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There are two sorts of urban legends;

Are these questions on topic?

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  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​How is the London Monster or Jack the Ripper urban legends? – yannis May 13 '15 at 17:43
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    @Yannis " A police investigation into a series of eleven brutal killings in Whitechapel up to 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888. Five victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly, all murdered between 31 August and 9 November 1888, are known as the "canonical five" and their murders are often considered the most likely to be linked. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory." – durron597 May 13 '15 at 17:45
  • There's nothing folklorish about the actual murders though. – yannis May 13 '15 at 17:53
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    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Also, how's your Roanoke question related to urban legends at all? I could understand it if it was about a specific urban legend about the fate of the settlers, but as currently phrased it's an (unanswerable) history question. – yannis May 13 '15 at 17:56
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    @Yannis I'm trying to push the boundaries of "on-topic" on purpose. – durron597 May 13 '15 at 18:00
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    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​I understand what you are trying to do. I'm just saying your examples are entirely unconvincing. – yannis May 13 '15 at 18:04
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Canonical "Should be off topic."

It's difficult to imagine any question about these topics that are not a history question, or a question about a fictional story, which are already off topic.

These aren't stories to be explored. Most people don't really believe that they happened. All questions are going to be either easy to answer, or not answerable.

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    durron597, For future reference, it is generally better to leave meta question to open discussion rather than posting all sides of the conversation yourself so people can vote. Please feel free to post whatever you actually feel about the issue, but leaving this to a more open format gives everyone a voice. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants from the conversation while allowing for the possibility that there's an issue we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino May 14 '15 at 13:37
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I'll add in another voice for "off topic", but I'll give another reason: Speculation.

There are many things that could explain the "urban legends" you list. The Loch Ness Monster could be a plesiosaur, an alien, or a series of hoaxes. Area 51 could be inhabited by little green/grey men, or it could be a U.S. military base that is completely straightforward.

The test question you wrote up (though now off the table) was complete speculation. The last time I saw it before it was deleted, it had four close votes: two for off topic and two for primarily opinion-based. I was one of the latter two voters, because there are many different explanations for the disappearance of the colonists at Roanoke. Nobody knows the truth.

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Canonical "Should be on topic."

People like these stories, and they really are the modern myths of our day. How is the legend of a giant monster living in Scotland any different than the legend of a monster attacking Aethiopia?

I don't see any reason to narrow scope in this way just yet. If it becomes a problem later we can always deal with it then, but in the meantime, let's let us have popular stories that we can use to help drive traffic.

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