Call for feedback: Free Culture Showcase for Ubuntu 18.04

Hello, everyone!

After the massive changes made in Ubuntu this cycle, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is poised to be an exciting new release that is going to be the first new fully-GNOME-based experience for Ubuntu users upgrading from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. We know that every single long-term support release sees 12 times more use than all interim releases combined, so Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is sure to be a very important milestone.

Every new Ubuntu release comes with a collection of incredible wallpapers from the Ubuntu community which are chosen via the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase. This allows photographers and illustrators who utilize certain Creative Commons licenses to present their work and contribute to the desktop experience for the default Ubuntu images.

Since Ubuntu 8.10, we’ve run the contest with some changes. For example, we’ve moved photograph submissions to Flickr for ease of hosting and browsing. But as we round the corner past 9 years of the Free Culture Showcase, we want to make sure that we have the very best submissions and choices available as part of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release. And for that, we need your help.

Interest in the Free Culture Showcase has waxed and waned over the years. And we know that while what we have is functional, there’s always room for improvement! So we’d love to hear your feedback on what is working and what is not working about our current process.

Our current guidelines are available on the Ubuntu wiki at UbuntuFreeCultureShowcase, and the most recent submission pools are available Flickr for Ubuntu 15.10, 16.04 LTS, 16.10, 17.04, and 17.10.

We look forward to your feedback and your help in making Ubuntu 18.04 LTS the best release yet!


Thanks @nhaines

So, we submit entries through Flickr ? Will it require a Yahoo account ?

Can we submit more than one entry ? Variants allowed ?

Currently, submissions are through Flickr and this does require a Yahoo account.

Each entrants can submit up to two photographs and two images. Variants are fine, although if they are too similar, that might not be very useful. :slight_smile:

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Where is the link for 18.04 ?:unicorn:

Submissions aren’t open yet! We want to solicit feedback now so that we can make improvements before opening the Flickr group up early next year. It just won’t do to change things in the middle of the contest! :blush:


My two cents:

I think keeping a limit to the number of entries per person is a good idea. This makes contributors choose what they consider to be their best work. But I think we could increase the number of entries per person.

Here’s a strawman idea:

We think up a number of categories, for example:

  • Landscapes
  • Abstract
  • Nature
  • Travel
  • Technology
  • Space
  • Illustration
  • etc

And allow everyone to enter two images in each category?


this is a very good idea for categorization. Is there a newsletter (or something else) to subscribe when the wallpaper contest will be open. One of my photos was picked for 16.10 and I want to submit for the 18.04 as well.

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Is there a minimum resolution for photos ?

My recommendations:

  • it would be nice to put forward the creative and artistic wallpaper instead of boring landscape .
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@tosho Keep an eye here on the hub, this is where the announcement will be posted (possibly as a link to @nhaines blog).

@meetdilip See the full requirements here:
but yes, from that wiki page: “Our target resolution is 3840 x 2400”.

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It’s only waned since Iain stepped down, to be fair.

My “criticisms” of the current approach are well known, so I’ll avoid repeating them all.

But, to surmise, the main issues are:

  1. An incredibly vague name

“Free culture showcase” means little to most people. 'The FCS is open" = people asking (“Is it showing me a showcase, or telling me about one? And why do I care about a showcase? And free culture? What is that…”)

  1. Reluctance to publicise the contest

Sure, pinning the news in the usual echo chambers is useful, but those aren’t usually the sort of places where creative types — and the wallpaper side is a contest about creativity remember — loiter.

Finally, Flickr is the not a barrier to submission. The most recent Ubuntu Budgie wallpaper contest used Flickr but managed to solicit more entries than the FCS for 17.10.

The reason interest has waned is waned is down to poor organisation and poor promotion of the contest.


Hey @d0od, do you have any specific forward looking, positive suggestions for how we could revamp the project? Nothing is off the cards, lets see what we can do to make this a success, without dwelling on mis-steps of the past?

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I sure do have “specific forward looking, positive suggestions”, though what follows only applies to the wallpaper side of things.

  • Return to using the ‘Wallpaper contest’ naming

It’s succinct, to the point, and parseable at a glance. It instantly tells whoever comes across it that “this is a participatory thing”. It’s will also be familiar to those who’ve been using Ubuntu for a long time. I do get e-mails asking why Ubuntu doesn’t have a wallpaper contest any more…

  • Promote the wallpaper contest outside of the Ubuntu member channels

Pinning a topic in /r/ubuntu is useful, but go bigger and promote the contest beyond the orange bubble.

Let Linux blogs know the contest is on, when it launches, what the deadline is, but also reach out to photography blogs and groups on Google+. Get them to share the details with their members; get Ubuntu to promote it on their social media channels for greater reach.

The aim should be to promote the contest to a diverse and varied set of people, not just existing Ubuntu contributors.

And, above all else, continue to bang the drum during the contest. Many potential entrants will forget about it after the initial hype so do keep reminding them (e.g., ‘1 week left’, ‘final 24 hours’. etc :slight_smile:

  • Rewrite the rules/criteria

The longer the list of bullets points, the more of a hassle it seems. The criteria has been recycled and added to since Iain was in charge. I’d condense it down into “three core rules” or something — and don’t, on a wiki page, tell people to ‘find more information’ on the wiki without linking to said wiki page. Group/merge some of the points together (e.g., resolution and file size; license and ownership, etc) to make the rules more digestible.

One thing i’ve always noticed: the wiki and photo pools often omit the deadline. That’s an important bit of information people will want to know.

  • Be open and transparent about the selection process.

Jane SIlber and Barton George helped to select the most recent set (!) which wasn’t known until after. It’s motivating to know who your snaps will be appealing to (especially if those people are notable/well known) are involved. It humanises the contest.

  • Utilise designers and their expertise

Related to the above point, but it’d be nice if designers/people with expertise in creative subjects were involved. Ubuntu still has designers. Perhaps ask if any would like to be involved in the selection process? Like ‘named’ people it lends a level of seriousness.

  • Announce the winners

A big participatory contest needs a big celebratory climax. A bit of public exposure for the winning artists will help them feel it was worth their time getting involved, while those who don’t take part will be still be interested to know the outcome too (and seeing people get a public thanks will make them more likely to take part next time).

Limiting the number submissions each user makes is still a good idea as it forces people to assess their own work.

The idea mentioned above about introducing categories sounds like a great suggestion. It would broaden the subject matter and, with categories like ‘technology’ and ‘space’ broaden the appeal to entrants who might otherwise thing their subject matter wouldn’t suit.


Very well written Joey! +1

Alan: If you could reach out to the Unsplash community, that would awesome. There’s info here:


That’s the “secret” .
As an addition to above, we can also talk about the “price”.
The “price” is that the wallpaper will be the default in Ubuntu for five years. The most popular Linux Operating System used by millions of users worldwide.

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I like that idea, but Flickr doesn’t allow it. And since reading the rules seems to be rarer than I’d like, if I don’t restrict the submissions to 2, I get 1-6 photos per person and occasionally someone will post an illustration 10 times with different texturing or color gradients.

Policing copyright licensing already takes up the vast amount of my time, so we’d have to figure out an automated way to allow this.

Why don’t you open the contest here in the hub? The participants can upload a small version of their artwork here, and link to the full resolution file wherever they want to host it. We can all vote with likes, and we can all help flagging the entries that don’t follow the rules. The top post can be an index to quickly browse through the different pieces in the thread.


…and ‘Likes’ would be votes on each. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Is there a way to get notified when the submissions will officially be open?

Oops, thought I replied to this, but I guess I imagined it! :blush:

The problem with holding the contest in the hub is that it turns a lot of automatic things (title, artist name, license, submission limits, etc.) to manual processes. And then there’s no real way to ensure that the full images continue to be hosted in the future. (Flickr isn’t a guarantee either–artists can remove images or their accounts, or Flickr could disappear like SoundCloud’s groups feature did.)