On April 1st, social media website and awful meme regurgitator Reddit launched a special website called /r/place for only the second time in history – 5 years after it’s three-day lifespan in 2017. /r/place allowed any reddit user to place a single pixel on a massive canvas every five minutes. That pixel could be one of 16 colors and could go over anyone else’s pixel, meaning that the only things stopping anyone from (re)placing any art or message on the ever-changing canvas was a lack of likeminded collaborators (or alternate accounts) or an overabundance of opponents. Four days later the canvas would be locked, not allowing any more pixels to be added.
Considering that quite a few people remembered /r/place and the impact it made from the last time, the launch of the new canvas was met with many surprisingly organized communities over subreddits and Discord, ready to carve a spot in the canvas for their own hobby, interest or even country. Some fandoms that had a great showing five years ago went full-force right off the bat, creating stunningly large or even detailed works of art, like the massive osu! logo or the incredible Star Wars posters.
So many unique, interesting and difficult art pieces, created one pixel at a time came and went, painted over by new images, an-ever present cult of black pixels known as the Void, or just a good ol’ dead meme from the last decade. Not everyone wanted to stand out, though, as country flags, one of the simplest creations possible on such a canvas, were incredibly popular as well, with some even calling for a flag ban. Other, smaller communities, had to resort to simple tiny drawings, or else risk being painted over by an expanding neighbor or a random streamer hoping to get themselves over. And with that we go into our conflict.
Lithuania is a small European country. If Europe was the human body, geographically Lithuania would be around the kidney area. In the same metaphor, politically it would closer be situated to the colon, like an appendix. It’s small, not really relevant most of the times and people would usually struggle to locate it when asked.
Nonetheless, it has a long history dating back to the early medieval times, when it was a force to be reckoned with. In the XIVth century Lithuania even reached as far back as the Black Sea. And it looks like the launch of the /r/place canvas was truly the time for some patriots to relive these glory days, 600 years later.
The RWBY subreddit, dully named /r/RWBY, decided on a much smaller project than many other communities – they simply wanted the four letters of the show to be represented on the canvas. After the initial spot was chosen, work began by the few brave pioneers to start the letter ‘R’. Minutes later, concerns already began rising as the presence of the much larger neighbor Lithuania (alongside its real-world allies Latvia and Estonia) could mean a fast end to this little project. In Lithuania’s case, their flag was the second one on the canvas, with the first, and much larger one, a bit further away.
The members’ concerns were warranted, as soon Latvia expanded further, while Lithuania, out of jealousy for their neighbor, strode forward hoping to crush the RWBY logo. It wasn’t that easy, however, as /r/RWBY stood strong and forced the Lithuanian flag to expand around them. After several intense hours, the Baltic flags more or less returned to their original size, with only the western border of the RWBY logo under fire by the yellow and green pixels. Eventually Lithuania gave up on that as well and, following Estonia’s example, instead focused on placing their kickass coat-of-arms, the mounted knight Vytis right in the center of the flag. After a while, all three Baltic countries had their coat-of-arms and the attacks on the RWBY logo stopped.
Or so we thought.
Although Lithuania was officially an ally of /r/RWBY in this experiment, just like /r/RedVsBlue, /r/FireEmblem and several others, there was a branch of insurrectionists rising up in the little Baltic state. Followers of the sword. You see, Vytis has a cool sword. Well, some folks thought it’d be funny if the sword was slightly extended. Extended to the very end of the canvas, piercing every single community in its way. And the poor /r/RWBY logo would be their first victim. The peaceful Lithuanian community, weakened by the attacks on their other two flags, couldn’t prevent the sword cultists from constantly extending the weapon. In the end, the sword was reduced to a lore-accurate size, although it cost many brave FNDM members, Lithuanians and other community helpers countless 5-minute-cooldowns and broken sleep schedules.
The canvas later expanded two times and after the second one /r/RWBY created a fantastic tribute to the late show’s creator Monty Oum, featuring the four symbols of the main heroines and Monty’s signature. Although still rife with drama and attacks from various sources, the far more cooperative neighbors like /r/formula1 helped defend the much larger art piece. The final image, before everything returned to the void on April 5th, was really heartwarming.
The canvas had a lot of struggles, in-jokes and overall chaos, like the hidden Among Us guys, Canada’s sheer inability to draw a maple leaf on their flag or the time when a Reddit admin was caught abusing their workplace privileges to ignore the 5-minute cooldown. Nonetheless, the two-day war, waged between radical Lithuanian sword fetishists and the transforming-weaponry obsessed teenagers of /r/RWBY was noticeable enough, even from the heatmap of the whole thing, where the sword part of the Vytis was one of the more contested zones in the entire canvas.
In the end, both Lithuania and RWBY are just visible in the massive bird’s-eye view of the canvas, but we hope that after the dust has fully settled, no more animosity will be held between the small Eastern European country and a niche 3D anime-inspired web series. In some ways, they are much more alike than they realize.
Thank you to /u/J_Aetherwing for these fantastic timelapses of the /r/RWBY logo and emblems!
Reddit need to turn this canvas event into a season event so we can see more fights like this