apocrypha Spotlight: The Complete Law & Order Database
By Korillian

Are you curious as to what Anita Van Buren's husband does for a living? Or perhaps you have a burning need to know how many times Law & Order has been nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild award. Don't worry! The answer to these and any other L&O questions can be found at The Complete Law & Order Database.
The Database is described as "a comprehensive web resource for Law & Order fans" and it certainly lives up to that billing. A history of the show, cast and crew statistics, character profiles -- whatever you're looking for, you'll find it at this impressively laid-out site. One of my favorite sections is the Cast and Crew page, which has links to the Internet Movie Database entries for every member of the cast and crew. (Who knew that Jerry Orbach had appeared in so many movies?)
Cameron T. Lashley is the webmaster of the Database. He was kind enough to talk to me about the site with me via email.

What prompted you to create the Complete L&O Database?
I've been watching Law & Order for about five years now, but I really started getting into the show about a year ago. I wanted to find out more about the show's history and some of characters, so I started looking around on the internet for websites. There are a lot of Law & Order fansites out there, but I couldn't really find any that had the information I was looking for all in one place. It seemed to be scattered around. Well, after searching around and finding what I wanted to know, I realized that I had collected enough information for my own web project. I took that information and used it create the website that I had hoped to find.
Your site has all the standard information: episode guide, cast and crew listing, a list of awards the show has won and a page of links, but aren't there also a lot of interactive features on site?
Currently, the interactive features are a discussion forum, and a monthly instant poll. I also maintain an announcement mailing list, and I'm in the process of creating an online Law & Order trivia feature.

One of the areas of the Database I'm particularly proud of is the Miscellaneous section, because of the Desktop Theme for Windows95/98. As far as I know, that's the only Law & Order theme available on the internet.
How many versions of the site have there been?
Technically, there are two versions of the site, a high-bandwidth and low-bandwidth version. I've learned from previous websites I've created that not everybody uses Netscape or IE (I'm still surprised by the number of WebTV users who visit the site), and that not everybody's browser supports the flashy web technologies (like JavaScript and dynamic HTML) that I prefer to use. The low-bandwidth version is a stripped-down version of the high-bandwidth site.
When did it first come online?
The website was initially launched on January 11, 1999; in the middle of July I completely redesigned the site to implement new web technology, and to improve the look and navigation of the site. I imagine I'll change it again after a few more months. I think redesigning an on-going web project periodically helps keep the site fresh and interesting to visitors.
How many visitors you get in a typical month?
These numbers aren't totally accurate, but the site averages a total of around 1200 visitors per month. Right now, the grand total stands around 8300 visitors.
Do you do all the writing on the site -- the episode guides, the character pages, etc.?
Almost everything in the Database has been hand-created. I do almost all the writing, all the design, all the graphics work, pretty much everything. I don't even use an HTML editor, just text editors. I know that this isn't a really efficient way to manage a website of this size, but I prefer a very "hands-on" approach.

Some of the early episode guide entries have been borrowed from various sources. When I initially built the site, I had to catalogue 190 episodes at once, most of the episode guide entries from that point have been written by myself.
Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
From my point of view, I must say that Dick Wolf appears to be very gracious to the internet community. We (meaning myself and all the other folks who maintain Law & Order fansites) are very fortunate to be allowed the opportunity to use our creative efforts on our projects, especially in light of the difficulties that fans of other television programs have experienced.

Because of that fact, I will admit that I am cautious as to the content of my site. I try to avoid rumors and speculation about the behind-the-scenes working of the show. I often get e-mails from visitors about "Why did a certain actor leave the show?" etc. Obviously, we all have heard various rumors on these sort of topics, and I'll glad discuss them in the context of the Discussion Forum, but I try to avoid presenting these sort of speculations within the Database itself.



whaddya think?