I really hate deadlines. I wrote in my last post that I would finish writing about LeakyCon before July 31st, because I knew that, with the impending beta release of Pottermore sometime on July 31st, which was Harry Potter’s Golden Birthday, I would probably have less time to write afterwards. Now that I know that, even though I have a username, I won’t have access for several weeks yet, I will attempt, over the next few days, to finish writing about LeakyCon. But for this update, I want to write about Pottermore (not as a review but as a recount of my experience), because I haven’t really thought about anything else since Saturday, July 30th.
When it was first announced, I was excited about Pottermore, but I was also overcome with too many questions without enough answers. I didn’t know enough about it to really give it a second thought at the time. My first true excitement really came when I went to LeakyCon and saw the Pottermore presentation, which I wrote about extensively on my FictionRow.com website. A man named James “Jamie” Deeley, who was a representative from the Pottermore team, presented using a 86-slide show, as well as a live look inside Pottermore. His first slide from that show is pictured below. The second one: “I must not take photos” etched on a hand.
Of course, from that point, I reported on the remainder of that presentation in my article on FictionRow.com. Afterward, it became a not-so-simple matter of waiting until July 31st, to become one of the select “few” million beta users to get early access into Pottermore. I spent some time Saturday (July 30th) evening constantly refreshing Pottermore.com, trying to access something other than the “Pottermore is unavailable” page. Obviously, something was up. When the Pottermore home page finally did come back, it explained how the “Magical Quill” challenge was going to work, which you can still read about on the Pottermore Insider, or the Pottermore Help pages. It did not, however, release the first clue for the first day. That came later.
Before the first clue was released, I received a message from LeakyCon with this “extra hint”, which was previously promised to LeakyCon attendees: What we can tell you is that, in order to solve the first clue, you will need to go to Diagon Alley… And that was it. Despite that I didn’t think it was a whole lot go on, it definitely increased my excitement and urgency to start thinking about what the first clue might be. In their explanation of the challenge, Pottermore gave an example of what a clue will look like:
To find The Magical Quill, you need to solve the clue and add the answer to the end of the web address http://quill.pottermore.com This will lead you to a website where The Magical Quill will be located while early access places are available.
Clue: How many books are there in the Harry Potter series? Multiply this number by 10.
Next, add this number to the end of the website address. In this case it would be http://quill.pottermore.com/70
Then hit ‘Return’ to go to the website where The Magical Quill is located.
At the time that I first read this explanation, I didn’t realize what we now see is a pattern: each clue will have a numerical answer. I suppose this is to make it fair for international fans who don’t speak English. However, since I didn’t know this pattern, I didn’t know what I was looking for when I reread chapter five of Sorcerer’s Stone. While I enjoyed rereading it for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t feel any more prepared for the first clue’s release than before I read that chapter. I knew a lot of my new LeakyCon friends were going to stay up through the night, constantly refreshing Pottermore until the clue was posted. I also knew I couldn’t possibly consider doing that, because I needed to be fully awake to play the organ in church early the next morning.
So, I went to bed. I tried to sleep. I really, truly tried to shut off my mind, which was still buzzing from the impending release of the first clue. I tried, but I couldn’t sleep. So, I opened my MacBook, and started reading tweets from and chatting with my new LeakyCon friends, discussing the hint from LeakyCon, which had been leaked several hours before (less than an hour after the email was first sent), and what the clue might be. Many LeakyCon’ers were furious at the hint’s leak. Those who didn’t go to LeakyCon justified the leak by saying that it wasn’t fair for us (apparently “too rich”) folks who went to LeakyCon to see the movie early, to go to the Harry Potter theme park, to see stars from the movie and from StarKid (including Darren Criss), to see the Pottermore presentation, to be at LeakyCon in the first place, AND to get a leg up on getting into Pottermore beta.
Apparently that last bit was just too much for some people (who didn’t go to LeakyCon). I was one of the furious LeakyCon attendees, at least at first. I tweeted the following in a reply to a LeakyCon friend:
I think it’s less fair for us that it leaked than it would have been for others had it not.
I am not rich. Well, yes, I am rich in a metaphoric sense. I am rich with blessings of a great family and friends, but I had to save for this trip or be creatively frugal otherwise. I mean, I booked a very cheap Days Inn hotel that was a half-hour’s walk away from the convention center. Could the money I spent on LeakyCon have been spent elsewhere? Of course. I will be paying down college loans for many years to come. But, I chose to go, and because I made the choice to go, I went to every event I possibly could. I tried my best to get my money’s worth of what I had spent on LeakyCon while I was there. Yes, we didn’t know we were going to get a “special chance” to get into Pottermore beta, but once we did know, it was the icing on the cake. That was worth every penny I had spent to go on this trip. Whoever leaked the hint rendered that “chance” worthless.
I felt very Slytherin-esque that night, but I didn’t care. I felt cheated. However, I felt a bit differently after the release of the first clue. Granted, “Diagon Alley” gave us a very specific place to look, but the clue was so easy anyway that it wouldn’t have mattered if LeakyCon had simply forgotten to send out the extra hint:
How many breeds of owl are featured on the Eeylops Owl Emporium sign? Multiply this number by 49.
I mean, where else were we supposed to look for information about Eyelops Owl Emporium? I would have gone directly for the Diagon Alley chapter in Sorcerer’s Stone to find the answer anyway. During the course of my rather sleepless night, I also tweeted my concern that someone would also leak the answer to the clue:
Ugh. I can’t sleep. Wondering: what happens when someone figures out the “code” for quill.pottermore.com and leaks THAT?
But, like I said already, the clue was so simple that it didn’t matter. It wasn’t so much a matter of being able to figure out the clue as it was about being awake during the hour-and-a-half span of time that registration access was open, which is another matter of contention in the fandom right now. Since the first two clues have been released during the day in the UK, meaning that it’s been during the night in the US, the Pottermore team has been accused of favoring the British over the Americans. Anyway, it’s probably a good idea to make the clues easy, because it wouldn’t be good for the beta process to have a user base made up mostly of Ravenclaws, who are the most clever, with a smattering of Hufflepuffs, because they’re supposedly good finders.
In the end, I feel a bit hypocritical. I was so furious about the leak, so filled with an urgent excitement for the release of this first clue, but at the same time, so tired from staying up so late, as well as frustrated that I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion and my desire to be responsible so that I could play the organ well in the morning. In other words, Ron put it quite eloquently when he said, “One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.” Hermione, subsequently, can confirm that I don’t have “the emotional range of a teaspoon”.
Jokes and quotes aside, I feel like a hypocrite, because I didn’t even figure out the clue on my own. As soon as I was told that the clue was up, I was also told the answer, at which point, I immediately put it in the address bar, pressed enter, and proceeded with the registration process from there. I’m not upset in the least with the person who told me the answer. In fact, I’m quite grateful, because that saved me precious minutes that I didn’t think I had at the time. (Little did I know that it would stay open another hour after I’d finished my registration.) However, getting into registration at the time that I did also meant that I was able to get a username I really, really like, which I might not have gotten had I waited any longer. What is it? I tweeted that too:
Hello, my name is ErisedAuror53! I’m so excited! #gladiwasawakeforthis
Actually, I went on a bit of a tweeting spree after that. I also posted to friends this on Facebook:
I’m analyzing my name WAAAY too much. I posted this on Twitter: “I am so happy with my username! Erised: coolest magical object ever + Auror: coolest magical profession + 53: two of my favorite numbers!” But, you know what else? Erised starts with E, which is my middle initial. Auror starts with A, which is my first initial. 5+3=8. H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so all my initials are there besides! This username is absolutely perfect for me! (Yep. I think I’m a Ravenclaw.)
Another sign you might be a Ravenclaw: not only do you over-analyze, you also write far too much about a potentially mundane subject. After over 1750 words now, I had better call it quits for tonight. I hope to write more about my experiences at LeakyCon (which I’ve promised to do for many days now) later this week!