What Are Your Intentions With My API?

While it can be easy to bash on API providers for being tight with their API resources, it can be very difficult to be an API provider operating in today's online environment. Some developers are just badly behaved and hold some pretty unrealistic expectations when it comes to opening up access to valuable content, data, and algorithms.

This is why I work to be supportive of providers when locking down their API resources, as long as they do it a constructive way. One positive approach I came across recently was from the Oxford Dictionaries API, who ask a lot of questions as part of their API signup form, but I felt it was a positive experience, and provided no barriers to me gaining access to their valuable API resources.

They asked me details about what type of application I'm developing, as well as the platform and language I am employing--allowing me to provide a summary of what it was I would be doing. They provide me with a summary of the terms of service, and the ability to opt into a platform email list, and they also let me know that they will not be selling my personal details to third parties.

I have never been a fan of lengthy API signup forms, as I tend to feel like I'm just a lead in their sales funnel, but this left me feeling the opposite. The Oxford Dictionary API signup form felt more like it was about making sure everyone was informed and in the service of protecting valuable API assets. I'm a supporter of API providers requesting more details on what API developers are up to, as long as they do it in the right way. If you don't make me feel like I'm a criminal, that I'm just one of many users in your sales funnel, and that you are just looking to extract value from me, I'm more than happy to share more information about myself as I consider a deeper business relationship with you.