Monthly B5JMS FAQ

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Fri May 2 06:11:48 EDT 1997

	     The B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST Mailing Lists FAQ Lists
		      Copyright 1996, 1997 B5JMS Poster
				Version 1.4


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- corrected Lurker's guide URL in Q26
- subscribership updated in Q29


### Section A: General
Q1  Who are you?  What do you want?  Why are you here?
Q2  What is B5JMS?
Q3  What is B5JMS-DIGEST?
Q4  Is this an open or closed list?
Q5  What is included in these lists?
Q6  What is the structure of USENET posts to B5JMS?

### Section B: Majordomo
Q7  What is Majordomo?
Q8  How do I send requests to Majordomo?
Q9  How do I get general help on Majordomo?
Q10 How do I subscribe to B5JMS?
Q11 How do I subscribe with an alternate email address?
Q12 How do I unsubscribe?
Q13 How do I unsubscribe my old email address from my new job?
Q14 How do I change from one email address to a new one?
Q15 How do I get info on the list?
Q16 How do I find out if I am subscribed, and to which list?
Q17 I still don't know under what email addresses I am subscribed?

### Section C: List Problems
Q18 I lost some mail at my site.  How do I get those posts back?
Q19 I used to be subscribed, and I just verified that I am not.  What gives?
Q20 I'm getting duplicates.  I'm getting duplicates.
Q21 I'm not getting any messages for several days.
Q22 The volume of messages is too much and my quota is full.
Q23 I replied to one of the B5JMS messages but JMS never saw it.

### Section D: Miscellaneous
Q24 How do I send a message to JMS?
Q25 How do I send a message to the moderated newsgroup?
Q26 Where can I find more information about B5?
Q27 I have information from JMS which I'd like to post to B5JMS.
Q28 I have comments on the structure of your script-generated threads.
Q29 What is the history of B5JMS?
Q30 Are you in charge of the newsgroups or other forums?
Q31 I have comments on this FAQ.

### Section A: General

*Q1 Who are you?  What do you want?  Why are you here?

My name is B5JMS Poster, and I am the maintainer of the B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST
lists.  My email address for anything related to these two lists is

	b5jms-owner at

This is *not* the email address to send un/subscription requests.  See Q10-Q11

What I want is to spread the word of Babylon 5 as much as possible, so as to
see more seasons of the show, new spinoffs and movies based on it.  I
believe that my list helps people get just the right amount of information.
In my opinion there is too much poor quality shows and SF on TV, and Babylon
5 is one shining beacon in that space in need of our help to survive and

I am here because the universe has chosen an avid Babylon 5 fan with the
right mixture of technical computer science skills, and sufficient access to
resources, to enable this list to exist.
*Q2 What is B5JMS?

B5JMS is a mailing list which will send you posts from JMS (Joe Michael
Straczynski), the executive producer and creator of Babylon 5).  Messages on
B5JMS are sent as soon as they are available.  See Q10 below for
subscription information.

*Q3 What is B5JMS-DIGEST?

B5JMS-DIGEST is a digest form of B5JMS.  Messages to B5JMS digest are sent
when more than 40,000 characters (bytes) are collected.  Normally this means
one digest on a slow week, or 2-3 digests during busy weeks.

>From this point on, unless otherwise indicated, anything I say about B5JMS
also applies to B5JMS-DIGEST.

*Q4 Is this an open or closed list?

B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST are open-subscription lists.  That is, anyone can
automatically subscribe to or unsubscribe from either or both of them, using
the email address they came from.  You cannot, however, un/subscribe someone
else or even a different email address you have.  If you ask for such a
request, that request is sent to me, the lists' maintainer, for approval.
Normally I do simple verification and then approve the request within 24-48

B5JMS is a closed-posts list.  You cannot post messages to B5JMS, unless you
are an approved moderator of it.  At the moment only the people who collect
messages from JMS can post to B5JMS.  Besides, there's no need for anyone
else to post to it.  Most people who think they want to post to B5JMS really
intend to post their messages to JMS or one of the newsgroups, and that can
and should be done directly from the subscriber's site, not through my
lists.  See Q24-Q25 below on how to post to rastb5 and how to ask JMS a

*Q5 What is included in these lists?

The messages on B5JMS come from various sources:

- I collect JMS' messages from (rastb5m,
the USENET newsgroup) and correlate them to the messages he replied to, with
the use of my automatic scripts of course.

- Brent Barrett and John Hardin collect JMS messages from Compuserve (CIS),
and send out "JMS on CIS" digests.

- David Strauss collects messages on AOL when they are available.  Note that
Genie digests do not include the message JMS replied to.  They are posted in
B5JMS because I still think they are useful, and better than not having any.
If you are willing to help in the effort of collecting JMS messages on Genie
(correlating replies to original posts, receiving posting permissions,
dealing with copyrights), please let me know and I will get you in touch
with the right people.

Only the messages I collect on USENET are small and short.  The other ones I
get from CIS and AOL come in digest form, each of them, and are usually
longer.  For mostly legal reasons, and the effort involved, I am unable to
separate these CIS/AOL digests into heir individual messages.  It is through
the efforts of Brent and others, that I am able to post these digests to
B5JMS. (Thanks folks!)

So what happens is that B5JMS gets individual messages from USENET and
CIS/AOL digests.  That oddity causes some B5JMS subscribers to think that
they are on B5JMS-DIGEST.  B5JMS-DIGEST gets everything in digest form, and
since it includes he CIS/AOL pre-made digests, it is in many ways a digest
of digests.

*Q6 What is the structure of USENET posts to B5JMS?

Posts which come from USENET that I've collected using my scripts have a
definite and recognizable structure.  It was designed to be as terse as
possible yet not miss any vital information.  Here is an example:

 Subject: Re: What Do the Shadows want?
  No. | DATE        |  FROM
 s  1: Aug 19, 1996: Steve A. Ustin <super at>
 -  9: Aug 20, 1996: Martha S. Vineyard <mvine at>
 - 10: Aug 20, 1996: Joe M. Straczynski <jmsatb5 at>
 + 22: Aug 22, 1996: davegl at (David G. O'Lite)
 * 23: Aug 22, 1996: Joe M. Straczynski <jmsatb5 at>

The above is just the top of the message.  After that you will get a
printing of all the messages which are not marked with a '-' in the first
column of the listing above.  The actual messages include the "From:" field,
the number of lines in each, and then the message itself.  Each mini-message
in a B5JMS message thread is separated by a one-line string of alternating
'-' and '=' symbols.

The header part above means the following:

- the subject of the thread is "What do the Shadows Want?"

- there were 23 messages in that thread.

- Out of 23 messages in the thread, only five of them were selected as
important to the thread.  These include the first message in the thread, all
of JMS' messages, and the messages immediately preceding JMS'.  All other
messages are ignored, but since I actually print the index numbers according
to the thread, you can tell roughly how large is that thread.  In the above
example, there were 11 messages not listed or included between JMS' first
message on the thread and his second.

- the first (start) message is always included, and is marked with an 's' if
it came from a regular user or an upper-case 'S' if it came from JMS.  The
first message is always included because it is the most likely one that
started the thread and best describes what the thread is all about.

- Each message from JMS which is actually included is marked with a '*'.

- Each message preceding JMS' message is also included.  It is very likely
that the message right before JMS' is the one he is replying to, and if not,
it is almost always on topic, and further help to explain the subject of
the thread and JMS' own reply.  Such messages are marked with a '+'.

- Messages which have been seen before in the same thread (because JMS had
replied to them more than once) are marked with a '-' and are not repeated.
Only the authors of these messages are mentioned in the top listing.  This
saves on repeating old messages, and is especially useful when JMS
participates multiple times in a long thread.

- All other messages are not listed or included because they take too much
space and add very little to the thread itself.  Remember that the purpose
of B5JMS is to show only messages from JMS with context, not whole
discussions.  If you want the latter, I suggest you subscribe to the rastb5m

### Section B: Majordomo

*Q7 What is Majordomo?

Majordomo is a popular mailing list processor written in Perl/C by Brent
Chapman.  It has many commands to assist list maintainers like myself manage
the volume of requests, and configure the list to my liking.  Majordomo is
the list processor software used to manage B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST.

*Q8 How do I send requests to Majordomo?

All list related requests must be sent to this address:

	majordomo at

Majordomo only looks at the body of the message, not the subject line!  In
the body of the message, you list your requests, one per line.

Remember that whenever you see B5JMS in the next few "how to" questions, you
can use "b5jms-digest" instead.

*Q9 How do I get general help on Majordomo?

Send this message body to majordomo at


*Q10 How do I subscribe to B5JMS?

Send this message body to majordomo at

	subscribe b5jms

*Q11 How do I subscribe with an alternate email address?

Send this message body to majordomo at

	subscribe b5jms john.doe at some.dom.ain

*Q12 How do I unsubscribe?

Send this message body to majordomo at

	unsubscribe b5jms

*Q13 How do I unsubscribe my old email address from my new job?

Send this message body to majordomo at

	unsubscribe b5jms john.doe at some.dom.ain

*Q14 How do I change from one email address to a new one?

Send this two-line message body to majordomo at

	unsubscribe b5jms my.old.addr at
	subscribe b5jms at

*Q15 How do I get info on the list?

Send this message body to majordomo at

	info b5jms

*Q16 How do I find out if I am subscribed, and to which list?

Send this message body to majordomo at


or if you want to test if you are subscribed with a particular email
address, send this message body to majordomo at

	which john.doe at

*Q17 I still don't know under what email addresses I am subscribed?

You can get the full list of all subscribers in both B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST.
Send this two-line message body to majordomo at

	who b5jms
	who b5jms-digest

After you get the subscriber lists, you can search them using a variety of
methods until you find what you were looking for.

PRIVACY NOTE: I specifically allow Majordomo to report back the full
subscribership in my lists, to anyone who asks for it.  This is to be used
only to find if you are subscribed to it.  I disallow anyone from using this
list to promote any particular agenda I do not approve of in writing, such
as sending individual subscribers junk mail, promotion/purchase offers,
selling lists of names, etc.  So far it hasn't happened, and I hope it never
will, but I have to be prepared.

### Section C: List Problems

*Q18 I lost some mail at my site.  How do I get those posts back?

Use FTP to get archive copies of "B5JMS":

To get archive copies of "B5JMS-DIGEST":

If you don't know what FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is or how to use it,
please consult your local system administrator or Internet guru.

*Q19 I used to be subscribed, and I just verified that I am not.  What gives?

Occasionally, I am forced to unsubscribe some people from the list.  This is
done as a last resort action after I've exhausted all others options.  It
happens when people's mail servers are broken for a long period of time
(over one week), and I get many bounces which clearly indicate that the
user's account no longer exists at that site.

Worse off, there are many non-Unix and non-compliant mail-servers out there,
and even more system administrators who do not know how to configure them
correctly.  This often results in lost mail and bounces back to me.  I get
on average 50-100 bounces each day and I try to deal with most of them.
But, when I see some that have been going on for a long time, and are
clearly the result of a "bad" or misconfigured SMTP (Simple Mail transfer
Protocol) agents, I will unsubscribe all users from that site and save
myself any future hassle.

The Internet is based on mutual trust and standards.  Particularly bad are
sites which are so hideously misconfigured or use buggy mail-servers, that
bounces from those sites return to the list itself, and wind up getting
posted there without my approval!  I take extreme prejudice with such sites,
and unsubscribe all users from it immediately.  This may seem severe
punishment but consider that one such site could result in the bombardment
of over 2000 other subscribers with undesired mail.  Hence my reaction.

There, I feel better now, having alleviated some of my frustrations of
large list maintenance... :-)

*Q20 I'm getting duplicates.  I'm getting duplicates.

First verify that you are not subscribed more than once in B5JMS or
B5JMS-DIGEST.  See Q16-Q17 above for how to check on that.

If that did not help, send me (b5jms-owner at the
complete messages with all headers intact.  It is very important that I get
the hidden mail headers of the message included.  Of particular interest to
me are the "Message-ID:" and "Received:" headers.  Without them, I cannot
track the message and cannot determine if a problem was on my end, your end,
or somewhere en route.

*Q21 I'm not getting any messages for several days.

First verify that you are still subscribed to B5JMS or B5JMS-DIGEST.  See
Q16 above for how to check on that.

Then check to see if there had been any messages posted to B5JMS at all for
the past few days.  There are times when JMS is so busy at work that he does
not have time to read and reply on CIS or USENET.  When JMS is not active
online, there are no messages on B5JMS.  See Q18 above on how to find if
there had been messages on B5JMS.

If there had been messages posted to B5JMS and you are subscribed, yet you
are not receiving messages, send me (b5jms-owner at
a note and I'll try to see where the problem might be.

*Q22 The volume of messages is too much and my quota is full.

Sorry, I cannot help you there.  During busy periods, especially when new
episodes hit the air, there is lots of discussion.  This could result in a
dozen or more messages to B5JMS each day.  If you have a small mail quota,
and you go on an extended vacation (can you hear me AOL folks? :-), you can
easily fill in your mailbox.  Make sure you have enough space for all of the
messages which may come in, or simply read and then delete B5JMS messages as
soon as they arrive.

Remember that if you lose any B5JMS messages for any reason, you can
retrieve them at any later date.  See Q18 above for details.

*Q23 I replied to one of the B5JMS messages but JMS never saw it.

Replies to B5JMS mail are set to automatically return to me, the list
maintainer (b5jms-owner at  There really is no
other place more suitable than that, since many people participate directly
or indirectly in messages which appear on B5JMS.  So if you trivially reply
to such a message, it may go to me.  When I am very busy, I tend to ignore
such misdirected mail.  When I'm not, I kindly point the subscribers at the
right place.

This information is summarized at the bottom of every B5JMS post, so there
is no reason anyone should have missed it.

### Section D: Miscellaneous

*Q24 How do I send a message to JMS?

The best way to get to JMS is to post your message to the moderated B5
newsgroup ( and by prepending "ATTN JMS:"
to the Subject line of your message.  You can post to rastb5m via any Usenet
News software you have available, or by sending email to
b5mod at (the old and defunct address was
rastb5 at  When you post to rastb5m for the first time, you will
get an auto-reply which asks you to "validate" your approval of the
auto-moderation charter.  Follow the instructions from there.  (Also ask
your local system administrator on how to read USENET newsgroups.)

JMS had asked that people not send him private mail, unless the question is
personal, confidential, or something you would not want to say on the
Internet in general.  If and only if your question falls into one of these
categories, you can mail JMS at his preferred personal email address:
straczynski at

Note that I do not control the moderated newsgroup.  I am just passing along
this information.

In addition, here are some additional tips how to get JMS' attention.  JMS
does not answer every question, esp. questions he had answered before many
times ("why was Sinclair fired?") or when he is busy (e.g. when production
is in full gear).  He tends to ignore questions that ask for blatant
spoilers ("what do the shadows want?"), or messages with many questions.
Stick to 1-2 related and short questions per message.  Finally, read over
everything that was written in all the B5 FAQs and on  Yes
that is a lot of material, but any who consider themselves enough of a fans
of B5 to post JMS questions should have read that material at least once.
That information alone would answer 80% of people's questions, and JMS tends
to avoid answering questions for which the answer is in "obvious" or
"official" places.

*Q25 How do I send a message to the moderated newsgroup?

See previous question.

*Q26 Where can I find more information about B5?

The best place is to check the Hyperion Web site at

There is a lot of information there, and links to many other places.  You
should also read (rastb5i).  Time permitting,
you can also read the more voluminous newsgroups rastb5m (the moderated
one), and rastb5 (the unmoderated one).  Good luck.  Remember on this planet
there are only 24 hours per day...

*Q27 I have information from JMS which I'd like to post to B5JMS.

Contact me, the maintainer (b5jms-owner at  If this
is a one time thing, I may forward the message myself to the list.  If it is
a more permanent source of information, I can enable you to post directly to
B5JMS as a moderator.

*Q28 I have comments on the structure of your script-generated threads.

Send them to me (b5jms-owner at  I always like to
hear comments on my list, messages that appear on it, and ways to improve
them.  Sometimes I get a single message from a subscriber asking for some
feature of sorts.  I may explain the subscriber that while I think the
feature is a good idea, it takes too much effort to implement it, and I have
to hold off on it.  But I always store away subscriber requests, for when
more of the same come in, I will most likely take action.

*Q29 What is the history of B5JMS?

In early 1995 I started subscribing to newsgroups and other mailing list
related to B5.  I quickly realized that as the popularity of the show grew,
so did the number of posts.  I was very pleased to find the executive
producer of the show online, participating in the USENET newsgroup (rastb5); this was unheard of up until that point.

JMS' presence kept me reading rastb5 every day.  Unfortunately, it was
getting obvious that the unmoderated newsgroup was being plagued by many
irrelevant posts (flames, trolls, spam, u-name-it).  These made it harder
and harder to wade through the "noise" to get to the real "signal".

After a while I realized I could no longer continue reading rastb5.  Since I
still wanted to at least read JMS' posts, I wrote a simple perl script that
pulled those posts out of rastb5 and mailed them to me.  The initial script
was insufficient; it was missing the context of the discussion, namely, the
posts to which JMS had replied to.

Over the next few weeks I continued improving that script so that it would
also do the difficult task of correlating JMS' posts with the ones he
replied to.  It was not an easy task.  JMS' mail reader on Genie stripped
many relevant headers such as "Message-ID" and "In-Reply-To", and also
truncated the subject line half way.  In other words, there was little
information left in JMS' replies to rastb5 posts that made recreating
threads of discussion easy.  My initial script dealt with all of these
problems with over 90% success rate.

All along, there were people on the net who were collecting JMS' messages
from various sources such as USENET and Compuserve, and posting them to
USENET and the b5-review-l list.  Their posts did not include context, the
messages to which JMS replied.  In September of 1995, Shelley Stuart,
ex-moderator of b5-review-l, posted a message to her list saying that while
many have been asking her for the context to JMS' messages, she did not have
it, and knew of no one with that information.  She asked for volunteers.

Guess who volunteered.

I spent the next week learning about Majordomo, the mailing list processor
in use at our department.  Once configured, I posted a message to rastb5
asking for alpha testers of my list.  I got about a dozen people.  I got
their comments and adjusted my script and the way Majordomo was configured.
A week later I posted a similar message asking for beta testers.  I got
about 25 testers.  A few more days, a few more tweaks to B5JMS, it was now
time for the grand announcement.

I posted my official announcement in early October 1995, and also sent a
copy to Shelly for posting in her b5-review-l list.  Within 2 hours I had 50
subscribers, 100 subscribers by the end of the first 24 hours, and over 400
hundred by the end of the first week!  On August 8, 1996, B5JMS got its
2000th subscriber.  On March 24, 1997, B5JMS got it's 3000th subscriber.

On one black December of 1995, JMS, sick and tired of personal attacks and
flames on rastb5, announced that he is resigning from USENET.  I lost 200
subscribers who thought that was the end of B5JMS, and gained about 100
subscribers who thought that B5JMS was the only place they could get info
from JMS.  At that time I started looking into getting more messages from
JMS to post to B5JMS.  I turned to Compuserve, Genie, AOL, and Prodigy.
Initially I simply reposed on B5JMS messages from folks who collected JMS'
words on other forums. (rastb5i) was created shortly afterwards, but
as an informational low-volume moderated newsgroup, not as a way to "bring
JMS back to USENET".

As if it wasn't bad enough that JMS had been out of USENET, a couple of
months later, the Compuserve Copyrights debacle hit USENET: CIS and their
subscribers started enforcing copyrights of material posted by them.  JMS
gave a blanket permission to post his messages anywhere, but permission had
to be acquired from each and every person to whom JMS replied to, in order
to post that person's message.  I was forced to stop posting CIS digests for
these legal reasons.  Instead, I worked with people who got permission from
Compuserve users to post their messages on Usenet, and those folks had been
given direct permission by me, to post to B5JMS.  That worked, and another
crisis was over.

Finally, a few months later, and a heck of a lot of debate about how to
bring JMS back to USENET and avoid junk/flame post on B5 newsgroups, a new
auto-moderated newsgroup was created:
(rastb5m).  JMS was now back online, and USENET users were finally able to
freely converse with JMS.  A few minor adjustments to my scripts, and B5JMS
was again receiving JMS' words off of USENET.  Subscribership had never
slowed ever since.

Today, B5JMS is the largest B5-related mailing list, with over 2800
subscribers (as of February 1997), surpassing even b5-review-l (at ~1840
subscribers as of September 96).  About a year after my initial scripts,
they now do an even better job, as JMS started using a real news-reader on
his AOL account, and I made many additional tweaks the scripts.

*Q30 Are you in charge of the newsgroups or other forums?

NO!  I do not control, and am not the moderator or maintainer of any of the

- The Usenet newsgroup
- The Usenet newsgroup
- The Usenet newsgroup
- The Babylon 5 reviews list b5-review-l
- CIS/AOL digests

If you need to get in touch any of the above lists or newsgroup, find out
their individual maintainers or moderators (for those that are moderated).

*Q31 I have comments on this FAQ.

Send them in to me (b5jms-owner at  I want to
improve this FAQ so that it covers all possible b5JMS list related
questions.  I'm especially interested to include questions which subscribers
often ask me.

Thank you for listening.

B5JMS Poster.
Maintainer, B5JMS and B5JMS-DIGEST lists.
<b5jms-owner at>
-*** B5JMS SUBSCRIBERS: Replies to messages go to the list maintainer,
-*** <b5jms-owner at>.  If you want to reply elsewhere, adjust
-*** the "To" field.  The best way to reach JMS is to post to rastb5m, which
-*** can be done by sending email to <b5mod at>.

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