Temporary Interaction Limits

I spend a lot of time thinking about API rate limits. How they can hurt API providers, or as my friend Tyler Singletary (@harmophone) says incentivize creativity. I think your view on rate limits will vary depending on which side of the limit you stand, as well as your own creative potential and limitations. I agree with Tyler that they can incentivize creativity, but it doesn’t mean that all limitations imposed will ultimately be good, or all creativity will be good.

I found myself contemplating Github’s recent introduction of temporary interaction limits which means “maintainers can temporarily limit who can comment, create pull requests, and open issues among existing users, collaborators, and prior contributors.” While this isn’t directly about API rate limiting, it does overlap, and provide us with some thoughts we can apply to our world of API consumption, and how we sensibly moderate the access to the digital resources we are making available online.

When it comes to real-time fetishism around the digital world those with the loudest bullhorn often get heard and think real-time is good, while I am becoming less convinced that anything gets done in a 24-hour time frame. Despite what many want you to believe, real-time does not always mean good. Sometimes it might do you some good to chill out for 24 hours before you continue commenting, posting, or increase your consumption of a digital resource, whether you want to admit it or not.

Our digital overlords have convinced us that more is better and real time is always ideal. Temporary interaction limits may not be the right answer in all situations, but it does give us another example of rate limiting by a major provider that we can consider and follow when it comes to crafting limitations around our digital resources. This is what rate limitations are all about for me, thoughtful consideration about how much of a good thing you will need each second, minute, day, week, or month. It is a great way to turn a quality digital resource into something better or possibly maintain the quality and value of a seemingly infinite resource by imposing just a handful of limitations.