Pottermore: No, This Site Will Not Be Ready for October Launch

In one of the polls in the Sidebar, I asked about a month ago: Will the Pottermore site be ready for October launch?

Here are the results:

Of course – It’s a Beta test! Glitches are to be expected!  29.17%  (84 votes)
No way – The site is waaaaay too far behind.  17.01%  (49 votes)
I’m not inside, so how should I know?  37.85%  (109 votes)
I’m inside, and I still have no idea!  15.97%  (46 votes)

The correct answer is now officially “No way – The site is waaaaay too far behind.” Or at least, it’s way too far behind for a massive general public launch.

This morning the Pottermore Insider revealed that everybody in the Beta will have about another month to play around with the site. Towards the end of October, the site will open for registration, but activation will be phased in order to maintain site stability – just as it has been phased in the Beta. Here are the salient points from the Pottermore Insider:

Since the launch of the Beta, we’ve seen really high levels of activity, and interaction with the site has been phenomenal. This affects how quickly we can give everyone access. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the Beta period beyond September and take a different approach to the way new users are brought onto the site.

From the end of October, registration will be opened to everyone and we’ll be giving access to registered users in phases. Access may be granted quickly, but please note it could also take some weeks or months, depending on demand.

We are also making a number of enhancements and simplifications to Pottermore, in order to make the site smoother and more enjoyable – so existing Beta users will likely experience some changes when new users begin to join.

Finally, the Pottermore Shop, which will sell the Harry Potter eBooks and digital audio books, will now open in the first half of 2012, in order to allow us to focus on our first priority: opening Pottermore to as many people as possible and making the experience as good as it can be.

Feel free to express your thoughts – and frustrations – below.

Pottermore: All Welcome Emails Have Been Sent…

About 30 minutes ago, the Pottermore Insider revealed that all Welcome Emails have been sent:

Earlier today, we sent out the one-millionth Welcome email – which means that everyone who successfully registered for the Beta should now have access to Pottermore.

We’re expecting the site to be extremely busy over the next 24 hours as people log in and explore Pottermore for the first time. As such, you may have to wait to sign in but please keep trying if you aren’t able to gain entry straight away.

This means that if you completed the Magic Quill and received the email verifying your successful registration, your account has been activated. If you have not received a Welcome email, then you should still assume that your account has been activated and that you can login whenever the site is available.

Of course, right now, there is very high demand for the Pottermore site, and the site is not always available. I am currently inside, but I will be logging out and probably not logging in again for the remainder of the day. After all, there are a lot of people who are about to start exploring Pottermore for the first time.

If you are one of those people, have fun! And let us know what you think about the site.

BTW, there are currently 493,795 students inside the Great Hall. That number, though, is less than half of the Welcome emails that have been sent, and many more students will be entering the Great Hall once they have passed through the sorting.

See you in the Great Hall!

514,064 539,267 551,263 570,084 605,479 616,447 students in the Great Hall.

Houses currently:
Ravenclaw: 154,510 members
Gryffindor: 154,021 members
Hufflepuff: 153,997 members
Slytherin: 153,919 members

Pottermore Update: The Insider Speaks

According to the Pottermore Insider, Pottermore was taken offline this morning to apply “a number of updates and bug fixes.” Pottermore claims that “the most important of these will allow us to invite more Beta users to the site.”

And I must say, that a) apparently new users have begun to receive their welcome owls and b) the site response is faster than it’s been in weeks… so maybe these new fixes really are going to help.

The current number in the Great Hall is 396,021 406,798 415,374 432,658 444,986 451,976 470,086 493,795, and all Houses now have more than 120,000 members.

Here is the remainder of the Insider post:

We are nearing the end of September and the culmination of the Beta period that we outlined back in July. We had hoped to send out Welcome emails to all our Beta testers by this stage but, due to the phenomenal amount of activity and interaction taking place on Pottermore over the past few weeks, we have had to balance the number of Beta users against the performance and stability of the site.

As a result, we still have Welcome emails to send out. We are hoping to send out the remaining emails over the next few days and we will be updating this blog again on Monday. While we can’t reply directly to questions posted on Twitter, we have been collecting your comments and queries (as well as the information you’ve sent us via the ‘Beta feedback’ button) and we’ll try to answer the most-asked questions next week here on the Insider.

Thank you all for your patience and the feedback and comments you’ve given us so far. The reaction to Pottermore has far exceeded our expectations and we’re working as hard as we can to make sure even more people can share in the Pottermore experience.

Does anybody else find it odd that Pottermore would hold a contest to whip up one of the most active fandoms in the world into a frenzy (apparently in order to get 1 million Beta testers), and then would get caught off guard when those Beta testers continued to interact on the site – using the Common Rooms, brewing potions, etc.?

One theory is that Pottermore expected the Beta testers to treat Pottermore as essentially a reading experience – read the material, unlock new JKR content, collect a few items, get a wand, get sorted, practice a potion or two, practice a few spells – and then move on with their lives and wait for the next book. If this is what Pottermore expected, then I just have to wonder why there is so much encouragement to keep coming back and compete in the House Cup.

Whatever the case, Pottermore was clearly caught off-guard by the amount of interaction fans desired, and I hope that they learn from this experience going forward. Perhaps the team knows the fandom a bit better by now.

The good news is that Pottermore claims that it really is going to try to get the remaining emails out – and everybody in – during the next few days. If Errol does arrive in the coming days, be sure to let us know your impressions of the site.

In the meantime, my next stop in blog posting really is going to be that “Owl Post” chapter in PoA.

Pottermore: Is the Sorting Hat Rigged?

On Pottermore, a lot of people are getting surprised by the Sorting Hat. People who have identified throughout their entire Harry Potter lives with one House or another are getting put into “the wrong House”!!!

So what’s happening?

The Numbers Game

Some people think that the sorting is all really a numbers game. After all, they say, look at the House numbers!

Currently, with 392,561 students inside the Great Hall, the House breakdown looks like this:

Hufflepuff: 98,573 members (25.1%)

Ravenclaw: 98,453 members (25.1%)

Gryffindor: 98,192 members (25.0%)

Slytherin: 97,343 members (24.8%)

That’s a fairly even distribution – too even for some people to accept that it could possibly result from an honest sorting mechanism. Could it possibly be a numbers game – and the sorting itself be completely random?

Well, some math geeks predicted precisely this result – i.e., that as increasing numbers of people entered Pottermore, the Houses would distribute more and more evenly. In the beginning, from what I understand, the results were decidedly skewed towards Ravenclaw. As more people have joined, the distribution has become more even.

At any rate, it does not make sense to me – strictly from a business perspective – that JKR would involve herself in  Pottermore, brand it as “more Potter” from J.K. Rowling, claim pride in the accuracy of her sorting mechanism… and then just leave the sorting to random chance. She knows the Houses. She wrote the questions. She claims that the people in her life who have taken the Pottermore sorting quiz have ended up in exactly the Houses she predicted they would end up in.

No, as crazy as those numbers might look, the notion that JKR would intentionally mislead the fandom about the sorting on a site that has involved multiple years of planning (and a tremendous amount of J.K. Rowling branding) simply makes no sense at all.

But I’m a Ravenclaw! How Did I End Up in ______________ ?!?!?!?!?

Ravenclaw is the new Gryffindor. Everybody wants to live in Ravenclaw Tower these days… and hardly anyone wants to end up in Hufflepuff. We see this fandom trend even in the Expecto Patronum! poll:

Ravenclaw (197 votes):

Gryffindor (160 votes):

I don’t have a preference. I’ll let the Pottermore Sorting Hat decide (135 votes):

Slytherin (112 votes):

Hufflepuff (36 votes):

The reason for the strong Ravenclaw preference is that the fandom stereotype of Ravenclaw is that these are the smart, bookish, nerds. But are they really?

In the Ravenclaw House History, I learned that Luna Lovegood is not an outlier. She is the norm. Ravenclaws may possess “wit beyond measure,” but according to the History, Ravenclaw’s strongest claim to fame is the eccentricity of the House – filled with famous Ravenclaws wearing jellyfish hats, communicating only through smoke, or asserting the Wizarding World’s “inalienable right to party.”

Slytherin can be equally intelligent as Ravenclaw, but the House is focused less on eccentricity than on achieving greatness… i.e., on doing something extraordinary and learning as much about magic as possible. Unfortunately, such a goal can easily be abused (see Tom Riddle), but it doesn’t have to be abused (see Merlin, the greatest Slytherin of all time).

A lot of people think that the Sorting Hat is mis-sorting people because fandom stereotypes of the Houses are often not being confirmed in the sortings. Self-identified Slytherins are ending up in Ravenclaw. Self-identified Ravenclaws are ending up in Slytherin… and Hufflepuff… and, occasionally, Gryffindor!

But is the fandom right about the Houses… and JKR wrong? She wrote the questions, and she stands by the sorting. Is the fandom perhaps misinformed about the true nature of the Houses and needs to start re-evaluating the Houses based on the new information provided?

I know my answer. What is yours?

My friend arithmancer has provided a theory in the Comments indicating how it would be possible to base the sorting quiz results entirely on the respondent’s answers and simultaneously quarter the students. Check it out.

Pottermore: YOUR Impressions, Tips, and Hints

Well, now my sister (Day 4) finally received her Welcome email (ETA: and so did my friend Iggy! SQUEEEEEE!), so it’s time to give the people inside Pottermore a place to post their impressions, questions, comments, complaints, tips, and hints. This post is about you and your thoughts.

But first, a brief update:

There are now 319,337 334,681 349,223 366,406 374,782 390,321 students inside the Great Hall. And it appears that the site downtime during the weekend occurred in order to make some rather significant changes.

Previously, all Potions were worth 5 points. You could lose 5 points if you blew up your cauldron, and you could gain 1 point for trying but ultimately failing the Potion.

With the update, there is now a scale of points for the various Potions. You can still lose 5 points for a cauldron explosion, but you apparently can no longer gain 1 point for a minor fail.

Here is the new Potions scale:

Cure for Boils: 3 points
Antidote for Common Poisons: 7 points
Wideye or Awakening: 9 points
Herbicide: 9 points
Forgetfulness: 9 points
Sleeping Draught: 11 points

It looks like I’m going to be branching out now beyond the Cure for Boils, so I (in particular) am looking for Potions tips.

If you have tips or hints on anything – from how to brew a Potion to how to cast a spell, to how to find your shopping list – feel free to use the Comments thread to let us know.

If you just have some impressions that you’d like to share about the site – including complaints – feel free to use the Comments thread to let us know.

If you’d like to use the Spoiler GIFs in your Comment, you can find the code for them at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar, underneath the Slytherin House Crest. All you need to do is copy/paste the code, and you’re good to go.

ETA: Apparently, I’m the only one who can post the Spoiler GIFs in the Comments section at the present time. So if you want to indicate that you’re writing a spoiler, just write SPOILER at the top. I can insert the GIFs.

Have fun!

Pottermore… Officially picking up the pace

ETA: The number inside the Great Hall has now reached 250,010 268,005 294,443 309,897. In other words: 25% roughly 27% over 29% over 30% of the entire Beta pool has now made it through the Sorting Hat. :D

Most likely, at least one-third of the welcome emails have now gone out, possibly considerably more.

Original post starts here…

Okay, the Happy Day has finally arrived! Today, the Pottermore Insider announced that Pottermore plans to send out welcome emails daily over the next two weeks:

The good news is that we no longer expect to pause sending these (as mentioned in our Beta testing and Welcome emails post). Instead, we plan to send emails out daily over the next two weeks. As always, there’s a chance that our plans may alter as we assess the site and how it is reacting to new users but we will update you if anything changes.

To me, this sounds as if Pottermore plans to try to get everybody inside over the next two weeks – depending on how the site withstands the traffic. And honestly, I really haven’t been seeing additional problems arise as a result of additional traffic. Some people still have problems with potions, and wizards duel has not yet returned. But the traffic does not seem to have increased these problems.

As for who is getting in..

It definitely seems that Day 3 and Day 4 people have increasingly been getting their emails over the past couple of days. I also know that welcome emails sometimes arrive at the oddest times. One of my friends received hers at about 10:30pm last night.

So for those of you who fear that your Pottermore email will never arrive… Stay Strong! It may be coming by Errol Post, but Errol always does manage somehow to arrive.

In the meantime, here’s Harry Potter in 99 seconds…

Let’s hope Errol doesn’t take much longer than that!

100,000 Page Views… Thank you

Expecto Patronum! crossed 100,000 page views tonight.

I was pretty certain it was going to happen today, but I was still a bit surprised when I looked at the stats and saw that the blog was now showing 100,010 page views. Not bad for a blog that started out as a post-DH brain dump!

For the longest time, the blog’s most popular page was Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary. That surprised me at first because I wrote the post in about 15 minutes. Most posts – or at least the analytical ones – take hours to write. Judging by the search terms in my stats, I think a lot of visitors were looking for the fanart featured in that post and stumbled across my blog.

Lately, though, the blog’s top page views have been the ones pertaining to Snape’s Logic Puzzle – or (in Google Search Term Lingo) the “Potions Puzzle Pottermore.”

The blog post again took about 15 minutes to write, but Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle – the permanent page that the post points toward – took a good number of hours.

I wrote the page while doing the PS/SS re-read over a year ago, and I wrote it actually as a companion piece to the re-read post An Ounce of Logic, which was just getting too long. Solving the puzzle based entirely on the rhyme (and without being able to look at the bottle layout) was great fun because it was an opportunity to go all super-mega-ueber-geeky!

Because it is so geeky, Solving Snape’s Logic Puzzle got maybe an average of 3 page views per day in the year before Pottermore opened for Beta testing. But now – now that you actually have to solve the Logic Puzzle to advance in Pottermore – the hard work I spent solving the puzzle and writing about it last year has finally paid off. The average page views per day for that single page have jumped about 3000% since August 15… and who knows what the percentage will be come October, when Pottermore opens to the public. After all, the solution is already laid out, and people are looking for a quick way of solving the problem.

I can’t really think of a better way to celebrate the 100,000 milestone than by knowing that some of my personal favorite work on Expecto Patronum! has caught on and taken us over the mark.

So thank you, everybody who’s reading, for visiting and supporting this blog. :)