Being sorted into the "wrong" Hogwarts house is like being drafted into the wrong clique in junior high. Being sorted into the "right" house is a validation of your life thus far.
With the books and movies behind us, Harry Potter fans soon will be flocking to Pottermore, an interactive website (www.pottermore.com) that opens its virtual doors at the end of this month.
But the persistent ones who have gained early access to Pottermore -- as beta-testers -- are already being sorted into one of the four houses of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, just as Harry and his friends were sorted in J.K. Rowling's first book.
It's a process that produces anxiety and self-reflection.
"I've learned throughout the years that Harry Potter fans are serious when it comes to associating themselves with one house or another," says Jasmine Harrison, 27, head organizer of the Houston Harry Potter Meetup Group. "People really do relate to and internalize the characteristics of Hogwarts houses; it almost becomes your identity as a Harry Potter fan."
Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Slytherin and Hufflepuff have distinct personalities: Gryffindor is the brave and chivalrous house; Hufflepuff is about loyalty and patience; Ravenclaw values wit and intelligence; and Slytherin emphasizes cunning and ambition.
Everyone who joins Pottermore will be sorted based on how they answer a series of questions. As Rowling explains in a video on the site, all sortings are final.
Bob Alberti of Minneapolis ended up in Gryffindor, an assignment he called a pleasant surprise.
"I really thought I was Slytherin material," he said.
Maggie Schultz from St. Paul Park joined him in Gryffindor.
"I was just glad I didn't end up in Hufflepuff," she said. "Especially because my fictional persona -- AshJin171 -- gets to live in a tower. Who wouldn't want that?"
But Minneapolis resident Nick Mjones said that observant fans could shape their answers to the sorting questions to improve their chances of getting the result they want.
"The questions were very much so associated with the different characteristics of each house, with a few random ones mixed in, such as choosing black or white," he said. "In some ways, I do see how you could outsmart the system."
Although, he added, some of his friends who tried that failed, "so you could say that it doesn't always work out."
The system is set up to make it difficult to "cheat" off other users' results, Schultz said.
"In talking to my friends about it, we discovered that we'd gotten different questions," she said.
Evanna Lynch, the actress who played Luna Lovegood -- a Ravenclaw -- in the Harry Potter movies, was sorted into Gryffindor when she joined Pottermore. Her tweets of surprise have been posted all over the Internet:
"Ahhhh umm errrrrr. ... Just got sorted. Slight identity crisis. Need to sit down and process this ... "
And then: "Gryffindor! Woahhh what an honour! I'm so happy! But confused! But happy! BUT CONFUSED ..."
- Staff writer Jeff Strickler contributed to this report.