|Type of site||Reference pages|
|Registration||Required only on forums|
|Owner||Barbara and David P. Mikkelson|
|Created by||Barbara and David P. Mikkelson|
Snopes.com (pronounced /ˈsnoʊps/), officially the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a web site discussing urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards, and other stories of uncertain or questionable origin. It is the best-known resource for validating and debunking such stories in American popular culture.
Snopes is run by Barbara and David Mikkelson, a California couple who met on the alt.folklore.urban newsgroup. The site is organized according to topic and includes a message board where stories and pictures of questionable veracity may be posted. The Mikkelsons also founded the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society, and were credited as the owners of the site until 2005.
David Mikkelson used the username "snopes" (the name of a family of often unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner) in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban. Barbara Hamel was also a prolific poster. The Mikkelsons created the Snopes site in 1995. Barbara and David now work on the site full time. A television pilot based on the site called Snopes: Urban Legends was completed with American actor Jim Davidson as host, but major networks passed on the project.
Snopes aims to debunk or confirm widely spread urban legends. The site has been referenced by news media and other sites, including CNN, FOX news, MSNBC and Australia's ABC on its 'Media Watch' program. Snopes's popular standing is such that some chain e-mail hoaxes claim to have been "checked out on 'Snopes.com'" in an attempt to discourage readers from seeking verification. As of March 2009, the site has around 6.2 million visitors per month.
The Mikkelsons have 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 confirmations as well. Although they claim to research their topics heavily and provide references when possible, not all of their sources (especially personal interviews, phone calls, or e-mails) are fully verifiable. Where appropriate, pages are generally marked "undetermined" or "unverifiable" if the Mikkelsons feel there is not enough evidence to either support or disprove a given claim. The Mikkelsons say many of the urban legends are mistakenly attributed because of common problems associated with e-mail signatures. 
In an attempt to demonstrate the perils of over-reliance on authority, the Mikkelsons assembled a series of fabricated urban folklore tales that they term The Repository of Lost Legends. (The name was chosen for its acronym, T.R.O.L.L., a reference to the early 1990s definition of the word troll to mean an Internet prank, of which David Mikkelson was a prominent practitioner.)
One fictional legend averred that the children's nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence" was really a coded reference used by pirates to recruit members. This parodied a real false legend surrounding the supposed connection of "Ring Around the Rosie" to the bubonic plague. Although the creators were sure that no one could believe a tale so ridiculous — and had added a link at the bottom of the page to another page explaining the hoax, and a message with the ratings reading "Note: Any relationship between these ratings and reality is purely coincidental" — eventually the legend was featured as true in an urban legends board game and television show. The television show, Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed, was shown to have been using information from Snopes when one of Snopes' invented "lost legends" appeared on the program as true.
In 2007, the Snopes site featured pop-up ads for the controversial Zango adware product. Snopes stopped serving the ads in January 2008, after criticism from tech sites, security experts and users.
Snopes receives more complaints that it is too liberal than that it is too conservative, but insists that it applies the same debunking standards to all political stories. FactCheck 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. FactCheck noted that Barbara Mikkelson was a Canadian citizen (and thus unable to vote in American elections) and David Mikkelson was an independent who was once a registered Republican. "You’d be hard-pressed to find two more apolitical people," David Mikkelson told them.