An issue that almost all service providers will come up against when they offer any kind of free plan is users finding ways to maximise their use of these free resources well beyond the limits imposed by the service provider. For us this manifests itself in two ways.
1. Users signing up for a registered account multiple times under different email addresses
2. Unregistered users performing queries from a large pool of IP Addresses and/or Proxy Servers/VPN's
For the most part we don't mind if a registered user has two accounts. Perhaps you need one for production and one for your development environment. We do not police users that have 2 accounts, especially if you're under the 1,000 query limits on both accounts.
However we have found recently multiple users signing up for 10 to 15 accounts and load balancing their queries. This essentially means they have a 10,000 to 15,000 daily query limit for free when it should only be 1,000.
Another problem is unregistered users performing queries from Proxy Servers. So instead of making 100 queries per day from a single IP Address they are making thousands of queries per day across hundreds of IP Addresses. In-fact we've seen some users utilising more than 1,000 proxy servers in a single day to load balance their queries.
The thing to keep in mind if you're a user that does this is our API is not an unlimited resource so we cannot let the abuse of our API and the disregarding of our Terms of Service continue.
To this end over the past week we have been contacting registered users that have more than two accounts to let them know we've disabled all but one of their accounts. In these situations we always leave the account that has performed the most queries active while the rest are disabled.
We're also tackling the unregistered user abuse issue by now checking that the IP you're using to contact the API isn't a proxy server. If it is, the query will go unanswered. To be clear, this only affects unregistered users, we do not perform this check if you have registered for an account and are using your API Key to make your queries. We're also not blocking VPN services from making unregistered queries.
So if you wish to contact the API through a proxy server you can still do so, you'll just need to signup for an account and supply your API Key with your queries.
We hope that these changes will not disappoint too many of you. If you're a registered customer and adhering to our Terms of Service you will not notice any change to your service. If you're an unregistered user you may find your queries take a few milliseconds longer while we verify you're not accessing our API from a Proxy Server.
Thanks for reading and have a great day. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.