Reddit has been on the receiving end of massive online protests from its own users over the past few weeks, with swaths of the platform being completely unusable by visitors at times.
So, the company has seemingly decided that now would be the perfect time to once again roll out r/Place, a big blank canvas where users can display pixel art on an online public space.
Naturally, Redditors have taken this opportunity to voice their opinions on Reddit in pixelated art form.
For example, “Fuck Spez” has been scrawled all over the r/Place canvas for all of Reddit’s visitors to see. Spez is the Reddit username used by the company’s CEO Steve Hoffman, who the platform’s users have blamed for many recent unpopular decisions made on the platform.
Credit: Screenshot: Reddit
Reddit announced the return of r/Place on Wednesday. The company launched previous versions in 2017 and again in 2022. Reddit explained that the 2023 version was originally planned for April, but various setbacks (and the blackout protests) pushed this year’s r/Place to launch on Thursday, July 20.
“Better late than never?” reads the r/Place announcement post from Reddit. The comments section quickly filled up with users posting “API” in the comments. This is a reference to the main issue users have with Reddit: the new exorbitantly priced API. Many popular third-party developers were forced to shut down their Reddit-based apps earlier this month after the company started charging a per-usage subscription fee for an API which was once free.
The developer behind Apollo for Reddit, a popular Reddit client app, shared that he’d be forced to pay $20 million per year for API access under these new terms. Redditors quickly rallied together and planned a days-long blackout protest, turning many popular subreddit communities private, which blocked visitors from accessing them. The days-long protests turned into weeks before Reddit started making veiled threats to remove moderators who didn’t reopen these online communities. While many subreddits subsequently reopened, Redditors found new ways to protest such as filling some of these re-opened communities with nothing but photos of comedian John Oliver.
In an effort to utilize Reddit’s recently relaunched r/Place for their new protest actions, some Redditors have started a new subreddit called r/PlaceAPI where users can strategize on messaging for their pixelated art takeover.
Regardless of these massive user blowback, Reddit has not budged on its API pricing. In fact, the company has made new, more recent decisions that have upset its user base. Last week, Mashable reported that Reddit has removed years of chats and message archives from users’ accounts while transitioning to a new chat system. Soon after that, Reddit also announced that it was sunsetting its popular Reddit Gold reward system, which further angered users.