API keys can now be requested via the home page of CollegeFootballData.com. While you can still access the CFBD API without a key, this will only be possible for a limited time. Read ahead for more answers.
When will the API key requirement go into effect?
Keys will start being required with all API requests starting on April 1st. This is being done to give all developers ample time to update any applications and/or code that currently relies on the CFBD API or its client libraries.
How much does a key cost?
Absolutely nothing. Keys are completely free. If you are a Patreon subscriber, you should have already had a key generated and emailed to you for your convenience.
Free and open data has been and will continue to be a central philosophy of CFBD. While there may be some additional benefits and functionality available to Patreon subscribers, the core site and API will always have free access.
What are the reasons for this change?
There are several. As the site has grown in popularity, so has the potential for abuse of its public nature. In short, there have been a handful of users who have not practiced good programming etiquette in their usage and maliciously attempted to circumvent existing infrastructure put into place to prevent abuse. These are very extreme instances, but when they do occur they threaten to block access for all other users of the API and even the website. These changes are meant to ensure that CFBD resources stay available for all users by allowing for greater control and analysis over traffic.
I don't use the API. Will the main website still allow downloading of CSV data?
If you exclusively use the website, then these changes should have no impact on you.
I use a wrapper library to access the CFBD API. Will wrapper libraries still work?
All officially supported wrapper libraries, such as cfbd on PyPi, cfb.js on npm, and CFBSharp on NuGet, have already been updated to support these changes.
Is there any documentation on this change?
The interactive Swagger docs on the main page of api.collegefootballdata.com have already been updated. You can input your new API key into the documentation and make sample requests.
I believe this should answer the bulk of any questions. If not, feel free to reach out via Twitter, Discord, reddit, or even good old fashioned email.