A lot of the questions asked here are by writers working on a story, or people working on some other project. The cynic in me tends to imagine these as doomed hobby projects that never get finished. Can we prove him wrong?

Are there any stories for which the writer consulted Wordbuilding.SE that were subsequently published, with one of the proposed answers used in the story?

Any project (stories, games, films) count, and any publishing platform counts (from a blog to HBO). The only rules are that

  • The author should consider them finished and published.
  • At some point during their development the author asked a question on WorldBuilding.SE and used one of the answers given in the story.
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    $\begingroup$ Similar: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/3890/…. In that question I suggested that we could have a "what have you published?" question; maybe we can make this that? $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 18 '17 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ Well, there's those on the blog (but I don't think they're what you're thinking of, so I'm not posting this as an answer... Also in regards to your last (normal sized) paragraph, I find that even having made one single person happy is enough to consider a work successful $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jan 19 '17 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T That's a fair point, and something like a short story on a blog would definitely count as an answer. However, if there were a flood of good answer (any minute now), I guess something like a well-selling novel or an episode in a TV show would be the most impressive (regardless of the actual quality of the fiction). $\endgroup$ – PTm Jan 19 '17 at 19:52
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    $\begingroup$ Good to see someone trying to disprove their inner cynic. How do you plan to collect this information? Not you personally, but WB SE. There are questions about games here too, so this applies to works other than fiction. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 20 '17 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android, I would count games and other formats as well. Basically, anything that's finished by the author's own criteria. We then sort by "impressiveness". I agree with Monica that a SE question (possibly this one) would be a nice format, where authors could add their own finished work, link it to the question, and the votes could be used to do the sorting. $\endgroup$ – PTm Jan 20 '17 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ It would be fascinating to see what pops up, if anything pops up (down my inner cynic!), but, on the other hand, it may be early days for WB questions to spawn published works. But we shall see. We have to start somewhere. This is as good as any. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 20 '17 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ My cynic does not care about the finished work because of the following reason - any author has two things which limit him his fantasy and skills(count as one) and his target audience(more explicitly expectation of author and publisher who it might be). Having discussions, answers, questions develops expectations of the consumer, and expectations of the consumer forming demands of publisher, and demands from publisher helps to guide authors fantasy. Because forming public expectations is a big thing, so it is even no important if is WB really full of young and famous in the far future authors $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Jan 21 '17 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ It's unlikely. The development cycle on major works tends to be multiple years so any questions asked will only be seeing results soon. . $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 10 '17 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ I've seen at least one question written by someone who claimed to be working in pre production on a professional TV series. I saw no proof of the claim but equally did no digging so it may or may not be true. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 10 '17 at 15:09

I don't know whether this counts, as it's an ongoing serial, but it's something to get the ball rolling.

Back in May, I asked about a way to create a solid material using human blood. This was part of the worldbuilding for my superhero series, Electron, particularly the Black Rock supervillain prison. I eventually went with roryok's suggestion of encasing the blood in bulletproof glass (but forgot to actually accept it until ten minutes ago! Whoops...)

In August, I began publishing Electron in monthly instalments on FictionPress. While Black Rock prison hasn't appeared yet, the plexiglass-encased blood has appeared, right in the first chapter:

As Aaron and Martin exited the car, Martin retrieved a small glass vial from the glove compartment. "What's that?" asked Aaron.

Martin held up the vial so that Aaron could see. It was filled with a dark crimson liquid that lazily sloshed around inside. "Classified," said Martin. "But this is what's blocking your abilities."

Aaron felt a pang of horror as he realised what was in the vial. "Is that blood?"

"Classified," repeated Martin.

So yes - an answer from WorldBuilding.SE has been used in a published work!


Several works of fiction have been published on our blog, Universe Factory. Some are longer works still being serialized; others are completed works. This post includes a list that was current through early 2016. That question asked for something slightly different, but the contents of that answer would be a reasonable start to a community-wiki answer to this question.


Let me add to your cynicism, Peter, by arguing that there has been many completed, successful projects. They just happen to be stories that are posted on Worldbuilding SE as questions and are thus licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Since I can only offer my own contributions as proof of this happening, I'll offer this one - my answer to My Program is designed to be resistant to malware and DOS attacks and isn't letting me turn it off. What do I do?. The OP pretended to be a person who developed a "rogue" program, while I RPed as the "rogue" program itself. I didn't intend for my answer to somehow inspire some glorious plotline, because my answer was already part of the story (with the OP providing the introduction and me providing the conclusion). A clear, consistent narrative already exist and has been published. Not really much point to flesh out the concept or characterization afterwards (unless you really want to know whether the "rogue AI/programmer" tag-team actually works out).

In fact, one could easily take that whole question thread and reframe it as its own short story. The OPer talks to a defense committee, and each person on that committee provides his/her advice on the topic, with the statement from the "rogue" program coming as the epilogue. You only simply need to add a few connector words (Then, the great Cyber-Ethics Professor M i ech said...) to tie all the answers together. There are many world-building Q&As where the OPer pretends to be a main character in his/her world. All those Q&As can be easily converted into glorious short stories. That'd be a good way of boosting the number of "published fiction" stories, and anybody can take on this task. After all, all content on StackExchange is licensed under CC-BY-SA. Anyone can reuse it so long as you provide attribution and you provide the same license.

Disclosure: I also wrote a Q&A pretending to be a main character in my world...though in my defense, I actually did intend to build a narrative using advice from that question. But at the same time, it's very easy to reframe the question as a short story about a CEO begging his corporate board for advice. Torisuda's answer along with Ringo_St R's rebuttal would be a decent subplot. In fact, Torisuda's answer could serve as a decent standalone narrative. No fleshing out required.

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but this is not true... the CC-BY-SA license does not apply in such a manner. If I relate a story that I give the broad plot of something I'm working on or ask for info on a concept and as part of, must reveal part of that concept, that does not give anyone the rights to use that plot/concept in their own work. Also the CC-BY-SA license is not very visible which makes it in applicable, let alone those licenses aren't very "real" to begin with, but assuming it is, the CC-BY-SA applies only when used for the purposes noted and not taken whole sale and used in something else. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jan 21 '17 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ For example, everything on Worldbuilders is written to get information or to give information to help a person check their ideas or expand on their ideas. If you ask a question, get answers, and then use those answers word for word in the text of your story, the CC-BY-SA is non-applicable, because the purpose of why it was written and granted permission to use are not the same as the purpose of the narative published work, thus the license does not cover those rights. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jan 21 '17 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Durakken I don't think that's right. The CC-BY-SA license gives anyone the right to "remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose" (my emphasis), not just the original purpose for which it was posted. See creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en. I'm also pretty sure that story ideas are not copyrightable in the first place. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Jan 21 '17 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel Remixing, transform, and building upon are not the same as taking wholesale, word for word, and using the same concepts, and even if it were it's usage with SE is non-applicable due to a number of things that SE does that makes it not applicable. Also purpose makes a lot of difference. That's why you can sel/rentl portions of rights and rights regarding different mediums and such, because they are not all part of the same right being allowed. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jan 21 '17 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ The CC-BY-SA's purpose is basically so that you can ask a question and I can give you an answer and you can then use that answer to develop your own world and ideas. It is not so that if I mention "Bob the Elnarikan" and explain about him to facilate understanding of a subject that you can use that character for your own works. And, again, even if it were, the license placement makes it ineffective and nullifies it to some degree, but it's worthless anyways because contract law already applies and provisions how it works so no reason to waste space with it really. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jan 21 '17 at 8:35
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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting take on the question, but I don't consider it an answer. The question is specifically about people who required help with a pre-existing piece of work, and then finished that piece of work with the help of WB.SE. While many other kinds of scenarios can happen on WB.SE and are equally interesting, it's not what this question is about. $\endgroup$ – PTm Jan 21 '17 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Durakken I don't think speculation here from (I infer) someone not trained in law/licenses about what the CC-BY-SA license covers is helpful. If people have questions about what uses the license permits, the best place to ask is on Meta Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 21 '17 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio It's not that hard to just read what the laws are and what everything says. Also, part of my "formal education" is expressly in this area. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jan 22 '17 at 2:12

No, unfortunately such answers did not make it into any works published by a major publisher or producer as of 2017.


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