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