Universe Episodes People Resources Encyclopedia Home Find Index Help

Lurker's Guide Help and FAQs

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.)

About the Guide

General information

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.

About the authors

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! :)

Who's JMS talking to?

The "JMS Speaks" sections of the episode guide pages are culled from executive producer J. Michael Straczynski's messages on various online services and the rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5 newsgroup. When he writes about an episode, he's often replying to a question from another user. This is frequently reflected in the wording of his replies, which can be a little disconcerting if you're not expecting it.

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.

Why isn't the guide page/synopsis/credits page filled in yet?

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.

Awards and accolades

(This section is mostly to satisfy my voracious ego. You should probably skip it.)

The Lurker's Guide, like the show, has attracted some positive attention from the world at large.

Linking to the Guide

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!)

Why aren't there links to the episodes that answer the unanswered questions on the guide pages?

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.

Why are there dates next to some of the entries on the guide pages?

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.)

Why aren't there recent dates next to entries on a guide page that changed recently?

See the previous question.

I want to mirror the Guide. How do I do it?

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.)

Will the Lurker's Guide cover "Crusade?"

Read all about it.

Why are there links to Amazon.com all over?

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.

Can you tell me...

Where to find episodes on video

Babylon 5 is available on videotape in Europe and the US. See the Guide's Products page for a complete rundown.

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.

When old episodes will be rerun

Naturally, this varies by country. In the US, rerun rights to Babylon 5 have been bought by the TNT cable network. They'll begin airing season 1 reruns in January 1998, concurrent with season 5. See the US/Canada episode list page for the latest information.

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.

When new episodes will be shown in my country

All the information I have about upcoming schedules appears on the various country-specific schedule pages. As soon as I have additional information about broadcasts in a particular country, I update the page in question. If you don't see anything about new episodes on your country's page, it means I haven't been told about future broadcast plans.

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!)

When the next episode / novel / comic / toy / etc. will be out

All the information I have about release dates is in the appropriate places in the Guide; I don't know anything about release dates that's not listed here. Check the episode list (or, if you're outside the US and Canada, the list for your country) for episode schedules, the novel index for information about the novels, the comic index for information about the comics... you get the idea. The table of contents is a useful page to know about.

What will happen to B5 after the story is done

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).

Where to get the font B5 uses

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.

Where and when B5 is on in my area

The most current information I have is on your country's schedule page. Check there first. If the information there is wrong for your area, your best bet is to check your local TV listings or, if B5 was previously on a particular station, to call that station and ask where it was moved. Then let me know what you find out so I can update the list.

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.

Why don't you have...

More Pictures

Understand that I'm in no way associated with the B5 production team. I don't have any access to production materials that the general public doesn't. In other words, you can get new high-quality pictures as easily as I can. If you do manage to scare up some official ones ("official" means anything released by Warner Bros.' publicity department, which generally includes anything in magazines) I'll happily accept them.

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.

More Sounds

Early on, when I decided to keep my synopsis and guide page images small, I also decided I wasn't going to have any sounds here. The primary concern is the same as the pictures: I don't want to reduce anyone's ability to sell a disk of licensed B5 sound clips, either before or after the fact. Unfortunately, there's not really an equivalent middle ground along the lines of keeping pictures small; you can't have a clip of just half a funny line, for instance, without it being useless.

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.

Video clips

See the "sounds" explanation.

Bios on the characters, more background info, etc.

These are a matter of time. It takes time and effort to write them up, and when I do have time to work on things for the guide, I generally have other items higher on my list. I'll happily accept donations, of course, if you have free time and can write well.

Complete guide pages for some older episodes

Some first-season episodes have pretty skimpy guide pages. Another matter of time. If you'd like to offer some contents for the pages, please do; otherwise they'll get filled in eventually.

A page that lists the modification times of all the guide pages

Actually, I do. Follow the "Modification Times" link at the top of the What's New page or the US episode list page and you'll see it.

How do I...

Add "This Week's Episode" to my hotlist?

When you select the "This Week's Episode" link from the home page, you're automatically sent to the guide page for the episode currently airing in the US and Canada. (For other countries, see the country list.) Unfortunately, if you select your browser's "Add to Hotlist" function, you'll add that particular episode's page.

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.

Send mail to JMS?

Before you send him mail, make sure you check the archives of his messages (you can search them using the Lurker's Guide's Find page.) Your question may have already been answered.

JMS can be reached at jmsatb5@aol.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 can't get to the fan club site. Help!

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 webmaster@thestation.com for assistance.

[Home] [Top] [Comments]

Last update: August 9, 1998