From time to time, when people ask us about invitations for the AO3, they say things like 'I don't write fic, so I don't want to take an invitation away from someone who wants to post on the Archive'. One of the things we love about fandom is this considerate attitude - but we definitely don't see it that way! On the contrary, we think that 'consumers' are just as important to fandom as creators. After all, there wouldn't be much point in creating art, fic or vids if there was no one out there enjoying it! For this reason, we're more than happy to give invitations to people who don't plan ever to post anything on the Archive. In fact, we have a whole bunch of account features which are specifically aimed at the consumer rather than the creator. If you've been wondering whether there's any point to you having an Archive account, here's a rundown of some of the cool features which come with it!
Our recently introduced subscriptions feature is our 'killer app' for account holders! You can now subscribe to an author and receive an email every time they post a new work or a new chapter. We have lots more features planned for this (we're just taking it slow to avoid the Archive exploding), so this will only get better. If you like to keep track of what people are posting on the Archive, you definitely need an account.
There's that great piece of fanart you saw last week, but now you can't remember who it was by... With the AO3 history feature, you can look back to see which works you viewed on the Archive and when! It will also tell you whether they've been updated since you last looked at them. We have more features planned for history - most importantly, we reeeeeally want to make it possible to filter so you can see, say, all the Sailor Moon works you have viewed - we're just trying to fit them into our coders' time.
Mark to read later
Seen a 200,000 word fic ten minutes before you have to leave for work? You could start reading and risk incurring the wrath of your boss - or you could mark it to read later and have it added to a handy dandy list for the next time you have some uninterrupted fannish time. Works marked to read later are added to your history - you can filter to show just the works you marked. When you're done reading, hit 'Mark read' to take them off the to read list.
Bookmarks and recs
Found a wonderful work of art which you want to be sure of finding again? You can bookmark it with an AO3 account - even if it's not actually hosted on the AO3. When you're logged in, all works on the Archive have a 'Bookmark' button at the top. Our Bookmark external works page has a handy little bookmarklet - just drag to your bookmarks, and then the next time you see a genius vid on Livejournal, you simply need to click the bookmarklet to bookmark in AO3. For works which you particularly loved, you can mark a bookmark as a rec. Once again, we have tons of improvements we'd like to make for bookmarks - browsing filters are top of that list - but we think they're already handy for keeping track of stuff you've loved.
Hate the default font on the Archive? You can change that - and almost everything else about the way it displays - by using Archive skins. You can choose from skins other people have made, or design your own. See our Skins tutorial for more information.
When you're an account holder, there are lots of preferences you can set to make using the Archive a more pleasant experience. You can choose never to see 'adult content' warnings on explicit works. You can choose to have all chaptered works show as a single page rather than chapter-by-chapter. You can opt never to see warnings or freeform tags. You can disable custom styling on other users' works. Preferences are handy things to have.
Signed, trackable comments and kudos
As a logged in user, your comments will be signed by you by default, and when someone replies you will get a notification. You can keep track of all comments addressed to you in your user inbox, as well as having them emailed to you (and you can opt out of the emails if you prefer). When you're logged in, the kudos you leave will be signed by you (otherwise it shows as guest kudos).
If you have an account on the Archive, you can have a user icon! This will show up wherever you leave a comment, as well as on your user profile.
Access to restricted works
Some fans prefer to make sure that their fanworks aren't accessible to just anyone stumbling in from Google (we know this is especially important to people who create RPF). When posting on the Archive, they can choose to lock their works to Archive account holders only (currently 1,503 works are restricted). You need an account to see these works!
We hope the above features make AO3 accounts valuable to all users, whether or not they are using them to post works. If you'd like an account, simply add your email address to our invitations queue. Wait time is currently less than a week!
As you may have noticed, we have lots of plans for making even more awesome features for AO3 accounts. However, our coders are few and our to-do list is big! If you'd like to help make things even shinier, we always welcome volunteers!