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Evolution of the Snopes website[edit]

The current article discusses Snopes as though it were a long-term “fact checker”, and one of the oldest such existing. This is factually wrong. Snopes’s focus only began moving in this direction with 9/11, and it only became dominant with, roughly, the Obama campaign. This, of course, roughly tracks the growth of wide scale politicized BS online, with readers questions shifting from folktales to those about suspicious “news” items. The article really doesn’t reflect this in several ways. Brunvand pointed out that a mom-and-pop website was good enough that he felt no need to make a one-man website of his own, but the site has evolved a good deal since then. The article emphasizes that the founders were rather apolitical, but only one of the founders is left, and I don’t think that Brooke Binkowski is a Rockefeller Republican like Dave...and I strongly suspect that is the reason she was let go, although as likely to avoid the appearance of partisanship than its existence on the site. The article doesn’t really reflect this, either.

Saying that Snopes is widely known isn’t puffery, but making positive statements about its current form based on what it looked like two decades ago might be. Qwirkle (talk) 15:19, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Your own original research is not an acceptable source for article contents. The following sources all categorize snopes as one of the oldest fact-checking sites: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 15:33, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
...but the NYT says otherwise, right in the article on the top of the page. No one is questioning that Snopes is the oldest surviving big urban legend site, but the Frogboys aren’t showing up because Snopes is pointing out that Red Bull contains no bovine spooge. The fact-checking that has caused controversy is political, and the NYT writes as though that only began with the Trump campaign. Not just the controversy, but the emphasis. Now if you think that I am using “fact checker” narrowly, yeah, I am. I am using it as opposed to “folklorist,” even though the two can obviously overlap. If you make a venn diagram of “folklorists” and “fact-checker,” Barb and Dave lived for years in just the one circle. They studied folklore. Stuff passed by word of mouth, or mimeograph, or xerox, and then by email, If it wasn’t a foaftale of some sort, it wasn’t in their sights.
Now, the stuff on the CNN site is purely folkloric. Yupp, snopes has been doing that back to ‘94, which is to say three years after the AFU archive. Not oldest there, even.
The Times-Union piece explicitly notes the shift from folklore to politics, notes that they were uncontroversially held to be pretty accurate before they started addressing controversial matters.
The Poynter piece is...unfortunate. It’s a muddled mess, and it doesn’t talk much about the site’s evolution, except as it concerns the lawsuit. Whatever Poynter’s standing as a whole may be, that article needs a boulder-sized grain of salt.
The Fox piece explicitly notes the Snopes site’s changes of focus, with the earliest version a UL “encyclopedia” much like TAFKAC, not a fact-checking site in any sense at all, but that evolved with readers sending new stories, or at least those new to them. Mikkelson explicitly notes that the emphasis on the political side only came with 9/11.
The Sun-Star Philippines? Now, that has the smell of a tendentious search, but it’s not a bad article.
So, if you want to argue that the idea that Snopes is the oldest is sourceable but untrue, knock yourself out. Qwirkle (talk) 17:41, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
  1. None of the NYT sources used say that.
  2. Your own WP:OR doesn't change what the source say, no matter how much you disagree with them. You are the only one insisting that "fact-checking" is an exclusively political phenomenon. To be fair, you're not explicitly repeating that, but your argument requires it to be true to be consistent, so... ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 17:50, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Well, when someone makes a distinction between two things that overlap in a conversation, then from there on past it helps to stick with that distinction. Mighta saved some grief above in the section above. I thought it was obvious in context, but, obviously not.
Snopes began life as folklore website, not a general interest fact-checking website like, say, the Straight Dope, or a political fact-checker like PolitiFact or FactCheck and so forth. It was a year or two before it had much more than material borrowed from Usenet, some of which, of course, was Dave and Barb’s own work. Like the AFU FAQ, it assessesd the possibility that a rumor or legend was reality based; that wasn’t an innovation, but it was easier to search and easier on the eyes. Over time, readers began asking about stuff they had read,or heard elsewhere, and the site began to focus on that (and began gathering income). It went a while before it started to have much in common at all with, say, PolitiFact.
When that happened, when it stopped focusing on sewergators and choking Dobermans, and went political is disputed among the sources you brought in. The NYT seems to think it was our current Comanitee-in-Chief’s campaign, others (not in the sources you’ve gathered above) put it to Obama’s campaign, David Mikkelson himself to 9/11. Either way, though, praise for a site’s or person’s accuracy based on one subject doesn’t always translate to another, and the fact that Brunvand gave them a nod a couple decades ago is only relevant to what they covered then. Qwirkle (talk) 19:53, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
Seperately, yes, I think the readers, or at least a good portion of them, do see “fact-checking” almost entirely in terms of political disinformation and misinformation, not mere error. If they didn’t, a google for “fact-checking” would bring up more simple references, and less debunkers. Do you disagree? Qwirkle (talk) 19:53, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm not bothering to read your comments because I'm not seeing any sources in them. Unless and until you can provide sources to support your suggested changes, there's nothing to discuss here. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 20:03, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
With one exception, it is discussing the sources you brought in above. I’ll leave the implications of that as an exercise for the reader. Qwirkle (talk) 21:41, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
Would work better if you found some sources to support your content, but I'm happy enough with that move. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:25, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
I’m thinking something along the lines of “Widening use of the Internet not only spread traditional ULs, but rumors and misinformation with political implication. This became a larger part of Snopes work. Different observers tied the growth to events like 9/11 (cite to DM interview) and presidential campaigns (lots of other potential cites there.) Coverage of traditional folklore remained strong, however, and Snopes was listed second only to AFU (described as “dormant”), in Brundvand’s 2012 “Encyclopedia of &cet.”, and the only website mentioned in his 2014 ←”Colossal (?) Book &cet.”
Something like that. It’s a week before I get my paws on something with a real keyboard, so I’m not in a hurry. Qwirkle (talk) 01:06, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
You need a source that says "snopes is not one of the oldest fact checking websites", or at a minimum, says "these are the oldest fact checking websites:" and then lists sites without including Find one source that makes a compelling case for that (the argument you've presented here is anything but compelling. Have you realized yet that your argument relies upon at least two mutually exclusive premises yet?) and I will discuss whether that source is a better one than the ones we have already. Find multiple sources saying that, and we can skip the discussion and skip straight to changing the article. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 01:40, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
Yes, given the present direction of the site, it's weird that it nowhere mentions the debunking of 'fake news', which is a focus of this BBC interview article with the founder. Onanoff (talk) 18:01, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

Edit warring over George Soros discussion[edit]

In recent hours, there has been edit warring involving two IP addresses making unexplained edits (i.e., no edit summary) to the part of the article that says "Critics of the site have falsely asserted that it is funded by businessman and philanthropist George Soros". The IP edits have repeatedly removed the word "falsely" and made other changes such as changing "falsely asserted" to "claimed", and adding "David P. Mikkelson has denied the claim" in the next sentence. There has been at least one WP:3RR violation by the IP edits, since one of those IPs made 5 rapid reverts (the other IP made 3 rapid reverts). The WP:edit warring should stop. It would be helpful if someone who supports these changes could explain their concerns. In the absence of a consensus, I suggest that the original wording should be retained. —BarrelProof (talk) 19:28, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I request semi-protection. O3000 (talk) 19:31, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Since both IP addresses start with "2a02:2149:871c:1c00", I suspect they are the same editor. They have not responded to comments on their User Talk pages. —BarrelProof (talk) 19:36, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
At this point, the two IPs have made 9 unexplained reverts and not responded to any Talk page comments. However, I suggest that Objective3000 back off for now and let someone else decide what happens next, since the tit-for-tat has really gotten out of hand (and since this seems like more of a content dispute than outright vandalism). —BarrelProof (talk) 19:41, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Yep, I've stopped reverting and requested page protection. A PP admin is not active at the moment. I'm not taking it to any other board. And yes, IPs are in the same dynamic pool in the same country. O3000 (talk) 19:47, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
OK, I think we have two days PP. A 3RR warning should be placed on the user's TP, not that it will help. I shouldn't be the one to do so. Or, we can hope they get bored; which often happens. O3000 (talk) 22:16, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

The text below is from The Babylon Bee - should we write a short bit into the article?[edit]

Despite its status as a satirical website, The Babylon Bee has been fact checked by Snopes dozens of times.[1][2][3] Some of these facts checks have been controversial. For example, in March of 2018, The Babylon Bee published an article alleging that CNN was using an industrial-sized washing machine to "spin" the news.[4] Snopes fact-checked the article, rating it "false."[5] Facebook then cited this fact check in a warning message to The Babylon Bee, which threatened to limit their content distribution and monetization.[6] Adam Ford tweeted a screenshot of the warning message to his followers, drawing public attention to the matter.[7] Facebook quickly apologized: "There’s a difference between false news and satire. This was a mistake and should not have been rated false in our system. It’s since been corrected and won’t count against the domain in any way."[8]

In July of 2019, Snopes rated another article from The Babylon Bee "false," but this time suggested the article was deliberately deceptive rather than genuinely satirical.[2] Adam Ford responded on Twitter, highlighting what he deemed to be problematic wording in the fact check.[9] The Babylon Bee also released a statement, calling the fact check a "smear" that was "both dishonest and disconcerting."[10] The statement concluded by saying a law firm had been retained to represent The Babylon Bee because "Snopes appears to be actively engaged in an effort to discredit and deplatform us." After receiving some backlash and a formal demand letter from The Babylon Bee's attorney, Snopes made revisions to the wording of the fact check and added an explanatory editor's note.[11] Doug Weller talk 15:02, 20 August 2019 (UTC)


@Doug Weller: - the text is reasonably well phrased, however the Daily Wire isn't a particularly reliable source. RSN judged it to be somewhere between unreliable and partisan, needing significant caution in usage. I realise it's written a lot on the topic, so is firmly tempting, but do we have alternate sourcing that could be used in place of any of the DW's usage? If there isn't currently anything in the article, then I do believe there should be something on this added. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:18, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
There's the New York Times.[6] - I'm trying to work through almost 24 hours of a huge watchlist right now. Doug Weller talk 15:25, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
I've taken out the more partisan article (and its material is covered elsewhere) and reused the NYT source. That mitigates the bigger of the concerns. Luck with the watchlist! Nosebagbear (talk) 15:32, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
Snopes tends to have blurbs about satire if they gain enough traction (or using another term, too many people eating the onion). I'm not sure it needs to be a specific mention about BB, but maybe about satire in general? Zero Serenity (talk - contributions) 15:42, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps a couple of paragraphs on satire and a few lines on BB - it has enough sourcing that I think it would be DUE to include at least some content on it Nosebagbear (talk) 17:45, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 30 August 2019[edit]

"In 2012, 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." --This should be removed. is biased and unreliable. The article is written by a guy who spends all his time trying to discredit republican politicians. Not to mention, " from bias in all cases" Is this what you consider credible? Delete the line. It shouldn't be in an encyclopedia. (talk) 11:24, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

yellow tickY Partly done. I fixed the date given; it should have been 2009. As for the rest, umm, no. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 13:44, 30 August 2019 (UTC)
Not done Just because you hate that the site calls you and people you like out on your conspiracy theories, does not make the website illegitimate. Wikipedia is not a forum. GreenFrogsGoRibbit (talk) 22:16, 16 October 2020 (UTC)
" is biased and unreliable." -- No, it isn't. "The article is written by a guy who spends all his time trying to discredit republican politicians." -- False. Aside from it not being all his time, this is an assertion of motive that cannot be substantiated. It's not the fact-checker's fault if Republican politicians tell a vast number of lies. If reporting their lies discredits them, then that's hardly an inappropriate outcome. "Is this what you consider credible?" -- Yes. "It shouldn't be in an encyclopedia." -- Of course it should; it's an objective statement about what said about Snopes. -- Jibal (talk) 22:59, 26 December 2019 (UTC) is not a reliable source, this shouldn't even be controversial to say now. They have clearly been dishonest and misleading in enough of their reporting to be discounted as credible. (talk) 16:03, 10 January 2020 (UTC) is a highly respected, award winning site. It is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. O3000 (talk) 16:14, 10 January 2020 (UTC)
It's not controversial, because it is blatantly wrong. GreenFrogsGoRibbit (talk) 22:16, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

Trolls and bad editing[edit]

In January, 2019, some troll (no home or talk page) changed the lede from "is one of the first online fact-checking websites" to "claims to be one of the first online fact-checking websites", and marked this significant change as a "minor change" -- this was obvious vandalism, but did not get caught at the time. 11 months later, I spotted this baseless change and reverted it back to the former consensus-based text. But there's always got to be someone who can't leave well enough alone and can't be bothered to look at or understand the historical context, and such a person reverted my correction for no good reason and with no discussion here, then managed to realize that "claims to be" is nonsense and reverted himself, but couldn't leave well enough alone and ended up changing it to "is a fact-checking website"--a degradation of information for no good reason. (See the comment near the top of this page giving 5 different links identifying Snopes as one of the oldest online fact-checking sites.) I don't spend my life editing WP and I refuse to get into edit wars with this sort of incompetence, so I'm simply bringing this to the attention of others so it is understood how the article got to be the way it is. I won't comment further. -- Jibal (talk) 18:56, 27 December 2019 (UTC)

Perhaps this person was editing in good faith. WP:AGF. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 06:25, 11 January 2020 (UTC)
I saw this change and let it go because although it probably is the oldest I could find no source that verifies this. O3000 (talk) 11:43, 11 January 2020 (UTC)
Quoting from higher up on this very Talk page: "The following sources all categorize snopes as one of the oldest fact-checking sites: [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]." --Shadow (talk) 02:55, 2 May 2020 (UTC)

Funding addition[edit]

What the records do reveal, as any nasty marital dissolution will, are struggles over money and control. For at least some months in 2016, the records show, Snopes was pulling in more than $200,000 a month in advertising sales.

Am digging around for stuff not listed on the wiki site, whether there is veracity to the fraud allegations namely. 09:48, 1 November 2020 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)