I enjoy drawing, and a lot of answers to questions I've seen or posted myself have given me some cool ideas. I've been considering posting art online, and I've been thinking about the ethics of posting art based on other people's answers.

It's one thing to post something based on my hexapodal bats, because it's a design I was already working on and I asked a question to help ask about its feasibility.

I think it would be another thing to post art based on the answer for my Anatomically Correct Scylla question, since that isn't a design that I came up with.

To be clear, I have no intent of making money from my art right now. I would definitely not monetize something based on someone else's idea, but I'd be worried that someone would think that I came up with the design when I really didn't.

I think that if I ever did such a thing, I'd probably link back to the question and probably leave a comment to the answer where the idea came from.

Basically, when would it be okay to post art based on Stack Exchange questions/answers?

  • $\begingroup$ I would be happy if someone made something using my ideas. I would even be willing to support them financially if I liked the results. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 2:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I actively want people to draw pictures of my beloved Crabites in their anemone armor, secretly tying anchors to whales in an effort to relieve their food shortage. ;D $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'd just ask the originator of the idea if they were ok with it and make your intent clear. Then stick to it! $\endgroup$
    – Len
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


Regarding the ethics I am not aware of any rules about posting art based on StackExchange questions/answers - leave a comment and ask when in doubt

Linking to the question/answer and maybe leaving a comment with a link to the art is probably enough for most people.

If you want to make sure that someone is fine with this you could ask with a comment under the question/answer beforehand. I can't imagine many reasons why anyone would object to that, but if you feel better that might be a first step.

I am not a lawyer and this is no legal advice, but according to this answer:

Having said that everything posted to Stack Exchange is licensed under CC-BY-SA as part of the agreement you signed up to when joining the site. That means that this summary page applies:


The question as to whether an idea from a question is copyright is not addressed there however...

  1. I am not a lawyer.
  2. It is generally true that you cannot copyright an idea. That is what Patents are for.

If in doubt talk to a lawyer.

Basically I take that to mean that you could do with the questions and answers on the site whatever you want to do.

You are asking about ethics, so basically I would recommend asking nicely and showing your result if you are done. Many people would probably appreciate if someone drew their question/answer. I certainly would love to see my questions/answers being the inspiration for someone besides me to do something.


I don't see a problem. Basing work on someone else's idea is very different from copying someone else's work. If people put something out there for the world to see, especially under a Creative Commons license, they should not expect to be able to lock it down. Personally, I'd be delighted if I learned that somebody developed something interesting (art, music, fiction, whatever) out of something I posted here. Crediting and linking to your source should alleviate concerns about using someone else's ideas as a starting point.

As a courtesy you should let the person know -- not because you need permission, but because people usually enjoy seeing the fruits of their contributions.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ From a legal point of view, this is almost certainly correct. The Terms of Service, section 3 "Subscriber Content", specifies that all content contributed is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Following the link to the license summary, rights afforded to others include the right to, under certain conditions, "remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially". If in doubt, always review the specific license text, and especially if money is involved, consult with a lawyer. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 12:46

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