Monday, January 5, 2015

Fan Subtitling Flops!

Last year, YouTube introduced Fan Subtitling, a form of crowd-sourced captioning as a potential answer to the problem of lack of captions on top YouTube channels. Even YouTube was essentially admitting its automatic captions are crap. However, Fan Subtitling has turned out to be a big flop, as reported by Sara from Subtitle You Tube:

(Reprinted with permission from the Caption Action 2 facebook group)

While YouTube improved some features, allowing users to submit .SRT files, it also allows multiple users to post multiple captioned versions. There's no collaboration. You could submit captions, and unknowingly know that someone else already did some yesterday--submitted, but still waiting to be approved (which can feel like a waste of time to some captioners).

I spoke to Benny Fine (from the Finebrothers Channel) and he told me that there are many false starts (perhaps due to the clunky editor)--fans get bored, frustrated, don't follow through, and leave unfinished versions of captions. 

Even when you submit captions, there is no way to conveniently notify the content creator that captions have been submitted (for example, via email). Content creators have to sift through each video, manually checking to see if someone has created captions. This gets troublesome if someone wants to caption an old video because no content creator is going spend the time checking through several months of videos just to see if someone captioned it.

....Unless the channels are going to go the extra mile to create a pool of volunteers (a la Rhett and Link), fan subtitling isn't very reliable. Bigger channels that post a couple videos a week can afford the pocket change necessary to caption, while supporting those who make captions for a living.

Wow. This convinced us to remove Fan Subtitling as a viable option from the popular Info for Web TV Producers page at Captioned Web TVThis means that for the top YouTube channels, we need to push for a professional or outsourced captioning solution, meaning that they would have to pay for it. They would have to build it into their video budgets. The smaller YouTube channels are doing the captioning themselves, or in rare cases, outsourcing it as cheaply as possible.

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