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There is a question here on Meta on what is the distinction between folklore and mythology. The same question was raised on Area 51 Discussions before this proposal went into private beta.

I'm wondering if we should include folklore.

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    As per conversation in chat, we're using "scope" to tag discussions about what is in and out of scope, since "on-topic" or "off-topic" is a meta-tag. I can't edit your question, but could you remove the on-topic tag please? :) – Luna Apr 29 '15 at 21:09
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    Are zombies part of the folklore? – kenorb Apr 30 '15 at 17:51
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    @kenorb The original Haitian zombie definitely is. I'm not sure about the pop-culture image of a zombie. It doesn't seem to be much different from the Haitian zombie though. The differences themselves could make for good questions, so they'd be within our scope. – Vixen Populi Apr 30 '15 at 18:08
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Personally, I think so, and I even think the site could reasonably be renamed to Mythology & Folklore.

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    I thought the same, but I tried to keep my question as open as possible. I feel the distinction between mythology and folklore is blurry, and including folklore will attract more people. Giving the site a better chance to make it through beta. – Vixen Populi Apr 28 '15 at 18:53
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    There's a long continuum between mythology and folklore. It's a weird time now to decide that a site should include questions about Big Foot, Cinderella, and Paul Bunion. Maybe this proposal should have gone very differently. – Robert Cartaino Apr 28 '15 at 19:47
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    @RobertCartaino But, as you say, it is a continuum - there isn't a point of clear demarcation where we can declare "this is mythology and hence on-topic, while that is folklore and hence off-topic". Really, the better question is "where do we draw the line between mythology and folklore?", I guess. – senshin Apr 28 '15 at 20:46
  • I think this is a can of worms. Bigfoot, Loch Ness, La Chupacabra, Aliens, Vampires, etc. These items are folklore, I think we can agree, but they are not quite mythology, being part of a larger mythos. They are separated items that sit alone in an otherwise normal and natural world. We even would have problems with Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and other folktales. They simply are not mythology, part of a greater mythos, and should be off-topic. – user93 Apr 30 '15 at 0:34
  • I recently offered the opposite opinion. I would appreciate your feedback. – user93 Apr 30 '15 at 0:46
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I agree that folklore should be included but wanted to elaborate on why a little bit.

Folklore and Mythology are inextricably linked. Formal mythologies developed from folklore and stories. There wasn't a day where someone said, oh by the way the skies and storms are controlled by Zeus. The likely scenario (the answer I would hazard is not truly known) is that people worried about storms, be it for travel or floods or ruining crops, putting a name to the phenomenon simply gives the people someone or something specific to pray to for relief.

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    I'm not sure you answered the "why" that you promised. – user93 Apr 30 '15 at 0:27
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This is difficult to answer because there really isn't a clear definition on what "folklore" actually is. In fact, the word wasn't even in large use until about 100 years ago. Your linked meta post goes into this well and one point that stands out as the difference between mythology and folklore is that folklore is about lesser individual things. There are stories about vampires, for example, but there is very little mythology of vampires and how they've interacted with other mythical characters or places over the ages. There are just isolated stories. There is no grander mythos that they belong to.

Folklore is certainly interesting, but it is not mythology and should not be on-topic. Mythology that appears to be folklore can be weighed against this scale:

Does the myth belong to a larger world for which there are other extant, historically significant myths?

If the answer is yes, then it is mythology not folklore and is on-topic, and so also are all the other related myths. If the myth revolves around a single figure or type of thing and does not belong to a greater mythos (collection of related myths), then is is folklore not mythology and is off-topic.

However, questions about how any folktales may have affected any mythologies is certainly on-topic and might prove to be a very interesting question source. But the reversely directed question is not on-topic, where the question is about how any mythology influenced any folktale because the folklore is the topic of the question, not the mythology.

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  • Comments help. Currently the best upvoted answer says "yes" and thats about it. If the site is going to allow folklore, then it needs to draw a line somewhere on what is a folktale that is on-topic and what is not. The currently most upvoted answer here does not do that. – user93 Apr 30 '15 at 2:04
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    To answer your concern about where we draw the line if folklore is on topic (re: stories about Bigfoot, etc.) the highest voted answer on How do we define mythology? does answer this - we won't accept questions about cryptozoology, but will accept questions on the stories behind legendary creatures and any myths surrounding them. The reasoning is that most people here seem to want to allow folklore, and answering these types of questions about folklore is still doable while citing sources in the SE format. – Luna Apr 30 '15 at 8:59
  • What's the difference between "cryptozoology" and "stories behind legendary creatures and any myths surrounding them"? Is it simply a modern v. ancient/medieval distinction? Are modern myths (such as the myths of the North Korean regime) acceptable? – C. M. Weimer Jun 20 '15 at 5:47
  • @C.M.Weimer That's kind of the problem I'm pointing out, but no one else seems to care about the can of worms they've opened up. – user93 Jun 20 '15 at 22:01

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