Last night I uploaded an awesome animation I had created - it took me about 4 hours to make a 90-second video and I was overly pleased with it. It was a little bit cute, a little bit informative.

Once it had processed I changed the description, added 4 tags (variants on the keyword, like Trump; Trump 2016; best Trump hats; best Trump hats 2016). I couldn't add a custom thumbnail because it's a new YouTube channel with the most basic privileges.

I got this email a while later. I've pruned it for length.

Your video has been removed from YouTube

Hi [channel name],
As you may know, our Community Guidelines describe which content we allow ... Your video [The 5 Best Donald Trump Hats 2016] was flagged for review ... it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike to your account.
Video content restrictions
It's not okay to post large amounts of untargeted, unwanted, or repetitive content to YouTube. If the main purpose of your content is to drive people off of YouTube and onto another site, it will likely violate our spam policies. In addition, misleading descriptions, tags, titles, or thumbnails designed to increase views are not allowed. Tags should only be placed in the appropriate tag section and not in the description.
How you can respond
If you would like to appeal this strike...

What I Did

Step 1 was not to panic. I'm far from an expert on YouTube but I do know that all these things are totally automated. Some bot had scanned something and automatically assigned a red flag.

Step 2 was try to understand what I'd done wrong (if anything). The main point of the video WAS to get people from YouTube to my website. Um... there are billions of videos with that purpose - why am I the only one not allowed to do that? Though having said that, the video itself does contain all the basic information promised in the title (with more detail available on my site...). So maybe it was the tags - though everyone sets up their tags in the same way - or worse.

Or was the video misleading somehow? Nope. It was what the title said it was. The description - get this - described what was in the video. And there wasn't a misleading thumbnail because I can't set a custom thumbnail on that channel yet.

All in all, I was pretty sure it was a good video, better than all the similar ones, and couldn't imagine that a human would think it was spam. But I also couldn't see what the robot had found to dislike about it.

Step 3 was appealing against the decision. I logged in to YouTube, clicked to accept that I'd seen the penalty, then went to the appeals page. It was just a long, thin box, like where you'd type your address in an online form, with space for maybe 140 characters. Not enough to go into long, florid explanations and justifications, so you'll just have to keep things simple.

I wrote:

Hi there, I don't believe my video is spammy or misleading. I think it is informative and entertaining. Regards, Andrew

Nice and polite, don't you think?


The Result

I very quickly got another mail:

Dear [The Donald Trump Hattery]:
Thank you for submitting your video appeal to YouTube. After further review, we've determined that your video doesn't violate our Community Guidelines. Your video has been reinstated and your account is in good standing.
Sincerely,
— The YouTube Team

BOOM! Nailed it.

My advice if you find yourself in this situation? Be calm and polite and concisely counter the objection raised in the first email.