The More We Know About You The More API Access You Get
I’ve been trash talking APIs that identify me as part of some sort of sales funnel, and automate the decision around whether or not I get access to their API. My beef isn’t with API providers profiling me and making decisions about how much access I get, it is about them limiting profiles making it so I do not get access to their APIs at all. Their narrow definitions of the type of API consumers they are seeking does not include me, even though I have thousands of regular readers of my blog who do fit their profile. In the end, it is their loss, not mine, that they do not let me in, but the topic is still something I feel should be discussed out in the open, hopefully expanding the profile definitions for some API providers who may not have considered the bigger picture.
I’ve highlighted the limiting profiling of API consumers that prevent access to APIs, but now I want to talk about how profiling can be sensibly used to limit access to API resources. Healthy API management always has an entry level tier, but what tiers are available after that often depend on a variety of other data points. One thing I see API providers regularly doing is requiring API consumers to provide more detail about who they are and what they are doing with an API. I don’t have any problem with API providers doing this, making educated and informed decisions regarding who an API consumer is or isn’t. As the API Evangelist I am happy to share more data points about me to get more access. I don’t necessarily want to do this to sign up for your entry level access tier, just so I can kick the tires, but if I’m needing deeper access, I am happy to fill our a fuller profile of myself, and what I am working on.
Stay out of my way when it comes to getting started and test driving your APIs. However, it is perfectly acceptable to require me to disclose more information, require me to reach out an connect with your team, and other things that you feel are necessary before giving me wider access to your APIs, and provide me with looser rate limits. I encourage API providers to push on API consumers before you give away the keys to the farm. Developing tiered levels of access is how you do this. Make me round off the CRM entry for my personal profile, as well as my company. Push me to validate who I am, and that my intentions are truly honest. I encourage you to reach out to each one of your API consumers with an honest “hello” email after I sign up. Don’t require me to jump on the phone, or get pushy with sales. However, making sure I provide you with more information about myself, my project and company in exchange for higher levels of API access is a perfectly acceptable way of doing business with APIs.