Like many other 'value added' features for high reputation users, I'm suggesting that while the API should be freely available to every SO user (Keys can be handed out on the SO user's own page if you want to restrict API access to just SO users), I know that if everyone accesses the API once a minute 24/7, SO will get swamped.

There will necessarily be restrictions in place to limit usage.

I'm suggesting that these limits are relaxed for high-rep users. They are the ones likely most interested in comprehensive 3rd party interfaces, and the most likely to use them significantly to enhance their already excessive use of SO.

Further, it would artifically slow down the API roll out. Deploy them to high rep users first, see how the system responds, and lower the rep level needed for certain API functions as the system is tested and able to accept heavier API usage.

While I'm not a fan of restrictions, I understand that some restrictions will have to be put in place, and rather than requiring everyone to request a high-usage key directly from the SO team (which will tie up resources that might be better spent elsewhere) decide on a rep level where it makes sense to automatically provide that access.

As a side effect, if you have access levels higher than 10k (say 25k if you want to start off with fewer than 93 maximum possible users) then you'll give others more incentives to go beyond 10k. Even if they don't intend to use it, they will have a goal post feeding their addiction encouraging them.

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    I doubt most of the +25K users will use the API. I even doubt that most of the +5K users want to. The only thing to consider is the server load. That will depend a lot on the API consumers correctly using local cachés/being polite, and the API implementation (server side cache, live access). – perbert Feb 5 '10 at 19:41
  • I know, but there are a few that would implement services that others would use. Many of the higher rep users post very useful and interesting tools here and on their own sites to help people assess SO. The lower rep users would still have access, but they might have to deal with slower rates, or email the team for access to higher rate limits. – Pollyanna Feb 5 '10 at 19:54

This suggestion implies a couple of things about an API that we don't know to be true.

One, that the API will know who you are! This is hardly a guarantee given the read only nature of the eventual API (at least at first).

Second, that the API will have a key scheme similar to say Facebook. Unlike Facebook, most of SO's content is cc-wiki and publicly accessible; why go through the trouble of api-keys unless you've got something to protect?

As an aside, I'd consider a case where SO cannot serve everyone who wants to use the API (at a reasonable rate) a flaw. One that should be fixed (either with improvements in efficiency, or with additional hardware) not papered over.

  • The only assumption I'm making is that the service must neccessarily be rate limited. I'm asking that they consider allowing high rep users to go beyond basic rate limits. This would require an authentication system (ie, I'm not assuming one, I'm proposing that my request would necessitate one). I'd be fine if they allowed anyone to do everything, but I'm asking that they seriously consider giving people with a high reputation better access to the eventual API. – Pollyanna Feb 5 '10 at 20:38
  • The suggestion implies an API which doesn't exist right now. – alex Feb 5 '10 at 20:38
  • @Pollyanna - Well, given finite development time I'd rather it be spent lowering the limits for everyone versus building an authentication scheme so that request time can be doled out. – Kevin Montrose Feb 5 '10 at 20:46
  • @alex - yes, this is the type of request that must be considered in the design phase, not well after it's implemented. – Pollyanna Feb 5 '10 at 21:04
  • @kevin - The time is going to be doled out regardless. The question is - is it worthwhile to implement a tiered system to dole it out, or should we just make everyone follow the same, basic, very low access rate? It appears you prefer the latter, while I prefer the former. – Pollyanna Feb 5 '10 at 21:07
  • @Pollyanna - While I'm sure there will be a cap on requests (per second, per minute, or whatever) I don't think the rate is going to be low enough to make it worth tiering. – Kevin Montrose Feb 5 '10 at 21:14
  • @Kevin - What makes you think that? – Pollyanna Feb 6 '10 at 0:49
  • @Pollyanna - What's the point in releasing an API that isn't usable? – Kevin Montrose Feb 6 '10 at 0:56
  • @Kevin Montrose, I dub thee King of the Circular Argument! – Pollyanna Feb 7 '10 at 2:47

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