Reddit’s April Fools’ Joke Spawned a Surprisingly Awesome Social Experiment

This year, it seems that the best April Fools’ jokes were the ones that weren’t jokes at all. Rick and Morty aired the first episode of its much-anticipated third season, and Reddit started a social experiment, known as r/place. The new subreddit was very simple in its function: At the top of the page was a blank canvas. Any user could color in any pixel they wanted, but they could only do it once every ten minutes. This meant that collaboration ( or as many Reddit users claimed, bots) was necessary in order to produce a recognizable image.

As one Reddit user pointed out, r/place ended up looking like a “scam site from the early 2000s where you can download free smileys and mouse cursors.” What’s more interesting, though, is the process of how it got to that state. First, here’s a time lapse video of the entire 72 hours the project was active:

And here’s what it looked like at the very end:

r/place didn’t always look so clean, though. For example, here’s a snapshot of what it was like earlier on in the project, when cohesive images of things like national flags, Pokéballs, and Link from The Legend of Zelda were just beginning to form:

Time-lapse of Reddit place so far

As Reddit became more invested in the art project/social experiment/April Fools’ “joke,” a ton of subplots began to crop up in various areas of r/place. For example, there was the attack and defense of the American flag:

Skeletor enjoying some recreational drug use:

…and a ton of other developments. The r/place community also recorded meticulous stats and bits of trivia: Over 3500 pixels were never updated, while some pixels were updated a lot. The subreddit is fascinating to explore, even after the fact, and it’s too deep an experience to really explore here, so check it out for yourself.

Here’s a heatmap of r/place animated like the opening of a badass TV show:

Did any of you participate in this short-lived phenomenon? Give us a shout on Twitter and show off any invaluable contributions you made to this bizarre and breathtaking project.

Images: r/place

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