News

Community Captions Approval Did Not Cause Substantial Reduction In Usage, YouTube Says

A spokesperson for the social media platform said that while the tool did lead to a decline in use of the viewer-submitted captions feature, this was not by a meaningful amount.

The comments follow an earlier response issued to this website, in which YouTube said the setting – introduced in August 2019 – reduced levels of abuse, but also impacted the usage of community contributions.

In a follow-up e-mail, the YouTube spokesperson said on background that while low usage was given as a reason for deprecating the feature on Monday, it would not be correct to tie that issue to the introduction of the creator approval system.

They added that in comparison to manual captions, the use of community captions was noticeably lower both before and after the validation tool was introduced.

Earlier this week, YouTube chose to go ahead with its move to scrap community captions, despite pleas from deaf campaigners and viewers for the platform to reverse its decision.

Confirming the news in a Community post on YouTube’s Help Center, an employee said the platform “didn’t share specifics or details” when they initially announced plans for “better captioning tools” on the site.

The two new features include a new captions editor, as well as the ability for an external individual to have access to the subtitles section of a channel’s Creator Studio.

The article continues: “Next year, we plan to introduce a ‘Trusted Captioner’ role, which is a new Channel Permission in YouTube Studio that allows creators to delegate caption creation on their channel to those they trust.

“We’ve heard a lot of creators say they need to share the work of captioning with others, and we’ve also heard how meaningful it is for people to create captions for their favorite creators – we hope this feature achieves some of that.”

In response to a question around evidence that channels will use the new permissions tool, the spokesperson said that many creators they spoke to told them that they had a select group of trusted individuals to contribute captions, as well as the role being highly requested from creators.

Elsewhere, they confirmed that the removal of community contributions will be gradual, with the deprecation due to be completed in the next few weeks.

While creators will no longer be able to use community contributions after this, eligible channels will receive a free year-long membership to the third-party captioning service, Amara.

In a statement to Liam O’Dell, a spokesperson said: “Once the 12-month subscription expires then they will be able to continue to continue to use Amara Community on a paid basis.

“We built Amara Community as a solution to the problem Community Contributions was meant to address (as well as remedying some of CC’s flaws).

“Amara Community is a robust platform for volunteer communities to work together to caption and subtitle content in an effective way, so regardless of YouTube’s decisions moving forward we will continue to support it for the foreseeable future,” they said.

Both YouTube and Amara declined to comment on the number of creators benefitting from the free 12-month subscription.

Meanwhile, the social media platform revealed to this website that views on British Sign Language (BSL) videos have grown by more than 75% globally since the beginning of lockdown.

“This increased demand is a result of both excitement to learn new languages during lockdown, but also crucially for those with a hearing impairment, lip-reading is their primary mode of communication.

“So with the advent of masks, BSL becomes even more important,” YouTube said.

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