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Website / Snopes

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"Rumor Has It"
The tagline

Snopes (aka the Urban Legends Reference Page) is very nearly the definitive website for busting urban legends and chain emails. They really have Shown Their Work, and while some things simply don't answer to proof or disproof, it's possible to demonstrate that some claims couldn't possibly be true.

So when someone sends you some stupid email, or posts on Facebook saying "Bubble Yum is made of spider eggs!" point them to the right place to figure out that no, it isn't. Or that "Amanda Bundy needs your prayers!" (she recovered years ago). Or, what about Craig Shergold? You know, the boy who was collecting greeting cards years ago? Well… Snopes checked, and Mr. Shergold made a full recovery, grew into a healthy young man and — having collected upwards of 33 million greeting cards — respectfully requested that people stop sending them.

Tropes present:

  • Bizarre Beverage Use: This article is about photographs of men bathing in milk with an invitation to also bathe in it. It turns out to have been a prank.
  • Blatant Lies: Reading this site is a fast way to learn never, ever to trust a forwarded email. Many of the hoaxes documented have never had even a grain of truth at their hearts. Even the ones marked "true" are relative, as every single accompanying email has at least some lying and embellishment.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A Real Life example here, which shows a letter informing students of the Adlai E. Stevenson High school that they can donate money to the school in exchange for being pardoned for tardiness or bad grades. Thankfully, it's fake.
  • Chain Letter: The emails recorded on the site generally ask people to forward it to everyone they know. They don't specify a quota or threaten bad luck (usually† ), but still push the urgency.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Some of the chain emails that they investigate are conspiracy theories. Among other things, they have examined and debunked the "Clinton body count" list, theories about Barack Obama's birthplace, and various 9/11 theories.
    • Of course, don't tell such theorists to check Snopes - they're obviously part of the conspiracy (regardless of what said conspiracy is).
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: A small but non-negligible percentage of the Urban Legends they've researched actually turn out to be true. A prime example is this story of FBI agents trying to order pizza in an asylum— sounds like a joke, but to their astonishment it was confirmed by the FBI. As the site's authors observe:
    "…no matter how bizarre, far-fetched, or incredible a story may seem at first glance, it should never be entirely discounted without at least some effort being made to verify it."
  • Dumb Crooks: One urban legend that surprisingly turned out to be true was of robber attempting to rob a gun store and getting shot for it. Details about how many times he was shot and how many people shot him tend to get exaggerated in the telling, but the base story is true. And weirdly enough, the most outlandish detail (that there was a marked police cruiser parked outside the would-be robber HAD to have noticed) was also true.
  • Easy Road to Hell: A common urban legend about a paper made on whether hell is endothermic or exothermic states that hell must be really hot and getting worse because everyone has been cursed to go to hell by at least someone else in the world... and because he's not yet slept with a woman who once said it'll be a cold day in Hell before she does.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: The famed Taco Bell $2 Bill story.
  • Falsely Advertised Accuracy: invoked "The Repository of Lost Legends" ("TROLL") intentionally makes false claims of accuracy, advancing claims like "Mister Ed was really a zebra" to remind the readers that something can look authoritative and well researched and still be bullshit.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Repository of Lost Legends.
  • Glurge: A whole section on it, in-universe (and they are the Trope Namer).
  • Literal Money Metaphor: Silo (a chain of home electronics stores) ran a commercial offering home stereo systems for "299 bananas". In context, they clearly meant 299 US dollars, but several customers came in bearing bushels of fruit. While they probably had a legal case to refuse the alternative payment, they instead decided it'd be better PR to make good on their unwitting offer and accept the bananas.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Barbara "one-liner relevant to the legend" Mikkelson signs her articles with such a phrase. Back in the days when she and her husband David were the sole authors of the site, that signature (or absence thereof) was the way of identifying who wrote the article.
  • Memetic Mutation: invoked This is discussed often as the means by which the online rumors and stories spread.
  • Mistaken for Thief: Several articles are about people with missing belongings seeing people with a similar belonging and thinking that person stole it.
  • Parental Favoritism: An accidental case in the story of a little boy who goes through with a blood transfusion to save his sister, thinking it will kill him. While the story is presented as an example of a selfless sibling, the author ends the examination by pointing out that the boy wasn't confused and horrified when he thought his parents were sacrificing him to save his sister.
  • Poe's Law: Many of the rumors cited are ostensibly news articles but are actually from parody or satirical "news" sources. The Onion, The Daily Currant, and Weekly World News are common offenders.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Quite a few Urban Legends archived and discussed here have such teachers, typically involving them teaching a lesson to their students or getting into a fracas with a student of a different political alignment, sometimes portrayed positively, sometimes negativelynote . A few examples (of varying degrees of truth) include a professor giving his students a hands-on lesson about socialism, a teacher having veterans come into her class to impart patriotism to her students, and a Hollywood Atheist professor attempting to disprove the existence of God... by dropping a piece of chalk.
  • Punctuation Changes the Meaning: The site examines the urban legend that a man sued the telegraph company (and won) after they omitted a single comma from his message. According to the story, his wife was on vacation and an expensive piece of jewelry caught her eye, so she sent a message asking if she could buy it. The man replied "No, price too high", but the telegraph operator instead sent the message "No price too high."
  • Schmuck Bait: The Repository of Lost Legends (T. R. O. L. L.), which purports to be just as true as the rest of the site. It isn't, and is designed to remind people that even seemingly authoritative sources, themselves included, can sometimes be fallible or inaccurate.
  • Shown Their Work: Back when it was driven almost entirely by the Mikkelsons, they always made sure to cite their sources when proving or debunking an urban legend. Now that more authors work for the site, source-listing has grown spottier.
  • Side-by-Side Demonstration: The "How to Tell the Difference Between Organic and GMO Eggs" article shows a photo of hardboiled "organic" and "GMO" eggs side by side. The "organic" egg has a golden yolk, while the "GMO" egg has a grey-green yolk. The claim was declared false partly because GMO eggs don't really exist, and partly because differences in colour were because the eggs had been cooked differently. The "organic" egg had been properly cooked while the "GMO" egg had been overcooked (in any overcooked egg a grey-green iron sulphide ring forms around the yolk and causes discolouration).
  • Understatement: "Borneo is a fair distance from Palm Beach."
  • Urban Legends: Your top go-to source for debunking all those things you heard from someone who has a friend whose aunt…
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Charlie Chaplin lost a Chaplin look-alike contest. This one's actually marked as true.

Alternative Title(s): Snopes Dot Com