their claim in Place, with geographical rivalries emerging. The European contingent had its share of scuffles but eventually arrived at a harmonious equilibrium.

Redditors’ national pride was evident throughout. Dutch users were more likely to place orange tiles, Australians loved green and yellow, and Germans efficiently stuck to black, yellow, and red. The color preferences of each of the top 100 countries in Place can be found in the Place dataset.

With so many factions and alliances, it’s hardly surprising to see hotspots wax and wane. Despite a number of tiles remaining untouched throughout, many tiles more closely resembled battlegrounds. The bottom-right corner, for example, switched colors 37,214 times by 23,798 unique users, as r/TheBlueCorner valiantly held on (including the final blue tile by u/NotZaphodBeeblebrox).

Meanwhile, factions like r/theblackvoid sought to remind everyone why destruction is a necessary part of creation. u/theivoryserf shares their thoughts on the matter.

However, not all groups pursued destruction. r/ainbowroad spread around the canvas quickly, working with other factions to create something more:


Reddit is at its best when ideas and insights are being shared and remixed. We deliberately build these projects to be accessible to curious developers.

Redditors like u/mncke captured Place data in realtime and provided it for use by communities like r/placedevs. A popular usage was displaying the placement data in a heatmap that highlighted the most active areas of the Place canvas. u/Lucas7yoshi shared details of a Minecraft server that was tracking these changes in 3D. u/jampekka created an awesome timelapse heatmap of place. u/FLYING_HOOHAW took a similar idea and created a fictitious show’s opening credits:

u/d416 created a series of 3D tilt-shift images from the data. u/Physics_Dude went one step further and printed a topographical heatmap on their 3D printer.

If you’d like to explore the data, you can find the full dataset here.


After 72 hours Place ended but the creativity continued.

u/sudoscript penned the much-shared blog post When Pixels Collide, that retells the story of Place:

… at its core, the story of Place is an eternal story, about the three forces that humanity needs to make art, creation, and technology possible.

u/scharkfin also wrote a memorable comment, reflecting on Place’s short life. Some alliances have even gone as far as to write the history of place from their perspective., as in u/jojo6311’s “Tale of the Great Green Lattice.”

Beyond written histories, redditors have been creating physical objects to remember Place by. u/onji had the best idea ever and u/awkwardatbest made it a reality:

Even now, two weeks after Place has ended, redditors are remembering Place in different ways. The community at r/thefinalclean has erased any ‘errant’ pixels from the final Place canvas. r/placenostalgia is gathering their favorite Place moments. And we’re still waiting for u/bro_just404it to honor their bamboozle-free promise.

And Finally

The depth of projects like Place is only achievable because of the creativity and collaborative nature of the Reddit community. We created a canvas for you to draw anything on and you did not disappoint. From everyone at Reddit HQ, thank you.

Share your favorite moments from Place in the comments.

Place was made possible by the hard work of u/madlee, u/daniel, u/bsimpson, u/spladug, u/gooeyblob, u/eggplanticarus, u/d3fect, u/schwers, u/egonkasper, u/thephilthe, u/chtorrr, u/liltrixxy, u/ocrasorm, u/redtaboo, u/goatfresh and u/sporkicide.

Looking Back at r/Place (2024)
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