The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 05:57:03 AM on Friday, July 18th, 2008
I was shocked to see what Louis Gray reported on his blog yesterday:
They've also visibly tweaked the rate for authenticated API hits, first down from 70 to 20 and back up to 100. But until recently, unauthenticated API requests were unlimited, which all changed Wednesday night around 5 p.m. Pacific Time, when Twitter ratcheted them down to the same 100 per hour per IP address, effectively crushing many external services that relied on Twitter for their data. And this was done without public mention

I immediately see the good and bad movements by Twitter in this regard.  The change on their part was to keep the service alive.  With the increasing number of mashups, applications and tools being built, the servers are being slammed with traffic.  By limiting those unauthenticated applications (usually meaning not a person then) with limited or no access, they are able to survive yet another day.

With this move however, Twitter exposes themselves to losing part of the community and growth if developers are effectively shut out.  Unless you write an add-on client or one that requires a username and password to pull certain data, the current changes break your app down into a non-working webpage.

So the solution, create a set of servers that allow unauthenticated access to the data at a slower rate.  API calls in this regard can then be only pointed at these servers instead of the primary 'cluster' that users port their tweets on.  While this may slow down the external apps in getting the most recent data, it will not shut them out completely.  Regular users and direct clients are then unobstructed.  This set of servers has it's own URL as part of Twitter and is segregated from the central user set.  Almost like a gateway.

Also, have developers writing clients retrieve a client id from Twitter themselves and register the client.  Twitter could then watch API traffic from each client type easily to see if it the sheer numbers of users on let's say Twhirl, or is it how the developer wrote the polling against the API. If you do not register to get a client id type, you might be throttled.  I do not see this as any paid move or a hard process, just something that must be presented to keep pulling the amount of API calls, even with authenticated access.

I would go deeper and provide diagrams and such but Twitter doesn't pay me :-)

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