Short answer: the invite button is in your user profile, but only if you’re at trust level 2 or higher, an admin, or a moderator.
Discourse has a neat thing called Trust Levels. They wrote a bunch of documentation on discourse.org, which you may find helpful. Right now discourse is in bootstrap mode. Bootstrap mode means all new users start out at level 1 automatically. Bootstrap mode turns off automatically once we have 50 users, after which all new users start out at level 0, unless they’re invited here by someone, in which case they’ll still be level 1.
People go upwards in level by doing certain things on the site.
Level 1 requires entering 5 topics, reading 30 posts, and a total of 10 minutes reading posts.
Level 2 requires visiting the site for 15 days (need not be sequential), casting 1 , receiving 1 , replying to 3 topics, entering 20 topics, reading 100 posts, and spending 60 minutes reading posts.
Level 3 has more elaborate requirements, which are better described in the above linked writeup.
There is also a level 4, but the only way you can get it is if an admin or moderator manually grants it.
All of these numbers can be fiddled with, if there’s a need for it. I think we’re fine trying this out for a month or three then seeing if they need tweaked.
The trust level system is an interesting idea that I also haven’t fully experienced. The east bay collective I’m with also uses discourse, and this is what it says after about two years of use at a fraction of noisebridge’s activity:
I imagine NB will have much bigger numbers, especially at 2 and 3. Early on I ascended a bunch of our trusted members to level 4 and haven’t really touched it much since then. Those higher trust levels get access to some pretty expansive moderation controls, so I’m really keen on seeing how Noisebridge ends up using them and who ends up in there.
Here’s my pitch: Lets leave these settings alone until we run into problems with access to the knobs, and in mid January make the site open registration. Until then, lets follow the same protocol we’ve been using with slack: someone must vouch for them after they’ve met them in the space enough to get to know them and earn community trust.
I think one of the many problems with NB Slack was/is how you got access to it. Only a small number of people had direct invite power, and giving out that invite power meant giving away the whole slack admin powers, and it also meant the people doing the invites had to never burn out or go afk or just stop handling invites. Discourse’s automatic “hey you’ve been here for a long while, we trust you to not fuck everything up with inviting every jimmy neutron off the street into our delicate yet anti-fragile community” feels like a good way to automatically distribute that power compared to having a tiny limited number of admins that the whole group hinges on.