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YouTube Changes Rules Around Videos with External Links – Again

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According to several YouTube creators, the site will no longer let them add external links in the cards at the end of their videos. They will allow it, but only if the creator enables their channel for monetization through YouTube’s Partner Program.  Channels don’t actually have to enable monetization on the video, but the channel must join the program for the external link cards to work.  This change left creators confused about why they suddenly couldn’t link to their Patreon accounts.

When prompted to link, the notification reads as follows:

Before linking to approved external websites, you’ll need to enable your channel for monetization.  You will be able to link to:

  • Your associated website
  • Merchandise sites
  • Crowdfunding sites

Existing links won’t be affected.

Ian Danskin of Innuendo Studios had this to say about the change:

It’s also not clear yet whether or not just have to have ads enabled on your channel, or if a video will lose its links should it be demonetized, either through a copyright claim or YouTube deeming it “ad-unfriendly.”

YouTube has since released a statement in order to explain the change.  YouTube states:

In order to use externally-linking end cards in videos, creators are being asked to join the YouTube Partner program, so that we can evaluate the validity of the channel, as well as  determine whether the channel is following our community guidelines and advertiser policies. This update is meant to curb abuse and does not affect current YouTube partners or existing end cards. Additionally channels do not have to actually monetize any videos as part of this requirement.

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Does this explanation satisfy YouTube content creators? Earlier in the year, YouTube removed ads from videos with less than 10,000 channel views earlier.  Which means, smaller YouTube creators have had a hard time drawing followers to their Patreons. The reason for this shift was to stop people from reaping rewards from sketchy channels that uploaded copyrighted material or tried to rip off content from other YouTube content creators.  But the site doesn’t seem to have communicated this new rule very well.  Which is why it’s not surprising that creators are worried.

That being said – the reason behind the change appears to be due to abusive use of external links.  By limiting the external links to partners, YouTube can make sure that the creators aren’t violating their Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.  So is this really a big deal?  I think the bigger concern is that YouTube isn’t communicating these changes to people in a way that is effective.  Which is causing confusion and people are making assumptions about what they think is happening.  A clear message coming from YouTube should be announced before they announce the changes to the rules.  A page outlining the changes would also be helpful.  Even if people don’t read the page, you’ve at least done your job.

Content creators who don’t participate in the program can still put links in their description boxes, but there are very few viewers who use those links. Endcards are much more convenient as they put the link in the same box the viewer is already looking at.

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