Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

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Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:06 am

Not quite three years ago, I started trying to measure the level of activity among major Tolkien forums in the English language.  I came to the conclusion that Forumshire had been the 4th largest such forum during 2012, and taking measurements about once a month, I determined that we had been the 2nd largest in 2013 and again in 2014.  Forums have been a major part of Tolkien fandom since about 1999, when the first major wave of forums started to be formed amidst the mounting anticipation for PJ's movie trilogy.  (Before that, online Tolkien discussion had been centered on the newsgroups alt.fan.tolkien and rec.arts.books.tolkien, although there were also Tolkien mailing lists focused more on languages as well as Michael Martinez's Xenite.org network at that time.)

Most of the Tolkien forums that are around today were founded between 1999 and 2003, and most of the biggest ones to have started since then were started by members of forums from that initial period.  The main exception to this rule was the "New Wave of Hobbit Movie Forums" that started in 2007-08, and was the movement we came out of.  Unfortunately, most of the forums from this period were small and/or have ceased to exist, but we did very well for ourselves and along with Bree worked our way up the rankings.  TORn, while part of the initial 1999 generation, parlayed the Hobbit hype into a period of explosive growth for themselves and became the largest Tolkien forum early this decade.  For more on this stuff, see my post from last year.

Now, in December 2015, the Hobbit trilogy is out on home video in its (probable) final form, and with no significant Tolkien projects on the horizon, we find ourselves at the end of an era and with a lot of uncertainty ahead of us.  This seems to me a good time to look back over the Hobbit Era, but first, this year's results:

Eldorion wrote:A few notes on methodology.  I limited the scope of this project to forums that were in English since those forums have considerable overlap in membership, and because I don't know much about Tolkien fandom in other languages and its harder to find such sites via Google.  I also excluded sites whose primary focus was games (video or otherwise) based on Tolkien's work since those forums tend to cater to a largely different crowd than other book- or movie-centric Tolkien forums.  Also, there are a number of corporate-run Tolkien game forums that double as customer service and thus have inflated levels of activity compared to fan-run forums.

Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015
ppd = posts per day

  1. TheOneRing.net: 194.6 ppd
  2. Forumshire: 72.2 ppd
  3. LOTR Fanatics Plaza: 40.1 ppd
  4. TheOneRing.com: 38.3 ppd
  5. The Hall of Fire: 31.9 ppd
  6. Arwen-Undomiel.com: 30.7 ppd
  7. Council of Elrond: 20.6 ppd*
  8. The Barrow-Downs: 19.2 ppd
  9. board77: 7.9 ppd
  10. Entmoot: 5.0 ppd

*Approximate value

It feels like ages ago (hell, it's been like a quarter of my life), but there was a period where The Hobbit movies had been announced but it was unclear whether they would actually occur due to MGM's financial difficulties and ongoing litigation involving the Tolkien Estate. These difficulties were resolved and the project was officially green-lit in October 2010, but then PJ suffered an ulcer and the start of production was pushed back, but they did begin filming in March 2011, with the first video diary released the next month. The first trailer came at the end of that year, with the films following in the subsequent three Decembers.

In the world of Tolkien forums at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, The Lord of the Rings was still the main attraction, though this was beginning to change. The largest forum at that time was The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, which had reigned since displacing TheOneRing.com in the middle of the previous decade. Arwen-Undomiel.com was also in the mix and the second-largest forum in several years. However, starting in 2007 with the uptick in Hobbit news that year as well as a major forum redesign, TheOneRing.net had gotten in the game and began making rapid progress. They were the second-largest forum by 2010 and the largest in 2012, a position they have held since.

Forumshire, which had started in its original form in December 2008, increased in activity every year from 2009 to 2013, which was our peak year. As most forums saw decreases even during the release of The Hobbit trilogy, TORn and Forumshire bucked the trend and became the two largest forums. However, despite shifts in position, the makeup of the top eight forums have not changed from 2011 to today. However, as I have noted in previous threads, the entire fandom has skewed downwards as activity and interest are not as great as they were during the LOTR Era. This graph shows the ppd performances of those top eight forums over the past five years:



Of course, the true value of any community does not come down to its size or any sort of statistics, but I've had fun doing this project over the past three years. I don't plan on continuing it after this year, however, since we're at a good stopping point and it is a little sad to see so many sites decline and become so inactive. I am optimistic that Forumshire will continue to play a meaningful role as a "home away from home" on the Internet for so many of us. My own activity here has always been cyclical, but while I may not always post as much without the excitement of new Tolkien movies, I know I will always be drawn back here by the community and everything that this place means to me.

This forum was started alongside many others in the early days of the Hobbit hype wave, before it was even noticeable on many sites. Most of the other Hobbit forums that started with us are gone, but we are still here, still successful, and I couldn't be happier to have this forum as my main Tolkien hangout as we venture into the new post-movie era ahead of us. (Though it's entirely possible we'll see new stuff announced in the near future). Thank you all very much.

It's been real.
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:29 am

Oh Eldo old bean silent One does feel a lump RRRRRISE in the old throat when you speak passionately. Youve put a lot into this & it hasnt gone unnoticed or taken for granted. I feel that ALL of us have been a supporting pillar, as a whole & as for the times when maybe one of us wasnt feeling so "happy" in their lives ? Its been comforting to know that this place is a haven to escape to, to laze around, letting the world & all its problems go by. Ive felt as tho Ive been floating many times & its great ! May I say youre all a great bunch of people with so much to share, its been a warm, welcoming place to be, Hope all of you have a Happy New Year, I hope the days are long & merry & troubles are far from your door, Love & best wishes to all !!!!!!! I love you Kissing :hug:

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:47 am

I appreciate all the work Eldo- but its a bit doom and gloom! I say we should set ourselves a challenge- Lets be the only Tolkien based forum to grow in 2016. We just need a bit of advertising. And more buckie. Maybe get Figg, Azriel and Amarie to dance on the tables. Get the punters in Nod (well it is Hogmanay drunken drunken )

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:15 pm

IL get the girls round, Smile


Did you say ON it or under it ?


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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:46 pm

Witches! Cant take 'em anywhere Mad

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:10 pm

Wanna bet ? :brows:

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:13 pm

I'll take you anywhere Azriel. Nod Thats it your round. Nod Nod drunken

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:22 pm

*** shoots out of door clutching purse***

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:23 pm

Very Happy Laughing

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:33 pm

pub

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Thu Dec 31, 2015 6:07 pm

@azriel, thank you very much for your kind words. I love you I know I do a lot of rambling about meta topics and that in the past few months in particular I've been doing this drawn out, public goodbye to a chapter of my life and of the forum's history, but it's gratifying to know that my words means something to someone else as well. Smile

@Petty, I get what you mean about it being sort of a downer topic. Part of the issue for us has been the lack of a highly visible blog or other source for new members since Bree went down for the final time. That and just people have other stuff going on and aren't necessarily as passionate anymore. That's not to say that there isn't anything we can do to keep the forum going, of course. I think we've done fairly well so far, especially compared to some other sites. But certainly any ideas or initiatives people want to pursue are always welcome. Smile
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Dec 31, 2015 6:30 pm

''I've been doing this drawn out, public goodbye to a chapter of my life and of the forum's history'' Eldo

No I don't like change when it means saying goodbye to someone or something that means such a lot. I certainly have appreciated your work here Eldo. You have always been the steady captain in the storm and it wouldn't be the same if you weren't here for whatever reason. But people and our lives change and grow into different areas, you shouldn't feel tied and trapped if you are ready for a new chapter. What is worst is not knowing stuff, having to guess or have things ambiguous. if you know the worst its always less stressful I find. I would like this forum to last another 10 years, it is part of my daily life, its like having a beloved pet always around to comfort and entertain you when you feel the need for a giggle or when the shit hits the fan, whatevs. I hope new people join, how many oddball Tolkien lovers are there in the world. No there may be lots out there but they haven't stumbled onto forumshire yet.

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:33 pm

Eldorion wrote:Thank you all very much.


No Eldo, thank you pub

I've had enormous fun in this forum over the last 2 and a bit years, posting, arguing, and laughing about TH films, Tolkien in general and a myriad of other random topics (and on the rare occasion I've actually learnt something useful:P ), over the years I've been a member of several other online forums, but none have the sense of (at times, rather oddball Laughing ) community that this place does, and I'll remain very grateful for Jackson and co for that at least, the movies weren't always the most enjoyable, but it's been interesting and very entertaining talking/arguing/moaning about them here so I suppose it balances out in the end.

I joined at a time when we were already nearing the release of DOS, so I don't have quite the emotional attachment or sense of melancholy (or relief) that some of you guys/gals may have as we pass the apparent end of Cinematic Middle Earth for the forseeable future, but even as a relative newcomer to this forum, I do know alot of the success of this place is down to your (and others) initial enthusiasm all those years ago, and the perseverance and hard(?) work you have continued to put in, in the years since.

So thanks once again, and let's hope for another five (or more) years of fun as Forumshire (and the Tolkien fanbase at large) enters a new era...(and era WB and Jackson hopefully won't have too much of a hand in Evil or Very Mad )

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:58 pm

Eldorion wrote:

@Petty, I get what you mean about it being sort of a downer topic.  Part of the issue for us has been the lack of a highly visible blog or other source for new members since Bree went down for the final time.  That and just people have other stuff going on and aren't necessarily as passionate anymore.  That's not to say that there isn't anything we can do to keep the forum going, of course.  I think we've done fairly well so far, especially compared to some other sites.  But certainly any ideas or initiatives people want to pursue are always welcome. Smile

I think the forum will keep ticking along nicely for the foreseeable future as a fun place for the regulars, it may be called 'Forumshire, The Hobbit Movie Forum' but let's face it we are hardly constrained just by Tolkien and the films, the Off-Topic posts probably outnumber Tolkien/Franchise related ones by nearly 2 to 1 at this point, and the vast majority of posts are probably made by a very small number of active posters, (not that is a bad thing-its the regulars who make this place what it is) whether the forum or any of us will feel the need to invite or attract new members is a different matter, it's probably too early to tell just how much of an decline the fandom/forum will have in the future.

It's the end of an era certainly, but also the start of a new one, I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what happens...WB are bound to have a few surprises up their sleeve...

As for ideas...has there ever been a Chapter by Chapter read through of the books? (or alternatively a scene by scene rant-through of the films Laughing ) I think someone (probably me) mentioned it a few months ago, but I don't remember if anyone was interested....it's a big time commitment and would need alot of organisation, but it would probably be alot of fun and could boost traffic to the forum or revitalize some of the older threads,

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The Thorin: An Unexpected Rewrite December 2012 (I was on the money apparently)
The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
The Sod-it! : Battling my Indifference December 2014 (You know what they say, third time's the charm)

Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:01 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Lets be the only Tolkien based forum to grow in 2016

If Moffat continues working on Doctor Who for much longer, you and Figgs could probably take the forum to the top on your own Laughing 12 Who threads alone...

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The Tauriel: Desolation of Canon December 2013 (Accurate again!)
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Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Mrs Figg on Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:50 pm

In between getting banned from TORn I used to really enjoy their LOTR caption thingie. they had a screenshot from each scene starting at the beginning of Fellowship onwards and people made comments on the significance or thoughts on the screencap. it was great fun, don't know if anyone here played the game over there in TORn?

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:07 am

Mrs Figg wrote: No  I don't like change when it means saying goodbye to someone or something that means such a lot. I certainly have appreciated your work here Eldo. You have always been the steady captain in the storm and it wouldn't be the same if you weren't here for whatever reason. But people and our lives change and grow into different areas, you shouldn't feel tied and trapped if you are ready for a new chapter. What is worst is not knowing stuff, having to guess or have things ambiguous. if you know the worst its always less stressful I find. I would like this forum to last another 10 years, it is part of my daily life, its like having a beloved pet always around to comfort and entertain you when you feel the need for a giggle or when the shit hits the fan, whatevs. I hope new people join, how many oddball Tolkien lovers are there in the world. No  there may be lots out there but they haven't stumbled onto forumshire yet.

This means a lot to me Mrs Figg; thank you for taking the time to write it.  I'm glad that you feel my efforts fulfilled a necessary purpose.  I'm not trying to be mysterious about my intentions here, I've just been confused and conflicted for a long time about it.  I'm also going through a really bad mental place right now.  However, I completely agree with you about the importance of this forum (it's been one of the only constants in my life over the past seven years) and the people here have supported me in ways most of you guys probably don't realize.  But I also feel very tired now and my passions are not entirely the same as they were in years past, and I feel bad knowing that my heart isn't fully in my job here.  But I don't intend on leaving the community or anything.  My rate of posting has and will continue to fluctuate, but I don't want to say good bye to anyone here.

Mrs Figg wrote:In between getting banned from TORn I used to really enjoy their LOTR caption thingie. they had a screenshot from each scene starting at the beginning of Fellowship onwards and people made comments on the significance or thoughts on the screencap. it was great fun, don't know if anyone here played the game over there in TORn?

I used to do that, and I fondly remember the turns I took at running the thread. Both fun and often very insightful; I'd enjoy doing something like that here if people were up for it.
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:15 am

malickfan wrote:No Eldo, thank you pub

I've had enormous fun in this forum over the last 2 and a bit years, posting, arguing, and laughing about TH films, Tolkien in general and a myriad of other random topics (and on the rare occasion I've actually learnt something useful:P ), over the years I've been a member of several other online forums, but none have the sense of (at times, rather oddball Laughing ) community that this place does, and I'll remain very grateful for Jackson and co for that at least, the movies weren't always the most enjoyable, but it's been interesting and very entertaining talking/arguing/moaning about them here so I suppose it balances out in the end.

Embarassed Thanks a bunch, malick. I've always enjoyed posting with you and I'm grateful for everything you've brought to our discussions over the past two years, both Tolkien and otherwise. It feels like a lot longer than that to me. I definitely feel that this place makes the TH trilogy absolutely worth it. Nod

So thanks once again, and let's hope for another five (or more) years of fun as Forumshire (and the Tolkien fanbase at large) enters a new era...(and era WB and Jackson hopefully won't have too much of a hand in Evil or Very Mad )

I have at times been so caught up in all the "end of an era" stuff that I forget how likely it is that WB will try to keep the money train rolling on. Razz It'll definitely be interesting to see. Regardless of that though, I'm sure the forum will continue. Plenty of others have, but we've got one of the vibrant forum cultures I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few.

malickfan wrote:As for ideas...has there ever been a Chapter by Chapter read through of the books? (or alternatively a scene by scene rant-through of the films  Laughing ) I think someone (probably me) mentioned it a few months ago, but I don't remember if anyone was interested....it's a big time commitment and would need alot of organisation, but it would probably be alot of fun and could boost traffic to the forum or revitalize some of the older threads,

This idea got brought up in the forum ranking thread last year (well, technically in a bump of the thread sometime in the spring) and a few people expressed interest but nothing came of it. I have had bad experiences with scheduled chapter-by-chapter/episode-by-episode go-throughs as I find it hard to keep to the schedule over a long period of time and it ends up becoming very stressful for me. But if anyone else wants to run such a thread they're more than welcome to. You're right about it taking time and organization to try to run stuff like that (much less an entire forum).
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:16 am

Eldo if there are things that you feel would be suitable to delegate I would be willing to help out in any way I can. I am hopeless at technical stuff but if there is anything non computery that bugs you and you feel like handing over for someone to do (no idea what btw) what I mean to say is if you need help with anything don't hesitate to ask Petty to do it! (just kidding). I feel bad that this place could be a burden to you, and I am really sorry you are going through a rough patch.

I didn't know you ran the caption thing over on the Dark Side. I would be up for starting something like that, its good fun. and even I know how to post images. Wink

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:26 am

Your offer really means a lot, Figgy.  Thank you. Smile There isn't as much to do in terms of running the forum as there was when the movies were still coming out, for a variety of reasons, but I have begun to talk with the other mods about some of the big questions regarding the future. I stress out incredibly easily but this place is always worth it.  My ability to handle stress is just at a near-all time low right now, but I'm very grateful to the other mods and of course to everyone who posts here for keeping things going smoothly at times when I'm out of it.

The caption thing rotated from person to person on a weekly basis I think.  The overall coordinator was Arwen's daughter IIRC (or at least she was back in 2010) and I got to do the daily threads for a given week on a couple different occasions.  'Twas definitely a fun time. Nod
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Forest Shepherd on Fri Jan 01, 2016 8:08 am

malickfan wrote: (or alternatively a scene by scene rant-through of the films  Laughing )
Very Happy Nod


Thanks by the way Eldo for encouraging things along here and just generally helping out. I remember there was a bit with whats-their-face, that confrontational guy a while back, where I acted rudely to him and you reprimanded me and then I thought some rude thoughts about you as well...

But that was just one of the regular bumps of contentiousness that happens between people getting to know each other, whether in person or online, and I'm happy to say that I appreciate you all the more for sticking up for politeness back then!

I stopped running that Roll to Dodge game last year because Petty took so long to respond and my D&D-esque desires were being met by an actual game of D&D. But if someone could explain more clearly what this captioning thingum is I would be more than happy to help out with that. 

My only other constructive thoughts as relates to the betterment of the forum are simple things like technical glitches. For example, we've all experienced (I think) the annoying bug wherein new posts will instead appear as read posts except with the thread-text the wrong colour or something along those lines.

And oh, hey, I just found the "More/Less" button on the text-editing bar for the first time. So that's how people do exponents!

Otherwise I do enjoy the format of the forum. Those "click the title of the post to read the actual post in the thread" thing on ToR.N bothers me something fierce! I know there's a flat view, but having to choose it is bothersome. The addition of new sub-forums or categories would certainly shake things up here, but probably not in any meaningful or enjoyable way! I mean, it's pretty much all covered any way?

I know that websites like reddit are so popular because of their click-inducing psychologically-rewarding glowy-orange inbox-thingy counts that shows how many unread responses you have. And those damn stupid upvotes. And their customization features.  In comparison a regular forum like this one can be a bit clunky in terms of your needing to actually remember in which category you posted a thread in order to see other people's responses to it. But then all of this comes down to meta-forum issues and website design and whatever. None of which is really in our control here, from what I've heard in previous posts from you. Something about who the website belongs to and the details of the code and so on. I really have no idea what I'm talking about and will stop now I think. Razz 

I don't know. Forums are fun and creative places in which to complain about things and enjoy each other. As long as the newcomers aren't too put off by all the weird things we talk about, I'm sure we'll continue to get more of them. If newcomers are something we are interested in, perhaps it would be wise to utilize the far-reaching mass-marketing tools of modern social media. As it is though, I kind of like the coziness. (Although it would be nice to have more people interested in talking about D&D now and then! Mad  )




{{{That guy was totally a punk!}}}

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by bungobaggins on Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:45 pm

Good job on your research and analysis for this ongoing project Eldo. Sad there won't be anymore with no major announcements on the horizon, (cue sappy music) but the community you've cultivated and grown here is priceless.

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:33 pm


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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:14 pm

Mmm stealing an idea from TorN (of all places! Mad )and using it on Forumshire?- am I morally ok with that?- yup seems I am- go for it Figg set up a thread and make the first one Nod

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:51 pm

ok. will start from the beginning of Fellowship.

http://movie-screencaps.com/lord-rings-fellowship-ring-2001/ gonna use this website for screencaps

I will set up a new thread

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