Over on the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange, we help storytellers fill in the details of their world with plausible explanations. In many ways, we're a unique stack exchange because we answer hypothetical questions.

Our one big rule is that you have to be asking to create a fictional world; if you're asking a question about some field of study in the real world (physics, history, etc.) then go ask on that Stack Exchange site.

There's a class of hypotheticals that we're discussing, and the suggestion has been made that we should forward these questions to your site. I cannot tell from your Mythology Don't Ask help page whether or not you would reject the question.

Would the Mythology Stack Exchange approve or reject this question: "Given our world and a classical British Isles fairy myth, what is the best explanation for iron killing fairies?"

It asks for information about the real world, but it asks for fictional information about our world. If this were any other story world, it would totally be appropriate for Worldbuilding. We are considering allowing it, but we want to know if it would be better for your site.

This question is related, but here, we are asking for a mythological basis for myth, not a scientific basis for myth: Are questions about the scientific basis of mythology on topic?

2 Answers 2


Having offered an answer in the other place in the negative, I'd only like to posit here in M&F that the above posed query seems to be spot on for this forum while it's off topic in Worldbuilding, because that forum deals with secondary creations: fictional worlds of the fantastic, sciencefictional and althistorical sort rather than questions about the working of non-fictional Earth.

As a matter of fact, the very question of iron and Fairies has already been asked here: Who's afraid of steel? Is iron different?


Worldbuilding mod here.

I have mixed feelings on that question's suitability for Mythology & Folklore. I'm a little confused by the title alone, and I'd want to see the body. If the question is really asking something like "In the mythology of the British Isles, are there any instances of fairies being killed by iron?", then yes, it would be on-topic here. Someone could answer it with textual support (if the answer is indeed a yes).

On the other hand, if the question is asking whether it's plausible, given some information about the mythological world of the British Isles, that iron could kill fairies - well, that's less mythology and more worldbuilding (maybe even somewhat science-y). The phrase "best explanation" kinda makes me lean more towards the second explanation, but again I'd want to read the fully question.

All that said, I feel like the question still might be on-topic for Worldbuilding. An analogous question might be "Given a universe like our own, what phenomenon could lead to the destruction of an entire planetary system?" - which would be on-topic on Worldbuilding. I think that makes it even more a grey area. If the fairies question was asked on Worldbuilding, I might be inclined to say leave it there, though it might fall afoul of our policy against Idea Generation questions.

  • Definitely trying to ask the second question. It’s been ruled problematic for WB, so we are contemplating better homes. It is merely exemplary of a whole class of similar questions about “magical or conspiracy backstory” of the real world.
    – SRM
    Dec 2, 2019 at 17:10
  • Context is key: if it's real mythology of the real British Isles, then it's off topic for WB. If it's a fictional British Isles (say Sherlock Holmes or Mortal Engines), then I think a similarly fictional mythology would be appropriate to WB. I concur: queries beginning with "In a universe like our own..." are on-topic for WB. After all, a "universe like our own" is nòt our own universe. It's a fictional universe, and therefore the province of worldbuilding.
    – elemtilas
    Dec 7, 2019 at 7:21

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