Posting screenshots with tweaked out desktops in our answers is just unnecessary extra thinking/confusion for the target audience of a support site. Screenshots should feature a more-or-less stock install.

To be clear, I'm not proposing that we remove customized screenshots or ban people from posting them or anything like that. But that we should encourage stock screenshots and replacing screenshots should be something we encourage editors to do.

  • I totally agree. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 8:35
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    I absolutely agree that we should be using stock screenshots; if my dad had an issue and came to this StackExchange, he'd be thrown off if all the screenshots had icons and themes different from what's on his computer. We don't need to add another layer of complexity when someone is looking for help. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 17:59
  • @CassidyJames if he is confused because people have personalised their own installs why is he on Ubuntu not Windows?
    – user3
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:08
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    This is really getting ludicrous now... eOS now controls the user's own install if they wish to participate here? That's completely against everything FOSS and SE are about...
    – user3
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:16
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    @Tim He's not on Ubuntu, he's on elementary OS :p It's not about being in control, it's about providing good content that's useful to the most amount of people. We probably want to make sure answers are provided in English right? That doesn't mean people shouldn't speak any other language or anything crazy like that. It just means that answers should be useful to everyone and we shouldn't make the information harder to digest. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:20
  • But there is a big difference between writing in French or having an icon set, but you do have a point... Can we go to chat because I'm sitting on the fence here...?
    – user3
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:21
  • @Tim see meta.elementaryos.stackexchange.com/questions/5/…, the usage "eOS" is frowned upon, "elementary OS" is recommended.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 21:25
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    @Gabriel yes, I just can't spell elementary without spell check :P
    – user3
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


I agree with this - Everyone is of course absolutely free to customize and tweak their installation, but this is not what it's about. It's not a "brand" issue (but it's a nice side-effect, of course).

We don't know anything about the person asking for support - Neither their technical knowledge respectively skills nor their current setup. We should assume they're on stock and their skills are minimal. Even when this does not apply to the questioner, it might apply to people looking at the answer later on. There are quite a few people out there who do face problems when things aren't looking the way they're supposed to do (I guess everyone knows the stories about people saying "I deleted the internet!").

elementary OS is supposed to be an operating system even for the more-or-less computer illiterate - By providing "standardized" instructions, we make problem solving for all kind of users easy. Some are already "challenged" by the information / fix itself, let's not make it harder for them (by providing various looks and settings in screenshot instructions).

  • @Tim: well, that's your opinion, mine does differ. I think everyone should have the opportunity to use elementary OS, regardless of their skill set. We're not a "typical" Linux distribution anyway :)
    – embik
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:20
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    Regardless of what happens here, there is no way we could enforce stock screenshots. They can only be encouraged to be properly trimmed and as close as possible, there will always be some variation. We should ban poor-taste wallpapers and unrecognisable systems, but ultimately stackexchange will just vote the best answer to the top.
    – Lewis Goddard Mod
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:24

Encourage? Yes.

Be pedantic about it? No.

Users will customize their desktops. It's an option they have, so it will happen. It's quite difficult to police this when a site gets large.

I say, encourage users to post screenshots of stock setups and editors to replace screenshots if needed/possible, as you said... but remember that sometimes the theme ain't gone make no difference if the app just works the same way anyway.

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