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I just finished reading two more posts on the recent changes to the Twitter API terms of service. There are a lot of opinions on whether Twitter was right or wrong in their approach to reign in their developer community.

I understand Twitter wanting to take back some control over its ecosystem and monetize its world.

I do not understand why people are demonizing Open APIs or the developer community. Both made Twitter what it is today.

I wanted to put some thoughts down on how I'd engineer a more sensible approach to the Twitter API ecosystem.

Brand Control: Twitter needs to keep expanding its branding resource area where users can come to get CSS, HTML, images, widgets, borders and many other higher quality assets that can be used by the community and maintain a quality level of brand control for Twitter.

API access and usage. Let's create some free and paid access levels:
  • Developer - A free low volume access level that allows developers to play with the API, but only allows a minimum number of API calls per day.
  • Professional - A slightly higher level of access meant for API consumer that may be building an application, but probably used just for professional purposes.
  • Business - API access for businesses that use Twitter for their own brand, and require a higher level of API requests, but are willing to pay for it.
  • Commercial - A pay-for-what-you-use model, in true cloud computing fashion, with the possibility of volume discounts.
  • Academic - A free research-based access account for scholars to use in their academic projects.
With clearly defined Twitter API access levels, Twitter can start making money and controlling usage of their API.

Ad Network: The next approach to monetization and control over the Twitter ecoystem could be a Twitter advertising network modeled after Google Adsense and Adwords.

Let's call it the Dickbar Advertising Network. Require all client and web interfaces to have some sort of advertising network deployment. You could have Dickbars, Dickboxes, and Dickheaders in all shapes and sizes for developers to deploy.

Twitter can still advertise, make money, and control their network. Developers could make money too. There would be added incentive for developers to build quality applications, and be able to be sustain their work through advertising revenue.

With a sensible terms of service, branding guidelines, tiered API access levels, and an advertising network, Twitter could retain control over its network, protect its brand, monetize and ensure a higher quality user experience.

This could all be done while still respecting and harnessing the passionate developer community of the Twitter ecosystem that made Twitter what it is today.



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