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Subject: alt.folklore.urban Frequently Asked Questions [Part 1 of 5]

This article was archived around: 7 Feb 1997 06:57:55 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: folklore-faq
All FAQs posted in: alt.folklore.urban
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: folklore-faq/part1 Last-Modified: 96/7/30 Version: 2.50
6 February 1997 Official Usenet Alt.Folklore.Urban Frequently Posted Legends "I will set down a tale...it may be history it may be only a legend, a tradition. It may have happened, it may not have happened. But it could have happened..." -- Mark Twain [via Christopher Neufeld] TABLE OF CONTENTS TO THIS AND THE OTHER PARTS OF THE FAQ LIST Part 1 - Introduction to the newsgroup and the FAQ list. [This document] PART 2 - General administrative and other notes on urban legends (ULs) and the newsgroup (e.g., bait for for "trolling.". PART 3 - Major Categories of ULs Covered in the FAQ: PART 4 - Major Categories of ULs Covered in the FAQ (Continued) PART 5 - Credits and some references =========================================================================== 1. INTRODUCTION TO THE FAQ POSTINGS FOR AFU: The newsgroup alt.folklore.urban (AFU) is devoted to the discussion and debunking of urban legends and other related issues. This is Part I of the Frequently Asked Questions/ Frequently Posted Legends list for AFU. Frequency: ---------- The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for alt.folklore.urban is posted approximately twice a month to the alt.folklore.urban, news.answers, and alt.answers newsgroups with an expiration date approximately one month from the date of posting. If the FAQ is not available on AFU at your site, check the other newsgroups mentioned above. Anonymous FTP: -------------- The five part FAQ for alt.folklore.urban is also available via anonymous ftp at rtfm.mit.edu. You can retrieve them by grabbing the following files: /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part1 /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part2 /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part3 /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part4 /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part5 Or heck, just do: /pub/usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/part* E-MAIL: ------ If you do not have anonymous ftp access, rtfm.mit.edu can send the FAQ to you via email. Send an e-mail message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu, subject ignored, and the body containing: send usenet/news.answers/folklore-faq/* CATHOUSE: --------- The FAQ and various sundry information are also available via anonymous ftp from www.urbanlegends.com. Thanks to Jason Heimbaugh for making this happen. World-Wide Web -------------- There is a HTML version of the FAQ at: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/folklore-faq/top.html Sean Willard has also done up a wonderful version of the FAQ which you with links to cathouse.org at: http://cathouse.org/UrbanLegends/AFUFAQ/ http://galileo.desy.de/~sean/afu/ . For you folks in the Old World, check out Arthur Goldstruck's (South African, geddit?) site at http://www.legends.org.za/arthur. 2. INTRODUCTION TO THE NEWSGROUP AFU This is alt.folklore.urban -- the newsgroup where nonsense is revered as an artform, and debunking has been taken to new heights. The group has broadened its god-given mandate from a place for discussing urban legends (ULs) to a place for confirming or disproving beliefs and facts of all kinds, including origin of vernacular ("The whole nine yards", "Sniping like a bald giraffe"), common scientific fallacies, obscure points of history, stories of pranks, the location of Foucault's pendulums, Why "Space 1999" was better than "Star Trek: TOS," "What types of salmon are there?" and so on. In other words, it's a great place to get a reality check on anything that "a friend" told you, or to compare notes about odd things. Bear in mind though that the FAQ tries, in its own confused way, to focus more on UL relevant topics. As a result, you will find items in the classic urban legend mold (e.g., food contamination legends), as well as old wives tales, and other oddball facts, trivia, and stories. =========================================================================== An urban legend: * appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in varying forms, * contains elements of humor or horror (the horror often "punishes" someone who flouts society's conventions). * makes good storytelling. * does NOT have to be false, although most are. ULs often have a basis in fact, but it's their life after-the-fact (particularly in reference to the second and third points) that gives them particular interest. =========================================================================== Urban folklore is not restricted to events that supposedly happened in urban areas. As Jan Brunvand notes in _The Baby Train_, "... these stories reflect urban life and attitudes, even if they're not told told exclusively about things that supposedly happened in big cities. As far as etymology is concerned, Jan Brunvand credits the noted folklorist Richard Dorson with coining the term "urban legend" (after initially referring to them as "urban belief tales"). The first use of the term (by Dorson) that Brunvand has found was in a book of essays edited by Tristram Potter Coffin entitled _Our Living Traditions_ published in 1968. RELIGION AND URBAN LEGENDS Issues of religious faith per se, while occasionally fitting the mode of legends are not really appropriate for urban legend discussion. They involve a dimension beyond the immediate concerns of urban legends (though it may be reasonably argued that they arise out of the same sorts of human concerns). Similarly, issues of mythology (a la Joseph Campbell or Mircea Eliade, et al.) while potentially fascinating on their own merits, are not really relevant for discussion in an urban legends newsgroup either. To the extent their discussion sheds insights into popular urban legends, no problem. Otherwise, it really belongs in talk.religion.misc or some other newsgroup. Religion (of whatever stripe) is a significant and real institution in the lives of many peoples. As a result, it can and will give rise to urban legends and to this extent, its discussion is appropriate for AFU. The veracity of the institution is irrelevant since its influence is undeniable. You can argue the veracity of the tenets of any religion you want, however that argument doesn't belong in AFU. =========================================================================== The Frequently Asked Questions List has been maintained by Terry Chan since July 1991. Its inception and spirit was due to Peter van der Linden in February 1991. COPYRIGHT STUFF: ---------------- Copyright (c) 1997, Terry Chan and Peter van der Linden. All Rights Reserved. Permission for personal, educational or non- profit use is granted provided this this copyright and notice are included in its entirety and remains unaltered. All other uses must receive prior permission in writing from both Terry Chan (at tchan@dante.lbl.gov or mercymercymercy@nardis.com) and Peter van der Linden (at linden@eng.sun.com). Licensing terms on request. -- http://www.nardis.com/~twchan "Ah, the life of a frog, that's the life for me."