Xref: info.physics.utoronto.ca alt.answers:4828 alt.folklore.urban:164421 news.answers:30430
From: email@example.com (Terry Chan)
Subject: alt.folklore.urban Frequently Asked Questions [Part 1 of 4]
Date: 7 Oct 1994 20:55:42 GMT
Organization: Department of Redundancy Department
Expires: 31 October 1994
Reply-To: TWChan@lbl.gov (Terry Chan)
Summary: Urban legends supported, challenged and debunked
Please read before posting to AFU
7 October 1994
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
-- 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.
PART 2 - General administrative and other notes on urban
legends (ULs) and the newsgroup (e.g., bait for
PART 3 - Major Categories of ULs Covered in the FAQ:
PART 4 - 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.
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
The four 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:
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
firstname.lastname@example.org, subject ignored, and the body
The FAQ and various sundry information are also available via
anonymous ftp from cathouse.org (220.127.116.11) in the
/pub/cathouse/urban.legends subdirectory and is also mirrored at
balder.nta.no (18.104.22.168) in the /pub/alt.folklore.urban
subdirectory. Thanks to Jason Heimbaugh (email@example.com)
for his efforts in maintaining this archive.
For the net.privileged, Andrew Condon (firstname.lastname@example.org) has
generously made some initial cuts at making the AFU FAQ available
via World Wide Web (WWW). The URL is:
The ideal web-access binary for accessing the WWW-version of the
FAQ is Mosaic. You can use anonymous ftp to grab a copy of a
Mosaic binary from NCSA. The site name is ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu.
There are versions for most platforms inlcuding Sparc, SGI, Dec,
HP, and even PC and Mac.
The WWW version of the FAQ is still under development and if you
are particularly interested in a particular item, you would
probably be well-advised to cross-check it with the versions
noted in rtfm.mit.edu or *.answers are noted above.
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 Foucalt'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
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
* 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.
The AFU Frequently Asked Questions List has been maintained by Terry
Chan since July 1991. It's inception and spirit was due to the
efforts of Peter van der Linden in February 1991.
This Frequently Asked Questions List is a publication of AFU, Inc.,
a wholely owned subsidiary of Old Hat Enterprises, Inc. Please
contact Terry Chan at TWChan@lbl.gov or Peter van der Linden at
email@example.com for licensing and duplication rights.
Copyrighted 1991-94. All rights reserved by Terry Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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