Return of the JediNet

JediNet has a distinction among fan Web sites of the Force: it's the first.

Back in 1996, John Benson, webmaster for the site, had discovered many Star Wars bulletin boards. He asked around if there were any Web sites related to the Force; there was only one, but it hadn't been updated in over a year.

"This was the happening site for Star Wars fans, yet how could it not be updated?" Benson said. "I was a bit disgusted."

JediNet opening pageSo he bought a book on HTML, got all the necessary computer equipment, and soon had JediNet running out of his house. Now it's referred to by Benson as "The Grand Daddy of Star Wars Internet Sites."

But when news started flying around that "The Phantom Menace" was in production, a prequel section was established. The majority of their news came from "spies" within the movie industry who had access to the prequel. It arrived in the form of, among others, sound clips, dialogue and images.

Robert Beasley, currently the head of JediNet's prequel section, said that they checked and double-checked the information coming in to make sure it wasn't too off-kilter.

Even though the movie hadn't been released, they knew their information was right once Lucasfilm posted the information on its official site, or when the first movie trailer was released.

"The items we hoped to be false are now proven true," Benson said. "Things such as the title ("The Phantom Menace"), the names of characters (like) Darth Maul and Jar Jar, they all seemed silly. Most of them have grown on us now. Then again, I'm sure we all thought the same in 1977 when we first heard 'Chewbacca' and 'Darth Vader.'"

JediNet Prequels pageBut they do get a laugh out of the off-base rumors.

"The best thing we received lately are fan-produced pages from the supposed Episode II script," Beasley said. "After we had stated that they were obvious fakes, we continued to get mail saying that they were just that -- fakes. Another Web site posted one of the pages and said that it was the real deal. That was too entirely hilarious."

Fans who didn't want to know about "The Phantom Menace" prior to the May 19 opening but wanted to visit JediNet were spared from the "spoilers." Beasley said that the site was one of the first to use the "highlight to read" strategy -- the spoilers' colors were made so you had to highlight them to read it. TheForce.Net also uses this technique. For instance, Beasley was right on the money regarding [Qui-Gon Jinn's death]. (highlight to read the spoiler)

When it came to posting prequel spoilers, Lucasfilm never sent Beasley e-mails to stop posting news information, snippets of the script or concept artwork, but did receive some with regards to posting an image from the first trailer as well as audio clips.

On the other hand, Beasley said that JediNet has had problems with other fan sites taking their posted news without giving credit.

"In the end, it's the users who count," Beasley said. "If the information gets to them, I'm extremely happy. However, when I post something that is an exclusive and another site reposts it or steals it, I'm one angry man."