Tolkien Gateway

From Tolkien Gateway
This is the encyclopedic article about Tolkien Gateway, for generic help and information see Help:Contents or Community Portal.
Sloganthe J.R.R. Tolkien encyclopedia that anyone can edit
TypeWiki; collaborative encyclopedia
Article count12,597
RegistrationOpen edit
Key peopleEderchil
(see Top Editors)
Launch date1 January 2003 (Wiki: 5 June 2005)
StatusActive users: 74

Tolkien Gateway (or simply TG) is a not-for-profit collaborative wiki devoted to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, being the largest Tolkien-related encyclopedia on the World Wide Web.[1] It strives to be the most extensive and complete online resource with content relating not just to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien but also information on Tolkien-related images, adaptations, people, places, events, societies, and other works of scholarly and academic interest.

Although still criticised for its "wiki" ethos, Tolkien Gateway's growth and increased scholarship have been lauded by Tolkien scholars in recent years.[2] Its increased status has led to greater popularity as Tolkien Gateway is now the most popular Tolkien website in the world, ahead of and The Tolkien Society.[3] Tolkien Gateway is recognised as one of the world's largest wikis, ranking 368th in the world by total number of articles, 529th by total number of edits and 656th by total number of images.[4]

Inspired by the release of The Lord of the Rings film series, Tolkien Gateway was founded by Hyarion on 1 January 2003 as, then, before eventually opening up as on 3 June 2005. Tolkien Gateway uses the same MediaWiki software as Fandom and Wikipedia whilst operating a GNU-FDL licence. Tolkien Gateway has a wikifactor of 220.[note 1]


Tolkien Gateway is determined to inform you as much as possible about J.R.R. Tolkien and his masterpieces. Our goal is to have the most complete database about Middle-earth and Tolkien as possible.


Key dates

See also: Tolkien Gateway:Updates

History by year


Inspired by the recent release of The Lord of the Rings (film series), Hyarion created TolkienGateway on 1 January 2003 as a community and an encyclopedia at Sporting a tan-coloured skin, TolkienGateway made use of the free PHP-Nuke software.[20]

In February, Hyarion decide to move the web-hosting of TolkienGateway from Angelfire to FuturePoint. By August, Hyarion migrated to the free, and more aesthetically-pleasing, domain of[21]


Tolkien Gateway's original logo

On 6 November, Hyarion purchased the domain and begins work on creating a proper wiki. By March 2005, the original TolkienGateway has gone offline so Hyarion can focus on the new website.[21]


In January 2005 Tolkien Gateway's {{redlink|[[Tolkien Gateway:Chat|IRC chat}} was opened; this enabled both Tolkien Gateway editors and users from other websites to congregate in a single place for discussion of their respective websites and the works of Tolkien.[22] Tolkien Gateway's IRC, The IRC network was eventually retired roughly a decade later.[23]

After a long hiatus, Tolkien Gateway opened to the public on 3 June with Hyarion as the sole administrator and bureaucrat. Around the same time, Wikipedia began removing and pruning many of their Tolkien-related articles that were deemed not noteworthy enough. In order to preserve the content and for Tolkien Gateway to be seeded with some articles ready for its release, many were copied from Wikipedia or The Encyclopedia of Arda; this has since been criticised by later editors who have struggled to identify and update all such articles.[24]

Notable editors during this time include BrightSideoftheDark, Bokkie, Elemmakil, Gandalf, Hyarion and Tik.


On 1 January 2006 Hyarion opened a second website, Tolkien News, as a another source of information, in competition with, but without the commercial advertising. The website closed in 2008.

Technically, 2006 was a very important year for Tolkien Gateway: it saw the introduction of the fresh Cavendish skin, the creation of a forum for editors to discuss important issues, a community portal, and the ability to embed video. Furthermore, 2006 witnessed impressive growth in page views: from less than 200,000 page views at the start of the year to a million by October, by this point Tolkien Gateway was also witnessing 3,000 pages views per day.[7]

2006 also witnessed modest growth in members from about 180 at the start of year to 422 at the end of the end of the year.[11] Important editors during this time include Ardamir, Earendilyon, Ebakunin, Hyarion, Mith, Narfil Palùrfalas, Tar-Telperien and Tik.


Tolkien Gateway in July 2006

Although technically relatively uneventful, 2007 saw attempts by Hyarion to increase Tolkien Gateway's user base and reach. In particular, coinciding with the release of The Children of Húrin Hyarion arranged The Children of Húrin Release Party an online gathering of artists, collectors, scholars and fans to celebrate the publication of this fresh story; a record-breaking 69 new users joined Tolkien Gateway in April 2007 as a result of this.[11] Coinciding with The Children of Húrin Release Party, Hyarion also introduced a brand new Main Page layout which still remains the basis for the current Main Page.

On 4 October, Hyarion introduced interwiki links allowing Tolkien Gateway's English articles to be connected to the fellow wikis Ardapedia (German) and Kontu (Finnish).[9] Since then, interwiki links have also been expanded to the French website Tolkiendil and Farsi website Valimar.

Influential editors during this period include Dr Death, Dwarf Lord, Earendilyon, Elemmakil Fleela, Hyarion, Mith, Narfil Palùrfalas, Tar-Telperien, Theoden1 and Tik.


Tolkien Gateway in June 2008

The first major event of 2008 was a server move, "Due to the rapid growth of Tolkien Gateway we will be migrating to a new quad-core server with 8 gigs of RAM."[25] Tolkien Gateway moves server on roughly a year basis every time resulting in considerable downtime and residual problems; this move was no exception![26] The following month, Tolkien Gateway was featured as the Site of the Week for the 8th February on the fan website[27]

On 30 April 2008 the first major extension to the wiki's content was the creation of a map which seeks to list all the important locations in the world relevant to Tolkien's life, publications and adaptations.[10] The expansion of the wiki continues, reaching 7,000 articles by 12 July[12] whilst gaining an extra 366 members over the course of the year, taking the total membership to 788.[11]

In the summer, Hyarion revealed to editors that he had been in discussions with the administrators of One Wiki to Rule Them All, the Tolkien encyclopedia of Wikia, to merge the two sites together. Although the proposal wasn't fully fleshed-out, members of both communities got so far as registering their intention to vote on the issue before Wikia staff decided they were unwilling to let go of their own site - the merger never took place.[28] A happy side-effect, however, is that many One Wiki editors migrated permanently to Tolkien Gateway, including the One Wiki bureaucrat KingAragorn.[29]

what a shame. It's almost comical that they ignored the wiki until there were any talks of leaving, at which point they realized they'd be losing money so they now have all of their employees pretending to be active contributors. Anyway, we're moving past it, they are not worth the time

The second seminal event of 2008 was the introduction of Meetings. The first meeting was held on 17 August 2008; following the first meeting, Tolkien Gateway saw its very first promotion of Ederchil to administrator, an expansion of Projects to focus the activities of members, and a more extensive Community Portal.[30] Meetings continued on a weekly basis until October.[31]

On 25 August, KingAragorn contacted with a proposition that Tolkien Gateway and should work in co-operation. The general premise was that the two online Tolkien communities were consubstantial and should, therefore, work together for each other's benefit. The discussion was, at first, progressive; it was mooted that, in effect, Tolkien Gateway would become's encyclopaedia, and that would become Tolkien Gateway's news portal. However, discussions came to an end because of an apparent bad history between Hyarion, the owner of Tolkien Gateway, and Whilst there was reciprocal praise for the work achieved by both communities, no further discussions took place.[32]

Finally, on 26 August, the "Gateway to Ithilien" was made the default skin for Tolkien Gateway, and - with minor alterations - still remains the default skin today.[14]

Top contributors during this period include Aule the Smith, Dwarf Lord, Earendilyon, Ederchil, Eldarion Telcontar, KingAragorn, Linathiel, Mith, Narfil Palùrfalas, Quidon88, Sage, Þelma, Theoden1, and Tik as well as KingAragorn Bot


Apart from another difficult server move,[33] 2009 was a relatively uneventful year for Tolkien Gateway and its editors. Despite this, Tolkien Gateway gained the largest number of editors in any year (481),[11] as well as passing the threshold of 8,000 articles.

Frequent editors of 2009 include: Ebakunin, Ederchil, Eldarion Telcontar, Grond, Hyarion, KingAragorn, Mith, Morgan, Mthomas, Pinkkeith, Þelma and Sage, as well as KingAragorn Bot.


Tolkien Gateway in November 2010

2010 started eventfully for Tolkien Gateway as a new editor, Gilgamesh, including Quenya and Sindarin declension templates in the majority of articles - this led to an intense discussion between Gilgamesh on the one hand, and Ederchil, Mith and Sage on the other (arguing that their appearance and canonicity were questionable). Eventually, all the templates were removed.[34]

Despite reaching its fifth birthday (as a wiki) this was left uncelebrated by the editors. Indeed, some editors expressed disquiet about existing technical problems, the paucity of editors and the inactivity of Hyarion with some editors suggesting that the project should be forked. Following this, Tolkien Gateway witness a re-emergence of its meetings,[31] Hyarion became more active (updating the MediaWiki software), Ederchil was promoted to a bureaucrat and Mith was promoted to administrator/sysop.[35] It was also at this time that, with great reluctance,[36] that members of the community decided to lock Tolkien Gateway to anonymous editors; this was in order to prevent the large numbers of spammers who were vandalising articles.[15]

In the summer of 2010, Kris Kowal from added links to Tolkien Gateway - alongside existing ones to the Encyclopedia of Arda - on his interactive map.[37]

During this time, many key projects were embarked upon by editors: the relatively new editor Morgan working on bibliographical information;[38] Mith working on the Timeline and years; Ederchil and Mith updated and expanded infoboxes; Mith and KingAragorn trying to remove five-years of redirected links (with the aid of their bots);[39][40] KingAragorn re-categorisation all location articles; Sage working on language-related articles; and Amroth and Pinkkeith working on video-games articles. Other high-frequency editors include: Aule the Smith, Gilgamesh, Grond, Mthomas and Theoden1, along with the aforementioned KingAragorn Bot and Mithbot.


Tolkien Gateway in January 2012

In November 2011, the esteemed auction firm Bonhams included a reference to the Tolkien Gateway article on Przemyslaw Mroczkowski in their lot description of a 1957 letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to the Polish professor.[41]

Key projects in this period included: "The Countdown to The Hobbit films"-project, after suggestion of KingAragorn;[42][43] the creation of the index namespace and development for a new Main Page by Mith;[44] Mith and Hyarion working on technical issues and creating the new "Mithilien" skin; new editor Gamling creating articles for all letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and referencing articles; Morgan continuing to work on bibliographic information;[38] Mith working on Dates[45] and creating and redesigning several infoboxes; KingAragorn working on locations, images and redesigning the portals;[46] Morgan and Sage working on language-related articles; Amroth and Pinkkeith working on gaming-related articles; and CaptainRolly working on Tolkien Societies. Other high-frequency contributors include: Dwarf Lord, Ederchil, Grond and Tik.


In January 2012, news spread about Emil Johansson's The Lord of the Rings Family Tree Project — a genealogy of characters from Tolkien's legendarium, where each character carries a link to the respective Tolkien Gateway article.[47][48]

On 20 August 2012, Shaun Gunner (User:Mith) took part in a panel discussion with Corey Olsen called 'Lifelong Learning Tolkien: Face-to-face and Online'. Tolkien Gateway was cited has an example of the power of the online Tolkien community, with noted scholar Dimitra Fimi claiming to be an editor.[49]

In September 2012, the Mythgard Institute podcast "Riddles in the Dark" episode 17, featuring Corey Olsen, Dave Kale, and Trish Lambert as hosts, included a positive mention of articles (particularly Radagast) on Tolkien Gateway.[50]

On 22 November 2012, Tolkienseminariet ("The Tolkien Seminary") in Sweden, with notable members Anders Stenström and Åke Bertenstam, positively reviewed Tolkien Gateway, saying that since 2003 the wiki "has grown rapidly and now provides copious and dependable information about Middle-earth and not least about Tolkien's life and writings".[2]

C.S. Lewis: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource by P. H. Brazier is published in 2012 with multiple references to Tolkien Gateway.[51]


In December 2013, surrounding the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a surge in traffic meant that Tolkien Gateway briefly became a top-50,000 website worldwide.[3]

In the Brazilian translation of Michael White's Tolkien: A Biography (J.R.R. Tolkien, O Senhor da Fantasia), Tolkien Gateway is listed in the editor's appendix as one of the best websites about Tolkien.


On 18 May 2014, the online version of The New York Times provided a link to Tolkien Gateway's page about The Silmarillion, in Ethan Gilsdorf's article "Waving His Wand at ‘Beowulf’".[52] On 21 July 2014, the website Inquisitr referenced Tolkien Gateway's article on the Inklings in its news story about forthcoming Tolkien biopics.[53]

On 20 May 2014, Stuart D. Lee's book A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien is released. It lists Tolkien Gateway under recommended "Further Reading", stating that it is "An indespensible resource for Tolkien references and explanations".

On 7 August 2014, Shaun Gunner, Chairman of The Tolkien Society, made reference to Tolkien Gateway in an interview with, saying the website has "transformed the accessibility of Tolkien".[54]


Janet Brennan Croft includes Tolkien Gateway in her article "Bibliographic Resources for Literature Searches on J.R.R Tolkien", noting that although the website is not mainly intended for academic use, it can be "useful for locating the source of a quotation or piece of information within Tolkien's works, or for a brief bibliography of a particular scholar's works".[55]


J.R.R. Tolkien A Guide for the Perplexed by Toby Widdicombe is published and lists Tolkien Gateway in their Useful Websites section.[56]


The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth by John Garth includes multiple references to Tolkien Gateway.[57]


J. R. R. Tolkien: Epic Fantasy Author by Eric Braun lists Tolkien Gateway in his section on websites.[58]

The Real JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-Earth by Jesse Xander credits Tolkien Gateway on its Acknowledgements page.[59]

The Science of Middle-earth: A New Understanding of Tolkien and His World by Jean-Sebastien Steyer, Loic Mangin, and Roland Lehoucq references Tolkien Gateway on its Acknowledgements page.[60]


On August 27th, 2022 a new more mobile-friendly skin ("Timeless") was launched in conjunction with the upgrade of MediaWiki, the system that runs the wiki.

On 7 August, The Washington Post's crossword puzzle featured the clue, "Fantasy creature found on the website Tolkien Gateway (3)" Answer: Ent.[61]

On 18 August, Tolkien Gateway purchased the domain "" as a short URL (example:

Tolkien, Race, and Racism in Middle-earth by Robert Stuart is published with references to Tolkien Gateway.[62]

With the creation of a Discord server for the wiki, communication among the main active users is notably improved, now able to easily discuss matters within and beyond the scope of the site. Related to this, the expectation of the upcoming The Rings of Power series increases the editing activity, both for good and bad. Most active users are not involved in defined projects, but their contribution is essential to keep spam out, bad editing controled and decisions well discussed. Users with a more focused approach include Luotiansha, with an outstanding improvement on Tolkien's bibliography; IvarTheBoneless, with a much needed expansion on The Book of Lost Tales lore; Akhorahil, with a notable work on the Third Age lore and etymologies; GondolinFan and User:Turiannerevarine, with a bold attempt of expanding The Fellowship of the Ring's scenes; and LorenzoCB as a rookie admin.


On 1 April, Tolkien Gateway is announced as winner of the Tolkien Society Award for Best Online Content.[63]


On 30 April, Tolkien Gateway donated twenty copies of Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography along with a few other books to a school in California studying J.R.R. Tolkien.


See also: Wiki#Trustworthiness and Criticism of Wikipedia for criticism of wikis in general

Like other wikis, Tolkien Gateway has been criticised for the reliability of its information, its lack of sources and the frequency of its revisions. In particular, in the summer of 2010, Tolkien Gateway was criticised for confusing the two articles for Norman Power and Joseph Power; the prominent scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull said:

The Tolkien Gateway entry for Norman Power makes a terrible hash of it by conjoining Norman and Joseph. How on earth could the writer think that someone said to be born in 1925 (Joseph) could be a student at Oxford in the late 1930s? [..] Well, call us old-fashioned (we do), and we admit to having only a passing knowledge of the ways of wiki-creation, but it would never occur to us to post a work-in-progress, to be cleaned up by someone else, especially since people often take wiki articles, in any state of completion, as gospel truth.

Despite Morgan launching a defence of Tolkien Gateway on The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza, although accepting that Tolkien Gateway was better than other online encyclopaedias, the members generally complained about the unreliability of Tolkien Gateway - and wikis in general - and the ephemeral nature of the Internet, with an agreement that there was a "distressing lack of sources".[66] The article English and Welsh was paraded as a particularly bad example. In response to the criticisms raised, both the "Joseph Power"/"Norman Power" and "English and Welsh" articles were amended.[67]

In a review of Tolkien Gateway, Kristine Kastle claimed that it was only appropriate for the younger reader, it suffered from poor navigation, and the design was basic, lacking colour and that the life was sucked out of it; she gave Tolkien Gateway a score of 1.5 out of 4 which translates as, "Well now at least the website is recognizable as a website; style is still not pretty much nonexistant."[68] The skin has been updated twice since the review although the navigation system has changed little.[26]

Commenting on Tolkien Gateway, Troels Forchhammer says that "[i]t suffers from the same problems as any wiki when the subject is one of some fame or notoriety and in particular when the subject lends itself to strongly held opinions". He also marks that Tolkien Gateway is "trying to add thorough references to their articles, but has still a way to go."[69]

After a suggestion from User:Morgan, Hawke Robinson and Michael Martinez discussed Tolkien Gateway on the Middle-earth Radio Talk Show on 8 August 2010. The radio hosts put forward a "positive critique", praising Tolkien Gateway for "a great effort", "a nice layout", and that the website should be "recognized for all the work that has gone into this wiki". However, they also addressed the issue that "as all wikis, there's always room for improvement", especially pointing out the need for "better citation standards".[70]

Positive feedback

  • "Tolkien Gateway is the GOAT[note 2] of Tolkien websites" - Tea with Tolkien[71]
  • "Tolkien Gateway was the perfect thing at the perfect time for's fantastic." - Matt from Nerd of the Rings[72]
  • "The only reliable source on the Internet for Tolkien lore is Tolkien Gateway. This website is manged and edited by renowned Tolkien Scholars. The articles are periodically checked for misinformation and inaccuracies. It's one of the oldest Tolkien websites ever launched, dating back to 2000." [Almost! Technically we go back to 2003] - VahePogossian on Reddit[73]

See also

External links


  1. From Wikipedia: "The wikiFactor is simply the number of pages in the wiki (wF) that have had more than 1000 times wF visits."
  2. GOAT, an acronymn for "Greatest of All Time"


  1. "List of Tolkien Encyclopedias", based on research by Mith (accessed 19 November 2010)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "22 november 2012" dated 24 January 2013, Tolkienseminariet (accessed 24 January 2013)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Alexa - (accessed 7 January 2017)
  4. WikiStats - List of largest MediaWikis (accessed 15 February 2022)
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  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 Personal research by Mith
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  23. Tolkien Gateway:Chat
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  32. Personal research by KingAragorn
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  40. See "Redirects" for progress (accessed 24 November 2010)
  41. Lot 182 at (accessed 22 November 2011)
  42. "Forums:Countdown to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (accessed 1 January 2012)
  43. "Tolkien Gateway talk:Meetings/13 November 2011" (accessed 1 January 2012)
  44. "Main Page/Development (accessed 1 January 2012)
  45. "User talk:Mith/2011" (accessed 1 January 2012)
  46. "Forums:Portals" (accessed 1 January 2012)
  47. "Student produces Middle-earth genealogy site" dated 23 January 2012, (accessed 24 January 2012)
  48. "King Geek? Lord Of The Rings Super Fan Traces Middle-Earth Family Tree" dated 24 January 2012, The Huffington Post (accessed 24 January 2012)
  49. Troels Forchhammer, "The Return of the Ring" dated 25 August 2012, Parma-kenta (accessed 25 May 2014)
  50. "Riddles in the Dark 17: Radagast the Brown and the Movie App" dated 14 September 2012, (accessed 16 September 2012)
  51. P. H. Brazier, "C.S. Lewis: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource", Google Books (accessed 15 August 2022)
  52. Ethan Gilsdorf, "Waving His Wand at ‘Beowulf’" dated 18 May 2014, (accessed 18 May 2014)
  53. "Movie In The Works About J.R.R. Tolkien And C.S. Lewis – Together!" dated 21 July 2014, Inquisitr (accessed 20 August 2014)
  54. "TORn talks to Shaun Gunner, Chairman of The Tolkien Society" dated 7 August 2014, (accessed 20 August 2013)
  55. Janet Brennan Croft, "Bibliographic Resources for Literature Searches on J.R.R Tolkien" dated 12 June 2016, Journal of Tolkien Research (accessed 31 May 2016)
  56. Toby Widdicombe, "J.R.R. Tolkien A Guide for the Perplexed", Google Books (accessed 15 August 2022)
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  58. Eric Braun, "J. R. R. Tolkien Epic Fantasy Author", Google Books (accessed 15 August 2022)
  59. Jesse Xander, "The Real JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-Earth", Google Books (accessed 16 August 2022)
  60. Jean-Sebastien Steyer, Loic Mangin, Roland Lehoucq, "'The Science of Middle-earth", Google Books (accessed 24 August 2022)
  61. "Fantasy creature found on the website Tolkien Gateway (3) Crossword Clue Answer" dated 30 January 2024, Clashiverse (accessed 30 January 2024)
  62. Janet Brennan Croft, "Tolkien, Race, and Racism in Middle-Earth", Google Books (accessed 15 August 2022)
  63. Daniel Helen, "Winners of The Tolkien Society Awards 2023 announced" dated 1 April 2023, The Tolkien Society (accessed 2 April 2023)
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  70. Middle-earth Radion Talk Show, Episode 29 (dated 8 August 2010; from ca. 27:50) at
  71. Twitter Reply from Tea with Tolkien
  72. The Tolkien Experience Podcast, episode "Matt 'The Nerd of the Rings'" (accessed 15 August 2022)
  73. Comment on "A source for Lore? Podcast or videos?" on Reddit