In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sirius talks to Harry through the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. This method is again used by Harry, twice, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to connect to Grimmauld place.

Why is this method of communication apparently not used, in general, by all the Hogwarts students? Wouldn't it be better to have face-to-face communication than communicating through letters by owl post? Is there any restriction/reason behind this?

It is like using postal services exclusively when video chat is (perhaps) also possible.

Even if connecting the fireplaces to the Floo network is a potential safety risk, Sirius could do it, so that means at least passing the head through must have been possible, even if using it as a means of transport was not.

  • 7
    Why does the post still exist when Skype exists? Because people want to send objects. because people want proof that an exchange took place, because people can't be relied on to have schedules that meet, because sometimes you want to explain things in detail where a conversation wouldn't suffice, because it's a more formal mode of communication, etc etc etc
    – Valorum
    Apr 2, 2017 at 10:56
  • 5
    It also wouldn't be very private - Harry had to do it in the middle of the night to not be in a crowded room. And they could use empty classrooms etc but it opens the school up to a logistical pain in the broomstick.
    – ThruGog
    Apr 2, 2017 at 11:10
  • 5
    Note also that communicating this way doesn't seem to be very comfortable : you have to kneel in front of the fireplace to put your head in the fire, and the sensation of your face travelling through the chimney network doesn't seem very pleasant. And unlike video chat, you can't know in advance if whoever you want to communicate with is sitting in front of his fire or not, so this is not really practical.
    – Arnaud D.
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:23
  • And there's a safeguarding issue with family members' heads appearing inside the school especially in the common rooms. Not that Hogwarts cares about safeguarding!
    – ThruGog
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


Lack of privacy:

Because the fireplace is in the common room. There is complete lack of privacy.

Harry heard a tiny pop! in the fire behind him and knew Sirius had gone. He watched the bottom of the spiral staircase. Who had decided to go for a stroll at one o'clock in the morning, and stopped Sirius from telling him how to get past a dragon?

It was Ron. Dressed in his maroon paisley pajamas, Ron stopped dead facing Harry across the room, and looked around.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Chapter 19, The Hungarian Horntail

Easy to Eavesdrop:

People can intercept the discussions taking place over fireplace

Hermione gave a horrified gasp and leapt to her feet, still staring at the fire.

A hand had appeared amongst the flames, groping as though to catch hold of something; a stubby, short-fingered hand covered in ugly old-fashioned rings.

The three of them ran for it. At the door of the boys' dormitory Harry looked back. Umbridge's hand was still making snatching movements amongst the flames, as though she knew exactly where Sirius's hair had been moments before and was determined to seize it.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 17, Educational Decree Number Twenty-four

Lack of Fireplaces:

All the students in a single house share the common room. Imagine the queue near the fireplace if it is used for communications.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 7, The Sorting Hat

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