See Also: [Babylon 5 FAQ] - [Table of Contents]
This document answers the most common questions I see in my capacity as maintainer of the Lurker's Guide. Before you send me mail, have a look at this list and see if your question is answered -- it'll save you the delay of waiting for my response (and if I'm busy, I might not reply to questions that're answered here.)
The Lurker's Guide is a volunteer effort encompassing documents maintained by many Babylon 5 fans, as well as a lot of original material not found elsewhere. It's not associated in any kind of official way with the show (but thanks for thinking so!)
It started off before the airing of the pilot movie as a simple HTMLized version of the Babylon 5 Frequently Asked Questions List, and in fact a lot of the FAQ List's text can still be found here. Once the series began airing, maintaining a huge monolithic document became impractical, and the Lurker's Guide was born.
The main thing you'll find in the Guide that didn't originate elsewhere is the extensive episode list with several pages for each episode. Each episode has a "guide page," with some generic, non-spoiler information (guest stars, airdate, brief description) at the top and spoilers below a dividing line. From the guide page you can jump to a synopsis, the credits, and so forth.
Steven Grimm is more or less the editor-in-chief of the Guide, pulling together all the pieces and doing some of the writing himself. But most of the credit goes to the Guide's many contributors, who include: (not a complete list)
On the episode guide pages, the guest stars' names are generally linked to their entries in the Internet Movie Database. Thanks to the IMDb for providing such a useful service.
Of course, the biggest credit of all goes to J. Michael Straczynski, without whom we'd all have a lot more free time! :)
Where required, I've tried to include some context to clarify what JMS is talking about. I don't, and don't plan to, include the original messages verbatim, both for space reasons (questions are frequently longer than JMS' responses) and because while JMS has given permission for his messages to be archived, not everyone else has.
When I judge that one of JMS' remarks can stand on its own, I generally include it in its entirety, even if it begins with text like, "You're right, Mary." If you feel one of his comments is incomprehensible because of lack of context, feel free to point it out to me.
First see the answer to the previous question.
All the information in the Guide, aside from the JMS quotes, is written or assembled by fans on a volunteer basis. Warner Bros. doesn't run this site, and we don't get official episode descriptions or press releases except indirectly via the net. So the simple answer is, if the episode hasn't aired yet, the page isn't filled in because we haven't seen the show.
Some of the volunteers see the episodes from the satellite uplink. Some see them the following weekend and don't have time to write their pages until the subsequent week. In general, all the pages tend to be filled in by two weeks after the initial satellite uplink to the US market.
The Lurker's Guide, like the show, has attracted some positive attention from the world at large.
You're welcome to put links to the Guide in your Web pages if you like; no need to ask permission. In fact, you can even use the Lurker's Guide icon from the Midwinter home page as your hotlink (remember the ALT text!)
That's a task I've set aside for myself for after the series is over. Until then it's simply too much work to have to go through all the old pages when a new episode shows up -- and I can never be entirely sure that the question has actually been answered as fully as it will be, since there are often nuances that don't emerge until further down the line.
Please don't take that to mean that I want people to tell me where to put the forward references -- this is really something I'd rather not undertake at all until the show is finished, at which point it'll be possible to do a much nicer job of it.
The dates appear next to entries that have been added in the last two weeks. They disappear automatically when an entry gets more than two weeks old. You can use the dates, in conjunction with the Modification Times page, to quickly see what's changed on a particular guide page. The dates are emphasized and enclosed in double brackets, so should stand out on any kind of browser.
I only mark an item as changed if there's been some change to the substance of the comment; spelling corrections and the like don't get datestamped. (But they'll still cause the page's modification time to be updated.)
See the previous question.
I appreciate your interest. At this point I have all the mirrors I want. Each additional mirror is a little extra work for me, and I'd rather spend my Guide time on the Guide itself.
If you want to make a local copy for your personal use, I don't have a problem with that -- and in fact, it effectively happens all the time, since you're making a local copy when you use a caching proxy HTTP server. That's probably the easiest way to go about it. (No, I can't help you set one up; ask your local webmaster or get one of the many books on Web site administration.)
Read all about it.
Linking to Amazon.com from the novel pages and elsewhere in the Guide serves a few purposes. First, it provides people with an easy way to get the books. Not everyone is in an area with bookstores that carry Babylon 5 novels and behind-the-scenes books. I've been ordering books from Amazon.com for some time now and have found them to be responsible and prompt.
Second, it gives readers a place to post comments about the books, and to read others' comments. Maintaining that sort of forum isn't something I have time to do within the Guide itself.
And third, yes, it puts a little money in my pocket. Once I decided it'd serve the Guide's readers to link to Amazon.com (and that consideration did come first) it seemed reasonable to join their associates program and link to them that way; it doesn't hurt the user experience at all, the writers and Warner Bros. are paid the same amount in royalties -- everyone wins.
I'm not in this for the money: I've turned down more offers from Web ad sales people than I can count, mostly because I think ad banners splattered all over the place would worsen the Guide (and, to a lesser extent, because it would present copyright and licensing issues I'm not interested in dealing with.) The links to Amazon.com, on the other hand, add something of value that wasn't here before, and can be justified purely as a benefit to the readers.
I can't direct you to someone who'll copy the episodes for you. For one thing, it's illegal, and for another, I simply don't have lists of people who want to copy videotapes. If you must, ask for help in this regard on the alt.tv.babylon5 newsgroup. Requests of this nature will be silently deleted if you mail them to me.
For information about other countries, check the schedule page for the country in question. All the information I have about reruns is on the schedule pages; if you don't see it there, I don't know about it.
If you're desperate for information, call the TV station or network that was showing the most recent batch of episodes and ask them if there's any news. (If there is, tell me so I can update the Guide!)
There is a followup series, "Crusade." It takes place after the events of the original series (not counting "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" and "Sleeping in Light," which are both set long after the rest of the story).
Babylon 5 uses the "Serpentine Medium" font for its onscreen credits and titles. The Lurker's Guide uses this font for many of its labels as well. Serpentine Medium is available from Adobe Systems. It is on their Type On Call CD-ROM and their Font Folio CD set, possibly others.
I cannot give you a copy of the font -- you have to buy it from Adobe if you want it.
TV stations don't notify me when they make schedule changes, so it'll do you no good to ask me about your local station's air time. As soon as I'm told about a schedule change, I change the station list to reflect it.
I do occasionally digitize some small stills from episodes to put in the guide pages and synopses. My rule of thumb there is that those pictures should be small enough that someone who wanted to get an official license to make a CD-ROM full of B5 images wouldn't lose business due to what I've done. I do not take requests -- getting set up to do the digitizing is something of a hassle, I only do it once every couple months, and I'd spend a solid week on my pause button if I grabbed all the frames people have requested.
Note that the people who write the synopses for the episodes are not the ones who grab the pictures -- the pictures are added after the fact as I find time to do it.
However, I have no qualms about listing other people's B5 pages in the guide, and if they happen to contain sounds, there's nothing I can (or should) do about it. You'll therefore find links to a couple sites with B5 sounds in the Other Resources section.
There are some audio and video clips in the /pub/Babylon-5/Clips directory on the FTP server; these were provided as promotional items by Warner Bros., and thus the above doesn't apply to them.
I'm unlikely to provide an archive file (zipfile, tarfile, whatever) of the entire Guide for offline viewing for a few reasons. First, it's not what the folks who contribute to the Guide signed up for, and I want to respect their intellectual property rights. Second, such an archive would probably tend to spread around pretty widely; as the master copy was updated there'd be old versions floating around, and I'd get mail about things I'd fixed or added months earlier. The guide changes a lot. Third, the time spent keeping it updated is time I wouldn't get to spend on the online version of the Guide.
If your browser allows you to edit your hotlist (most do), you can fix that
very easily. Add any episode's guide page to your hotlist, then edit the
page's URL. Replace everything after the last slash (a number followed by
".html", e.g. "
038.html") with "current.html" (no quotes.)
Then save your changes if your browser requires it.
JMS can be reached at email@example.com. Note that he gets a lot of mail, so don't take it personally if you don't get a reply -- there simply aren't enough hours in the day to answer all the questions people ask. Here's his request regarding private E-mail:
Every so often I have to go out with a policy note, so this is it. If you've seen this before, ignore it. If not....
Understand that my private email is reserved for matters that cannot be discussed pubicly, and extremely personal matters. It is not to be used for questions about plot, or character, or theme. Otherwise I end up answering the same question individually 50 times instead of answering it once publicly so 50 people can get the same information.
Do NOT send me jokes, humorous forwarded notes, chain letters, spam or other stuff. You may think, "Well, it's just me sending along one little joke," but bear in mind there are roughly 10.5 million "just me's" out there. My email is getting to be impossible to deal with. Unless there is an overwhelmingly good reason why a note should be sent via email instead of in a public forum...keep it public.
Particularly difficult is if someone sends me multiple notes after I reply once or twice, and if I don't respond to subsequent notes, gets annoyed at me. I reply if there is a reason to reply; if not, not.
Please understand that my private email is a privilege, and not to be flooded with casual story requests or jokes.
JMS reads the rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated newsgroup (try DejaNews if that link doesn't work.) Your questions are more likely to be answered if you ask there than if you try sending him mail directly; he prefers to answer questions in public so everyone can benefit, and so he doesn't get the same question over and over again.
He also frequents the B5 discussion areas on GEnie, CompuServe, and America Online; if you don't have Usenet access, you can try one of those places.
I don't run the fan club or its Web site; I just link to them as a service to the fans. If you're having trouble with the fan club site, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.