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HPFF History

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#1 timeturner


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Posted 05 September 2009 - 01:45 AM

From Jay, site owner

Quite a few people have asked how and why I started this site, so to save time and emails, here it is. Thanks to Cariel for taking my initial ramblings about the site history and making them into a coherent piece of work. Thanks also to timeturner for updating to April 2009.

The History of HarryPotterFanfiction.com

The Beginning.
The site originally started as an exercise in coding html. I wanted to base the site on something that I was interested in, but that also carried a large fan base. With my love of reading/writing I debated centering the site around some of my favourite fictional books such as the Sherlock Holmes series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The reason I ended up choosing Harry Potter was that I didn't have to look hard to find images on the internet that I could use, which saved time instead of creating my own. The site went online in late 1999. After several shots in the dark for a domain name, leaky-cauldron.co.uk was purchased in July 2000. (we no longer have this domain, deciding in early 2007 to purchase www.leaky-cauldron.com instead, which now points to our forums)

Leaky-cauldron.co.uk began as a general Harry Potter site with a small section listing my favourite fanfiction stories. The site became a small hobby, updated every so often, but I found myself spending more and more time searching the internet for fanfiction sites to feed my hunger for more stories and getting more and more interested in fanfiction. Fanfiction soon became my main focus.

Getting fed up looking all over the net for quality stories I decided to place a fanfiction site listing up on the Leaky Cauldron, making it easy to get a list of good HPFF sites in one place. In February of 2001, I purchased a small 'Top 50 fanfiction sites' listing programme and decided to host it separately from the Leaky Cauldron as a Harry Potter fanfiction site. I thought of a few names for it but eventually decided on harrypotterfanfiction (Ok, not a lot of thought went into it!). In May I bought the name 'harrypotterfanfiction.com'. My interest in fanfiction grew and I decided to make a site of my own based around fanfiction. In mid-2002, I spent time scouring the internet for software that would allow me to build and host my own fanfiction archive.

The Archive.

'Storyline' by EO designs was a piece of software that allowed users to upload stories to an archive and categorised them, but best of all it was free. This was the software that the first archive used. Once I mastered the basics of PHP, (I`m still learning) the archive was up and running in the summer of 2002.

Unfortunately as the archive became more popular, it began to be abused. Stories were uploaded that had graphic content and language. I decided to find an alternative piece of software to host the 1,500 authors and 1,200 stories that would give me greater control of the users and content.

Around this time, I also decided to make a forum role-playing section of the site, as many users were doing so through their stories. So Virtual Hogwarts was born and quickly grew to be a huge part of the site. It was so huge, in fact, that it had to be hosted separately. It continued to grow and in Febuary of 2004, I decided it was taking up too much time and money to keep it as a part of the site as a whole. Preferring to spend my resources on fanfiction, the site was passed over to a member of the staff. The site is still around, and flourishing. But recently I have hankered after the good old days of RPG and HPFF now has its own successful RPG at http://www.pottersworld.net. This too is becoming one of the favourite RPG's for HP fans and is thanks mainly to the work put into it by Propmaster, the PottersWorld site admin/manager.

Closing Down.
June 2003 saw the archive change to a new piece of software: 'eFiction' written by 'Rivka' and backed up with a help forum, it allowed me to monitor stories and authors and to have a greater degree of control over what appeared on the archive. To combat abuse, I enlisted the help of a few mature members to validate the submitted fiction. As the story submission count grew, the hosting costs steadily rose. Donations were trickling into the site (only covering about a quarter of the cost), but as the site kept exceeding the allotted bandwidth each month, I had to pay penalty costs out of my own pocket. The site was becoming too costly to run, it was offline frequently due to overloading, and unhappily, I began to consider closing it down.

In early 2004, I gave the users a few months notice that the site would be closing, expecting only a bit of a backlash, not the landslide of mail (some abusive) that wanted the site kept open. A few sites sprang up to support us staying online, and a petition was even started. Thoughtful though it was, I still needed money to cover the hosting costs.

HPFF Finds a Saviour.
After receiving various mail from users offering small donations, I received a message asking me to check my PayPal account and was astounded to find a donation of several hundred dollars. It was immediately sent to the hosting company and kept the site online for several more months. I cannot stress this strongly enough: without this person`s donation, HarryPotterFanfiction would not be here today.

Dedicated Servers.
April and May of 2004 saw the site suffer relentlessly from downtime and overloading. The site was down more often than it was online. I tried to cut back various areas of the archive that were hogging resources, but it was no good. A dedicated server was the only way forward. In June 2004, I purchased a dedicated server costing over $100 per month, but the dedicated server also crashed due to overloading! In August, the site moved once again to a larger server, hoping that this would help with the resource issue.

Again, money began to be a problem and again HarryPotterFanfiction.com's saviour stepped in with a substantial donation. Things didn't improve, the server still stumbled, and I was paying for management companies to sort the server out, and look into ways of keeping the site from crashing.....but it still went down, solely due to the amount of visits we were getting.

The Last Chance.
In October 2004, Google ads hosted on the site started to bring in about $150 per month and with donations coming in, I decided to acquire a top level dedicated server. With Twin Xeon processors, loads of memory, and twin drives to store the database, I went back to my original hosting company on my own dedicated server and haven`t looked back.

The site continues to grow at an astonishing rate hosting over fifty thousand stories and receiving about fourty million hits a month. December of 2004 and January 2005 saw the costs of the site come completely from ads and donations. Since 2008, running costs for the site and site run contests are met from Google ads.

Site Events and Milestones

Since its inception, HPFF has fostered a community environment with its members being offered a wide variety of special events for members of all levels. From the original Writer's Duel which still occurs today to the ever popular riddle contests, HPFF continually looks for ways to keep things interesting and fresh. In 2006, the HPFF sister site for original fiction (www.fictioncentral.com) opened and, 2007 saw the launch of our RPG site, Potter's World and the first annual Dobby Awards contest to showcase the best authors on the site as voted on by members.

The end of the HP series came in 2007 and while many members feared for the future of the site, HPFF kept moving right along. 2007 saw several site milestones including reaching 300 million words written by our members and 1.3 million reviews posted at the site. 2008 brought the first HPFF calendar and the posting of the 50,000th story at our site.

On March 24, 2007, harrypotterpodcast.net took to the airwaves, adding a new dimension to HPFF. Here, you can listen to some of your favorite HPFF stories as well as listen to the amusing antics of the HPFF staff on the ever popular "Staff Chats". Making your stories available for download through both itunes and podcast alley, the newest addition to HPFF's list of sister sites helps you keep HPFF with you wherever you go.

The Staff.
The staff have only seen a few changes since the site began, mainly the addition of more people to help manage the influx of submissions. Early staff members consisted of Arukas, Cariel, Forgotten, and RowenaMcKinnon. Arukas ran the forum and Cariel was installed as Archive Administrator in November 2003. Shade and TomFoolery became Validaters in the spring of 2004. From the work Britannia and BitterEpiphany did helping out on the forums, they became Staff members in October 2004.

As the year closed in 2004, LogicalRaven lent her services for the first ever Writer's Duel and moved to staff soon after along with timeturner. 2005 brought more validators: BJauth, alpha3760, Noblevyne, Ravengryffendor. BitterEpiphany became the new Forum Administrator. Various staffers came and went as the years went on, all adding their wonderful talents to help make HPFF what it is today.

May 2007 brought the first major shift in staff when Jay, site owner and founder, announced his retirement. Daily site management was turned over to LogicalRaven and timeturner who have been managing it since that time. Still an active participant at the site, Jay's overseen major coding changes and server related issues for HPFF since his "retirement".

The site now has a varied and very capable staff that continue to work hard to maintain HPFF's place as the best site for Harry Potter stories. From April Fool's Spoofs to competitions to raising money for charity, HPFF continues to lead the way in Harry Potter fanfiction.
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#2 EvelynCullen09


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Posted 05 September 2009 - 04:08 AM

Incredible! I cannot believe my favorite site on this earth went through all of that. Jay, you are AMAZING! I want to personally thank you for your hard work in creating Harry Potter Fanfiction. It has advanced my writing so much and I have such a great time on it. I remember when I'd first had an idea for a Harry Potter story abotu a year ago. I'd planned a certain character out that I wanted to add to the world of Harry Potter. It took me about a year to finally decide I wanted to make my idea into a story. I then searched countless amount of times on lovely google looking for anything that could take my story. Right as I'd thought I'd given up, i searched one last time and HPFF popped up. I searched around and became semi familiar with it wrote down my very first chapter write on HPFF (SOOO many spelling/grammar mistakes Posted Image ) But I was overjoyed. I celebrated each time I got a review. Hpff soon became a big part of my life. I know this all sounds REALLY, REALLY, cheesy and nerdy, but it's helped me so much with my writing. I really want to become an author one day, and if that happens, I really have to thank Hpff for giving me the opportunity to test my skills, giving me positive (and when needed negative) feedback. It's all thanks to Jay, and now timeturner and LogicalRaven. Thanks guys! *hugs*

Oh, and sorry about the whole long reply. I just really wanted to share how much your hard work is appreciated :)

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#3 Jay



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Posted 06 September 2009 - 08:24 PM


Just remember when you publish that first book, I'll be checking to see if we get a mention on the dedication page. :)
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#4 raveneye


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Posted 08 December 2009 - 11:30 PM

I'm glad that you managed to keep the site online :).

I would never have become interested in writing if it wasn't for the inspiration provided by some of the stories on this site (particularly LogicalRaven.)

Thanks for trying so hard to keep it up, (and thanks to the generous Doner)


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#5 LilyFire


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Posted 07 May 2010 - 12:29 PM

I agree. Donor, thank you, where ever you are(:

I can't believe this site almost didn't exist. If that had happened, I would never started writing anything. Now I'm working on my own book. This site is the best thing that I have ever found online, and it's inspired me so much. Thanks Jay, for making it, and everyone else for helping(:
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#6 Boredonenight


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Posted 25 May 2010 - 02:43 AM

Yeah, I'd like to personally thank whoever it was that donated the money to keep HPFF alive when we needed it, it means a lot to have this website :)
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#7 RoseWeasleysPatronus


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Posted 19 June 2010 - 06:26 AM

Yes, the amazing work Jay and all the staff have done has been invaluable to developing my writing skills! And the donor! thankyou donor, thankyou from the very bottom of my Harry Potter obsessed heart.

My writing has vastly improved over the year since I've been on HPFF and i'm currently working on my first book, and if it ever gets published, HPFF might just have to go in the acknowledgements :D
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#8 Smiggle


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Posted 22 June 2010 - 07:42 AM

Woo! This is an awesome sight and we get to meet new peoplePosted Image

It makes you feel welcome when everyone welcomes you to your house! Wonderful site!

Edited by Jay, 23 June 2010 - 04:21 PM.
Combining 2 posts

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#9 Septyrikon


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Posted 22 June 2010 - 10:16 PM

It's funny. As just another member in the stats, you might not appreciate these things. And mainly I think it's because anyone rarely know these things. It's very intriguing to hear of the trials and tribulations this site has undergone, and it just makes me so much more proud and happy to be a part of it :)
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#10 funky_hippo


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Posted 01 August 2010 - 12:18 PM

Wow. I've never actually taken the time to read this before and I gotta say....I was 14 when I joined the forum back in 2003 and had no idea that you guys went through all of this; I can't believe how ignorant I was. It has changed so much! It used to be quite a broad forum (I still have the document saved of when someone ran the HPFF Awards - which of course had nothing to do with HP or fanfics haha for the forum members!) but it's definitely been refined to a strong focus on HP fanfics.

I'm all nostalgic now remembering Kay, Tom and Tom, Shade, Cariel, Row...I remember Emmy running the offtopic section and the Mature Discussion section! I was always a reader and not a writer but I'll never forget the people I met off here and kept in contact with through the many other forums the members created themselves with the same community - even Kay had one called Bikini 101 or something along those lines

Thank you so much to that donor because without you I wouldn't have had all the memories this forum created for me. And of course thank you Jay (only just found out you had retired 3 years ago!) soooooo much for never giving up and for teaching and providing me hours of procrastination at an early age <3

Edited by funky_hippo, 01 August 2010 - 12:25 PM.

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#11 diametric


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Posted 18 August 2010 - 02:45 PM

oh man, funky, doesn't this bring back memories? I haven't been on HPFF for years and to see that Kay is still admin, and that some other people from the old days are still somewhat active is really a bit of a woah moment. I was a scrawny and new teenager when I first found hpff and started writing my own little stories and then participating in the forums and making friends. I'll always remember HPFF for what it was, a home for some of us to come, talk, write stories, obsess over HP and have fun. Thanks for the memories.
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#12 Jay



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Posted 18 August 2010 - 05:19 PM

always remember HPFF for what it was, a home for some of us to come, talk, write stories, obsess over HP and have fun.

Was?? Was?? I hope it's still the same place!!

BTW, you win our prize for 'longest period of time before making a first post'. Congratulations. :)
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#13 cdcdancer215


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Posted 19 October 2010 - 12:27 AM

I know I'm really late in replying to this topic, but I've only just gotten around to reading it. I joined HPFF about a year ago but I just joined the forums, and I love it here. Seriously, I've already made so many friends here, and I love having all of these writing resources and being about to have a creativity outlet. Just wanted to say thanks so much to the staff and the donator!



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#14 NatalieZinc


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Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:11 PM

Thank you for providing us with this wonderful community. I can't imagine an internet without it.
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#15 maskedmuggle


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Posted 05 February 2011 - 07:01 AM

Oh gosh. I've been here for months now, and I have read this before back when I was a newbie… but since it's the 10th Anniversary, it's only fitting that I comment and really say how much I appreciate the hard work of Jay, and all the staff! THANK YOU!
Jay, I can't believe how much work you have put into this site, and I am so utterly amazed and thankful! Thanks to that special donor as well, none of this would be happening without the donations :)

I hate school history, but HPFF history is certainly fascinating! :D
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