Familiarizing yourself with our recently updated submission guidelines will help you understand what will and won’t be accepted (and may save you time!)

At present we receive around 4,000 photo submissions daily. Every photo submitted is given one of 5 states:

Unevaluated — This is the first state that all photos automatically receive upon submission. Unevaluated is a temporary state, given to a photo until it’s been assessed. A photo maybe unevaluated for anywhere between 24–48 hours, occasionally longer.

Flagged — This is an automatic state. Photos that do not meet our guidelines will be removed and an email will be sent out to explain why to the email address linked to the account.

Approved — This is an automatic state. All photos uploaded that meet our guidelines are automatically made available on your Unsplash profile.

Searchable — This is a manual state. Our Editorial Team features a selection of the best quality photos on Unsplash to be discovered by the Unsplash Community. These photos will become searchable.

Promoted — This is a manual state. Our Editorial Team features a selection of their choice of best quality photos on Unsplash to highlight to the Unsplash Community. These photos will be discoverable and also highlighted in our homepage Editorial Feed.

If your photo is featured on the homepage you’ll receive an email notification, unless you have opted out of ‘Milestones & Notification’ emails in your account’s Email Settings.

You can check the status of any photo you have submitted by visiting https://unsplash.com/account/photos when logged into your account. The state is displayed beneath each photo.

** What we’re changing! ** 

We know that search must rely on a minimum quality and utility threshold, as experiments have repeatedly validated that our community doesn’t want to search through thousands of mixed quality results each time they search.

To address this we’ll be splitting search results into two sections: a high confidence section and a less confident section.

In the less confident section, we’ll include results that have a lower relevancy score. This will translate into photos that might match the search query or are less used (indicating that they may not be as high quality). By default, the results will only show the high confidence section. For searchers who want to see all results, they’ll be able to click a button or toggle to show the lower confidence results.

Photos that outperform their expected use for their relative position in the results will increase their relevancy and move out of the ‘less confident’ section. This is very similar to the process used to rank results in other search systems (like Google and Pinterest), as it’s possible to predict the mathematical relationship between the position in a search list and the expected engagement.

Updating our system to do this isn’t something we can do overnight. It’s only even become theoretically possible with some of the recent changes we’ve made to update our search system, which is why we never considered it as an option when originally designing the states system.

Until we build this, we’ve updated the ‘Manage photos’ screen in contributor settings to show the ‘state’ of a photo. This at least makes it clear whether a photo appears in search, approved, or in review.

Once we update search to reflect the new system, we’ll remove the ‘searchable state’ as all photos will be searchable.

You can read more about this here: https://medium.com/unsplash/making-unsplashs-submission-system-more-transparent-54b202bd168d

Please note: Because of the high volume of photo submissions, we are unable to give feedback on individual photos. However, we have an active Slack community where you can ask for feedback from the wider Unsplash community if you wish. You can join this community at chat.unsplash.com.

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