back to article YouTube axes crowdsourced captioning: Use our buggy speech-to-subtitle code or pay an approved third party

YouTube has removed the capability for netizens to add captions to videos after it said the feature was hardly ever used – and if it was, it was used to slap “spam, abuse, and low quality submissions” on web vids. The decision to axe the so-called Community Contributions feature was announced in July, and came into effect on …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    That's daft

    To remove the feature entirely without creating the "trusted captioner" role first is...

    Yeah - as someone who relies on subtitles it's nice to have better subtitles, and I struggle to see the difficulty with having a setting that says "This user submits crap, I don't want to see their suggestions again" in whatever UI they designate.

    It's not as if the captions are sent anonymously....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: That's daft

      You can always caption them and send them to the original creator to upload.

      The trouble with blocking users who spam is that they can create a billion new accounts. You could limit uploads to only accounts that have previously uploaded highly rated captions but there is a bit of a logical problem

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: That's daft

        Or they could let people switch the community function back on. If it's such a big problem, let them make it disabled by default, but leave the feature available. Taking it out without giving an alternative just messes up the workflow for anyone who used to like it without providing any sort of replacement.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: That's daft

        Not really - you can filter to see only people who have previously uploaded good captions. If you get a million submissions you might miss the good one, but if you aren't deluged with spam, and I imagine most people aren't, then you can glance at the first couple and see if they're worth reading further.

        1. Kerryquinn

          Re: That's daft

          You can always caption them and send them to the original creator to upload.

  2. Chris G

    From my experience, I don't think YouTube auto captions can translate English speech into English captions, let alone any foreign language into English.

    I tried watching a Spanish film using captions to try to improve my Spanish, I nearly drowned on a mouthful of beer when I read one translation, the community captioners mostly provide a good service.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    That D&D woman...

    If I understand it, a content creator can upload their own subtitles. So what's to stop her getting her friend to do the subs, to send to her to upload?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: That D&D woman...

      I'm guessing it is a lot easier to correct YouTube's errors than do it yourself? Even if it gets most of it wrong. And also, you would need video editing software to do the captioning.

      1. K.o.R

        Re: That D&D woman...

        Aegisub is the free tool of choice for generating any kind of on-screen text you can imagine.

      2. DavCrav

        Re: That D&D woman...

        "I'm guessing it is a lot easier to correct YouTube's errors than do it yourself? Even if it gets most of it wrong. And also, you would need video editing software to do the captioning."

        1) Download the auto-generated, terrible captions.

        2) E-mail them to the worker.

        3) Get captions sent to you.

        4) Put them on Youtube.

        It's more annoying, but it's still not a massively difficult workaround.

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    It's not as if YouTube cares much about subtitles

    I try to subtitle some of my videos (but it's a tedious process) because southern English accent and slang words means the automatic transcription is sometimes comically bad.. I create srt files in Biftaku Subtitle Editor and upload them to YouTube.

    But, wait, via the Studio or YouTube app? No, the app is only useful for setting the description and thumbnail. Google should be utterly shamed by how lousy the YouTube Studio app is.

    No, I have to fire up the browser, sign in, go to the, get my list of videos, call up the stuff to edit it. Fiddle around because of Chrome's shitty resize-everything-for-some-reason breaking the layout and pushing stuff on-screen. Go to the other pageful of settings, find the bit about captioning. Long-tap to open it in a new tab (if you don't, it'll get claimed by the YouTube app that can't handle the URL). Then, finally, poke around to get to the bit where a dialogue box asks me to pick a file.

    What a bloody palaver.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: It's not as if YouTube cares much about subtitles

      Youtube care$ about the money, nothing more, nothing less. Once in a while, bad publicity may catch their attention fleetingly...

      1. RM Myers

        "bad publicity may catch their attention fleetingly..."

        Probably because they are afraid it will cost them future revenue, in other words, money.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I use YouTube subtitles when e.g. I don’t have headphones handy. I always assumed that the creator had to approve the subtitles on their videos...

    So is this status quo, but without some kind of editing tool that previously existed? Or was there a way to push random subtitles onto other people’s videos? Or do creators no longer have the ability to subtitle their own videos?

    1. Hollerithevo

      Re: Confused...

      You can edit the transcript of your own video when you post it, but I know a lot of YouTubers who let the automatic service just do it and figure that it's good enough.

      I work in financial services, and a missing or garbled word in an automatically-generate transcript could see us being sued, so you bet that we upload, check the transcript, and then publish.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Leaving it blank.... better than getting it wrong. I've seen some crackers, but the other week one completely changed the context of the section of the story line.

    If I could remember what it was in I'd give the example.

    1. Hollerithevo

      Re: Leaving it blank....

      I once saw, for ' an net appreciation of', Anita Precious of

      1. DavCrav

        Re: Leaving it blank....

        A collegaue sent me this Zoom attempt at captioning:

        Speaker: A is inside U.

        Zoom captioning: AIDS inside you.

  7. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    One dick move deserves another.

    I'm beginning to think that these tech companies are in a dick measuring contest based on the number of dick moves they have done that has been reported in recent news. I have problems hearing and I tend to rely on subtitles and closed captioning to enjoy shows, movies, and streaming video. So, terminating Community Contributions a year before rolling out the Trusted Captioner feature is a really big dick move, and may be illegal under US law (Americans with Disabilities Act). So in response to Google's dick move, I'm going to pull a dick move of my own: Contact an advocacy group for the hearing impaired and let them put Google's feet to the fire.

  8. markrenton

    There is a site called I've been using since then and I don't what people expect from YouTube community captions but for me it does the job.

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