When it comes to finding information on the world of "Harry Potter" and its various incarnations, the Internet is a frontier wilder than the Forbidden Forest. One false move, and you find yourself stuck on a Squidoo site that hasn't been updated since 2003, reading inappropriate fan fiction through a haze of 15 pop-up ads.
The good news is that there are plenty of great resources out there for the enterprising Potterphile, and we've compiled some the cream of the crop here. Consider it your own personal Internet Marauder's Map.
Harry Potter's Page
The lively, frequently updated Harry Potter's Page is a veteran of the fan site field, having been started in 2001 as a pet project for an adult fan who wanted more accurate news about "Potter." Nine years later, it hosts a wide variety of news and information on the books and films, including title-specific news, aggregated info from around the web, and pages specifically dedicated to Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (what, no love for Rupert Grint?). The podcast hasn't been updated in a while, but it's fun and informative.
Founded all the way back in 1999, MuggleNet is one of the titans of Harry Potter fandom on the Interwebs. It's about as comprehensive as you could hope for in terms of news, information about the books and films, and opportunities for fans to interact, and has everything from trivia to fan fiction to RPGs in which visitors can insert themselves into the world of wizards. It also hosts the very popular MuggleCast podcast, published bi-weekly. JK Rowling, herself, has endorsed the site and stated that she lurks in the forums, so if you happen on a fairly knowledgeable Englishwoman there, try not to be rude.
The Leaky Cauldron
Along with MuggleNet, The Leaky Cauldron bestrides the world of Potter fandom online like a great colossus. It's been around since Geocities, and is just about as comprehensive a resource as you can get. The current webmaster, Melissa Anelli, wrote the 2008 bestseller "Harry, A History," so you know there's some authority on fandom going down here, and JK Rowling fully endorses the site, granting it (along with MuggleNet) exclusive access after the release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and appearing in its podcast, Pottercast. Leaky also enjoys a good relationship with Warner Bros. and has leaked (ZING!) to it images and information on the films ahead of official release. One word of warning: Watch out for their April Fool's Day jokes.
A relative newcomer compared to some of the old hands, Veritaserum.com (named for the wizards' truth potion from the books) is still a comprehensive resource for information on the world of Harry Potter in both book and movie form. It has all the news that's fit to print, along with an encyclopedia and even a list of notable character birthdays, but most impressive is its deep archives of fan-created content. Whether your tastes run to standard fanfic or to the multimedia side (check out the "Fan Made Videos" section, which contains hundreds of entries), you'll find something you'll like in its hallowed halls.
Snitch-Seeker covers all the bases you'd expect from a "Harry Potter" fan site -- news aggregation, information on the books, movies and video games, and fan art and fiction archives. But the real action here is going on in the forums, where the discussion is lively and the fans are running multiple simultaneous alternate reality RPGs through the forums. If you've ever dreamed of inhabiting a House in Hogwarts or skulking the corners of Diagon Alley, you can get your fix here.
Muggles Behaving Badly
This is sort of an odd duck in the "Harry Potter" fan site universe -- sure, they have news, and forums, and some of the usual trappings, but Muggles Behaving Badly is like the Fred and/or George Weasley of the community, sitting in the back of the class lobbing spitballs at the blackboard. It's mostly a home for irreverent humor, weird twists on the wizarding world (see the recent "Zombie Potter" poster for an example), and while the quality of said spoofery can be hit or miss, it's nice to see someone taking a slightly less fawning look at the franchise.
Harry Potter Fan Zone
Started in 2003 by a 14-year-old Australian Potterhead named Andy McCray, Harry Potter Fan Zone has grown to become one of the largest fan sites around, earning recognition from the mainstream press and JK Rowling. Like many fan sites, it's an incredibly deep resource for learning about the world of the books and films, but it's also made a name for itself with exclusive and in-depth event coverage, ranging from book launches to movie premieres. Check out the "Exclusives" section for interviews, set reports and galleries you won't see anywhere else.
The world of fan-fiction can be a scary and confusing place - you're as likely to run into a deep, elegantly written story that would fit in with the official canon as you are to find a 2,000-word treatise on Ron's butt written as one, continuous sentence. You need a guide for this kind of thing, and fortunately, HarryPotterFanFiction has you covered. It's a simply massive database of fan-created content, currently claiming over 65,000 pieces, but its comprehensive search engine means you'll quickly and easily be able to find what you want. For those who want to contribute, the site also runs contests (including a House Cup) and participates in events like National Novel Writing Month, meaning you'll always have an outlet for your Potter-addled imagination.
The Harry Potter Automatic News Aggregator (HPANA.com)
Given that the "Harry Potter" books and films are a global phenomenon, it's not surprising that information about them appears in hundreds, if not thousands of sources, from mainstream media to the smallest fan site. Fortunately, the Harry Potter Automatic News Aggregator exists, serving as a divining rod for all the news that's fit to print about the world of wizards. Readers can browse news by category and get a very full picture of how the people of Earth are taking notice of goings-on in the Potterverse, and the site has broken some news of its own, being one of the first outlets to report on the plans for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.
Originally published Nov. 5, 2010.
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