So many of my readers / followers have been asking me, “what is a snopester?” Though, usually with snopester spelled wrong. This post is to clear that up.
A snopester is someone who is a member of the Urban Legends Message Board (ULMB), located at snopes.com. This message board has about 1050 people who have registered AND posted at least a few times, though I have found that many people are very active posters here. I am infinitely jealous of them, though I’ve given up my dream of trying to post over 10,000 times. Heck, if I make it to 1,000 by the end of the year I’ll be astonished.
The snopes.com website was founded by Barbara and David Mikkelson, a husband and wife team who live and work in the Los Angeles area. What they began in 1995 as an expression of their shared interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources. Snopes.com is routinely included in annual “Best of the Web” lists and has been the recipient of two Webby awards. The Mikkelsons have made multiple appearances as guests on national news programs such as 20/20, ABC World News, CNN Sunday Morning, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and they and their work have been profiled in numerous major news publications, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and an April 2009 Reader’s Digest feature (“The Rumor Detectives“) published as part of that magazine’s “Your America: Inspiring People and Stories” series.
I discovered snopes back in 2002 when a co-worker of my mom’s brought in a printout of this Urban Legend. WARNING, some mildly graphic photos (Snopesters reading this – it’s the “Bear Hunt” legend). I have the link here, because this is the page that started my total addiction to this website. I’ve read about 90% of ALL the UL’s on the site, and at one point had this one memorized! (It’s not only my FAVORITE UL, but also my favorite ghost story)
For a more “tame” example of a UL, please go here.
As for the ULMB, it’s where Snopesters interact. Here’s the thread that should get you started. It’s your standard message board, but also in that fashion everyone gets very close. Not only do we talk about Urban Legends, but PLENTY of other things! Please feel free to browse and enjoy!
The most important thing I can say that makes me a Snopester, is requiring EVIDENCE when presented with some claim. This can be any claim from a news article, to an explanation of some event by a person who was there. The point being, there must be some piece of FACT (scientifically proven) to show that the item is not simply made up and being passed around. Photos are not counted as fact, and many times are actually what’s being disputed.
There you have it folks, the basic definition of a Snopester.
August 2014 Edited to add:
The concept of requiring non-biased evidence to support a claim made has evolved through my discovery and subscription to the Skeptoid podcast. Brian Dunning represents the level of critical thinking that I strive to achieve.