I thought I’d write a bit about the strikes Skillshare hands out to teachers, and the difference between strikes and account bans.
For nearly three years I’ve run a Facebook group where we openly discuss Skillshare. One of the topics that comes up regularly is “strikes and bans“. Often teachers are upset to get a strike, because the issuing of a strike comes with the warning that, “Skillshare operates a three strike policy”.
Until recently there was no elaboration on the “three strike policy”.
You could assume, but weren’t explicitly told, that the infraction which triggered the email from Skillshare informing you about the violation of a rule, meant your account had received a strike.
You could also assume, but weren’t explicitly told, that when you got three strikes, you’d lose your account.
In the past, I received a couple of strikes. I admit, they made me fearful of losing my account. In fact, I’ve barely published classes since, and the fear of another strike was probably a major factor.
Skillshare’s Updated Strike Policy
Recently I noticed that Skillshare had created a new page, or merged existing pages, and now directly state that,
“Strikes are rolled back on a 6-month basis, meaning that in order to have your account closed for a violation of our Guidelines, all 3 strikes must have been issued within a 6-month period”.
I remember saying years ago that Udemy had a policy whereby they, “re-evaluate the strikes on an account on a six month rolling basis.”, and that if Skillshare didn’t do something similar, teachers could lose their accounts for three strikes accrued over several years, which didn’t seem fair.
Getting two strikes could even stop teachers publishing for fear of losing their account, and therefore the monthly income from the classes they’d already published.
It now looks like Skillshare have adopted Udemy’s stance, although an interesting slight difference is that Udemy say they’ll “re-evaluate the strikes”, which doesn’t necessarily mean delete them, whereas Skillshare effectively deletes them because for an account to be closed, “all 3 strikes must have been issued within a 6-month period“.
Having the situation regarding strikes explained clearly is good news for Skillshare teachers.
By the way, if you’re wondering which rule infractions result in strikes, I think you can get them for unprofessional actions at the website (violating “Community Guidelines“), which I’ve never got any for, and for problems with your classes (violating “Class Guidelines“), which I’ve got a few for, in the past.
Skillshare Account Bans
Strikes at Skillshare are meant to serve as a warnings and, as we now know, strikes only result in account closure if three are received withing six months. However, if the action taken by a Skillshare member is deemed to be a serious breach of the rules, Skillshare will close an account immediately.
Account closures means your content and profile are hidden on the platform, you can’t log in to your account and Skillshare won’t pay out any money owed for the previous month, or any future months.
I’ve heard of instant bans happening several times and generally it has involved financial matters such as a teacher generating fraudulent premium minutes or fraudulent referrals.
Skillshare pay their teachers for two things. Firstly, the number of premium minutes watched by premium member of a teacher’s premium classes. The more minutes you get, the more you earn, with each premium minute being worth about $0.05. Secondly, teachers can refer new members to Skillshare and earn $10 for each person who takes a premium trial.
Unfortunately, there will always be some people who look for short-cuts to make money.
Skillshare has put in place serious anti-fraud tracking measures, to catch people who try to refer themselves to “earn” $10 repeatedly, and/or who then watch their own classes to “earn” premium minutes and get an unwarranted pay-out.
Every time I’ve heard about someone losing access to their account instantly, it’s been because they’ve fallen foul of this anti-fraud tracking system.
Some people have claimed innocence and argued that Skillshare wants teachers to refer their friends and family to Skillshare, and that’s what they did, but they got an account ban. It seems likely that the friends and family shared the same IP address and Skillshare couldn’t determine whether or not the referrals were genuine or fraud.
The problem is compounded because the first thing friends and family do is watch the class by the teacher, which coincidentally looks even more suspicious.
I don’t know if any of the people who protested their innocence over the years were genuinely blameless victims of a vigilant anti-fraud algorithm. Skillshare have said to me that they only terminate accounts when they have, “clear and conclusive evidence of teacher collusion and malpractice”. At the end of the day, it’s Skillshare’s decision whether or not to close an account, and they’re the ones with the data on which to make that decision.
How To Avoid Losing Your Account
One lesson to be learned by Skillshare teachers is to only refer people to Skillshare from outside your circle of family and friends.
If you want to encourage your friends and family to join, don’t use a referral link, and don’t have them watch your classes. It may seem odd, but it makes sense if you think of the actions from the point of view of an algorithm set to detect fraud.
Referring a family member who then watches your class, especially if the family member is on a similar IP address, looks like someone referring themselves and then watching their own classes. They are exactly the actions the anti-fraud system is looking for!
It’s also important to read and follow the class guidelines before publishing, and the community guidelines before commenting or uploading anything to Skillshare. Note, I often see members doing things which are technically minor infractions. It’s important not to assume it’s OK because others are “getting away with it”. You don’t know how long they’ll continue to get away with it, and you don’t want to be caught when Skillshare do a wave of enforcement.
Also, check the rules regularly. They’ve been updated several times without any announcements being made, to my knowledge at least. What may have been acceptable last month may result in a strike this month. It’s your job to know the current rules.
If you have any doubt about interpretation of a rule, it’s much better to ask for clarification in advance than to argue about a strike afterwards!
As long as you follow the rules, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your Skillshare account open and earn money from both referrals and premium minutes. For my full review of Skillshare in 2019 for teachers and students, click here.