Byline Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Snopes.com's byline policy?

Content published on Snopes.com generally contains a byline in the header or footer of the page, often both, depicting who is responsible for the content presented.

In cases where no byline appears, you'll likely find an explanation within the frequently asked questions below.

Who is behind web pages without a byline?

As stated previously, content on the site will usually bear a traditional byline. However, many web pages on Snopes are for functional, navigational, and marketing purposes and will not have a distinct byline.

Any web pages without a byline are created and maintained by the Snopes product staff in strict consultation with the newsroom.

Who is behind the 'Snopes Staff' byline?

Writers have the generic "Snopes Staff" byline at their disposal when writing stories that elicit unusual vitriol, such as so-called "satire" posts, or are about subjects that are particularly volatile, such as abortion.

Who is behind the 'Team Snopes' and 'Snopes Press' byline?

These bylines are used by staff fulfilling the marketing and communications aspects of our mission. The content is approved by members of Snopes management and written from the voice and perspective of the company.

Who is behind the 'Snopes Management' byline?

Generally speaking, this byline is used for posts written by senior managers. At the time of this writing (late 2021), that included CEO David Mikkelson, COO Vinny Green, and Managing Editor/VP of Editorial Doreen Marchionni.

Who is behind the 'Snopes' byline?

Years ago, before Snopes.com had an effective content management system, all pages on the site were authored by David Mikkelson or by his then-spouse, Barbara Mikkelson, under the pseudonym "Snopes." While David’s name didn’t appear on any posts, Barbara’s name appeared explicitly in the footer of each post. 

When Snopes.com was finally migrated into WordPress, all content was moved and stored in the new database using the default pseudonym/username "Snopes," which appears now as ”David Mikkelson” on our website. Every migrated post from that era eventually ended up under the Snopes/David byline here: http://snopes.com/author/snopes.

Unfortunately, this put all of Barbara Mikkelson's work under that generic "Snopes" username with David’s byline, along with a smattering of other content requiring a different attribution. As a result, we have been working over the years to move any suitable posts to their own byline. Barbara’s archive now spans several pages, and it will continue to grow as we modernize our archives. https://www.snopes.com/author/barbara-mikkelson/ 

We intend to retire the “Snopes” pseudonym and username used for David’s work and migrate his direct contributions to a dedicated byline under his real name.

The Mikkelsons amassed over 10,000 articles during their tenure. We will continue to invest in validating and preserving their important work. 

Who is behind the 'Jeff Zarronandia' byline?

The byline "Jeff Zarronandia" was created in October of 2015. Co-Founder David Mikkelson described this pseudonym to BuzzFeed “... as kind of a stress-relief thing [after] spending 20 years seeing people … just making stuff up about us,” and that he wanted to watch people invent “reasons why this nonexistent persona is biased.” 

Importantly, our staff receives a considerable amount of hate mail and threats, and the “Jeff” account, though not used by anyone other than Mikkelson as far as we can tell, was intended as a “staff” account deployable by anyone to deflect some of the vitriol away from assignment writers (and to get a laugh when people pick a fight with a pseudonym).

The use of a pseudonym was not a secret but an inside joke. With David as the publisher of Snopes.com, famous for his own pseudonym, the “Jeff” account was a pretty Snopes-y thing to David’s first-time staffers who joined after he split from Barbara.

In 2016, at David’s direction, Snopes moved to professionalize its publishing efforts and to pursue more serious reporting work. Snopes covered its first election with a bona fide editorial staff, and new, more serious fact-checking opportunities cropped up, like membership in the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). By December 2016, David instructed that the "Jeff" pseudonym and its function be replaced with a generic “Snopes Staff” profile for anyone to use going forward.