r/Place Resurrection: Reddit’s Risky Move Amidst Troubled Waters

Reddit seems to be making extremely controversial decisions. Besides increasing API pricing which led to a shutdown of several third-party apps, the company is now bringing back the Place subreddit. The move should be effective starting from July 20th, 2023. How will the community react to it, it’s still the question.

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Illustration: Lenka T.

Reddit’s decision to bring back r/Place, a collaborative pixel-editing project, has been met with significant backlash from users, given the current state of grievances towards the company. Many users are still upset over Reddit’s recent changes – the new API pricing that led to the shutdown of beloved third-party apps, the removal of chat history before 2023 with little warning, and the announcement of sunsetting the current system to introduce Reddit Gold.  

The timing of r/Place’s return on July 20th, 2023, seems to be particularly ill-fated, considering the ongoing discontent among the user base. 

Right place, wrong time? 

The announcement post for r/Place’s return has become a platform for users to express their frustration with the company. The top comment, “fuck u/spez” (referring to Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s username) and numerous comments about “API” demonstrate the prevalent discontent that may find its way into the 2023 r/Place canvas. 

Reddit itself appears to be aware of the unfortunate timing. In a short announcement video, the company’s tagline for the event is “right place, wrong time.” Additionally, a Reddit admin shared a series of pushed dates for the event’s kickoff, indicating that it was repeatedly delayed due to various controversies and sensitive moments in Reddit’s recent history. 

Previous editions of r/Place, held in 2017 and 2022, resulted in fascinating pixel collages featuring art, country flags, memes, and video game icons. For the 2023 version, Reddit is allowing subreddit moderators to “pin” coordinates on the canvas, ostensibly to aid community members in finding specific areas.  

However, some communities might use this feature to focus their protest efforts, as evidenced by the existence of r/PlaceAPI, a subreddit with users planning protest art. The duration of this year’s r/Place remains unclear, as the 2017 edition lasted 72 hours, while the 2022 edition took four days to complete. 

Previous r/Place announcements 

The subreddit was supposed to go live on April 1, 2023, as the first two events took place on the same date. It was then rescheduled to April 20, two days after Reddit first announced the changes in API, but without stating the prices.  

Again, the event was postponed to May 4, only to be delayed until May 15. The subreddit didn’t emerge even then, but was rescheduled to June 15, in the midst of subreddit blackouts and protests due to API price changes.  

Another date of the event was scheduled for June 23, a week before third-party apps were about to shut down. The final date of the appearance was set for today, July 20.  

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