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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pottermore: the good, the bad and the slow

A year after general release, Pottermore disappoints adult users

Most UMBC students remember waiting in long lines for the Harry Potter books to be released. When the seventh Harry Potter novel was published in 2007, and the eighth movie released in July 2011, most readers were ready to let the Potter-verse be. However, Pottermore, the interactive website released by J. K. Rowling, hoped to prevent the fandom from ending.

General registration for Pottermore opened April 14, 2012. However, most Pottermore users had already been registered for several months, as beta release registration had been taking place since the previous July. The first million Pottermore users trickled into the site over the first several months.

During this opening period, it became clear that the Pottermore site was not ready for the traffic it experienced, as the site operated extremely slowly and new user accounts were released months after the promised date.

The most interesting feature of Pottermore is the “never-before-released content.” Every so often, if the user explores enough, objects will reveal new insights written by J.K. Rowling about the characters and plotlines.

In order to protect their younger users, Pottermore does not allow users to choose their own usernames. Instead, users are given a list of five usernames, which are some combination of Potter-related words and numbers.

You can add friends to your Pottermore network, but according to a USA Today reviewer, “You can’t look for friends by entering their email addresses, the way you can elsewhere. That hinders Pottermore’s community experience, as I have no way of knowing whether any of my friends are already on Pottermore.”

Pottermore caters to younger users and first-time Harry Potter readers. Most adult users have found the tasks to be very simplistic, involving little more than moving around the screen waiting for objects to light up, and find that the site doesn’t release as much new information as they would have hoped.

For most users of college-student-age, their interaction with the site ended when they were sorted.

According to a review from The Nerdist, “if you know enough about the books and the characteristics of each house, it’s not that hard at all to manipulate the quiz to get sorted into the house you want.”

From the sorting, the Pottermore experience becomes simply a matter of winning house points. Also, your sorting result is final.

Almost a year after the initial release, Pottermore is still releasing new content. The most recent Prisoner of Azkaban chapters were released April 10, 2013. At this rate, Pottermore will extend the Harry Potter experience into the next several years. However, the site has proved a disappointment for many.

As Rowling begins to write new stories, Pottermore will take longer to put out new releases. In general, the Harry Potter-themed social media site has lost its moment in the spotlight.

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