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      09.02.2010 13:46
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      The Hogwarts Experience

      JK Rowling, the author of the renowned Harry Potter series, has sparked the idea of numerous websites being created by 'normal' people branching out in all areas. I have come across many of these in my search for a Harry Potter site to amuse me whilst waiting for the next book and films, yet I never came across one which combined absolutely everything you would want from a site. Until now...


      ******Site Overview******

      The Hogwarts Experience was established on February 21st 2006 (1 year and 3 months ago at time of writing this review) and sports approximately 1200 members to date, a large amount of these very active members. It was created to offer people not only a space to share their love of Harry Potter, but also a safe haven to discuss just about anything and everything and grows bigger by the day. Whereas it started out as purely Harry Potter, it now covers both that and the every day world and so much more.

      The Hogwarts Experience is mainly a forum based site, yet there are many different areas (such as the live rpg section and chat rooms) which take you away from the traditional forum feel, giving the feel of an all rounded site - something which I have not been able to find anywhere else on the net.

      The Hogwarts Experience is a 12+ site and have members ranging from the tender age of 12 all the way up to our oldest known member who is 53 this year.

      Unlike other forum based sites, the admins of the site are in constant watch over the site to provide the safest possible site on the web. Although no site can ever boast a 100% safe site, The Hogwarts Experience have had limited problems involving safety and have dealt with any situations that occur very swiftly.

      The Hogwarts Experience is also a completely free site. There are donation pages and a cafe shop which are very sucessful, though the admins and moderators work hard in their own time and pay out of their own pocket if need be.

      Due to the size of the site, I can not possibly cover everything there is, especially as it grows daily, but I will attempt to cover the main parts of the site. The rest is up to you to find out for yourself when visiting this great site.


      ******Sign Up******

      As mentioned above, the site is completely free so does not require any money to change hands. The sign up is extremely simply. Choose your username and password and enter a valid email address. A confermation email will be sent within ten minutes to your chosen email address in which you simply click on the link provided to activate your account. You must read the rules and regulations created by the admin themselves and accept this before you can continue.

      You will then recieve a personal message from the admin guiding you to the forums which will help begin your experience.


      ******The Forums******

      As mentioned above, the main action of the site takes place in a forum based surroundings. I will cover the other parts of the site in the next category. From top to bottom;

      * Entrance Hall: This is the first stop for any newbies. It holds the rules and helpful information to start of your experience with a bang.
      * Aboard the Hogwarts Express: A forum Designated for all introduction and welcome posts
      * Sorting Hat: Post within this forum to be sorted into one of the four houses of Hogwarts. Each house is named after those within the Harry Potter groups, but hold no more significance than that. Each house is equal and opens your own unique house forum for your eyes.
      * House Groups: This is where you can find all the lists of who is in what house.
      * Hospital Wing: Even though the rules are set clearly within the site, there still may be problems or questions that need answering. Post in here and one of the team will answer your question almost straight away.
      * Head of House Office: Any suggestions for the site, post them here. The admin attempt to accommodate every suggestion the best they can
      * Notice Board: This is where you find all important updates to the site. The notice board also includes two subforums; The award forum and the fireplace. The fireplace is traditionally where the old notcie board threads go and the award forum holds award nominations, votes and ceremonies every month.
      * Floo Network: Here you find all the links to other parts of the site which are not forum based.
      * Hogwarts Winners Cups: This holds the links to the html parts of HE where the cups and certificates are held for quidditch, housepoints, and exams.


      Classes;
      Each class is run by a different moderator and hold varying classes from questions to creative classes, from role plays to discussion classes and many more to keep you amused and help you earn housepoints for your house. Each class actually teaches you something both magical and non-magical and most are extremely interesting. Some professors also award certificates for the best students in their class. The classes include;

      * Ancient Runes
      * Arithmancy
      * Art, Drama and Creative Writing
      * Astronomy
      * Care of Magical Creatures
      * Charms
      * Defense Against the Dark arts
      * Divination
      * Flying Lessons
      * Herbology
      * History of Magic
      * Muggle studies
      * Potions
      * Supernatural and Paranormal Studies
      * Transfiguration


      There are also two other forums under this category;

      * Library: Create essays based on the open classes of the time for extra housepoints
      * Challenge Chamber: Many different challenges are set here, both HP and non-HP and prove to be extremely popular. All challenges give off varying amounts of housepoints


      Hogwarts Exams;The exams are avaliable at certain years (which are gained via post count). These include;

      * OWL Exams
      * NEWT Exams
      * Apparition Tests
      * Animagus Training
      * Occlumency and Legilimency


      There are also more proposed exam classes to come in the future. Hogwarts Towers;Under this category you will find your hidden house forum. In each house forum you will find a whole range of different subjects including three subforums;

      * Quidditch Forum: For your house to hold sign ups, tryouts and practise games for the main quidditch cup.
      * Dormitories: Another place to relax. Members are split into groups of 8-10 members and pit against one another in dorm challenges
      * Event Planning Forum: There are many big events held at the Hogwarts Experience (as seen later in the review) and each house have their own special place to plan for them.


      Also under this category are the following;

      * Housepoints: A forum where the housepoints are updated daily, keeping track of who has earnt what and which house is in the lead for the cup
      * Professor's lounge: A hidden lounge for only the staff of HE
      * Prefects Bathroom: A hidden place for the prefects and head girl and boy
      * Project Forum: Brilliant and exciting projects are held in this forum. It only appears when one is in process.


      Hogwarts Grounds;

      * Quidditch: This is where the cup quidditch and the holiday games are played. One of the RPG forums. There are also spectators posts and two subforums; Quidditch information (where the latest scores and dates of games are posted) and Past Quidditch Matches (to look through for inspiration)
      * Hogwarts Walks: A specialised forum to talk about the usual and unusual ships within the harry Potter verse.


      Rooms of Requirement;* Great Hall: The great hall often holds some spectacular celebrations such as balls and Christmas parties. Watch out for the upcoming events and share your time with other role playing students. The main forum RPG of the site. Includes two subforums;

      Event forum and Second event forum holds numerous events which have nothing to do with Harry Potter. These events prove extremely popular and among the ones that have already been completed are;
      Battle of the Bands, Fashion Show, Big Brother, Family Fortunes, Celebrity Challenge, scrapheap challenge and so much more. New events prop up every month and are well worth playing.

      * Duelling Tournaments: Pit yourself against others in rpg duels using magical and non-magical ways of defeating your opponants
      * Debate Classroom: Holds both one-off debates and tournament debates from Harry Potter to real life debates.

      Wizarding World;
      The newest category on the site. This category includes;

      * Hogsmeade: Venture into Hogsmeade and try your luck at the wizard lottery, bet on races and many more exciting games to win yourself galleons of housepoints - includes Gringotts bank subforum
      * The Order of the Phoenix Headquarters: Only those who have pledged allegiance to the Order may enter this domain
      * The Deatheaters Den: Only those who show the dark mark may enter this domain


      Mix and Mingle;The most popular part of the forum, where anything and everything is discussed. Forums include;

      * The Hogwarts Quill: Discussions on fanfiction and challenges set are held here. Also a link to The Hogwarts Experience's very own efiction part of the site (mentioned in non-forum based category below)
      * Graphics Forum: Show off your graphics and compete in challenges and tournaments against other members of the site. Also includes three subforums; Graphics Tutorials and Requests (what it says on the package), Graphics Showcase (members can showcase their graphics), and Past graphics challenges (check what has been and gone to give yourself inspiration.
      * Book Discussions: Includes subforums for each of the Harry Potter books, as well as a countdown forum with a new question and vote every day until the final book is released, a chapter breakdown forum and a character discussion forum.
      * Film Discussions: For discussions on the Harry Potter films
      * Promote your websites: Active students can promote their websites and join the affiliation programme.
      * Hogwarts Community: Probably one of the most busiest forums on HE. Within Hogwarts Community you can talk about anything you wish from your favourite colour, to the dreams you had last night. Also included in this forum is various busy subforums;


      * Movie Mayhem: Discuss likes and dislikes of any movie which isnt Harry Potter

      * Television Turmoil: Everyone loves TV, so this is the best place to discuss it!
      * Music Mania: Discuss the best and worst of music through all time
      * Basking in Books: Purely for the discussion of all those wonderful books out there which are not Harry Potter
      * The Theatre Hall: If you enjoy going to the theatre then this is the place for you
      * Video Game Forum: Discuss games on all networks of play.
      * Celebrity Chitchat: Who is hot and who is not in the celebrity world?
      * Hogwarts Experience Clubs/Groups: Form your own clubs on whatever you want and earn housepoints in the various events that occur.
      * Diary Room: Create your own diary/journal on whatever you wish
      * World of News: Discuss improtant changes in the real world
      * Quiz Quarters: Purely for fun quizzes and memes


      * Games Galore: Both forum based amnd graphical games

      * Beauxbatons and Durmstrang Exchange: Want to learn a new language or share your knowledge? Join the language exchange forum! Forbidden Forest;

      * Filches Filing Cabinet: Where the dead thread go

      * Headmistresses office: A hidden forum for the admins to plan new events


      ******Non-Forums******

      As mentioned above, although the site is mainly forum based, HE has branched out into other forms of excitement. Some of these include;

      * The HE RPG: Legend of the Green Dragon: Live role playing part of the site. No posting involved and competitions are held for the best players
      * Hogwarts Quill Efiction: An efiction part of the site where members can post their fanfiction, get reviewed, take part in challenges etc.
      * HE's Myspace Page: HE has joined the social network!
      * Two main live chat rooms, rpg and normal chat room
      * Chat box
      * Exam certification rooms: Where medals and certificates are on display
      * The Hogwarts Experience Website Awards: HE runs its own awards for other sites to compete in
      * Hogwarts Designs: All new Graphics Area
      * The Hogwarts Experience Graphics Gallery
      * Hogwarts Experience Yearbook
      * The Hogwarts Experience Trophy Room
      * Hogwarts Experience Adoptive Pets
      * Shops: Spend real money on real merchandise designed by the staff of HE
      * The Hogwarts Experience Newspaper: The Hogwarts Pensieve
      * Graphical games tournament
      * Quiz of the day


      ******The Staff******

      The staff at The Hogwarts Experience are chosen carefully by the admin and monitored to make sure that they are right for the job. Unlike some other sites of this nature, the admin are friendly and constantly online and strive to get to know all of the active members well. They are extremely approachable and always attempt to give the members exactly what they want from the site.

      There are two administrators and approximately 15 moderators who are all active and approachable. On top of that, there is a regular change of head boy and girl and prefects who aid the staff and help the site run as best it can.


      ******Extra Information******

      To date (May 2007) statistics of the forum are as follows:

      Site address: http://hogwarts-experience.heavenforum.com
      Our users have posted a total of 162252 articles
      We have 1170 registered users


      ******Final Word******

      Would I recommend this site to others? Most certainly! It has everything you could ever want from one site and is an extremely friendly and fun place to be. You do not even need to be a huge fan of the Harry Potter series as it covers much more than only that.

      I can not possibly cover everything about the site within this review, all I can say is take a look for yourself. It is free and easy to join with friendly people and pleanty to do to releave your boredom.



      Please note: This review was originally written in 2007 and this site changes constantly. Recently, the head admin of the site has changed hands though the original admin are still around. It is always changing and updating and continues to bring in a large amount of people

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