Urban Legends and Hoaxes

Reviewed by Maureen Ambrosino. This site, although slow to load from a dial-up Internet connection due to Java scripts and graphic-heavy ads, is full of excellent information and worth the wait.

A "guide" hosts every subject on about.com. The guide for this page, David Emery, is a professional writer and a collector of folklore found online. He has been collecting Net lore since 1997. His work on this site appears credible, timely and well written. Although the last modified date is listed as "unknown" in the page information, there is an entire section on current rumors circulating by e-mail. All his urban legend topics link to other information and cite the source from which they came.

Bias is not easily determined from this site; it gives information from a number of viewpoints, especially on the current military rumors. The information given appears thorough and factual.

Other urban legends and Net lore have been published in print form, most notably by Jan Brunvand, an expert in the field. Some of the legends contained here were published elsewhere and the guide tells us where they came from.

One useful feature, found under the Net Hoaxes link, is a section called Hoax Busters. It debunks false information being circulated on the Internet. Emery also includes tips on how to spot an e-mail hoax.

Overall, this is a useful site for studying urban legends. The first few clicks on the site trigger annoying pop-up ad windows, but after that it goes much more smoothly. I will definitely use this site, and send it to others, the next time I get a questionable "true" story by e-mail.