There are many things in the world that I am not an expert in, but at least have a vague idea where to start looking for resources/examples. There are also many subjects where getting the information I need is eminently doable and probably just a quick google search for appropriate keywords, but I have no idea what those keywords might be.

So if I were to post a question about where to find resources on/examples of a real world subject for the purposes of further research pertaining to the world building I'm doing, would that be on topic?

For those needing more context: a question that falls into this category of 'Too real for worldbuilding SE but I have no idea where to start' is a question about real-world examples of psychiatric therapeutical practice. The worldbuilding aspect is that I'm making a care home for defunct AIs (It's a Thomas the Tank Engine parody. Don't judge me), but the actual question is about where I can find real-world examples of or information on certain therapeutical practices (giving patients fake work that makes them feel as though they're engaging in something important to them), if it is in fact a real-world thing.

The question itself could probably be boiled down into a question for a different SE (If only I had the first clue about the right terminology) without any of the world building elements, but the context for the question is definitely worldbuilding which might not go down so well on the psychology and neuroscience SE.

Are such questions on topic?

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    $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/… $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    May 26, 2020 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica : From the link you posted: "such as books and software relating to worldbuilding itself" - The resources I'm looking for are real-world resources that have nothing to do with world building: hence me questioning if it's on topic. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    May 26, 2020 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, why not ask anyway? You'll likely get a comment saying "have you read this Wikipedia article", or "why don't you Google such-and-such". Then you can edit the question for more focus. It's not as if question on this site are to be treated like monuments more durable than bronze. (And giving patients fake work appears, for example, in Wilkie Collins's Woman in White.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 2, 2020 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ This is what the sandbox is for.... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 7, 2020 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH If it was just one question I agree, but it’s more about the type of question than the question itself. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jun 8, 2020 at 5:18

1 Answer 1


No...but with Caveats!
Generally speaking, if you know the domain of human knowledge you're wanting to ask about, even if your goal is worldbuilding, your best bet is to ask in the appropriate SE forum (if it exists). This is because your question does not directly pertain to the invention of your world or setting in a direct way.

I agree with you on this: if you really, honestly, and literally don't know where to start, I would say ask here in WB. The worst thing that will happen is your question will be closed and you'll read in comments where you should ask, within or without SE.

Aside: I dare say you could probably preface your exploratory question thus: "DO NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION! I literally don't know where to start, but really only need help with keywords and a couple likely places to some real world research. Actual worldbuilding query to follow!" Once you've got a little bit of direction, you can just delete the question.

If you're not sure if your proposed question has "enough context" (I usually set the bar fairly high here, just to keep out the curiosity seekers, question dumpers, and real world question askers), then I'd suggest posing it here in Meta in the Sandbox. That's what it's for!, to help you get it into shape!

Specific to your Query:
I see two separate things going on here. First, you are actually engaging in the creation of a fictional world a/o setting. The AIs and so forth. Second, you are engaged in general research. And you are even, eventually, going to combine what you learned from that research with your worldbuilding.

However, as written, your proposed query doesn't combine them here in SE. As such, I'd vote to close your question as being off topic as being not about worldbuilding, even though potentially it will be.

So, what I would recommend is that you first ask your real world question on an appropriate SE forum (there is a Psychology and Neuroscience forum), or in an appropriate external forum (Reddit is a good start). And then, once you've got a better handle on the real world answer, come back here where we can help you with questions that synthesis the two parts of your work, with applying the real world knowledge to a fictional setting within a fictional world!

Food for Thought:
This is simply because WB.SE isn't a generalist Q&A forum. We shouldn't be wasting our valuable & voluntary time googling things for people and doing their basic homework for them. Don't take this the wrong way! It's not my intention to shoo you away. But literally I just input "examples of psychiatric therapeutical practice" into the google-o-matic and got all kinds of useful returns on the basic approaches to psychotherapy, therapeutic interventions, and therapeutic techniques. Especially if you're a writer, it's your job to do that much at the minimum! We're here to help you with taking that to the next level!

  • $\begingroup$ Oh, don’t worry about shooing me away. I’ve been an active member here for longer than I care to remember. I basically asked this question on meta because when I was writing the question for checking in Sandbox I couldn’t help thinking that I’d probably VTC my own question as off topic. It’s a somewhat moot point now, since I’ve come to the conclusion that for my Worldbuilding real world examples aren’t actually that relevant! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    May 29, 2020 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ just recently i do that, it got shot down because Biology SE need it to be practical apparently.......though seems like they have problem with their book recommendation tag, which i stumble when lurking and seems fitting for me to ask it there. but it would help lots of trouble to simply post it in world building, since every SE has different point of view and rules to abide with. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    May 30, 2020 at 4:59

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