Yes. I've got my lily white newbie butt kicked by the big boys. I've got both my Blogger site banned from AdSense and my Amazon AskVille account suspended.
After making a ton of changes and appealing twice, I've finally got the AdSense ban lifted by Google. But as far as I know, there is no way I can appeal in AskVille, so I guess I can say goodbye to my account there.
Here are my tips on how to get yourself into trouble:
Violate Google's Strict Content Limits
It is obvious that you are not allowed to show ads in pages that contain adult content. But it depends on culture what is considered appropriate and what not.
Google's generic guideline is that you may put ads to every page that you could easily show to your colleagues or your kids.
As an ex-dancer it never occurred to me that dance and clubbing costumes could be considered bad... If I had kids, I'd be happy to show them samba-wear and leather clothing. Sure, those clothes are sexy and sometimes revealing, but I don't think they are obscene unless presented that way.
Well, Google disagrees. I do understand that. They are probably selling ads to countries where women still have to cover their hair.
So you have to be very careful about your site content if you want to have ads there. Don't think what you could show to your colleagues and kids. Think of the most conservative person you know. Now think what he could easily show to his grandmother!
I think this is quite obvious. It just never occurred to me that I should judge my content by world-wide standards. Sure, I can do that, but I do have to pay attention. In the future I will.
An interesting detail here is that the page that got me banned has been online almost a year now. But last month I noticed from my stats that a lot of people came to that page looking to buy some clubbing wear. As the pics were a digital remake of real-world clothing, I added an affiliate link to the page. The affiliate shop sells fetish clothing - including pieces that you really cannot show to your kids. And right after that I got banned. I cannot but assume the affiliate link had something to do with this ban...
Advertize Your Site In Amazon AskVille
I was pointed to AskVille by SBI search tool. It shows that my competitor site has plenty of backlinks there. I looked at those entries and thought: "Gee! That is an easy way to get people to notice me. I can do just what they have done!" But I soon found out I could not.
I gave a clear and valuable answer to a recent question and pointed people to my new site for more information. I got my account banned after my very first answer. The reason was advertising and my account is totally banned for undeterminate time.
I should have read their rules instead of assuming that I can do what others have done.
Did I report my competitor to Amazon? No, I didn't. If they got links in, good for them. The links were part of real answers, just like mine. I don't want those answers get removed.
I did get a bit mad when I found out that I cannot appeal. The mail I got gives a link to a page where I am supposed to do that, but I cannot access it without a valid account. Creating a duplicate account to appeal would violate their rules too.
That's too bad and I'm angry for that. It was my very first answer/mistake and they did not give me any warnings or anything. Hardly fair, I'd say.
The good thing is that my regular Amazon account does not seem to be directly connected to this AskVille thingy. So I hope I'm not blacklisted anywhere else now...
Stupid Mistakes, Valuable Lessons
I got the bans for not reading the small print carefully enough. Just plain stupid mistakes!
You are allowed to laugh now. Well, I am laughing. I'm also glad I've got the lessons now when I don't have much to lose yet.
In any case, I felt miserable getting banned. Ah, that feeling of not being approved. It hurts.
I've never been banned before. But then, I have not had any affiliate business before. It just seems to me that I now need to work with a stricter set of rules. What has never got me any problems before, is suddenly forbidden behaviour. That's just how it goes.
That's just fine to me. I'll learn.