On April Fools’ Day this year, Reddit created /r/place and did a social experiment for 72 hours that involved a blank canvas. Members could colour one pixel of the canvas once every five minutes. By end of the experiment, multiple subreddits were working together to create a formidable work of art full of various cultural references. It’s amazing to see how it progressed and to see people on the Internet working together to create something, even with some conflict here and there. It also goes to show how even a small action like colouring a small pixel has a large impact if everyone does it.
Inspired by /r/place, I created potential-octo-potato. As I like to describe it, it’s like /r/place but with code on GitHub. The idea is that through very many minimal transformations, a working piece of software will be created. I have no idea what the program will do, what it’s supposed to be like, or even what language it will be written in; that’s all decided by you, the contributors. Even the name isn’t mine; it was the name suggested by GitHub when I created the repo. The only things I provide are the repo and the rules.
Like /r/place, there are rules in place to ensure that everyone gets a chance to contribute. The details are in the README, but in summary, each user is limited to one active pull request at any given time. Each pull request can only contain one commit, which must contain only a “minimal” change, whose definition is under the discretion of the project maintainers. The limit on the number of pull requests gives a temporal restriction, much like the five-minute restriction on /r/place; the “minimal” change requirement gives a scope restriction, much like the single pixel restriction on /r/place. I’m the only one who can approve pull requests right now, so I hope it won’t become too overwhelming.
A project like this requires lots of communication, so full use of GitHub’s issue tracker and wiki is highly recommended. If this project picks up, I might even consider creating an IRC channel.
Even if you can’t code, there are still ways to contribute. Want to see a feature in the project? Add an issue! Think something should be documented better? Write the documentation! Think this needs a logo? Go make one! You can also tell your friends about it and give the project more exposure.
I’m excited to see how this will turn out. Will it fail? Will it be unexpectedly popular? What will it do? That’s all up to you. So go ahead, make a pull request today and tell all your friends!