Hello again everybody, today I wanted to talk about something that is actually effecting a ton of current YouTubers out there. This of course would be the dreaded excessive meta or “spam tags.” Why do we feel we should touch on this subject? To be honest we had heard of 100,000+ subscriber channels just being shut down without notice and on top of the rumors, recently HappyThumbsGaming was contacted by a new-ish company called SPAM404Online. SPAM404 is an online service that seeks out spam and fraudulent content and they helping YouTube and other large community driven sites stop online fraud. As you might have guessed this was a giant surprise to HTG being we have always tried to abide by the rules. Turns out, an early practice that we were shown, was a violation of the YouTube Terms of Service Agreement. This was crazy hard to figure out and the pressure was surely on being that our message from Spam404 was a simple tweet on twitter that stated we were in violation shown here:
Before we get into the details, lets quickly dive into what the hell I am talking about! So when you upload a video to YouTube, you get some fields to fill out that will help your video be found in the search engines. The 3 main and most commonly used options are Title, Description and Tags. The title is important so that the users will immediately know what the video is about. In our case we use the game name as well as whatever Trophy/Achievement name or any relevant description of what the video will have to offer the viewer(s). The description is your opportunity to elaborate on things not in the video or in the title of the video. We always put things that pertain to location or the objective of the video as well as our social media posts and usually a link to our playlist that the video is in. Last but not least is the Tags. These babies are for the search engine to use to help find content that matches the search. It is all about matching the keywords that the user is searching for, and someone figured out that by putting your Tags in your video description, helped get you found in the search engines. As time would go on, the search engines would of course evolve as would the Terms of Services Agreement for YouTube/Google which is should get us caught up to now.
So after being tweeted to about our possible violations we tried to contact Spam404 and find out what exactly it is we were in violation of. After roughly an hour of panic and searching the web, the only thing I really found for sure was that Spam404 has been labeled as the reason a lot of these larger channels were being shut down. So we continued to politely contact Spam404 and ask them if they could help us out and point us in the right direction of what we were actually violating. Finally they responded with a link stating “You should read Misleading metadata on the following page: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973” which even then it was not really obvious to us what we had done wrong. The Misleading metadata had the following information posted and make sure you notice the last 2 sentences:
Metadata refers to any and all additional information provided on a video. This includes the title, description, tags, annotations, and thumbnail. The reason we have metadata is so that you can add additional contextual information to your videos. Please do not use these features to game or trick our search algorithms. All metadata should be representative of the content contained in your video. Among other things, metadata added in an attempt to game search algorithms will lead to the removal of your video and a strike against your account.
Please select a reasonable number of tags that most closely reflect your video content. Please also only add tags to the tag section of your metadata. Adding additional tags to the description of your video may constitute spam and can result in the removal of your video.
From here we knew what was wrong and we had a total of 1030 videos that had used that method in the video descriptions. Yup that is correct, we had added extra text to our video descriptions that more or less doubled our “tags” for the video which did help our videos be more relevant to the users searches. ARG!! What to do now?? Well there are a couple of options at this point that we had to choose from. First was to just ride it out and hope that Spam404 was full of it and that it would not effect us at all. This was also risking over 2 years worth of time and effort that actually led you to this article right now! The second option was to use the YouTube video description editor and create a single video description that would replace ALL existing video descriptions. This is a great method if you have only a few videos OR your topics of the videos are always the same. With us sure they are almost always video game related, but each video is for a different game or a different objective (trophy/achievement). So this option really wouldn’t be efficient for us being we would have to go back through each and every video to add the detailed content that would ultimately be how we are found in the search engines. The last option (that we could come up with) was to simply go through each video 1 by 1 and remove the tags within the video description. The only real option for us was the last one, which 6 or so hours later, we had them all fixed up and back to the regulations of YouTube’s Terms of Service.
What does Spam404 get out of it? Are they the bad guy?? Well it depends on how you look at it. Sure, they did “tattle” on us and potentially shut us down forever, but really they are looking for people out there doing wrong. I am not sure I feel what we did was wrong, but when you look at the other things they do like shutting down spam emails, fake contests, bad links to viruses then really the goal of the company is a positive one we should all support. Technically if YouTube would have noticed our tags within their own methods of sniffing out fraudulent or copyrighted content, it could have led to a strike for each infraction we had. If you remember, we had 1030 videos or so with the extra tags in the video descriptions which could have meant 1030 strikes against our account!! Keep in mind, they follow the baseball rules of “3 strikes and you’re out!!” Could you imagine trying to appeal this issue? Over 1000 infractions that we posted to the world!? With a pretty low tolerance for things like this I am not sure we could have got our channel reinstated. There are rumors floating around that some have been shut down for excessive tags, and have got their accounts back but we surely are glad we didn’t have to take the chance. So to us, no Spam404 is not the bad guys, but at the same time, if you truly are after the bad guys… how is a few extra “relevant tags” in our video’s description considered fraudulent. It just comes down to the question of where do you draw the line of what and who is committing things that are considered bad or fraudulent ???
So again, Spam404 is actually out there to HELP US, not hurt us. Just make sure you are using practices that will not get you in trouble. In the end, our video(s) were amended and as for now, we are in the clear. If you guys have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments down below and we will do what we can to help and guide you to getting to keep your hard work! Thanks for reading and as always until next time……………. cya!
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