A common question we get is "Where do you get your 'spy information' from? How do you know they are reliable?" Others go so far as to say we make up our information. So, in order to answer these common questions and accusations, we thought we'd tell you how we get our info.
HOW WE CONTACT THEM
We get two types of informants: Those who we seek out and those who seek us out.
We often go to conventions and meet a lot of people associated with Star Wars and Lucasfilm. At these conventions, we often hang out with them, buy them dinner, and talk Star Wars till the wee hours of the morning. These people include the original trilogy's actors, authors, and other individuals. However, 99% of the time, the information you get is nothing earth shattering or it is stuff that is soon released to the public. They are good solid sources, however.
Then there are people who write us. We get tons of people saying they have exclusive prequel information they'd like to share with us. They claim to be workers on the set, a brother's sister's friend of an ILM animator, extras, or friends of the actors. These sources have to go through the screening process.
Some informants are instanly thrown into the garbage bin. For example, one guy claimed that Ewan's voice was going to be overlaid with a synthesized Alec Guiness voice. Or another said that they were Natalie Portman. Those you can instantly throw away. However, sometimes we continue to ask them for information just because we could use a good laugh.
You can also throw away 'information' from people claiming to be from Lucasfilm. Believe us, they won't tell you squat about the prequels. If someone writes you from starwars.com or lucasarts.com, then ignore it. Nobody e-mails from those addresses.
We also throw out those who say, "My brother's cousin's best friend said..." If you can't confirm it, we trash it.
We also throw out e-mails from free Internet accounts. Every reliable source we've ever encountered had an e-mail with a real ISP. AOL can be very questionable, too, because of the free accounts and anonymity it provides. Then, of course, we check the headers of the e-mail to see if the mail came from the reply-to address. We then do a check of Deja News, Yahoo, Worldpages, and other sites to see if that person actually belongs to the address they send to us.
That leaves those who have plausible stories. These are people that write with realistic sounding plot points, people that say they are extras or members of the crew, etc. We ask them how exactly they got the information, how they got their job, where they live, what they do, and other things. We also ask them questions we already know the answer to. That way, if they're lying, the game is over.
Generally, this grilling gets one of two reactions. One is "Fine, don't believe me! I don't care what you think!" We throw out these guys. The other is, "Sure! Here's the info you wanted."
We then follow up asking them for more personal information which every reliable source has given to us in the past.
Finally, you must look at the information being provided. Some things are undeniable, such as photos and items leaked from the set. When it's real, you know it. (And no, we aren't going to post a lot of it on the site.) If an informant provides you with that sort of info, then they are solid.
A lot of times, two totally unrelated informants will also provide the exact same information. This is another good way to verify info. This is also the only way to really verify plot points and character names that leak from the set.
Other stuff we get we can't prove. We just see if it sounds real, then we post it in that purple font. That's our safety net in case it turns out wrong. We're up front with you guys that it could be wrong, so we post it for your own reading pleasure. It usually doesn't take too long to find out if it was bad info or good info. We're sure to say "We told you so" if it's right and "Ooops!" if it was wrong.
INFORMANTS FROM OTHER SITES
A lot of the prequel sites often share information on where we get our info, who it is coming from, etc. We also share info that none of us post due to spoiler or secrecy concerns. Anyway, totally different informants from our fellow prequel sites also back up or deny information we receive. If another site's reliable informant, such as True Fan from Prequel Watch, backs up what one of ours says, then that's another confirmation.
EXTENT OF KNOWLEDGE
Sometimes people write us and say, "If Mode is really a spy, how come they can't tell us what color boxer shorts Liam Neeson wears under those robes?" Well, you must realize that no spy knows everything. If they claim to, then you should suspect their credibility. For example, if Mode is a goat herder in Tunisia who runs across the production, is he going to know the ending of the movie? Or is an informant who's an extra on the Leavesden set going to know anything about post production at ILM? Nope. Every informant's knowledge base is limited, so they can't tell you everything. This also means that each spy only has a limited amount of time they will be useful. Anticipate some fountains of knowledge to dry up.
Sometimes a reliable informant will get some news that they can't decipher. A good example is Harry Knowle's spy who saw the battle tank. But just from looking at it, they didn't know it was a battle tank. They just thought it was an early version of Slave 1. While that's a good description of what it looks like, it was incorrect. Their news was good, but the speculation on the part of the informant made it incorrect. This happens very often and is unavoidable. The only thing you can do it correct it when you find out and move on.
WHY TELL US?
Another common question is, "Why would they tell you and jeopardize their job? Why not sell their info to a magazine and get more money?" Good question. First off, most of these guys are NOT jeopardizing their job. Some were temporary workers or extras that were only there for a little while then moved on. Others are closely associated with Lucasfilm employees, but not employed by Lucasfilm. So they risk nothing by telling. Plus, there are so many people involved in the production that could be leaking information that they are protected just by the fact that there's a large number of suspects.
Why don't they tell magazines? First off, we're easier to contact. It's more difficult to contact a magazine, plus they're not likely to believe the informant. Also, it gets into a lot of shaky ground legal-wise. Just ask French Premiere. Then on top of that, the magazines don't pay nearly as well as you might think. These people can tell web sites with very little consequence. If Lucasfilm wanted, they could shut us down in a second. However, they don't want bad publicity. Plus, they are better off improving security on their end than shutting web sites up. That's their general strategy. And the fact that the web sites are not making a dime off of the stuff they posts, unlike the magazines, helps their case.
Also, most of these informants are fans just like you and I. They're only doing it for the fun of it. There's nothing major at stake for them, so they like to talk. After all, don't you like to talk about Star Wars with your friends? When you hear some new prequel news, don't you go blab it to someone on a newsgroup or your office buddy? They tell us because we're a little more high profile than a newsgroup and we do provide anonimity to them if they desire.
So that's it. We've bared our souls to you. Nothing really elaborate. Hopefully this will give you a little more confidence in what we're doing and how we're getting our info.
May the Force be with you,
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