Making the “Yellow Dollar Sign of Doom” go away

So my main YouTube channel got hit by the Adpocalypse the other day.

Last weekend I uploaded some videos for next month to that channel, since I like to keep my content front-loaded, to make sure I never miss a show coming out on time. It’s part of my OCD to always be prompt like that. Anyway, I logged into that channel the other day, and found that most of these videos had been marked with the “Yellow Dollar Sign of Doom”, signaling they had been determined to be “Unsuitable for most Advertisers”. In short, they had been Demonetized.

Now, keep in mind that I provide pretty family-friendly content on this channel. It’s all gaming-related content, currently showing a weekly video podcast regarding MMORPGs, but I’m adding new content starting in January. I can’t talk about that quite yet, but it is all family-friendly, for the most part. Rated PG at worst.

Anyway, as you might expect, this rather ticked me off. So I went about the process of checking each video, making sure I had “Advertiser-Friendly” content, then sent in a request for each for a Manual Review. Now here’s the thing: Manual Reviews shouldn’t apply to my channel. Why? Because they explicitly state that they will only conduct a Manual Review once said video has reached 1000 views in a day, and as you might already know, if my videos were getting more than 1000 views in a day, I wouldn’t be working at my current “Day Job” anymore! I’m lucky if one of my videos gets 1000 views in a year, at this point.

But long story short, I went ahead and put in the request for each to be reviewed, because what other option do I have? And then I did my other business on the channel, logged out, and thought nothing of it until last night. That was when I logged back into the channel, to check my stats and see if things had gotten worse (such as more videos getting the Yellow Sign). Well, the good news was that no other videos had been demonetized. The better news was that all but one of the previously-demonetized videos had been Remonetized! No word from YouTube as to if this was part of a Manual Review, or if the YouTube AI just had made a mistake (likely), and reverted the change. Regardless, this was pretty awesome to see!

And then there was the problem with the one, remaining Yellow Sign. I know damn well it was advertiser-friendly, had no curse words in the tags, title, or description, so what could be the problem? Well, I took another look, and decided to try an experiment. This video discussed Lootboxes in video games, and the description and tags did include the word “gambling”, although in context it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, I reworded the description, using “Skinner boxes” in place of “gambling” where necessary, and removed the “Gambling” tag. Saved the changes and went back to the main Video list.

The video in question miraculously was Remonetized.

So basically, I have to call bullshit on YouTube’s demonetization. They try to scare small content creators out of monetizing our videos when they start to make money, by dropping a bunch of Yellow Signs on them (often for no reason), then tell us we can’t get a manual review until our videos get 1000 views in a day. But the reality is that they will reverse the Yellow Signs if we apply for a manual review, and the demonetization was unwarranted. And when that doesn’t work, they will reverse it, if there are certain words in the title, description, or tags that might make advertisers uncomfortable, even if they normally wouldn’t be an issue. Such as placing the word Gambling in a video description, when it also mentions certain big-name games that are using Lootboxes?

Anyway, this is fucking stupid, but at least I got lucky and fought this battle with videos that are uploaded well in advance of publication. If I were the sort to do things at the last minute, I would have been well and truly screwed, especially if I depended upon YouTube for my livelihood.

UPDATE: … and now that one video about Lootboxes is again listed as Demonetized, with a review pending. So will it have to receive 1000 views in a day to get a manual review? I guess we’ll find out if that Yellow Sign remains in place forever, huh? I suppose maybe YouTube just doesn’t want us criticizing companies that use Lootboxes (Skinner Boxes) to get extra money from their players?

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