AI Forces Publisher Clarkesworld to Stop Taking Submissions

Clarkesworld editor speaks up against the intrusion of AI writing: “It’s not just going to go away on its own and I don’t have a solution.”

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For new writers wanting to break into the industry, Clarkesworld is a light in the dark. Self-publishing can be very difficult, but this science fiction and fantasy magazine is one of the few massive publications that encourages new writers to submit. Unfortunately, this huge opportunity for pay and publication now faces a new challenge as the magazine was forced to close submissions early due to an influx of AI-written stories.

In a blog post by the editor of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke recognizes that this is not the first time he’s noticed faulty and plagiarized submissions, but there has been a massive spike recently due to the introduction of ChatGTP.

A graph displaying the number of plagarised of AI-written submissions received by Clarkesworld.

With over six hundred AI-generated stories in 2023, Clarkesworld is weary about this newly developed issue. A whopping 38% of the submissions were detected to be composed by a machine, resulting in rejections and bans. Clarke refuses to exactly outline how he can identify AI-written prose for fear that these identifications can be abused by perpetrators, but he reassures that he has tactics to pinpoint patterns.

Despite this, Clarke worries for the future. In his post he states, “there are tools out there for detecting plagiarized and machine-written text, but they are prone to false negatives and positives. One of the companies selling these services is even playing both sides, offering a tool to help authors prevent detection. Even if used solely for preliminary scoring and later reviewed by staff, automating these third-party tools into a submissions process would be costly. I don’t think any of the short fiction markets can currently afford the expense.

On top of this, Clarkesworld isn’t the only magazine facing this issue. Writing is already an intensive and arduous industry to enter, so having these opportunities spoiled by the entry of AI is heartbreaking. Writing is such a rare and refreshing opportunity for anyone to give voice to their own insights in a thoughtful and creative way. Being published encourages and even pays for that circumstance. Limiting open submissions to avoid this complex problem harms newly emerging writers trying to find their footing in this industry.

Clarke ends his statement on this note:

“No, it’s not the death of short fiction (please just stop that nonsense), but it is going to complicate things.”

Neil Clarke

Support editors, writers, and publishers in this time. Here are five literary magazines you can support and submit your own creative stories to.