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EDIT: It appears that the question in question has been closed, then reopened, then closed again, and is a vote into reopening it a second time. We're pretty divided about permitting questions about "how to be a worldbuilder" beyond that act of worldbuilding itself. It appears part of the problem is that people don't understand (or believe) that anyone can actually be a "professional worldbuilder." Maybe that's true, but oddly (and IMO), that would seem to be intrinsic justification that the questions should be allowed. Aren't we in the business of helping fiction become a reality? 😎


As I write this post, the following question has 4/5 close votes, all for the same reason: the question is not about worldbuilding as defined in the Help Center.

How would you make money by "worldbuilding"?

They're right.

But should they be? I don't know if a question about the profession of worldbuilding has ever been asked before on the Stack, so it's little wonder that the Help Center is 100% focused on the act of worldbuilding and not the job of worldbuilding. We touch on it with the and tags. But we've not (yet) embraced the proverbial madness.

I'm very interested to know what the community thinks about this. I'm not necessarily advocating that the question shouldn't be closed, but I am advocating that maybe we need to invite the Mods to update the Help Center with a statement that we welcome questions about the profession of worldbuilding.

Question: Does the community believe we should — or should not — permit questions about how to be a professional worldbuilder on this Stack?

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi. as OP of the question at hand, let me expand the discussion by considering other analogous aspects of worldbuilding that come to mind. For example, how is your worldbuilding process? how does it affect your life and/or well-being? how do you share your worldbuilding passion and engage with others? IMO, there are many questions about worldbuilding that are relevant while not being direct worldbuilding. For me, these questions are as much on-tipic as this one: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/143606/… $\endgroup$
    – Dario
    Jul 28 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ Well with 40 upvotes and only 4 downvotes on that question, it seems the community has spoken. I was actually expected it to get closed and am surprised that its doing so well. $\endgroup$ Jul 28 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @SurpriseDog Upvotes are a poor expression of site policy. Especially when a question get broadcasted to the wider network as a HNQ. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 28 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @SurpriseDog Sphennings is right. We've had OPs pitch fits in Meta because their +50 to +100 upvote question was closed for violating the rules. Popularity on Main isn't enough - we need commentary/discussion in Meta followed by a deliberation by the Mods. $\endgroup$ Jul 28 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ The question is very obviously off topic. (And it is extremely unclear. What is a "professional worldbuilder"? What do they do? Do they sell their worlds retail or bulk? Is there also a "professional world wholesaler" and a "professional world distributor"? Is there a difference between a "world designer" and a "world implementor"? Etc. etc.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 29 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP You're splitting hairs. What is an author? Do they write poetry? Narrative? Sport commentary? Do they distribute their own material or use a distributor? Do they sell retail or bulk? Idiocy. If you want to give a good reason for or against, please post an answer. I personally believe this is the beginnings of something interesting, and the fact that it's not conveniently fleshed out for you doesn't discredit the discussion. $\endgroup$ Jul 29 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Well the consensus here seems to be reopen, so I'm voting thusly. $\endgroup$ Aug 1 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ Until the help centre etc are rewritten to reflect this policy change, I don't think there is 'consensus' on this matter. If wb.SE is no longer there 'to help you build your world' but as a catch-all for all aspects of worldbuilding-related activities, there are changes to be made throughout the stack. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Aug 6 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @rek Ultimately you're correct. However, the consensus must occur here in Meta, first. That's the input the Mods use to decide whether or not to update the help center. $\endgroup$ Aug 6 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I hope the mods first look more carefully at the current top answer and notice the absolute lack of rational argument beyond the assertion made that process/methods of profiting from worldbuilding = process/methods of worldbuilding. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Aug 8 at 21:41
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Obviously
Yes, I'd argue that this is a valid type of question here as it touches on methods and process of worldbuilding. The job of the geopoet is, after all, the monetary extension of the artistic process of the geopoet. We have tags that this kind of query fits well, as you bring up.

So vote me yes!

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    $\begingroup$ Eternal thanks for teaching me this new concept, geopoetry, which summarizes much of my interaction with science. I wonder if I can use it in the context of my professional research career (AI), or in the context of any other formal science beyond geology. $\endgroup$
    – Dario
    Jul 28 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ I'd suspect that very few people make their living as a "geopoet". They're probably writers, artists, or game designers. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 28 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings that is a lot like saying a carpenter can't exist and make a living because homebuilders exist and they use carpentry. I would not be surprised if there is a literal role in some franchises (eg. Marvel) all around creating consistency in the world and making it fit a narrative. They might be labelled as writers but, they would be in actuality a "geopoet" as they aren't creating the story of a world but making the world itself and keeping it consistent. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Jul 28 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @ITAlex The output of building a world by itself is just ideas in someone's head while a carpenter creates a something tangible. To share a world with someone else you need to fix it in a tangible medium. That may be a game, story, podcast, film, or even a design doc to be used by others. That's what even the handful of people working for franchise IPs like Marvel actually deliver. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 28 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ "How do I get paid?" is neither about the process or method of worldbuilding, it is external. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Jul 28 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @ITAlex I believe the job title is Continuity Editor. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Jul 28 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings to keep the analogy going. the carpenter still needs to visualize something before creating it or editing it (sanding, joinery) a tangible product is the end result but that doesn't mean he built a house. A writer is expected to handle dialogue, the scene, the world, and manage expectations. A geopoet would only be building the world. They are not a builder(writer) but a carpenter(geopoet). Much like an editor isn't a writer but still helps create a story. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Jul 28 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @ITAlex That still sounds like carpentry to me. Last I checked carpenters or builders didn't get paid for ideas. A better comparison would be an Architect or Engineer where they get paid for the design (ideas for a world) but not the creation (book, movie or game) but there aren't analogous positions for worldbuilders outside of a few roles at companies monetizing established IPs. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 28 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings this is straying towards a conversation but it seems we disagree about whether a geopoet can have a tangible output. Agree to disagree i guess. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Jul 28 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ How does it 'touch on methods and process'? How is the motivation or context of a worlbuilder or worldbuilding project either a 'method' or 'process' for developing a world? You've only made an empty assertion, albeit a popular one. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Aug 8 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @rek -- Making money on any artistic or hobby activity like this invariably touches on "method & process"! How do you do it -- in a notebook? online? How do you present it -- random sketches and scribbles in a folder? a wiki? a polished 3D narrative on Youtube? How do you publicise it -- worldbuilding forums? professional organisation conference? These are things that, for example, a would-be professional language inventor will have to confront and deal with if she wants to get a job making a language for someone. No different for a worldbuilder. Here is the best, nay only, real place to ask. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 9 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @rek -- It's hardly an "empty assertion"! These are the kinds of considerations that glossopoets -- language inventors -- have considered for years. How can we legitimise the art of creating languages as well as promote the craft and how can one make money from engaging in the art. We have a support organisation, periodic conferences and are now able to negotiate a reasonable fee structure for a wide variety of language invention services. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 9 at 0:33
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Last I checked very few people build worlds professionally. They're artists, writers, game designers, or storytellers. Worldbuilding isn't their profession it's a skill they use in their actual profession. With the exception of solidly established IPs like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Warhammer 40k, Marvel and DC, people only make money off what they do with the worlds they create. Even then, each of the established IPs above started off not by licensing their worlds but by producing and selling works of fiction.

I suspect that any questions about how to I become a professional worldbuilder will turn out to actually be asking, "How do I become a professional artist/writer/designer/storyteller?" While those questions are important if you want to make a living building worlds. I don't think a site dedicated to building fictional worlds is the best place to ask them. By example Stack Overflow just answers questions about programming, if you asked "How do I make money programming?" or "How do I build a career as a programmer?" it would be quickly closed as off topic.

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For sake of discussion I will say no, worldbuilding as a profession or career should not be on topic here.

  1. Elsewhere in SE, career advice has explicitly been ruled off topic, e.g. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic. There are stacks that allow it of course, but it cannot be taken as given that a stack should include career advice;

  2. Workplace stack is the go-to for advice navigating the world of work: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/tour;

  3. Where does one draw a line between questions about working as a worldbuilder and working as a concept artist, writer, etc, and is it worth having a parallel set of criteria for judging questions? Would the answer to "How do I get a job in worldbuilding?" differ appreciaby from "How do I get a job as a concept artist? / creative consultant? / art director? / writer?" I would say no, overall, and there are other stacks better suited to handle those questions;

  4. Inevitably some questions would rely on the poster's interpretation of a client's or employer's instruction, which we cannot properly interrogate and cannot alter to improve the question without contradicting the poster, undermining the purpose and format;

  5. If a question like "how do I make money as a worldbuilder?" were on topic, arguably so too would "How do I set up a Squarespace/Patreon/YouTube/etc to showcase/sell/profit from my worldbuilding?" and that, I think, illustrates how minor the worldbuilding aspect of these questions would likely be;

  6. Criteria for the best answer are likely to be problematic: if the chosen or highest-voted answer to the above question doesn't result in the poster making money, what then?

  7. The dearth of expertise, citable resources, etc, specific to working or otherwise earning money as a worldbuilder (not 'Concept Artist' or other job titles, or 'published author', etc), as well as the near nonexistence of Worldbuilder as a paying gig (distinct from hobby, interest, or byproduct of being a concept artist, author, etc), means there is questionable validity to any answers offered and marginal utility to including the topic at all.

  8. From the help centre: "When asking questions keep in mind that the goal of the site is to help you build your world..." This topic is not about building a world (no more than, say, "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is affecting my worldbuilding, can you recommend a treatment?"

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    $\begingroup$ You've brought up some excellent points - most notably #3. This is well worth thinking about. However, #2 I need to set aside. The Workplace is for discussing business management and employee relations. A question about how to build a career in worldbuilding, I suspect, would be rejected. (I'll have to go look, but I wouldn't be surprised if how to build a career in any profession is rejected there.) $\endgroup$ Jul 28 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ Even though I agree those are good points, I would like to offer a reason why I found those insufficient. Worldbuilding is not a profession. There is no job offers for worldbuilding in LinkedIn, or anywhere else. Furthermore, nowhere on the internet can you find the response to how to make a living out of worldbuilding. None of those places you reference would even understand the question. Which leads me to: Further furthermore, nowhere on the internet can you find the audience who can produce a response to such question. IMO; its here or nowhere. $\endgroup$
    – Dario
    Jul 28 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ For many things, "nowhere" is the correct place, Dario. Over on my main site, which is all about cyber security, we disallow questions on how to make money in cybersecurity, or how to build your career, as they are nothing to do with cyber security. They are about work. If people want to ask questions about work, they can go elsewhere. $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 28 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ @RoryAlsop right, cuz there is no need, rephrase "if you ask you aren't fit for the business", with wb it not a clear cut, even if it not necessarly a great q on its own, and more a good opportunity to share some expirience once a year. As there are freeleance places, free publishing places. But also there is more need to showoff what one can, track fresh projects opportunities to blend in, so yeah mixed bag here. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 28 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ @RoryAlsop While job opportunities in cybersecurity are just one google search away, similar discussions about worldbuilding have no place or audience anywhere else. Also, I cannot to accept that such question (or any question) have no place to exist in the internets. It sounds like a taboo to me. I think a tag like worldbuilding-context, where things related to worldbuilding are located (see my comment to the question above), would be a nice addition. After all, most of worldbuilding users are amateurs (as in, not getting paid for it), making context special and unregulated. $\endgroup$
    – Dario
    Jul 28 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I saw another stack defer to The Workplace as the preferred stack for career advice, but you're probably right. But I will leave that entry on the list to cover the potential overlap for questions framed as worldbuilding-related that are actually employment-related. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Jul 28 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ There looks like you have a lot of doubts about the process, even more so than the idea. And for that it's worth a +1, even if I'm leaning towards the pro-people :). However, watch out for #1, the first one is only interesting when we get the reasons as to why they prevented or allowed it. So people, look why they chose one or the other before accepting the idea on the other SEs $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jul 28 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @rek I'm a frequent dweller of TWP and this type of question will be very likely to be closed. My best bet would be Writing as they do have plenty of questions about careers in writing / publishing $\endgroup$ Aug 3 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @JulianaKarasawaSouza I addressed those matters in another point and a comment. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Aug 8 at 21:35
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Yes and No position

tl;dr leave the question open as it is, as exception, wait for it to see what useful things it can bring, which specific problems it can bring. There is no room to grow along the other question's, for the topic. Which also means we do not need to worry about the q, currently it has 4/5 open votes, and such things are rarely asked.

Maybe meta can hold those posts, as an option, to make this place a bit more interesting and/or energetic.

In a sense mention tags can be in line with the new 3th one but then we have to be quite strict with the questions and answers

In meta format it can be less of a question but more like share the success/fail story. This comes with the intent of building up some collection of information, of "do and don't".

Both options sure are compromises, because even if I find some points from @rek post valid or worthy to be considered, with my limited but still existing experience with other stacks they do not necessarly get the specifics/nuances even if one is capable in some cases to cram a question in their framework. One of my experimental questions was close enough to be fit in another SE, used is as apportunity to test that suggestion, I even got one upvote there, but no input at all, so quite dissapointed. On WB the question was closed (fair game : 5 votes, no complaints), but at least I got some feedback which expanded my understanding of the problem a little and provided a take from an angle I was not capable to see it from, because of a lack of experience in that field. Since then, I really oppose suggestions to ask WB related matter on other SE's, it should be totaly ops descision, we aren't kids here (for most) and we know of the existence of other SE's thanks to the reminder - that's it. If we can answer we answer, if not then not.

In that sense we already have a mix of all kinds of stuff (mainly topic, fields of expertise - that is the money part/business end of WB as The Place), it is just a fact at hands, no matter help center or anything else, so then why not add another one?

The main problem is that the topic can't expand without affecting other stuff. It can't expand in advertising - we need a guy who is good at future space tech concepts plz join our project here is link annotation whatever presentation. Need unicorn description/concept/visual with butterly tail ... Need to work out details of my doomsday scenario, need proof reading of it as well, etc.

  • some guys really have not enough skills to tow the whole idea they have, they could indeed get a lot of help if they could choose that. Did a proofreading for a guy (he had enough skills, but still it was a good thing to do), at that time I stepped down from the project there were about 8 people doing just that (volunteers) on regular basis once a week, a team of people who provided visuals, etc - a quite sucessful project.
  • I knew a guy who published paper books and such in a setting I'm invested in, if he would ask me then yeah it could be a different story then, lol. Point is people do need further help, and for those who answer questions's, for some it could be new interesting experience.

If I recall correctly there were efforts to promote medium place and something on it (do not recall details, lazy to search for metaposts), but it seems it failed(?).

So there is no growth potential for the topic, mean there is no room for it to grow along the othe questions's until some higher-ups (mods or higher) decision is made, and what WB can accomodate is very limited/narrow scope of the topic.

Another option could be tojust keep the question as an exception, keeping it open and such, for it to collect stories how harsh is the life and such - one tag one question.

If it get some traction, which I'm pretty skeptical about, even if I was quite interested in reading the answers, and could provide one or two stories on my own, I'm skeptical it gains too much support or attention in the months ahead.

But if such thing would happen, or maybe to facilitate such thing to happen or more seriously develop the direction, maybe propose some sister SE site, maybe in conjoint efforts with sci-fi.se, writers.se(?), who else (translators?) to help local SE people to find each other. In some sense it is competing with different freelance places and other services of that kind, on the other hand programming stacks do promote different jobs so it is not totally against SE's ideology.

No conclusion. To make it properly too much work for one or few questions, once a year asked topic, even if in general there may be some potential and use.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, Tortliena, much better now $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 29 at 4:24

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