Beatmappers can submit either Work-In-Progress (WIP) beatmaps or beatmaps they deem complete (2 difficulties needed) to the Beatmap's Work In Progress/Help and Pending Beatmaps subforums respectively, using the in-game Beatmap Submission System (BSS)
Located in osu!'s Editor, the BSS automatically uploads the beatmap with all its elements (mp3, video, storyboarding, etc.) to osu!'s server and creates a thread with a download link in the relevant forum. Moderators and other forum members can then comment and offer feedback on the beatmap. Once a beatmap has the approval of at least two Beatmap Nominaters and the QAT, it is Ranked.
Ranked beatmaps are moved to the Ranked/Approved Beatmaps subforum, added to the Ranked Beatmap listing, included in the Ranked Beatmap packs, and appear in their profile. The scores achieved when playing them count towards a player's Total Ranked Score in the Player Rankings and the ratings players can give them count towards their Beatmapper Rank.
Beatmap Submission System Warning screen
Before submitting your beatmap, make sure you've tried to make it as good as your current experience allows. However, do not hesitate to submit your beatmap if you're new to beatmapping or if you believe there is still something wrong with it - everyone is here to help, it's just better if you show you've made some effort and took some care in creating your beatmap. Try reading the relevant help sections for tips on how to make a good beatmap.
Beatmap Submission System Warning screen
Open any difficulty version of your beatmap in the Editor, select "File" from the menu header and then select "Upload Beatmap" (or "Ctrl + Shift + U"). The Beatmap Submission System dialog box appears. Click the Upload button to submit the map. If you've changed your mind, select Cancel to exit the dialog box and return to the Editor.
If you've only updated the beatmap's timing, object placement (in the grid and/or the timeline), combo colours, sound effects etc., the process will be relatively quick as only the .osu files, which are of low file size, have been changed.
If you have since added, removed, or changed its mp3 file, video and/or storyboarding, if any, the submission will take longer as it needs to reupload those to the server.
Beatmap Submission System Upload screen
After you've clicked the "Upload Files" button, the Beatmap Submission System will start uploading your files according to the submission method you selected. The bar at the bottom illustrates the upload's progress. In this dialog box, you can edit the subject and first message of the forum topic the BSS automatically creates for your beatmap. You can also choose the subforum your beatmap's thread is submitted to. Changing your selection when updating your beatmap will simply move the entire topic to the other forum.
Choose Work In Progress/Help to post your beatmap's thread in the Work In Progress/Help subforum. Choose this when you feel you need help with one or more specific aspects of your beatmap (such as timing) or just to share a partly finished version of your beatmap with the community and get general comments and feedback.
Choose Pending Beatmap to post your beatmap's thread in the Pending Beatmaps subforum. Choose this when you believe your beatmap more or less follows the basic approval criteria and you wish it to be reviewed by the moderators to get Ranked. You are strongly encouraged to have at least close to correct timing settings before submitting a beatmap to the Pending Beatmaps forum, and your beatmap must have at least two difficulties.
You can also select the following via checkboxes under the message input box:
Main article: Modding.
After you submit your beatmap, it will be available for downloading by the osu! forum members and moderators, who may provide comments and feedback on it (commonly referred to as "modding" a beatmap). In Extended Chat, the status of someone who has opened another person's beatmap in the Editor is set as "Modding" and their panel turns green. Everyone is allowed - encouraged, in fact - to mod beatmaps, but only the modding of moderators determines how close a beatmap is to be Ranked.
Moderators can give a symbol to the beatmap's thread based on their evaluation of the beatmap. This symbol is displayed next to its subject in the subforum and next to the title of its first post. The possible symbols a beatmap can have are (from best to worst):
Once a second Beatmap Nominator nominates a beatmap with a Thought Bubble symbol, he/she qualifies it and it is automatically given this symbol when moved to the Ranked/Approved Beatmaps forum.
A Flame is given to beatmaps that do not have the technical problems that Nuked beatmaps have, and it is considered as Approved beatmaps because they are long and fit within the Ranking Criteria. Older Approval criteria included total score or difficulty, but only length is taken into account now. Those maps are typically difficult and made as a challenge to top players.
Usually called "Bubble" for short, this symbol is given when a Beatmap Nominator is completely satisfied with every aspect of the beatmap and nominates it for ranking. Once a second Beatmap Nominator approves of the beatmap in the same way, it is Qualified. A Thought Bubble might be downgraded to a Star in case a second moderator detects an oversight on the first moderator's part, but no further downgrading can ever occur.
A Star is given to a beatmap a Beatmap Nominator judges to be on the right track but still needing a few more improvements before he or she approves of it with a Thought Bubble. Examples include fairly minor adjustments in timing, incorrect Beat Spacing in some areas, or needing to create additional difficulty versions.
This is NOT to be confused with a "Kudosu Star". A Kudosu Star is given out by modders to maps that they think are good. Kudosu Stars give out varying priority points depending on who gives them, but they can place a map higher in the priority list. Please see Kudosu for information more information on Kudosu.
All beatmaps have no symbol assigned to them when they are first submitted. A beatmap nominator thinks that the beatmap has some issues that prevent him/her from giving it a Star. This state shouldn't worry you too much, as the beatmap can usually be marked with a Star or even a Thought Bubble after the BN's suggestions are followed.
Beatmap Nominators are only human. If a beatmap happens to be qualified and the QAT finds something that in their opinion prevents the beatmap from being officially approved, the beatmap can be temporarily disqualified and any scores achieved on it wiped. The beatmap is returned to WIP status. Once the issues are fixed, the beatmap can be qualified again.
This symbol is given to beatmaps which fail to follow even the most basic of guidelines, such as having wildly incorrect timing or objects placed at random on the grid and/or timeline, and thus need a lot of improvement to even begin considering to Rank them.
A Nuke symbol on a beatmap does not mean the moderators disapprove of it in general. It just means they disapprove of its current condition. If your beatmap is marked with a Nuke, do not worry - you can usually turn this around if you're determined:
Threads on the Completed Beatmaps and Beatmap Help forums that do not receive replies within 4 weeks since their last post are automatically moved to the Beatmap Graveyard subforum to prevent the other beatmap subforums from getting cluttered. To prevent this from happening, you can use the Beatmap Submission System to reupload your beatmap and bump its thread in the process. Please use this feature once every few days and only if you have followed all moderator suggestions so far.
Even if your beatmap gets sent to the graveyard, you can easily recover it from there if you wish to work on it again. Press the 'Resurrect' button on your profile.
Main article: Ranking Criteria.
It is very hard to list all possible issues that can prevent a beatmap for being ranked, since each beatmap is a unique creation. However, here are some general guidelines that a beatmap set should follow in order to be ranked:
Again, remember that there can be many more possible problems with a beatmap. Pay attention to the tips when you open the Editor and the suggestions of the Beatmapping, Help pages and tutorial videos. You can also try viewing ranked beatmaps in the Editor to get an idea of what a ranked beatmap can look and sound like.
Please see Ranking Criteria for further information on this.
There are far, far more beatmappers than moderators and, if they are sloppy, they can submit beatmaps faster than moderators can mod them. Furthermore, moderators do not only mod beatmaps as part of their duties - they also patrol the forums and chat, provide support to players, and (god forbid) make beatmaps and play osu! once in a while. This means that a key factor when submitting a beatmap is patience. Please be reminded that moderators also need to attend to their physical life, and does moderation out of hobby interest.
Moderators will mod any beatmap, but it helps if your beatmap shows you've taken some effort and care into its creation.
You can also try bumping your beatmap's thread via the Beatmap Submission System (use once every few days only) or going to osu's #modding channel and requesting for your beatmap to be modded.
After your beatmap receives initial suggestions, responding to them in a timely manner, showing determination on improving your beatmap for rank will help keep the attention of moderators to your beatmap.
In case you receive comments and suggestions from users who are not moderators, you'd do well not to ignore them. While it's true that some of them may be incorrect, others could be just as useful as advice by moderators. In fact, such posts are ones that mark a user as a potential future moderator. Speaking of which, if you feel you can provide some feedback on beatmaps yourself, you'll indirectly help your own beatmap being modded, since you'll lighten the load on moderators.
For further information, see Modding.
All osu! users have a maximum number of unranked beatmaps in pending they are allowed to have.
Depending on how many ranked maps you have, you are allowed between 3 to 6 unranked maps. This number increases by one each time one of your maps is ranked. Only maps in Pending and Help forums are counted. The cap is in place to help control the flow of new beatmaps and to keep mappers more dedicated to their existing maps.
osu!supporters have a larger cap and are allowed between 4 to 10 unranked maps.
Unranked beatmaps in the graveyard do not have a limit, but could someday, in the far-ish future, get automatically deleted to preserve space for other beatmaps.