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Urban Legends On The Web Essay

1197 words - 5 pages

Urban Legends on the Web

Urban legends are fascinating to almost everyone, and it would follow that there would be many websites available for the discussion of them. A simple search turns up thousands of "hits" on the subject, so how do we know which ones to believe? A good research site will have detailed information explaining the confirmation or rejection of the legend. References must be cited, especially when a legend is being "proven" as true. In addition, the site should also be easy to navigate and convenient. In my own curiosity, I have come across two sites that are excellent, the About.com Urban Legend Guide, and the Urban Legend Reference Page found at www.snopes.com, which was created by the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society. In contrast, there are websites (not to mention e-mail chain letters) that perpetuate false legends, and those that just do a poor job of evaluating them. In this category is the Urban Myth Archive, an amateur archive of myths heard in New Hampshire and Monkeyburgers, a site filled with interesting legends, but lacking adequate proof to back the conclusions.

The About.com Urban Legend Guide, address, http://urbanlegends.about.com/culture/beliefs/urbanlegends/mbody.htm?COB=home&PM=112_100_T, is an invaluable resource for researching urban legends. Upon signing into the page, the reader is given a list of topics to choose from, which always includes currently circulating hoaxes and legends as well as an archive full of information on every conceivable legend and internet hoax. Around Halloween time, of course, there are ghost stories and legends of the past that are explained and critiqued, but I found the most interesting section to be the one on e-mail hoaxes. Every individual with an e-mail address and at least one gullible friend has received an e-mail chain letter. They are virtually inescapable. So how do we know whether the information presented in the chain letter is true? Look it up on about.com's netlore section. Every imaginable chain letter and Internet hoax is listed. About.com discusses the ever-present "clothing store" chain letters in which the reader is encouraged to send the e-mail to everyone s/he knows in order to receive free merchandise. There is a version floating around for Old Navy, Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, and probably every other clothing chain. As the author explains, it is impossible for anyone to track when you send an e-mail, and, thus, these stores could not send you merchandise. That's good to know; I was wondering if I passed up an opportunity for free clothes when I deleted that Old Navy chain letter . . . The best part about this section is that there is also information on what to do about bothersome e-mails. Although About.com writers research and write articles of their own, the site also contains links to other quality websites for further research. I like the idea of having other sites to confirm or discredit the research of the authors at About.com. The...

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