New invite link should work for existing users

If you want to send an mass email to ask users to join a community and respond to a particular thread, it works great so long as the user isn’t existing. If they’re existing, they get an error that says:

Sorry! This invitation is intended for new users, who do not already have an existing account.

This is not helpful. If they’re an existing user, it should add them to any groups indicated by the link and redirect them to the topic specified.


I know @tobiaseigen has worked on this before and might have suggestions. Also, you’re sure this reflects invites sent on the current, released version of Discourse?


This does sound like the current functioning of the invite system. As the error says, it is not intended for interacting with existing users - only new users. If you want to add existing members to a group, you want to do that via the groups page or their user admin page.

What is your process exactly and why are you sending invites to existing users? Is this a problem that actually affects your users or just something you noticed when you yourself clicked on your own invitation link to test it out?

It’s true that this is not the friendliest, most inviting response. @dan what do you think? Can we just send existing users to a specified topic and add them to any groups? I can imagine this being a handy way to reach both existing users and new users at the same time to announce a new topic or start a new group.

If not, we can just change this message to make it clear and to offer a pathway instead of a deadend, e.g. by contacting site staff.


The use case is that I want to send a mass email for a specific event that people have signed up for. In that email, I want to invite people to respond to a particular thread in our community.

The problem is that I have to figure out in advance who is already part of the community and who is not because the link only works for the latter group (the former group gets the error message).

I understand this isn’t your intent for the invite system, but I think it’s unnecessarily limited. If they’re already in the community, add them to the new groups as specified in the invite (if needed) and just direct them to the thread. I don’t see any reason they need to get an error message.

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Is this a public topic, or a topic behind category security? If it is a public topic, why not mail people a link to the topic?

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That’s what I ended up having to do, but (a) it doesn’t then encourage users to register (which I want) and (b) it doesn’t allow me to add them to a group.


There is automatic encouragement of users to register if they browse the site for a while, e.g.

This is built in and happens automatically.

If you need people to be a member of a group to see the topic due to category / group permissions, that’s a different issue of course.

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That only works if they come back. I am intentionally forcing them to register so they get alerted.

Plus it doesn’t solve my grouping issue. And everyone keeps just ignoring my actual suggestion that there’s no reason this link cycle shouldn’t just work for existing users.


Right, we’re just not generally fans of forcing users to do things :wink:

That said, I completely agree the error message could be better – and if the group is required to see the topic, the merging of functionality for existing users can make sense.


Obviously they aren’t actually being forced to do it. If they don’t want to join, fine, but I’m losing people because they visit once and don’t sign up and never get notifications. And these aren’t random people; they’ve signed up for an event that specifically includes using our community for engagement. I’m trying to help them by getting them to sign up the first time using this process.

But the bottom line: the current flow does not work for existing users at all and I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t. Sure, you guys could change the error message, but that negates the whole point of having a link that can not only encourage signups, add them to a group, and send them to a specific topic (functionality you created) when it just … breaks in the middle of that process if you happen to be someone already in the system.


Ah, I see, that was important context I was missing from the original request. So you have a giant list of emails, but you don’t know which of those emails already has an account?

That makes sense, we’ll see if we can improve the invite system to better handle this case.


It seems to me that if a line in the CSV file matches an existing account, they should also get a notification email and directed to the provided topic (if specified), as well as have that existing account added to any groups specified.


Indeed! I highlighted this issue last year soon after the new invite system was rolled out:

I’d love to see it addressed as it is a major hiccough in the quest to bring people into our communities.


Thanks @Monte_Kalisch @nathankershaw @downey! Amazing to know that this idea didn’t exist only until community members shared it, thanks so much! And thanks to the discourse team for supporting it. I hope this specific feature is not rolled back :exploding_head: with the new modifications to the invite system.

@tobiaseigen, this is exactly what we are facing now with the invite links page which doesn’t have the login button at the top header for existing users. It’s confusing existing users to see a form to ‘sign up’ rather than an option ‘if you already have an account please login’ :cry: (No 'sign in' option in the accept invitation page, only the signup form is shown - #12 by gassim)

Yes, a fix is on its way I think to add a tiny ‘login’ text at the bottom of the page, but it will not be clear for existing users (especially if they are “new” in the first place (i.e. already registered but unfamiliar with the platform) or if they are not very tech savvy.) The expected reaction is that existing users will think the invite link is only for ‘new user’ to sign up, or they will click the homepage logo instead of the tiny ‘login’ text at the end of the page. The issue is that if they don’t see the tiny login option at the end of the ‘sign up’ form they will not be redirected to the intended topic.

I think hiding the login button is not going to be helpful for existing users. I also don’t think that new users will consider the ‘login’ button at the top of the page instead of a ‘sign up’ form.

This has been sorted - people are indeed added to groups seamlessly now regardless of already being users or not.

What remains is the inability to allow trusted folk to bypass the approval process. It is currently all or nothing: