A Brief (Believe It Or Not) History of The Leaky Cauldron
Up to date as of Dec. 6, 2007
The Leaky Cauldron, www.the-leaky-cauldron.org (now also available at www.leakynews.com), is an all-purpose site for the Harry Potter enthusiast. It started in 2000 as a badly designed one-page roll of news; it has now turned into a destination for fan entertainment and discussion, and has become the Harry Potter site of record, hosting the oldest and most comprehensive Potter news archive on the Web.
The Leaky Cauldron also hosts the entire Floo Network, including the Harry Potter Lexicon and Accio Quote. These sites are hosted at no cost to their individual webmasters, and have been since the Floo Network’s conception. In the next few weeks, the Lexicon will move to its own server and begin to provide its own hosting. Feb 10: This transfer will not happen until litigation on the Lexicon case is over, as ownership and cost status have now been mentioned in the lawsuit and we cannot be party to changing those variables until the case is finished.
This main site now runs on several dedicated servers, both running CentOS Linux and using Lighttpd, PHP 5.1 and MySQL 5, the latest technology available. We use a modified version of Mephisto. A separate server houses our forums and our chat room runs on yet another. This latest version of the site debuted in July, 2007, and was conceptualized and designed by TLC Creative Director John Noe and programmed ground-up by Head Programmer Nick Poulden, assisted by Leaky Programmer Alex Robbin.
Leaky Through the Years
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has called Leaky “my favorite fan site” and “a wonderfully well-designed mine of accurate information on all things Harry Potter” that “attracts a lot of knowledgeable and entertaining debate.” She said it is about “the worst kept secret on this website that I am a huge fan.” (We’re still grinning.) Leaky has been recognized in several ways over the years, but received its highest honor to date, J.K. Rowling’s Fan Site Award, on May 13, 2005. This personal recognition from the author of Harry Potter is a huge and cherished honor to us all. On the same day, Ms. Rowling announced that she had invited Melissa Anelli to Scotland to interview her alongside Emerson Spartz of MuggleNet; this interview was one of only three she granted in the leadup to the book (the others were to Katie Couric and TIME Magazine, not including a press conference with children she did the following day). The interview took place at her home in Edinburgh on July 16, 2005, the day that the sixth Harry Potter book was released; results may be read here with Melissa’s report of the weekend here.
Leaky went online in July, 2000, right before the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released to manic response worldwide. At the time it was one of the very few sites (and is the only one from that time still operating today) to chronicle all media happenings, giving fans links to external articles about Potter. In 2001, Leaky became the first Harry Potter fans to start reporting on the franchise themselves, as the first fan site to create and maintain relationships with the main companies in charge of producing the Potter films and books, a practice which has opened doors to allow many fan sites to do the same today. Leaky is proud to have been the first and only Potter fans to report from the Chamber of Secrets movie junket and Prisoner of Azkaban film set, and to have continued to produce original reporting and a lengthy list of exclusive interviews with the people involved in the Harry Potter books and films.
Today, instead of one rolling page of all the news, fans can browse more than 220 categories of it, or simply sign up for a newsletter system or notification list to be alerted about the latest.
They can discuss everything at the Leaky Lounge, our forum, which gathered nearly 30,000 users and more than 600,000 posts in its first year. They can download and use fun and practical widgets from our Widget Gallery, featuring widgets that have been honored by Apple as favorites, or they can listen to PotterCast, our weekly podcast that covers the latest in Harry Potter and features analysis, discussion, and a consistent stream of interviews with the cast and crew of the Potter films and editors of the Potter books. News and interviews that appear in this podcast very often contain news and information that goes unreported anywhere else.
Fans can now use this site to leaf through thousands of related pictures in our galleries; find almost any piece of Potter merchandise that exists on the Web at our Cauldron Shop; talk to each other in an interactive, graphics-based chat room called Chamber of Chat; read interviews, reports from the film sets and movie reviews; compare trailers to their book counterparts with our shot-by-shot analyses; find information on Harry Potter-related events at PotterParties.com; get all possible book and movie information, images and more, and even contribute to charity through Leaky Inc., our not-for-profit organization that has raised more than $35,000 to aid literacy in its three years as a charitable organization.
Leaky’s interview archive is one of the things of which it is most proud. Besides Jo Rowling, we have interviewed people associated with every corner of the Harry Potter franchise and fandom: The producers and directors of the first four films; the executives at Scholastic; the company that produces the books in America; many actors from the film from the main trio of actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint) straight down the line to extras and fans. Our full list of interviews is here.
Leaky has also reported from four movie premieres, DVD launches, readings with J.K. Rowling, live events with film actors (Matthew Lewis, Jamie Waylett, Devon Murray, Alfie Enoch), and more.
One of the newest and most exciting aspects of the site is PotterCast, our weekly podcast, which reached #1 on the iTunes music directory in its first two days online, and has been in the Top 100 the majority of the time since. It is the only Potter-related podcast to interview those involved with the production of the books and films, including main actors, directors, crew members and publishers. The show also features recaps and analysis of Potter characters, plot elements, news and more; it interviews a new fan every week, answers readers’ questions about the book series, and has had exclusive information about the Goblet of Fire premieres and after-parties as well. It was one of the only podcasts online to produce a call-in show, and teamed up with MuggleCast to produce a live podcast in New York City following the Goblet of Fire premiere that was attended by over 700 fans. The show has engendered a very active fan discussion in our forum, Leaky Lounge.
Leaky is proud to bring its readers into the publication of the last Potter book, the release of the last three Potter films, and beyond.