Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery
...and everyone does it.
I have been badgered quite heavily with accusation that inserting "Mi-Go-like" creatures into my world somehow forfeit's my ownership of my own world, on the premise that "I did not conceive the Mi-Go." This to me is ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous, in fact. And this is not a single question issue; this attack is being levied against all forms of extant concepts from elves to vampires to dragons.
The allegation goes, from my best understanding, that if you have a thing/creature/place in your world which has been derived from an existing thing/creature/place, then you do not own that world (it is not your idea).
Try to follow this logic, as posted by the one accusing me of "building someone else's world:"
1. The goal of this site has always been focused on helping someone build a world of their own creation - not somebody else's world.
Fair enough. "Ownership" decides fitness on this site. And then, we have:
2. Just because you're taking somebody else's idea and inserting it into your world doesn't change the fact that it's not your idea.
Fair again. Not my idea. Darth Vader was not George Lucas' idea. Avatar was not James Cameron's idea. Ents were not Tolkien's idea. It goes on, we agree. The poster's point is the Mi-Go, from H. P. Lovecraft, are not my idea. All points agreed so far.
But now we stray into a some strange logic. Here was the conclusion of the comment:
3. The issue isn't that someone might hold the rights to Lovecraft's work. The issue is that it's not your work.
Wow? To be clear, they are referring to this world, Hell, which I created on this site. It is "not my world" now. OK, so the formula here seems to be,
ownership of "the idea" = ownership of "the world."
Therefore, incorporating any extant "ideas" into a work on this site, fails the "No Third-Party World building" test.
This means, that among the 18,900,000 estimated works of English-language fiction, WBSE members can not recycle any of those ideas on this site. Of course, this does apply to every other language as well, and to game worlds, virtual worlds, etc. We can assume there are possibly 50,000,000 "worlds" that contain hundreds or thousands of "ideas" each, which are "off topic" for this site.
Example scenario: "I want a race of ursoid warriors, that are basically 8-foot tall teddy bears. But how can they hold a sword?"
Now, most people will think this is a perfectly fine question. But this one person, who claim that "Ideas" convey ownership, would ban close this question as off-topic. Why? Because author E. W. Finch already created a warrior race of bears, called the Osmani, and has had them in print for many years. The copyrights are still wholly owned by Mr. Finch and son. An excerpt:
The Seeker’s new orders were the oddest he had ever heard of. They assigned four midshipman and an Osmani Ambassador to a working Scout ship. Yet the Lane had enough experience with the inner workings of the Corps to see a little deeper. Everyone with close personal contact with the ursoid had been assigned to the same small ship. Lane suspected that this was the Admiralty’s way of controlling information about Arnog and his adventures with the Scout Corps. Someone higher up was taking an interest in the Seeker and her crew...
Wesley tried to teach Arnog gunnery skill, but that failed at first. He didn’t fit inside the turret. Instead, they went to gunnery control on the bridge, still a tight fit, and learned to use the targeting computer there. With only a few hours practice, the ursoid didn’t really have the knowledge to be a functional gunner, but it was a start.
Each of the crew went through their primary skills. Nas showed Arnog how to use the communicator. Chief Harvin showed him some basic skills with tools. Press showed him how to use a cutlass and found the bear was already quite good with a blade. That skill, coupled with the strength of three men, would make Arnog a formidable foe in any sword combat. The problem was finding a blade the right length and strong enough for him to use. He ended up choosing a two handed broadsword – one he easily grasped with a single hand.
p. 58, Star Seeker: The Nexus Nightmare, (c) E. W. Finch, used with permission.
Do you see the can of worms he has opened?
How is this burden even possible? How do we police "Ideas" and "concepts" so they don't get built on this site, the way every other major author builds ideas? Do we exclude every single trope that's ever been used as well?
The answer is, we do NOT police "ideas" on this site.
Yes, a concept may be too broad to explain a single problem. Yes, a concept may contain too many questions if used alone. But no, it's 3rd party origination does not disqualify it for worldbuilding here.
Ideas are never "third party worlds" and in fact they are very rarely original. For example, both J. R. R. Tolkien's and C. S. Lewis' worlds are knock-offs of George MacDonald. Avatar, the whole story, is Dances With Wolves and Neytiri is Stands With a Fist, amputee soldier Jake Sully who recovers his leg through the 'avatar' is amputee Lieutennant John Dunbar who barely escaped leg amputation. The Star Wars franchise has almost no original content at all, it is simply a retelling of Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon. Darth Vader is Ming the Merciless. 'Cloud City' is 'Sky City'. The city's ruler, Lando Calrissian is Prince Vultan, who even won the city in a gambling bet just like Vultan, and has a crush on the leading Lady (Princess Leia / Dale Arden), and is subservient to the evil empire (Vader/Ming). The undersea city of Otoh Gunga is the Undersea City and its ruler King Rugor Nass is King Kala. Every Star Wars idea was created by Alex Raymond. But who "owns" the worlds of Cloud City, Otoh Gungam, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, the Death Star, and every other knock-off? They are firmly George Lucas' worlds. Every episode of Star Trek is a knock-off of something popular at the time. The Kradin are the Yautia (Predator). Star Trek: Discovery's new Klingon clans are all inspired by ancient Earth civilizations, and the first Klingons were Soviets. Now, The Orville is a knock-off of Star Trek. Put a "Sky-city-like" city in your world and it is still YOUR world. Put a light-sabre-like sword in your world and it is still YOUR world. Put a Predator-like creature in your world and it is still YOUR world. Put a Mi-Go like creature into your world and it is still YOUR world.
No, go down this road and the whole site can just turn off its servers and shut down. There will be no original "ideas" or concepts once our "Idea police" start going to the library and digest the millions of worlds out there. But hey, I am just one opinion. I have done the hard work of building a creature from scratch. I am not being lazy here. But if there were any world outside which did have a jet-propelled squid, everyone's workload would be lighter if I just referenced that. I have painstakingly built worlds, cities, and aliens. This isn't asking for a shortcut. It's about having a sane policy, and just making descriptors and ideas that inspire creativity legal.