Thursday, July 21, 2016


BEYOND THE BOOKS is a weekly meme where KissinBlueKaren throws out a topic (mostly non-bookish), and we blog about it.

This is how I feel sometimes keeping up with all of my social media outlets.

Most people's first experience with social media is Facebook or Twitter, and I'm sure there are a few MySpace veterans out there too, but mine was a place called MyLeaky!

I joined when the site first opened, but it was during the time when my son was ill, and I only managed to get on a couple of times to set up my account before getting what needed to be done for him became all consuming, and the word "social" was erased from my life for the next four years both IRL and on the internet.

When Sebastian graduated from high school, and had also aged out of the Regional Children's theater company at 17, I had a wider margine of free time and Sebastian's gift to me of my own laptop helped me rediscover the site. However, I found that I had missed out on MyLeaky's glory days when there were 40,000+ members and thousands of people visited and participated in groups and activities, and hung out in the common rooms each day. I was now joining a ragtag gang of about 200 devoted active members as a Ravenclaw, La La Toadstone.

It was still great fun and I think I much preferred conversing in the Ravenclaw common room with about 20 people than I would have hundreds each day. I liked the smaller discussion groups in our book club Grounds For Thoughts. We had groups for recipes, television shows, anime, movies, riddles, poetry, crafts, fandom discussions, and role-playing. The most popular roleplay group was for quidditch games. There was even a group to post what the weather in your part of the world was like on that day. There were tons of game groups like The Poster Above Me, Fortunately/Unfortunately There Will Be Dragons, Would You Rather, Like/Dislike, The Wrong Answer Game, and the very popular The Banned Game; just to name a few. We had a parchment on our profile page for chatting with our friends (most of mine where in Slytherin, ha ha) and PMs called Owl Post. Of course there were house points toward winning the house cup every year and the three top point winners in each house were posted at the top of the common room's page. The way it was set up was extremely different from the other HP fan sites and forums. It had a magical ambiance to it. It made you feel like it was a site run by wizards and witches, not muggles.

We formed strong friendships and talked about what was going on in our lives outside of the Potterhead fandom. Then the "dustings" started. We would notice someone who usually posted everyday not being around for a couple of days and would go to leave a message on their parchment, but there would be a message page instead of their profile page saying that MyLeaky was "dusting", with the image of  the Leaky Cauldron's chambermaid. Sometimes the member would make a new account and sometimes they wouldn't bother. Every once in a while a group would "dust" and then the entire site started to have periodic dustings. After the dustings the Bad Gateway 502 screens started. At first it would be for a few hours, then a day or so, and then it progressed to days on end. I think the longest was 11-12 days. The next thing that happened was no one could start a new account. That meant if you were "dusted" you were gone forever and there were so many friends we never got to say good-bye to. By this time I was on Facebook and had people I met on HP fandom pages who were excited to join, but couldn't. Because of this I think the active members had dwindled to about 20 by the time the site quit functioning for all intents and purposes. A handful of us managed to straggle in and comment on The Banned Game every couple of days, but most everyone else had been dusted.

When the site first started deteriorating we complained to Melissa Anelli, the web mistress, famous for: Pottercast, helping JKR set up Pottermore, starting LeakyCon (which is now GeekyCon), and writing Harry - A History. We asked questions on the website's complaint and suggestions page and when she stopped interacting there we filled her MyLeaky profile page with our worries. Every couple of months an admin would stop in and tell us the site was being worked on and to bear with them. They said there was to be a new and improved site up and running in preparation for the Fantastic Beasts movies. Finally we were told there would be an eight day down time and they would be back with the upgraded site.

The upgrades we got were to The Leaky newsfeed side of the website. The bigger money making side. The MyLeaky social site side had been stripped of all of its charm. Our friends lists were gone, our groups lists were gone, the house points were gone. The groups had been stripped of their mastheads and admins. Our Owl Post was gone. We all had to change our passwords in order to log in, but most people's change verification emails never came. We were told that everything would be fixed and the groups restored, but if you try to login now there is a screen that says the new MyLeaky is coming summer 2015. The last time I looked we were well into summer 2016. After all the podcasts and interviews where Miss Anelli professed that her love of the fandom came first and the Harry Potter fans would always be her heart, she let us down in a monumental way. All of her programmers and admins were volunteers, so all that was needed from her was a block of time and attention to rally the troops, but greed won out. All of her attention is now on GeekyCon and the current events newsfeed. I have to laugh that the GeekyCon tagline is, "... a fan convention that values creativity and community over commercialism." Ha ha. At one point on a Pottercast where they were discussing the MyLeaky upgrades she made a snide remark and laughed about the last of us clinging to the shreds of the site.  We were ultimately thrown some scraps that don't even work now. A few months ago Melissa sent me a friend request on Goodreads and I was hoping she wanted to talk about the website, but I have yet to hear from her.

We did, over the the last few months before Leaky's demise, make Facebook pages and groups trying to keep people together, but most of those have have morphed into other things. My Harry Potter themed party and entertaining page is now Professor Bumbershoot's Magical Homes and Gardens and I feature a wider variety of party ideas, gardening tips, food and decorating ideas. I now have close to 1,500 followers. Halloween time is my busiest season on that page. There was also Bibby the House Elf's House which was our Facebook gathering place during the 502 Errors and dustings. That page is now The Snidget and it is for "adult" wizarding news; there are no silly/profane memes or house cup competions. I was also given a co-head admin spot on a HP fandom page called "He Can Run Faster Than Snape Confronted With Shampoo" - Fred, that has nearly 5,000 followers. Those three pages keep me busy in the Potterhead world. I joined Twitter to keep in touch with a few Leaky pals who are not on Facebook and that has morphed into my very active book blog account @LaLaTOadstOne. I tried to resurrect the feel of MyLeaky in a Goodreads group, Howarts Is Our Home, with news stories, The Cursed Child and new movie discussions, and even some of the old games, but no one came and it was too much work playing to an empty room. It still surprises me how few Leakyers are on Goodreads.

I think I also need to credit Leaky with my starting to book blog. I found out about Goodreads in the book club, and the ARC I was trying to win when I accidentally started this blog, trying to validate Rafflecopter entries, was the sequel to a book two teen members, Rabbit and Whisper, were flailing about in that group. 

I am still holding out hope that there will be some semblance of Leaky returning, even if it is only so we can regain access to all of the creative content stored in the groups and touch base every once in a while with old friends who faded into the ether; not to be found on Facebook or Twitter. It would also be wonderful to start anew with other fans, but it will be sad that they will not be able to experience the magical place that was the original MyLeaky.
What was your first social media experience?

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