Potential Octo-Potato

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!

tpenguinltg/potential-octo-potato on GitHub.

  1. Dennis said:

    I participated in /r/place and it was a hell of fun to see how the crowd drew pixel art together. That was so addictive :D Great that you are working on something similar!

    • I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! It’s unfortunate that I realized what it was only after it finished. Have you seen your personal stats on /r/place? As for collective stats, I especially like the heatmap.

      • Dennis said:

        I saw the heatmap afterwards because I follow the dataisbeautiful subreddit (I love data). But I was not aware of the personal stats. That’s cool too!

        I wouldn’t have expected that I placed 50 pixels, especially because there was a long delay until you could place another one. Looks like I had too much time on that day :D Also “That is more than 97.05% of the 801,276 other redditors to place pixels” is funny, that makes me be a member of the 3% pixeladdictive Redditors lol. I placed mostly black for the Germany flag, I also helped a bit to create the sign for the Crusader Kings 2 game of Paradox Interactive.

        The whole project was so funny, I liked to watch what people come up with. I laughed for example when I saw how the story of darth plagueis the wise appeared, but there was so much cool other stuff on the image. But some things seemed to be so perfect that I believe people also created a script and bots.

      • There were definitely bots, and according to Reddit’s technical blog post, they were intentionally allowed.

        I think my favourite elements of the image are the Windows 95 Taskbar and Gogh.bmp window, but they’re all pretty amazing.

      • Dennis said:

        That’s interesting, especially how fast people came up with these scripts. The win taskbar was definitely funny too, yes! I think that was what made it interesting, at first I thought placing pixels is quite dull, but when I noticed what people created together, it became so interesting. So, I watched and started to place pixels too :)

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