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You may or may not be aware of this, but there is an academic field called "folklore studies". I've been reading up on the field, and I think renaming the site to "Mythology & Folklore Studies" will have a number of benefits:

  1. Folklore has a clear definition. To quote from Folklore Rules: A Fun, Quick, and Useful Introduction to the Field of Academic Folklore Studies (available from JSTOR and from a library), folklore is:

    The thing that distinguishes folklore from these other forms of cultural expression is the way it's transmitted... In folk culture, the lore is typically shared by word of mouth; more generally, we say it's shared person to person (which could include direct conversation, indirect observation, e-mail, phone calls, online chats, etc.).

  2. Unlike mythology, "Folklore Studies" is a professional discipline. There are folklore programs at universities, professional folklore organizations, etc. etc. Tying our site to a professional discipline will allow us to recruit from that discipline, make the site more attractive to professionals, as well as give our site a clearer purpose.

  3. I think that we should continue to include the word "mythology" in our name. This is partially because mythology is the word that most of the public associated with out content, and partially because some of the texts we analyze aren't strictly folklore (although most are written recordings of folklore, e.g. the odyssey)

Thoughts? We shouldn't make a decision right away, but I would like to put the idea out there and get feedback.

It would also be nice if we could get more questions about folklore that aren't strictly about ancient (religious) stories. If you're looking for inspiration, the online AFS folklore collection is a good place to start.

16

I think it is a good idea to include folklore in our site name. It is already a bit part of of what we do cover; it makes sense to have it in the title. It would also help people interested in folklore identify this as an appropriate place to ask questions in.

However, I suggest simply Mythology and Folklore. The site allows questions on mythology and folklore beyond academic studies thereof; and there's no need to be too verbose about it either way.

If this goes through, I don't necessarily think that we should change the url to reflect the new name, mostly because I think it'd get too long.

  • 2
    I concur completely with this. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Dec 30 '15 at 3:23
  • Sounds good to me. Assuming there are no disagreements, how would we move forward with this? – user62 Dec 30 '15 at 21:48
  • @Hamlet Wait for a few days first to see if anyone comes up with alternate opinions or suggestions. If not, I'll contact a CM. – Semaphore Dec 31 '15 at 5:53
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    Speaking for the team: we've got no major concerns with this. I do want to point out one thing that hasn't been explicitly mentioned yet, though: we treat site name changes as one-time deals, so please be extra-sure that this is the name you want now and forever. (I don't really expect that to give anyone second thoughts in this particular case, but I thought it needed to be stated.) cc @LaurenIpsum – Pops Jan 15 '16 at 17:42
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    This is live now. Please let me know if you see anything broken or weird. – Adam Lear Dec 18 '17 at 21:29
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I don't think it's a good idea to change our name yet. Looking at our statistics, we're pitiful. Our traffic isn't great, and it doesn't look like it's going to explode any time soon. Old "accepted" answers that are flatly wrong are still accepted, and extremely poor answers still comprise a large portion of total answers. I think before anything changes officially, we need to see if this is the form we want it in. Is adding folklore alone enough? What really holds it together? Why is religion specifically excluded? What about the culture that surrounds myths? History that surrounds myths?

Now that Mythology has been live for almost a year, it seems best to me that something more than a simple renaming needs to be done, and maybe that something would like another renaming in the future, which, if I understand Pops correctly, would be impossible after this one. Shouldn't we then wait and try things out until something good starts happening?

  • Fair enough about the scope aspect ("Why is religion specifically excluded?", etc). However, I have two questions about your answer. (1) I don't think inaccurate answers are going to go away with a name change; this seems like a separate issue that you should bring up in a different topic. (2) I also don't think that our statistics are going to change by changing our name: that ultimately has to do with the fact that our subject matter is a niche topic. – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 18:31
  • RE: answer quality: I'm not sure how to fix this. I used to advocate for rules about sources, but people disagreed and I have since backed down. – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 18:35
  • But after reading your answer, I agree: we should hold off on renaming the site for quite some time. – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 18:36
  • I don't really have an answer to my questions either, but I don't think they're absolutely unrelated. Traffic and answer quality surely are related to what this community is about. Stories are nice, but really if all we do is focus on the stories, why shouldn't we be classified with the scifi/fantasy SE (although that appears to be almost solely about Star Wars and Harry Potter these days). – C. M. Weimer Jan 25 '16 at 18:52
  • I brought this up with the Latin SE proposal—the study of Latin is very deeply embedded in the study of Classics, which itself is tied strongly, especially nowadays, to Ancient Near Eastern studies, but also Medieval studies, that makes little sense to strongly segregate. No one liked that proposal, but perhaps because I come from Academia where these questions are raised and answered all the time, I still see merit in it. – C. M. Weimer Jan 25 '16 at 18:54
  • Then again, maybe at that point the Q&A format would suffer... – C. M. Weimer Jan 25 '16 at 18:54
  • Sorry for the quadruple post, but I also stumbled upon this looking into scopes: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/111659/… – C. M. Weimer Jan 25 '16 at 18:58
  • The problem with Area51 is that most of the proposals are created by people who don't actually have familiarity with the subject matter. If the Area51 process worked correctly, then Mythology wouldn't even be a site: I can count with my hand the number of professionals who do "mythology" – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 22:08
  • Traffic and answer quality surely are related to what this community is about not really, the History(history.stackexchange.com) proposal is doing well traffic wise, despite the fact that anyone with a professional interest in history would run away as fast as they can from that site (if you think our answers are inaccurate, try History.SE's answers). – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 22:09
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    Yes, sadly, I stay far away from there for a reason. I do not mean to imply, however, that the more traffic, the better the answers necessarily, but without more traffic, we cannot get to those good answers. – C. M. Weimer Jan 25 '16 at 22:14
  • This conversation is getting long: you should join me in chat. – user62 Jan 25 '16 at 22:34
0

If all folklore is on-topic here, which it is, then the name should be changed to something such as Mythology and Folklore for the simple reason that much of folklore has nothing to do with mythology.

To take some examples, the rules of the various games of hopscotch and the culture of playing conkers are part of folklore but they have no mythological features. The same is true of many instances of genres of folklore such as fables, fairytales, folk dances, and traditional orally transmitted nursery rhymes.

The line "What's your mythology question?" that appears when someone clicks to ask a question should also be changed, to something such as "What's your question about mythology or folklore?" As it stands, it suggests that only questions about mythology are on-topic, perhaps deterring some people from asking about foklore.

  • I wish that were the case. Unfortunately, there's a lot of disagreement as to what folklore actually means. I've mostly seen folklore used as a synonym for "mythology" or "old story" on this site, even though that's not the definition used by people who actually study folklore. I actually had some questions that were heavily downvoted because of disagreements over what folklore actually meant. Also, welcome to the site, I'm enjoying reading your posts, and I hope you continue to contribute! – user62 May 29 '16 at 3:31
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    @Hamlet - Hi and thanks for your welcome! I studied folklore as part of one of my degrees, and I don't think any good will be served by using a definition that varies a lot from the standard one. I'm sorry to hear some of your questions got downvoted. We need to educate users, I think, if folklore is to stay an on-topic field here. As things stand, on the page that defines what's on-topic the words "Folklore is on-topic" come under the header of "What qualifies as a 'myth'?", which I am sad to say conveys ignorance! – user1618 May 29 '16 at 3:57
  • Wow, I didn't see that page. I'm not really sure what you should do about this: I've tried bringing this up before and it hasn't worked. Why don't you create a new meta post and see if you have better luck. – user62 May 29 '16 at 16:42

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