It's the season of giving! So, we're pleased to announce that invitation requests are back on the AO3!
Once upon a time (i.e. six months ago), users with Archive accounts could request a few invitations to give out, allowing them to share the Archive with friends and help form communities of like-minded fans.
Unfortunately, earlier this year, as many of you may remember, the Archive was having serious performance issues (we saw the sad 502 page far too often). While our coders and systems team hurried to implement emergency fixes, it was decided that we needed stricter control of the number of accounts being created to reduce the likelihood of unexpected overload. (Generally, people browsing the site without being logged in put a certain amount of stress on the servers, but it's the account perks like bookmarking, subscribing, and accessing a full reading history that contribute to server load to a larger degree.) Back then only 100 invitations were issued to people in the queue each day, so additional user requests could have a serious impact! So, in June, the difficult decision was made to stop giving invitations to existing users. You can read more about what was going on then in our post, Update on AO3 performance issues.
Over the next five months our software upgrades and code improvements caught up with the demand. The queue rate was increased several times, most recently to 750 invitations per day. Given that, we've wanted to go back to giving out invitations to existing users, but there were a few issues to be resolved before we could start.
First, the request form had to be altered to set a maximum number of invitations that a user can request at once. Second, the 1,200 user requests that were in the list when it was shut down had to be addressed. Since we had no limits on how many invitations could be requested back then, we had quite a few requests for very large numbers. Due to limitations in the software, individually lowering those numbers now would require manually editing each request, as would granting only some of the requests at once rather than the whole list.
So, two decisions were made:
1) Everyone with a pending request will receive 1 invitation, just to clear out the backlog.
2) User requests are being re-opened! You can now request a maximum number of 10 invitations at one time. Even with this hard limit in place, we ask that everyone ask for only what they need at a time. Once we've hit the figurative switch and re-enabled this feature later today you will be able to request invitations from your Invite a friend page.
We very much appreciate all of our users, and we are proud of our growth this year, even through the bumpy times. We are glad that once again we can enable you to bring more people on board!