Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is not the official FAQ for, because there is no one true official FAQ. There are other FAQs, which can be found at <>. Of all of them this can only claim to be the wordiest.

An HTML version of this FAQ is available at <>. For the truly official version, the latest edition posted to Usenet can be found at <>.


    This part is for questions that require spoilers to answer. Even the question list has major spoilers, so don't follow that link unless you've read all the books.


1.1 How does this thing work?
Go to the following URL and check out the "What is Usenet" and "Usenet Netiquette" sections: <>.

If you're coming to us through Google Groups, it's possible that you can also access this newsgroup locally through your ISP with a dedicated newsreader. To test this, try going to "" (no "http"!) with your browser and see what happens.

If you stick with Google Groups, here's a quick tutorial on how to get it to use to Usenet-style quoting, which will make your posts more comprehensible to the rest of the world: <>.

1.2 What's on topic for this group?
Anything relating to the Harry Potter books, movies, or merchandise, or to J. K. Rowling. Fan fiction, and detailed discussion thereof, should go to
1.3 What do these abbreviations mean?
a.f.h-p, afh-p, afhp, AFH-P, AFHP -
AK - Avada Kedavra
CoS, COS - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
D - Dumbledore
DA - Dumbledore's Army
DADA - Defense Against the Dark Arts
DE - Death Eater(s)
GoF, GOF - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
HBP - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
JKR - J. K. Rowling
LV - Lord Voldemort
MoM, MOM - Ministry of Magic
MWP&P, MWPP - Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
OotP, OOTP, OoP, OOP - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
PoA, POA - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
PS - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
SS - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
V - Voldemort
1.4 What's a "spoiler"?
In the broadest sense, any information from a book or movie someone hasn't seen yet. For instance, if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or seen the movie yet, an explanation of what the Chamber of Secrets is would be a spoiler for you.

Articles which contain important spoilers should precede them with a warning-- be sure to mention which book the spoilers are from-- and lines of "spoiler space" so that a reader does not see any spoilers in the first screen of the article. This gives them the chance to skip to the next article to avoid being spoiled. You can put just about anything you want in the lines of spoiler space, although it will help out the blind readers, who have to use text-to-voice translators, if you don't use a bunch of random punctuation.

1.5 What needs to be protected with spoiler space?
One category absolutely needs spoiler space: any plot information about an as-yet-unreleased book or movie. Other than that, it's a judgement call. The more significant the information is to the main plot arc, the bigger a surprise it is, the later a book it comes from, the more you should think about putting spoiler space in front of it. Don't expect everyone to have digested all the books, movies, and interviews before starting to read this group.

If you're going to use spoiler space, remember to keep the spoilers out of your subject line, too.

1.6 What's "canon"?
The official version-- any information about the plot, characters, or world of Harry Potter coming from the books or from Rowling herself.
1.7 Do I need to check the Google archive before posting?
Not unless you're posting a hot news tip, in which case the group would appreciate it if you check to make sure you aren't the umpteenth person to tell us about it. Other than that, even if the topic you're raising has been discussed before, you or someone else who has joined this newsgroup in the meantime might have something new to say about it. Reading the rest of this FAQ before you post might be a good idea, though.
1.8 Eek! Is Tom Felton really reading this?
He certainly endorses this newsgroup on his Web site, but he's a busy guy and surely can't keep up with everything here. If your intention in posting is for him to see your message, you would probably do better to use his feedback page: <>. I'm sure he'll appreciate your making the effort to contact him directly. So will we.


2.1 What are the official Harry Potter books?
The main books:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone, in the US)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Supplementary books:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Quidditch Through the Ages
The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Anything else is unapproved by Rowling or her publishers, no matter how official it claims to be.

2.2 When will the next book be out?
The series is finished. Rowling has said she is working on an encyclopedia, but no release date has been announced for it.
2.3 Why was there such a huge gap between the release of the fourth and fifth books?
The official reasons are the enormous size of the fifth book and a desire to avoid the errors that got into the fourth book when it was rushed out. If you prefer a juicy rumor, pick any or all of the following: marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, writer's block, easy living, and the Stouffer lawsuit.
2.4 Why is it the Sorcerer's Stone in the US and the Philosopher's Stone everywhere else?
Philosopher's Stone is the proper term. Arthur Levine, the editor handling the US version of the book, wanted to change it because he was concerned that American parents would not understand the reference and would be put off by the academic connotations of "Philosopher". The change was made with Rowling's input and approval. Both Rowling and Levine have expressed regrets since.
2.5 Where can I download the books?
The texts have not been published in electronic format. However, you can get the audiobooks from iTunes.
2.6 No, where can I download illegal copies of them for free?
There are undoubtedly copies circulating out there somewhere, but don't come crying to us when the FBI breaks down your door.
2.7 Will there be an eighth book?
There will be exactly seven books describing Harry's adventures, no more. However, there are already two supplementary books (see 2.1), and Rowling says that she would be willing to do more for charity. She has also said she would definitely like to revise the whole series once she finished the seventh book.
2.8 How are the "adult" editions different from the regular ones?
The adult editions have more respectable-looking covers. Not a word of the actual stories is different, but the W. H. Smith "People's Choice" award was given specifically to the adult edition of Order of the Phoenix.
2.9 What are the differences between the US and UK editions?
The Harry Potter Lexicon maintains lists of differences between the editions. You can find them from the menu at <>. The differences are mostly due to translating between the dialects (e.g., "jumper" in the UK becomes "sweater" in the US).
2.12 I heard there was going to be a book called...?
Wait! If it's one of the following, it's not one of Rowling's titles. Some of these have been circulating since before GoF was released.

Harry Potter and the Alchemist's Cell
Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat
Harry Potter and the Chariots of Light
Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch
Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storge


3.1 What can you tell me about the release of the next movie?
The movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been pushed back to July 2009 for now.
3.2 Who will be in the upcoming movies?
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are confirmed through the last movie.

Steve Kloves is being brought back as the scriptwriter, and David Yates, who directed OotP, will be directing this one too.

3.3 Are the movies canon?
No. The scriptwriters have consulted with Rowling, but we have no way of knowing whether information which is not in the books originated with her or not.
3.4 Where can I download the movies?
Warner Bros. has not made them available for download.
3.5 No, where can I download illegal copies of them for free?
There are undoubtedly copies circulating out there somewhere, but don't come crying to us when the FBI breaks down your door.


4.1 How do I get to the deleted scenes on the extras DVD for the first movie?
Settle in, this is a long trip. From the main menu, go to Diagon Alley. Select bricks in any order until you get through the wall. Select the key at the bottom of the sign, then select the stacks of coins. Go back out to Diagon Alley and into Ollivander's. Pick any three wands; the third will be successful. Return to the main menu and go to the classrooms. Select the pedestal by clicking twice on it. Select the flute. Select the key with the broken wing (it's the one way in the back). Select the round potion bottle. Select the stone in the mirror and you will at last be at the first deleted scenes menu.

Some people have reported that they can jump to title 80 (completion of the key puzzle) and continue from there to the deleted scenes. Some can't. If you try it and it doesn't work, you will need to restart your DVD entirely to make the long way work.

4.2 Is there another ending to the Chamber of Secrets tour?
No, there's just the one way out.
4.3 Where can I find cheats for the video games?
There are a lot of sites that carry them-- enter "harry potter cheats" and the game platform you are using at your favorite search engine.


5.1 Where are the official sites?
For books, <>, and for the movies, <>. Be warned that these sites are spectacularly incompatible with anything but the latest popular browsers running with plug-ins and no security.

Rowling's official site is at <> and does have a "text version" with more limited information at <>.

5.2 Where can I find Harry Potter news?
DarkMark <>: General news.
Godric's Hollow <>: General news.
Harry Potter Fan Zone <>: General news.
Harry Potter International <>: General news.
Harry Potter's Page <>: General news.
HP4U <>: Movie news.
HPANA <>: General news plus feed of stories gathered from several other sites listed here.
The Leaky Cauldron <>: General news; some insider access.
MuggleNet <>: General news; some insider access.
The Snitch <>: Primarily movie and merchandise news, but carries major items of general interest.
Wizard News <>: General news; occasional news on other fantasy franchises.

Also, Dark Horizons <> and Counting Down <>, which are general movie news sites, sometimes originate Potter-related news.

5.3 Where can I find fan fiction?
The following is an incomplete list of general Potter fan fiction sites. Left out completely are the countless pages that specialize in particular characters. See your favorite search engine if you want to find one for your favorite character(s).

Fan Domination <> (General fanfic site)
FanFic.Net <> (General fanfic site)
Fiction Alley <>
Forever Fandom <> (General fanfic site)
Harry Potter Fan Fiction <>
Marauders Archive <>
Phoenix Song <>
The Sugar Quill <>

Or, check your favorite news archive for articles on the newsgroup

5.4 What about reference sites?
Magic Muggles <>: Web presence for this newsgroup.

Harry Potter Lexicon <>: Complete character information from the books, timelines, explanatory articles, and more.

The Akashic Record <>: Basic information from the books, with etymologies, symbolism, and cultural information, organized by spoiler level. (Warning! The author of this FAQ is touting her own site here.)

Harry Potter Facts <>: Important facts by chapter, and extensive speculative discussion.

Harry Potter Reference Spreadsheet <>: Exhaustive lists of facts in categories such as character names, places, passwords, and more.

Hogwarts Library <>: Reference and discussion site organized in support of this newsgroup, now defunct and living at the HP Lexicon.

5.5 What's the deal with the door on the Flash side of Rowling's official site?
It opens only sporadically. If it won't open for you, you're not doing anything wrong, it just means she didn't feel like having it open that day.


6.1 Is my fan site illegal?
It depends on exactly what you have on your site, how you're using it, and whether any of the copyright or trademark holders has asked you to stop. The entertainment industry is aware these days that it is in its best interests to allow online fan communities to flourish, so you're unlikely to get a cease-and-desist letter unless you are doing something like distributing unauthorized copies of the books or movies from your site.

Adding a copyright acknowledgement or a link to an official site isn't going to help you if one of the copyright or trademark holders disapproves of what you're doing. However, if you still would like to include a disclaimer, "SteveD3" reports that when he asked Warner Brothers for official permission for his Web site, they suggested the following:

"HARRY POTTER, HOGWARTS CREST, GRYFFINDOR, RAVENCLAW, HUFFLEPUFF, and SLYTHERIN characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros. TM & © 2003. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions on this site are those made by the owners. All stories (fanfiction) are owned by the author and are not subject to copyright law. This site © 2003 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED."

If you are a real stickler for details, change "2003" to the release year of the most recent movie.

6.2 Is fan fiction illegal?
If Rowling or Bloomsbury object to it, yes, but they don't much. Rowling says on her Web site: "Fan fiction is really fun, though, and I am so proud to think that Harry Potter inspired so much creativity!" On the other hand, she does not approve of adult-oriented fan fiction.
6.3 What's the Stouffer lawsuit about and how is it doing?
Nancy Stouffer, another children's author, accused Rowling of stealing material from her stories to use in the Harry Potter books. Rowling sued to have the accusation disproved, Stouffer made counterclaims, and finally, in September 2002, a judge ruled not only that the similarities between the two authors' works were "minimal and superficial", but that some of Stouffer's evidence was fraudulent, and fined her $50,000. Stouffer appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied in January 2004.

You can read the full text of the original judgment at <>. A report on the appeal is available at <>.

6.4 What's going on with J. K. Rowling suing Steve Vander Ark?
The lawsuit in question actually filed by Warner Brothers against RDR Books, over its planned publication of a condensed print version of the Harry Potter Lexicon site. WB alleged infringement on its trademarks and copyrights, primarily for the Harry Potter books.

The case was heard in April 2008. The judge's ruling was that the Lexicon book was sufficiently transformative of the main series, but not of the two companion books, since those were already structured as reference books. The Lexicon book was permanently barred from publication in that form, and WB was awarded the minimum possible damages of US$6750.

The trademark part of the case, which was about cover elements that WB thought could imply an official endorsement of the book, was settled out of court.

A modified Lexicon book is to be published on January 16, 2009.

Transcripts of the trial are available here:


(Tables of contents are at the end of each file.)

Most legal filings in the case (including the final decision) are available as PDFs at: <>

6.5 Did you just say Rowling doesn't actually own Harry Potter?
The latest Bloomsbury and Scholastic copyright notices state that Warner Brothers owns the Harry Potter characters, trademarks, book art, and just about all other intellectual property associated with the series. Rowling owns the text and some control over publishing rights.


7.1 What are some upcoming Harry Potter-related events?
May 21-24, 2009: LeakyCon, Boston, Massachusetts. Run by The Leaky Cauldron directly. Web site: <>.

July 18-21, 2009: Azkatraz, San Francisco, California. Run by HP Education Fanon, Inc., a spinoff of The Leaky Cauldron. (Replaces "Level Two", which was to be held in San Jose.) Web site: <>.

Summer 2010: Infinitus 2010, Orlando, Florida. Run by HP Education Fanon, Inc.


Major spoilers ahead! Do not go any further unless you have read the whole series!


8.1 Is there a FAQ which covers the most frequently proposed theories, which you have been dying to tell me about but held back until now because it contains a lot of spoilers?
Yes! Check out the Potterverse FAQ, archived at <>, which also includes answers to a lot of slightly less frequently asked questions that you may want to know.
8.2 Why does James Potter appear before Lily in GoF?
This is an error in the first edition. Since Lily was killed after James, she should appear first, and does in later printings. Part of the reason for the relaxed schedule for the fifth book was to avoid mistakes like this.
8.3 Is Sirius really dead?
Yes. He is no more. He has ceased to be. He is an ex-Sirius.
8.4 Does it say that Voldemort/Tom Riddle dies at the beginning of GoF?
The three Riddles killed at the Riddle house are Tom Riddle *senior*-- Voldemort's Muggle father-- and Tom Riddle Sr.'s mother and father.
8.5 Why couldn't Harry see thestrals before when he'd already been present at his parents' deaths?
Rowling's explanation is that it doesn't count to have seen death unless you understand what you've seen, which wasn't true for Harry until he'd seen Cedric die and had some time to think it over. The carriages were still "horseless" when he was going back to the train station at the end of GoF because it hadn't really sunk in yet.
8.6 How could the Sorting Hat possibly consider putting Harry in Slytherin if he isn't a pureblood?
Salazar Slytherin may have held to the pureblood idea, but it's Godric Gryffindor's hat, and not constrained by that requirement. You may recall that it previously put Tom Riddle Jr., a half-blood, into Slytherin.
8.7 Did Lucius Malfoy really try to AK Harry at the end of CoS??
The book says simply that "he lunged at Harry", so for purposes of canon, probably not. As for the movie, some people hear Malfoy saying "Avada", but some hear "Vada", "Vera", or something along those lines. Closed captioning differs from region to region. The only person who can give us a definitive answer is Jason Isaacs. If you get a chance to ask him about this, please let us know what he says.
8.8 Who are the heads of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw?
Professor Sprout is the head of Hufflepuff; Professor Flitwick is the head of Ravenclaw.
8.9 What houses were Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew in?
They were all Gryffindors.
8.10 How did Harry get the Marauder's Map back at the end of GoF?
Rowling said in her 2004 World Book Day online chat that Harry just retrieved it from the fake Moody's office when all the excitement was over.
8.11 What else did everyone do after the war?
Harry became the head Auror, assisting the new Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Hermione joined the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves. She then moved to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement where she was a progressive voice who worked to repeal oppressive, pro- pureblood laws.

Ron took Fred's place at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.

Ginny played with the Holyhead Harpies for a few years, then retired to start her family with Harry and be the Daily Prophet's Quidditch correspondent.

Luna became a famous naturalist, and later in life would marry fellow naturalist Rolf Scamander, the grandson of Newt. She kept an open mind, but did eventually accept that there were no Crumple-Horned Snorkacks.

Percy returned to the Ministry.

George also married, and named his first child Fred.

8.12 Why was there no portrait of Snape in the Headmaster's office near the end of DH?
Because he abandoned his post as Headmaster. However, Harry later arranged for a portrait to be made and placed there.
8.13 Where were all the pieces of Voldemort's soul?
1. Tom Riddle's diary, made a Horcrux when he killed Moaning Myrtle.
2. Helga Hufflepuff's cup, when he killed Hepzibah Smith for it.
3. Salazar Slytherin's locket, when he killed a Muggle tramp.
4. Cadmus Peverell's ring, when he killed Tom Riddle senior.
5. Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem, when he killed an Albanian peasant.
6. Harry's scar, when he tried to kill Harry. (Debate continues as to whether this counts as a Horcrux.)
7. Nagini, when he killed Bertha Jorkins.

The precise order of 2-5 is not clear. And yes, this means Voldemort split his soul into eight pieces, not the seven he intended.

8.14 How did Harry survive the Killing Curse in the Forbidden Forest?
It killed the piece of Voldemort's soul that had been embedded in him. He had the choice to return because of his blood tie to the part of Voldemort that was still living, but another curse would probably have killed Harry directly.
8.15 What was the thing in King's Cross Station near the end of DH?
The one-eighth of Voldemort's soul that had just been killed.
8.16 What, in general, was going on with the Elder Wand?
Albus Dumbledore became master of the Elder Wand when he defeated Gellert Grindelwald. When Snape killed Dumbledore, that led Voldemort to believe that now Snape was the master of the wand. Snape then arranged for Voldermort to take it. This did not work as well as Voldemort expected, leading him to believe that the wand had not yet surrendered its allegiance to Snape. Thus Voldemort killed Snape, to give himself complete mastery of the wand.

In fact, Snape was never the master of the wand. Draco first defeated Dumbledore by disarming him (as Dumbledore pointed out at great length before he was killed). This made Draco the master of the Elder Wand. Harry then defeated Draco at Malfoy Manor.

So when Voldemort faced Harry at the very end, Harry was the true master of the Elder Wand. That was what gave Harry the upper hand, allowing his spell to ricochet Voldemort's Killing Curse back at him.

Petréa Mitchell

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