How did JMS come to be here in the first place

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Title: How did JMS come to be here in the first place
Creator: several fans, but notably Ron Jarrell and Chris Carter
Date(s): December 18, 1998
Medium: online
Fandom: Babylon 5
External Links: from a longer post discussion titled Well, JMS is gone - no need for rastb5.mod..., Archived version.
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How did JMS come to be here in the first place is question and excerpted comments on a December 1998 exchange among fans about J. Michael Straczynski's participation on

Some Topics Discussed

  • JMS's interaction with fans (history and tech info)
  • Rangers

Excerpts from the Discussion

The excerpts below are from a longer post discussion titled Well, JMS is gone - no need for rastb5.mod..., Archived version.

A fan named Chris Carter, not THAT Chris Carter [1] [2] , wrote:

> How did JMS come to be here in the first place

By using a newsreader and selecting this newsgroup to hang out in, just like you have.

Ron Jarrell, the founder of the Rangers, a fan group whose function was to filter fan posts on Usenet to J. Michael Straczynski replied to Carter, and others:

Hardly. In fact, it's only been recently, when he started spending more time on AOL that he even *had* a news reader; he's been online for years though. Since I was the one who got him onto usenet, I suppose I know the story better than anyone. Before the series was even a pilot, in fact, before he could even tell us what it's *name* was (It was referred to as TWCNBN; That Which Can Not Be Named) he was talking about it in general terms in a topic over on was then the heydey of GEnie - GEnie's Science Fiction Roundtable was pretty much hand down the most thriving online community of SF fans and pros; for a brief shining moment before GE ran it into the ground out of ignorance, fear, and stupidity... I was staff on the Internet Roundtable, and a regular visitor to the SFRT. Since I was working on the Internet mail gateway on GEnie, and had a full time job at a site that had a real internet connection, and a backbone news feed, I was in a position to offer to feed him the usenet discussion from alt.babylon5, and to relay back anything he wanted to post there. JMS was interested. I offered, actually, to set up a variety of easier methods than getting the entire newsgroups dumped into email, and JMS was using the least advanced way of reading GEnie email at the time, not wanting to be bothered with any of GEnie's front end programs. Due to a combination of not wanting to muck with, or allow others to muck with, his computer, and not wanting to impose any extra work on me, even if I was willing, he stuck with the low tech/high effort solution for a long long time.

The easiest way to do it was for me to set it up as a mailing list that relayed into the newsgroups; in fact, both those mailing lists are still there, pointing at new targets, one echoing the regular group, the other the mod group. Quite a few people read the group via one of those two mailing lists today, interestingly enough. Most places actually have a usenet feed now, and there are ways of getting to it if you don't, so there's less call for it, but it's there.

Anyway, thus began a long and happy exchange. Eventually many of us fought through an rfd for a rec group, and when that got created I swung JMS over to reading it, rather than alt. The posting of story ideas got to be a real concern, and JMS was also getting tired of the personal attacks of certain members of the group, and started talking about pulling out. (He was still reading via email, and replying the same way.) So there was a group of people that started talking about creating a mod group, which they hoped would keep him around, and another group, which I was part of, that really dislikes mod groups, particularly wit the way the technology works, and looked for other mechanisms. Thus was created what was called the Rangers (named after the show, not the other way around). We essentially "worked" for JMS (I say "worked" because we were a group of volunteers, the efforts of which he appreciated, not employees, but who's labors were directed towards him, and keeping him in the group). We read every single message, and approved then for being passed on to JMS's feed. If there was a story idea, the post got dropped from his feed. This worked for a few months, but the "kooks" were wearing him down. I actually offered, since we were filtering *anyway*, to add anyone he wanted to the list to be filtered out. He finally accepted (I pointed out that most everyone else on the net had access to kill files, he ought to be able to avail himself of the technology, and not feel he *had* to read everything!) but before we could implement it, he changed his mind and decided that the "feel" of the room was just to uncomfortable now, he was getting too many complaints from other members of the group about the personal attacks going on, and he felt responsible - they wouldn't be there if he wasn't. So he asked me to turn off his feed, and he'd pull back, and stay on GEnie, the original home of B5 fandom, Compuserve, and their new area on AOL (and a few bbs's he hung out on), which as commercial services had rules of conduct and moderators to enforce it.

This was the point that the group that wanted the mod group; of which Jay was a major proponent, and a regular correspondent with us in the Rangers, swung into high gear, and asked JMS if he'd consider coming back if they had an environment in which the rules of conduct prohibited the attacks, story ideas, and such, and had moderators to enforce it, and he said yes, he would feel comfortable with that. So the moderators started a long and hard fight to create the mod group, to create and environment which many had indeed asked for, and which would also get JMS back in. I fed JMS for a bit from the mod group, I think - at least I remember Jay asking me if I would, and I certainly set up the list, and am still using it. Don't really remember. It was about this point JMS started using AOL's newsreader function, and finally realized it was enough better than the mail feed that it was worth using it, and giving up one of the legal safeties of the mail feed. (By using the mail feed exclusively he could show he was only getting messages from a particular group; story ideas posted, oh, over in the uk group for instance, were something he *couldn't* see; by switching to a news reader, you could now argue that he *might* have seen it.)

And that's the saga of how JMS got here and why... We've now come full circle, through all the ups, and downs, to the end of the grand experiment, and now, tired, he moves on, like all first ones eventually do...


  1. ^ In 1994, JMS was excited by the possibility that it was Chris Carter who was on "From: [email protected] (Jms at B5), Subject: Church of Chris Carter WAS, To:, Date: 12/31/1994 11:49:00 AM: Waitaminnit...just wait one friggin' or is not the Chris Carter of who logs on here, to whom I've communicated on numerous occasions, THE Chris Carter of X-Files, or another? If the answer is "another," that's a *terrible* thing to do to me; if the answer is yes.... Yo! Chris! (waving arms) There are maybe two or three shows eachweek that I endeavor to catch; yours is one of them. Absolutely terrific. Terrific writing and performances, and some *very* nice cinematography and direction. Probably one of the best shows around. It's one of the few shows that, if we miss it, we'll call around to all our friends (both of them) and see if they taped X-Files. Good to see somebody else doing it *right* out there. jms -- , December 31, 1994
  2. ^ Turns out this Chris Carter was a fan in Portland, Oregon. -- Church of Chris Carter WA, December 31, 1994