Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lessons from the Twitter API debacle

Some worthwhile lessons to learn about offering up an API and managing expectations below.
What does it all mean? no idea - i'm not that smart but the tide has turned.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Adam Green
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2011 7:47 AM
To: Twitter Development Talk
Subject: [twitter-dev] Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

The behavior on this group has changed significantly since Ryan
finally admitted that Whitelisting no longer exists. I've never seen
anyone discuss methods of getting around TOS before, well there was
Edward H., and we saw what happened to him. Now there are free flowing
discussions of MTurk and other tricks to go way beyond the rate
limits. I think this is great. Frankly, Twitter has done a good job of
offering free resources to devs, which I thank them for, but there was
way too much fear before. Now there are no extra benefits that can be
given and withdrawn "on a case by case basis." Boy do I hate that
phrase. Of course, they can ban people from this list, but maybe the
irony of Twitter blocking free speech on their own forum may restrain
that urge in the future.
Personally, I've treated Whitelisting like Social Security. It ain't
going to be there when I need it. That has turned out to be a winning
strategy. I don't really violate TOS, since I'm not as spammer, but I
have never tried building anything that would fail if Twitter didn't
give me Whitelisting "after it got into production", which BTW was the
most disrespectful thing I've seen from a platform vendor. Everyone
should assume that you need to use what is there by default, and
always be ready with a workaround if that gets taken away. My gut
tells me that things will get worse before they get better. Twitter HQ
will be under huge pressure to make money before the IPO, and we are
likely to get some of the cuts. The inevitable "they are parasites
leeching off of us" will surface. Anyone here old enough to remember
Ed Esber? But in the long run, I've never seen a global phenomenon
like Twitter, so I'm in it for the next 10 years at least. Then I can
Let's keep the discussion open guys. They've already taken away the
most important thing you wanted. Now we can build with our eyes open.
And don't be afraid to speak up. This is Twitter. Revolutions happen

Adam Green
Twitter API Consultant and Trainer
Twitter developer documentation and resources:
API updates via Twitter:
Issues/Enhancements Tracker:
Change your membership to this group:

-----Original Message-----
From: Dean Collins
Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:19 PM
To: ''
Subject: RE: [twitter-dev] Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose

Lol the writing was on the wall when they tried to shut down my app MyPostButler for providing end users easy access to the API in the early days. (August 2009)
I'm still a lurker here but I learnt my lesson early, nothing I build is reliant on Twitter, if they want to shut off our access we have facebook/google/email as alternatives.
I'm sure twitter will make a bundle of cash selling to someone, and I'm sure they will make a bundle of money through other methods so this post will fall through the cracks but when their lawyers on a recorded conference call said we're going to shut you down one way or another I knew it was time to spend my energy elsewhere.
I am thankful that twitter propagated the whole idea of api access* as a method to spread fast through the development community as it's made me money in other ways so for that I'm thankful.
(*didn’t invent but certainly enouraged/continued)

Dean Collins 

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