What happened here?

Curiosity is killing me, what key did my CAT step on to give the following message:

while viewing the SU forum?

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Depends on the forum you mean.

Banged your head on the keyboard?

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You kept your mouse leashed and it couldn’t run away?

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What should I do if I hit a rate limit and get throttled?

If you are consuming the API programmatically and receive back a 429 status code throttle reply you should respect it and slow down.

As an end user you should not really experience rate limits if you do, slow down. You could trigger it by opening 50 tabs real quick or doing something like that.