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I was thinking of doing a short talk about Skeptics.SE at a local Skeptics event, and a question occurred to me:

Does Skeptics Stack Exchange have more answered questions than Snopes?

I suspect the answer is yes, but I have no evidence.

Anyone want to take on the research challenge to prove it?

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  • I don't claim Skeptics.SE is as popular as, or has the brand-recognition of, Snopes. I suspect it has more answered questions. Skeptics.SE has over 2400 people with a reputation of greater than 101 - i.e. who have contributed at least one question or answer. Snopes has two contributors.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 1 '15 at 13:56
  • Rep >101 might be an edit or two, not necessarily a question or answer.
    – cpast
    May 4 '15 at 2:33
  • @cpast: Drat. You are right. I tried to think of anything else, from memory, that might get rep, but couldn't. I'm going to wave my hands to hide the flub, and argue that editors are contributors too!
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 4 '15 at 2:45
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For the sake of this question, a gentle reminder that answered questions are defined in StackOverflow as:

Answered questions have at least one answer with one upvote.

A question with answers having a non-positive vote is not considered an answered question.


First, we need to answer this question:

How many answered questions does skeptics.se has?

Going through data.stackexchange.com:

enter image description here

One can see that, as of 26 April 2015 skeptics.se has:

  • 5.6k questions.

Going through skeptics.stackexchange.com/unanswered:

enter image description here

One can see that, skeptics.se has:

  • 0.75k unanswered questions.

If you do the math, we have:

  • 5.6k - 0.75 = 4.85K answered questions.

Now we answer this question:

How many articles does Snopes have?

In a study published by Facebook called Rumo Cascades, it published here said:

To track the spread of rumors on Facebook, we need two types of information: a corpus of known rumors, and a sam- ple of reshare cascades circulating on Facebook which can be matched to the corpus. The website Snopes.com has documented thousands of rumors, and provides the starting point for our data collection.

The study went on saying that:

We retrieved from the Snopes website two classifications of the rumors they have covered and analyzed. The first is the veracity, which includes “true” and “false”, but also a range of intermediate or orthogonal values, i.e. partly true, multiple truth values, unclassifiable, undetermined, and legend. We also retrieved the broad thematic category Snopes assigned to the rumor, e.g. Politics, Food, “Fauxtos”, etc. Aftter sanitizing the corpus — merging duplicate entries and removing entries with contradictory information — there remained 4,761 distinct rumors.

In total, it is estimated that Snopes.com has debuked 4.7K distinct rumors; according to the Facebook report.

Summary:

  • Skeptics.se ≈ 4.85K rumors
  • Snopes.com ≈ 4.7K rumors

This shows how skeptics.se has been tremendously successful in the following years, beating snopes.com!

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We have 2,762 questions with an accepted answer (ref)

Furthermore we have 4,514 questions with at least an answer (ref)

Not all askers accept an answer, and this puts the number of "truly" answered questions between these two numbers, conservatively we can assume around 3k answered questions on skeptics.

Snopes has about 11,700 pages indexed by google (ref), but this includes the old forums, other informational pages and two copies for each "rumor" (one for print and one for screen).

Assuming that all rumors have a printable version reduces this total to 2,130 (ref)

This is not incompatible with the more imprecise 3,710 I get by simply filtering out printable versions, old forums and "info" pages (ref).

Assuming they didn't hide stuff from Google, I estimate Snopes to have 2.5k rumors.

In conclusion: we have more answered questions than Snopes by a margin of 10-20%.

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  • 1
    Seems like the two numbers are within each others margin of error.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 1 '15 at 13:50
  • 1
    Our estimate is "2.7k-4.5k", theirs is "2.1k-3.7k". While there is some overlap, we seem to be consistently 600-800 questions over them.
    – Sklivvz
    May 1 '15 at 13:53
  • @georgechalhoub site:snopes.com includes the forums, which are not the "rumours" we are talking about. It's a bad query. Secondly I do specify "Assuming they don't hide stuff from Google". Vote away, but your comment is plain wrong.
    – Sklivvz
    May 1 '15 at 14:31

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