Snopes.com

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Urban Legends Reference Pages (snopes.com)
Snopes logo
Type of site
Reference pages
Owner
Created by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson[1]
Editor Brooke Binkowski, managing editor[2]
Website www.snopes.com
Alexa rank Positive decrease 2,353 (US 606) (September 2017)[3]
Commercial Yes
Registration Required only on forums
Launched 1995
Current status Active

Snopes.com /ˈsnps/, formally known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is one of the first online fact-checking websites.[4] It is a widely known resource for validating and debunking urban legends and similar stories in American popular culture,[5] receiving 750,000 visits a day as of 2017.[6]

History[edit]

In 1996, David and Barbara Mikkelson created an urban folklore web site that would become Snopes.com. Snopes was an early online encyclopedia focused on urban legends, that mainly presented search results of user discussions. The site grew to encompass a wide range of subjects and became a resource to which Internet users began submitting pictures and stories of questionable veracity. According to the Mikkelson's, Snopes antedated the search engine concept where people could go to check facts by searches.[7] David Mikkelson had originally adopted the username "Snopes" (the name of a family of often unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner)[8][9] as a username in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban.[10][11][9][11]

In 2002, the site had become well-known enough that a television pilot called Snopes: Urban Legends, was completed with American actor Jim Davidson as host. However, it did not air on major networks.[9] By mid-2014, Barbara Mikkelson had not written for the site "in several years"[1] and David Mikkelson hired employees to assist him from Snopes.com's message board. The Mikkelsons divorced around the same time, and Barbara no longer has an ownership stake in Snopes.com.[1]

On March 9, 2017 Mikkelsen terminated a brokering agreement with Proper Media, the company that provides Snopes with web development, hosting, and advertising support.[12] This prompted Proper Media to stop remitting advertising revenue and to file a lawsuit in May. In late June, Bardav--the company founded by David and Barbara Mikkelson in 2003 to own and operate snopes.com--started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to continue operations.[13] Later, in August, a judge ordered Proper Media to disburse advertising revenues to Bardav while the case was pending.[14] Snopes.com raised almost $700,000 from the GoFundMe effort in 2017.[15]

Main site[edit]

Snopes aims to debunk or confirm widely spread urban legends. The site has been referenced by news media and other sites, including CNN,[16] MSNBC,[17] Fortune, Forbes, and NY Times.[18] As of July 2017, the site had approximately 20 million visitors per month.[19][20]

Mikkelson has stressed the reference portion of the name Urban Legends Reference Pages, indicating that their intention is not merely to dismiss or confirm misconceptions and rumors but to provide evidence for such debunkings and confirmation as well.[21] Where appropriate, pages are generally marked "undetermined" or "unverifiable" when there is not enough evidence to either support or disprove a given claim.[22]

Lost legends[edit]

In an attempt to demonstrate the perils of over-reliance on the internet as authority, Snopes assembled a series of fabricated urban folklore tales that they term "The Repository of Lost Legends".[23] The name was chosen for its acronym, T.R.O.L.L., a reference to the early 1990s definition of the word troll, meaning an Internet prank, of which David Mikkelson was a prominent practitioner.[10]

Accuracy[edit]

Jan Harold Brunvand, a folklorist who has written a number of books on urban legends and modern folklore, considered the site so comprehensive in 2004 that he decided not to launch one of his own to similarly discuss the accuracy or various legends and rumors.[11]

Mikkelson has said that the site receives more complaints of liberal bias than conservative bias, but insists that the same debunking standards are applied to all political urban legends.[24] In 2012, FactCheck.org reviewed a sample of Snopes' responses to political rumors regarding George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama, and found them to be free from bias in all cases.[24][25] In 2012, The Florida Times-Union reported that About.com's urban legends researcher found a "consistent effort to provide even-handed analyses" and that Snopes' cited sources and numerous reputable analyses of its content confirm its accuracy.[26]

Critics of the site have falsely asserted that it is funded by businessman and philanthropist George Soros, or linked sites, but all of Snopes’s revenue is from advertising on the site.[2] The New York Times has stated:

All of Snopes’s revenue — Mr. Mikkelson says he doesn’t know what it is — come from ads. Facebook is not paying for its services. Nor is the billionaire George Soros funding the site, although that is sometimes asserted in anti-Snopes stories.

Traffic and users[edit]

As of April 2017, Snopes.com's Alexa rating was 1,794. Approximately 80% of its visitors originate from within the United States.[3] In 2017, the site attracted 20 million unique visitors in one month.[27][28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "How the Truth Set Snopes Free". webbyawards.com. 
  2. ^ a b c Streitfeld, David (December 25, 2016). "For Fact Checking Website Snopes, a Bigger Role Brings More Attacks". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Snopes.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Snopes.com: Debunking Myths in Cyberspace]". NPR. August 27, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2005. 
  5. ^ Henry, Neil (2007). American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media. University of California Press. p. 285. 
  6. ^ Pogue, David (July 15, 2010). "At Snopes.com, Rumors Are Held Up to the Light". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ Brian Stelter (April 4, 2010). "Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes.com. Retrieved June 9, 2006. What are 'snopes'? 
  9. ^ a b c Bond, Paul (September 7, 2002). "Web site separates fact from urban legend". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Porter, David (2013). "Usenet Communities and the Cultural Politics of Information". Internet Culture. Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-135-20904-9. Retrieved September 13, 2016. The two most notorious trollers in AFU, Ted Frank and snopes, are also two of the most consistent posters of serious research. 
  11. ^ a b c Seipp, Cathy (July 21, 2004). "Where Urban Legends Fall". National Review. Archived from the original on July 23, 2004. Retrieved February 7, 2014. 
  12. ^ Farhi, Paul (July 24, 2017). "Is Snopes.com, the original Internet fact-checker, going out of business?". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Victor, Daniel (July 24, 2017). "Snopes, in Heated Legal Battle, Asks Readers for Money to Survive". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Dean, Michelle. "Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-Fact World". 
  15. ^ https://www.gofundme.com/savesnopes
  16. ^ Nissen, Beth (October 3, 2001). "Hear the rumor? Nostradamus and other tall tales". CNN. Retrieved June 7, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Urban Legends Banned-April Fools'!". MSNBC. April 1, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Who Is Barack Obama?". Snopes. August 24, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2008. 
  19. ^ Hochman, David (March 2009). "Rumor Detectives: True Story or Online Hoax?". Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Teens Abusing Energy-Boosting Drinks, Doctors Fear". Fox News Channel. October 31, 2006. Retrieved June 7, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Frequently Asked Questions". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. How do I know the information you've presented is accurate? 
  22. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Round Rock Gangs". Snopes. July 21, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Lost Legends". Snopes. Retrieved June 9, 2006. 
  24. ^ a b "Ask FactCheck: Snopes.com". FactCheck.org. April 10, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Fact-checking the fact-checkers: Snopes.com gets an 'A'". Network World. April 13, 2009. 
  26. ^ Fader, Carole (September 28, 2012). "Fact Check: So who's checking the fact-finders? We are". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  27. ^ Stelter, Brian (April 4, 2010). "Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2013. 
  28. ^ https://www.quantcast.com/snopes.com?country=US

External links[edit]