In August 2011, I was one of many people who stayed up late or woke up early, hoping to catch the magic quill and earn a coveted spot as a beta tester of Pottermore, the online compendium of Harry Potter lore. Finding the quill was a victory, and receiving that email was a joy. I was so anxious about my sorting that I couldn’t sleep. What if I didn’t get sorted into Ravenclaw, the house I’d considered myself a part of since I discovered Harry Potter my freshman year of college? (Spoiler alert: I did get Ravenclaw.) I voraciously absorbed every new tidbit of information that the site afforded me, and dutifully returned every time new chapters were added. Yesterday, the chapters from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were finally added, which leaves me to wonder… What now?
Pottermore is a treasure trove of Harry Potter knowledge, with author J.K. Rowling writing new information about fan favorite characters like Professor Minerva McGonagall and Draco Malfoy, as well as explaining just why the Dursleys hated poor Harry so much. When you receive your wand, you’re treated to background on the different types of woods and cores used in the process (mine is sycamore with unicorn hair). When you get sorted, you learn a little bit more about your house. But there is still so much that I want to know. Like many Harry Potter fans, I will probably never be satisifed, demanding that JKR pump out new information until she falls through the veil.
But the site is far from perfect. The later books have far less moments, and therefore less information and breathtaking artwork, than the earlier ones do. Order of the Phoenix in particular was a massive letdown, because that is the longest book and has the least amount of moments to explore. Not to mention, once you click through all the moments and collect everything you can, there is little else to do. You can earn additional house points by brewing potions and participating in wand duels, but potion-making is finicky and time-consuming (I blew up two cauldrons just trying to brew Herbicide) and wand duelling takes a lot of practice.
So what could Pottermore do to keep people coming back, now that all of the books are up? Well, for starters, they could expand the moments from the last three books. There have been additions to the moments from the earlier books – clicking back through them today I discovered new potions ingredients and bags of galleons – but I do believe that putting in new moments from Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows would be fantastic. There is so much information that could be revealed from just those three books. I wouldn’t expect it all at once, but when you compare the first half of the series to the last half, it’s an obvious disappointment.
One of the things that I was most upset about was the lack of a Patronus quiz. When you first start out, with Sorcerer’s Stone, you complete two personality quizzes – one that determines your wand and the Sorting Hat. I was rather hoping that there would be something similar once you reach the chapter in Order of the Phoenix where Harry teaches Dumbledore’s Army how to cast the Patronus charm. There are fan-made ones all over the internet, and I always get something different, but I would consider a Pottermore result to be “official”. It seems that something like that is in the works, but it’s been months since the Order of the Phoenix chapters were released, and still no Patronus.
While we’re on the subject, how about a quiz determining what form you would take as an Animagus? Or what your Boggart would look like?
When it was first announced, Pottermore was billed as a social media site, but there was very little socializing to be found. You can add friends, but you cannot chat with them or send messages. You’re encouraged to only friend people you know in real life, which makes no sense considering that you can’t actually talk to anyone. As I was clicking through Deathly Hallows, I noticed that comments – the only way you could actually socialize – seem to have disappeared. (Considering I generally relied on comments to find all the hidden objects, this annoyed me.) Also, I remember not being able to come up with my own username – you’re given a list and asked to pick, so that no one can come up with anything offensive. I understand that they want to keep the site safe for people of all ages, but this is a little ridiculous. I think that Pottermore should work on the social aspect more, because the site could be a great place to discuss theories, analyze themes, and speculate about the characters’ futures (or pasts).
Expand the world a bit. Potion-making and wand duelling is all well and good, but how about being able to play Quidditch or even just fly on a broom? How about being able to “adopt” a magical pet like an owl? I would love to be able to page through some of the books that you collect throughout the moments or even take classes. You should be able to earn house points by answering trivia questions. How about showing us some Wizarding family trees, or a list of the different Wizarding schools throughout the world? I am dying to get a real good look inside the Ravenclaw common room, which you should have to answer a riddle to do.
And if JKR has the time and wants to write a little more, well, I would hardly say no.
There is so much that they could do with a site like Pottermore, and I can only hope that they continue adding things (like the timeline of famous witches and wizards under History of Magic). With all of the books now available, and only teasing updates about new features, it seems that there is very little to look forward to.
What would you like to see on Pottermore?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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