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YouTube Releases Video Expanding On Decision To Remove Community Captions

In an unlisted video on the Creator Insider channel, Vice President of Product Management Ariel Bardin and Product Manager James Dillard explained more information about Thursday’s announcement.

Commenting on the choice to retire the feature, which enabled viewers to contribute captions and translations for videos on another channel, Ariel said: “Obviously our creators know that we’ve been spending a lot of time moving to new systems and new infrastructure.

“We recently moved everybody over to the new product, but we still have a few features that are lagging on the old system, and we’re working to move those over as well, and one of those features is community captions.

“So it basically forced us to really think, should we spend a significant amount of engineering effort moving the product over and maybe even enhancing it, but just to get it to the same level would take a significant amount of work.”

James went on to add that concerns raised in response to a Creator Insider video in April about the proposals came from two groups: creators who benefit from the feature today and accessibility advocates.

“So because of that, we started to look at third-party solutions that would allow us to bridge the gap from where we are today to some other solutions that we have planned in Product in the future,” he said.

Ariel added: “We’re very passionate about making sure that there’s a lot of content on YouTube that has captions, and so our intent of course is to grow the watch time that has captions and not reduce it.”

The video later goes on to focus on a redesign of the platform’s caption editor, with James confirming that some creators are already testing out the version on YouTube Studio.

He said: “When we talk with creators about captioning their videos, all the time, one of the biggest things that comes up is how time-consuming it is. So we’re always looking for ways to make it easier for creators to caption their video.

“There are a lot of creators who don’t have channels that are big enough to benefit from the community captions feature and so if they’re going to caption the content and if they’re not willing to pay for it from some third party, they’re going to caption it themselves.

“So the captions editor is a way for them to watch their video content on YouTube and caption it themselves, or translate it into another language.”

The Product Manager went on to add that the new tool will integrate with automatic captions, as it is “easier to start from a track that is mostly right and fix the capitalisation”.

It will also a “much improved assigned timings feature”, where captions are timed to the videos.

“Our hope is, that by making these improvements, not only will we have more same-language captions, but we will have more translated captions because we’re going to provide kind of a ‘seed’ that creators can use,” Ariel said.

The update also saw more information around permissions, with YouTube announcing earlier this week that end screens are available through the user tool, and “pretty soon, captions”.

James said: “We would like to add a permissions role – an access level – that only allows someone to edit your captions or translated tracks.

“I think, in a lot of ways, this gives the best of the community captions experience. I know that there are some channels out there that will say, ‘listen, people just found me and that was really great, but a lot of the risk comes there as well’.

“When you as a creator can control who has the ability to do that, it allows you to make sure that the quality matches what you want for your channel.

“If they’re not meeting your bar of quality, you can kick them out – hopefully that doesn’t happen all that often.”

James also revealed plans to integrate captions into the new upload flow when preparing a video, while Ariel explained further information about the free, six-month Amara subscription for those who benefited from the community captions features.

“We are thinking about potentially making that period of time longer and obviously, as we get towards the end of the six months, we’ll know where we are with these different features […] and we can make a decision there,” he said.

The full video is available to watch on the Creator Insider channel.

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