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This is a bit of a follow-up on the ban of AI-generated answers. When an asker comes up with a question along the lines of "how do I get this AI to generate text for me?", what should we do?

A question of this kind has already appeared. Are they acceptable?

It's making me feel icky and my intuition says they should be banned from Writing SE (like Motosubatsu said in the comment there, "asking how not to write is pretty much the opposite of asking about how to write"), but what's the authoritative position on this?

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  • I'm not sure why would you tag my question here. I don't think we're on the same page here. Correct me if I'm wrong. Was it an assumption on your part, when you said "t's making me feel icky and my intuition says they should be banned from Writing SE"? I'm searching for the part in my question where I implied that I'd have it published/ shared publicly.
    – MouseNag
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 13:02
  • Now we have a GenAI stack - genai.stackexchange.com - Such questions should surely go there.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 11:01

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As of 20 June 2023, Stack Exchange has announced the impending launch of Prompt Design.SE, a new Stack Exchange site dedicated to exactly these sorts of questions. The announcement has, as you can see, been met with a highly negative response, due to the ongoing network-wide pushback against SE Inc's increasingly pro-AI stance. However, it provides a convenient solution to the dilemma posed in this question.

I therefore propose that, once Prompt Design.SE launches on 26 July, prompt design questions be made officially off-topic here and redirected there instead. Users of generative AI tools can get the help they need from a more specialised community, and Writing.SE can stick to questions about manual writing, in line with the apparent community consensus. Everybody wins.

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The Writing stack is about how to write, not about how to "drive" a program to do the writing for you.

If you dislike writing so much that you want a machine to do it for you, why are you bothering?

The point of writing is to express your ideas in such a way that others can experience them as well. ChatGPT can't express your ideas for you because it doesn't understand them (or anything else.) It cannot express its own ideas because it has none.

"Writing" with ChatGPT is pointless.

Close such questions and be done with them.


ChatGPT spews gibberish in (almost) decently formed sentences. It does not understand what a story is or what a plot is, let alone the less tangible things that give a story meaning and impact.

Writing and storytelling communicate things beyond just events and descriptions of places. They convey feeling and meaning - and ChatGPT has none of either of those things.

Above and beyond that, it does a poor job. The things it kicks out stick together for maybe a few paragraphs, then it falls apart. There is no long-term plot but merely related elements chained together at random. It can't maintain a coherent concept of characters because they are merely words strung together.

Actually making a complete story out of the random bits and pieces it pukes out would be more work than actually writing the story yourself. Tools should make your work easier, not more difficult. ChatGPT just gives you more to do.


All the buzz about ChatGPT reminds me of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in particular the visit to the grand academy of Lagado. Gulliver encounters a professor who has invented a device to create all possible written works.

He assured me “that this invention had employed all his thoughts from his youth; that he had emptied the whole vocabulary into his frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion there is in books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and verbs, and other parts of speech.”

Sounds rather like ChatGPT, analyzing the internet to develop rules for stringing words together.

The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down.

Sounds rather like all those currently scrambling to make use of the bits and bobs tossed out by ChatGPT because they are too lazy or unknowledgeable or unimaginative to write for themselves. Much work for poor quality returns, where far less (but real) work would give better results.

ChatGPT is the professor's frame of letters. Would you like to be one of the professor's students scribbling down its random output, or would you rather create for yourself for real?

I know where I stand.

Write it yourself, or don't bother.

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  • Voting up for the first sentence, I think the rest is basically irrelevant. How to prompt an AI is just outside the scope of this site.
    – evilsoup
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 20:10
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At its core, I'd say writing is about expression yourself. This comes easier to some than others. To say to someone who struggles "Sorry, but you don't get to express yourself, unless you can do it the traditional way" seems harsh and unfair.

Supposing for a moment that AI was good enough. Then I think the sort of transformation we face is that between "painting a picture with words" and "making a photograph with words".

Any idiot can click a button and make a photograph. And often it will be crap. Not because photographs can't be art, but because it still takes something to make it art. All those image generators out there? They don't automatically produce art. The generated art that wins contests has been tweaked and worked on for days and weeks.

The advent of AI writing isn't the end of writing. It's just another way to write. Most of what people make will be crap, just like it is now. And creating something good will still take effort and skill. But it will a different kind of skill, opening it up for other people.

And no. The technology isn't ready yet. We can laugh about how bad and useless it is now. Until suddenly, one day, it's not. And then we scream bloody murder and sue the companies doing it, hoping to stop the inevitable. Or, we can use our imagination and see how it can fit in with all our other tools.

In any case. Questions on writing software are on-topic. Is ChatGPT writing software? I don't think it's intended to be. But other AI tools are or will be.

Personally, I wouldn't treat "How can I get an AI to write for me?" any differently from "How can I get another human to write for me?" Ban both, or ban neither. The distinction AI/human matters for the answer, but not really for the question.

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  • The last part is really intuitive!
    – MouseNag
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 13:19
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I don't think it really matters whether the AI-produced output is any good or not. It could be producing works to rival the literary masters or something closer to the average YouTube comment chain - what matters is that it is the AI producing it not the person clicking on the button.

So if a question asking how to get another person to write a story for them wouldn't be on topic neither should a question asking how to get ChatGPT to do the same.

We do allow questions about tools and software used in writing - but the key difference there is that those are being used in the process of the person writing. Not substituting for them doing the writing.

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When an asker comes up with a question along the lines of "how do I get this AI to generate text for me?", what should we do?

AI is becoming an important part of the creative process, such as image/video/text/music/3D object generation/editing. Therefore, my stance is such questions are on-topic.

Examples of interesting questions: Which prompts are most effective for generating new ideas/summarization/paraphrasing? What are the effects of the parameters on the generated text? What are the effects of the model choice on the generated text? etc.

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