SE-Worldbuilding can give a lot of cool ideas and concepts. Have you (or someone you know) created any book/movie/game/etc thanks to this site ?

The cultural object must have been publicly released anywhere. Provide the link to the question and the cultural object if you can.

I haven't found any yet despite the number of questions. These ideas all seem to be made for small circles rather than the general public.

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    $\begingroup$ I would remove the last bullet, it's not related to other 2. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Feb 14, 2022 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ The last point is meant to limit the answers to cultural object that have been shared to the world, and avoid getting never released projects (or released for familly and friends). $\endgroup$
    – Headax
    Feb 14, 2022 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ Would probably be best to set your limit differently like "publicly released" and then specify examples like books available on Amazon, games or other artifacts available on Etsy or Ebay, relevant online content available at Site.com. Otherwise, we'd literally have to contact the maker and ask for their sales records. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 14, 2022 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with the above, and I'll add that asking if a product had some success can be a bit harder in some cultures or for some people, especially if said product hits mediocre sales in its domain. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2022 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the edit! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 15, 2022 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ Slight issue: We need to be careful to not breach anyone's confidentiality - if an author/creator owns-up to something then fine, otherwise best to avoid compromising someone's identity. $\endgroup$ Feb 15, 2022 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @EveninginGethsemane -- I'm not sure how this would constitute a breach of confidentiality. I mean if User45293a posted a question about monstrous hedgehogs back in 2015, and in 2021 Stephen King publishes a horror thriller featuring monstrous hedgehogs, then it would hardly be compromising the author's identity to say I think User45293a was actually Stephen King! Because of the hedgehog thing. When you actually publish something the name you publish the work under becomes a matter of public knowledge. It's trivially easy to search these kinds of things online anymore. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 16, 2022 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ +1 don't know the answer here... but there are active members on WB who reached 7 million people in 5 years so I'd say the chance is considerable some suggestions ended up in games, books, movies, short stories, on T-shirts, illustrations, toys, rings, fictional maps, science, pseudo-science and conspiracies, whatever "cultural objects" you can think of. Here's a hero inventor worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/users/31698/willk $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Feb 16, 2022 at 20:02

3 Answers 3



We have a blog I would say that some of the content on it meets your requirements.

Of course, the blog is fairly inactive and that, but it exists, is public, and I think that meets the criteria.

You can for example take my story Landed which has drawn from multiple questions such as How can a massive ship be partially destroyed in reentry, but have the top part still intact?


It is with great joy that I clarify this answer...

At @L.Dutch's suggestion, I posted a question about my original answer (below) at Law.SE. That answer is well informed and very much worth reading by anyone who uses Worldbuilding.SE with the worry that they may be restricted in any way by using ideas found via this Stack.

In a nutshell: you have no problems. People who post answers are posting them gratis and your use of those answers to guide your writing efforts leave you in full control of your copyright without dependence.

I'm leaving my original answer in place because, regrettably, I suspect the perception of the limitation will continue basically forever.

Further, the author of the Law answer posted a question and answer concerning co-authorship and derivative works that will also be valuable to the practitioners of the arcane art of Worldbuilding.

This site has one overriding limitation that would minimize, if not eliminate, the cultural objects you seek

Now, I'm going to jump to the conclusion that when you say "cultural object" you're referring to something that either has a cultural impact or was culturally durable — not just something posted somewhere on the web where the public could find it if they were led to it (aka, the digital-age version of spreading a lithographed copy of a short story among friends). So, given that Wikipedia could be considered a "cultural object" (in which case the mere presence of Worldbuilding.SE trivially answers your question), I conclude that such an object must, of necessity, be commercial. Thus the goal is limited if not prohibited by...

The CC-BY-SA license

Proponents of the license will urgently remind you that nothing about that license stops you from using what you learn from here commercially.

  • But you can't claim it as your own unless you were the answerer.

  • And you can't stop anyone else from using it.

It's that second bullet that's the real kicker. How do you get movie rights to your book when your book has CC-BY-SA content, meaning the filmakers can make the movie not only without your consent (so long as you're attributed), but without your compensation.1

To make a long story short, while I wouldn't be surprised to find a commercial use (aka "cultural object") of this site's material out there someplace, I'd be shocked if it was much of a commercial success or that there were very many of them. Because there's no way to protect the copyright (if it exists at all).

I could be wrong about all this. I'm not an attorney. But I have been a publisher and know a bit about copyright. So anyone who disagrees with me should be prepared to show me legal precedent that someone can copy-protect something originally published under the CC-BY-SA license.

Have you answered my question?

Verbosely, yes. There aren't any that I'm familiar with.

1I'm being intentionally obtuse about this. While the film makers wouldn't need your permission nor be required to compensate you for the CC-BY-SA content in your hypothetical book — it's unlikely that your entire book is CC-BY-SA. It's the same problem encountered by people who write historical fiction. They have no claim over the history, but they do claim their story within the context of that history. So it's not as bad as it sounds... but I'm trying to make a point.

  • $\begingroup$ Does the license extend to the rest of the work containing the licensed part? If, say, the concept of the One Ring to rule them all was developed under Worldbuilding, would it extend the CC-BY-SA also to the whole lore rotating around it? I think the concept of the One ring would under the license, not all the rest revolving around it. But I am also no legalese speaker. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Feb 17, 2022 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch My understanding when I read V.1 back as a publisher (and the later versions haven't changed in premise) is, no, by using material that was originally CC-BY-SA you do not make the entire work CC-BY-SA. It's closer to "fair use" than anything else. However, because no one has yet (to my knowledge) to take this to court (JBH grabbed that idea from my answer on WB.SE! The attribution is fine, but I deserve royalties!) there simply isn't clear-cut legal precedent. That's why IMO the biggest reason we don't see WB.SE ideas in books on Barnes & Noble shelves is the CC-BY-SA license. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 17, 2022 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch I was also thinking more about this after I wrote it. I've been collecting ideas for a novel for a decade. It'll likely never happen, but I've occasionally wondered about bringing some of the stickier ideas to WB.SE for help. I've always had that "yeah, but then I'd lose control of it" nibble in the back of my mind due to the licensing. Whether right or wrong, I wonder how many other users have the same back-of-their-mind thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 17, 2022 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe this can become a question on Law.SE $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Feb 17, 2022 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch I have asked that question over at Law. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 17, 2022 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch That question ended up with a valuable answer that, quite frankly, probably ought to be linked into the help center. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 20, 2022 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ I think you'd make a fine lawyer! Buried in that wonderful question are the weasel words I use the idea as a modified idea which just barely covers the plagiarism we actually encourage here on WB.SE! While my feathers might be slightly ruffled at being included in the nothing actually written on Worldbuilding.SE is editor-ready for any work camp, as I do try at times to write narratively coherent responses, I think the key take-away is a very old and very customary principle in worldbuilding and that is the principle of making it your own. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 23, 2022 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) Ideas in and of themselves can't be copyrighted as the answer stated. Incidentally, the quoted law is the one that disallows people from copyrighting invented languages, as they are "systems" of communication. But the text I write here in responses, particularly those more narrative ones, most certainly is copyright. If you copy my work without permission, attribution and without making it your own, then I can have your work taken down if it's published on a reputable creator-friendly location. I've had to do this a couple times already. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 23, 2022 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ (concl) This whole question you raised on L.SE is actually frequently enough asked and discussed in other worldbuilding forums, that I plan on linking to it when it comes up. So many, often young, often first time on the Internet, worldbuilders are so paranoid about posting an idea or a question or an answer for the very fear of plagiarism. This clear cut Q&A will either eliminate their fear entirely or else cause them to run for the nearest rock to live under! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 23, 2022 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ I do come from a family full of lawyers, @elemtilas! But keep in mind that the help center states we're here to build worlds, not write stories. No matter how well we write our answers, no author should ever simply lift the text - and frankly, it doesn't seem likely they could. The specifics of their story would only match the narrative of an answer in the most serendipitous of circumstances. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 24, 2022 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ That is of course true! Doesn't mean it won't happen! I'm regularly amazed at what people copy. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 24, 2022 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry to say this, but I quite frankly disagree. The assumption you won't be successful because you used open-source/law-free content is first quite wrong : Just in video games, they use quite a lot CC-By-SA and public domain contents, and even the game engine is "shared" by almost all games with only limitations on the tool ownership and economy (royalties for UE4, license fees for Unity), none on the final product delivered to the player. Yet, some are extremely successful. There's just no real relationship between this and having success. [...] $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Then, the idea you can't protect your work means you won't tell you published it is reversing causes and effects. If you asked the question, you already gave up the idea to protect either question or answers ideas from others's eyes and minds. Answers which has never been yours anyway, since you're not the one who thought it up.This means there's nothing to lose to tell you sold this work later on. Also please note again that only the idea is not protected : If you write a book using this idea, your book is protected and cannot be sold by anyone but the right owners. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2022 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I don't deny the sources you use, I however think you quite misunderstood the meaning of what they said. Ideas cannot be protected, final works can and are, that's what they mean by "placing a work which uses idea suggested in a Stack Exchange post under a CC-BY-SA license is not required". Another question was posted on Law.SE, with similar outcome. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2022 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also, please don't implicitly presume that I'm totally incompetent in the domain, not even to make any research on the topic. This is quite charged in terms of intent, and quite deviating from the code of conduct. $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2022 at 15:18

For Your Consideration

I think the ultimate answer to this question is going to be a curious kind of both/and. On the one hand, the answer is almost certainly yes, simply because our clientele often state their intentions to write a story, publish a book, develop a game, etc. On the other hand, the answer is almost certainly we're never going to know and will never find out. This is because SE is not designed for follow up. We don't check in a year or a decade hence to find out if that story ever got written or that novel ever got published or that game ever got launched.

What we do know: There are a number of regulars here who may or may not be authors, devs or geopoets. We rarely know anything about each other (except for when we clash here in Meta :( ) and almost never know anything at all about the people who come in, ask for our help and then go away again.

The only real viable way to discover the answer, I think, would be to devote time to some detective work: I think you'd have to comb through every question looking for keywords like "story I'm writing" or "novel I'm planning" then try various combinations of user name and keywords out in the wilds of the Internet in the vain hope that you'll find a match on some writing site or other.

Lastly, authors often and devs sometimes dedicate their works to close friends or family or highly influential others that helped them with their work; almost never do they give credit to that random Q&A site where they posed a couple preliminary queries in the same way they don't credit Wikipedia for that awesome article on reticulating earthworm guts that turned into an idea for a monster planet eating worm that plays a part in book two of their grand heptology.

We might best simply rest content that such things are out there, but we're unlikely to be credited and unlikely to ever know.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you on every point you raised but I'm not looking for the ultimate answer. I'm more looking for individuals telling what they did than inspectors $\endgroup$
    – Headax
    Feb 15, 2022 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Headax -- Ah, a request for examples! In that case, could you edit the question again to say something like "What books / stories / games / comix / etc have you, dear worldbuilder, published that makes use of something you learned here in WB.SE?" You might also consider asking for links to the user's question as well as to their published work. As written, it sound you're asking me, generic WB user, if I've ever come across any such works by other people. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 15, 2022 at 16:18

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