Vimeo Disabled My Account for Submitting HTML

by Michael Scepaniak on July 23, 2019 in software development

Close-up view of mushrooms growing on the bark of a tree in a wooded area in Summer - Cockeysville, Maryland, USA

Just yesterday, I created a Vimeo account and uploaded my first two videos. This effort was in support of my most recent blog post, Early Retirement Expert. Today, a day later, I thought I’d go in and include links to that blog post in the description for each video. I wanted to provide context for each video, just in case someone came across them directly and not via my write-up. It didn’t go well.

I logged-into the Vimeo site and accessed the settings for one of the videos. I pasted the relevant blog post URL into the description input box and saved it. But, when I took a look at the change on the public page for the video, I noticed that the URL was static text and not clickable. So, I went back to the video settings page and tried wrapping the URL in some <a href> HTML markup.

I saved the change and the video preview went black. Hmm – that didn’t look good. So, I immediately reverted the inclusion of the markup and tried re-saving. With this, I was redirected (if I recall correctly) to the Vimeo login screen. When I tried to login, that’s when I was greeted with the following:

Sorry Michael Scepaniak,

It looks like your account has been disabled due to a violation of Vimeo’s Terms of Service and/or Guidelines.

Specifically, our automated filters detected some unusual characteristics regarding your account indicating that it may be in violation of our Acceptable User Policy.

Vimeo error message that Michael Scepaniak's account has been disabled because of violation

Wow. Just wow. Me attempting to include HTML markup in my video’s description resulted in the automatic disablement of my account. I would have thought that the UI would simply reject my submission. Or maybe that specific video would be taken off-line in some manner. But, to instead disable my entire account… automatically – that seems a bit draconian.

Mind you, I’m nobody to Vimeo. I only signed-up for a Basic (free) plan. This makes me a user, not a customer. I don’t begrudge Vimeo’s actions in trying to prevent hacking, especially given that I’ve never paid them a dime. But, I don’t get the impression that Vimeo’s reaction would have been any different were I a paying customer. Given that, such a severe and clumsy response doesn’t encourage me to become dependent on their service.

I’m not a UX (User Experience) expert. Most of what I know about the topic comes from reading Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox newsletters for many years (back in the day). But, I’m pretty sure that it’s a sign of a failing user interface when the user is afraid to use the interface. Assuming (hopefully) that Vimeo support grants my request to re-enable my account and I’m able to access my videos again, I’m definitely going to be gun-shy when configuring my videos’ settings.

I’m not writing this because I’m angry. I’m very happy that Vimeo exists and that they offer a free plan of some sort. But, I did search for advice on including links in my Vimeo video description before trying it and I didn’t find anything. I definitely did not find any warnings about it resulting in your account being disabled. Well, if somebody in the future does the same search, now they will/should.

Update July 24, 2019 – Right after publishing this, I submitted it to Hacker News (a computing-centric discussion board). Fortunately, my submission gained a bit of traction and, within an hour or two, it caught the attention of a representative from Vimeo (Matt Brown). Matt commented on my submission and my Vimeo account was subsequently re-enabled! Vimeo also responded back to my support request later that same night. Please see the relevant discussion on Hacker News for details.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel July 23, 2019 at 11:19 pm

Hi, a couple of hours ago I copied one of my junk emails from Outlook into a comment on this blog and submitted it. I included HTML tags around the link so that it would be clickable as it appeared in my email.

The comment has not appeared, so I assume that Akismet must have automatically censored the comment from this blog. WOW. I am outraged. This is draconian and makes me afraid.


Rich July 24, 2019 at 12:39 am

It’s even worse with Instagram: during sign up I was met with an “unspecified error, please try the later” message.
Try later: this email/username is already in use.
Try logging in with failed signup credentials: this account has been banned for violating ToS!
Check Instagram help, fill in form: this page does not exist on submit.
Contact email support: we can not help through this channel, see the forms you already tried that are broken.
Total joke.


Butch Petty August 15, 2019 at 12:45 pm

I just had the same thing happen and I didn’t even finish building my profile. Had not uploaded anything at all.
So glad I didn’t go strait in for the upgraded version.
Will never even visit the site again….ever.
What a joke.


Janice September 6, 2019 at 10:29 pm

Thank you for sharing this. It gives me a pretty good idea as to why my Vimeo account was suddenly disabled without any notice upon posting my first video (despite their claims that this wouldn’t happen!). I included a few links to relevant pages in the description. I had been thinking that perhaps they just didn’t like the video for some reason. But perhaps it’s the links in the description that messed things up. They’re all legit links, no spam type of stuff. 24 hours later I have heard nothing from them yet, but hopefully someone will eventually review the issue and fix it.


Lubov September 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Hi sir, Please guide me how can i solve the same account problem ?? Which form can i file or what can i do??? Thank you in advance


Michael Scepaniak September 12, 2019 at 7:08 pm

I clicked on the “contact us” link shown in the screenshot and submitted a request to have my account re-enabled. I suggest you do the same. Good luck.


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