YouTube has axed its ‘Community Contributions’ feature for captioning vids, and the timing comes just two days after the International Week of the Deaf, which is the last full week of September every year.
It was announced back in July that the video-sharing platform would be removing this feature, which resulted in backlash from deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Those who use the app to watch foreign media also hit back at the planned removal, but it looks like the company will not be listening.
YouTube picked an incredible time to kill community captions.
This week is the International Week of the Deaf. I'm not kidding.https://t.co/5xJdx7QHN1
— Norman Caruso (@GamingHistorian) September 28, 2020
Two weeks ago, a petition emerged against the removal of community captions on YouTube, and it has since reached half a million signatures.
“There is a great many people who rely on captions to enjoy content posted on YouTube, for a variety of reasons,” the petition reads.
“Some viewers are hard of hearing, some have audio processing disorders, and some watch content created in a language other than their own.
“Community captions have allowed these communities to come together and enjoy the content they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Removing community captions locks so many viewers out of the experience.”
What a joke. YouTube taking away community captions because it wasn't used enough (in their opinion). Never mind the volunteers who put hundred of hours into doing this so that deaf folks and people who just want accurate captions can enjoy the videoshttps://t.co/jZAsJKscXk
— Empathy (@DessyFenix) September 28, 2020
Essentially, the ‘Community Contributions’ feature allowed viewers to remedy how utterly wrong the automated machine transcriptions for videos are. Anyone could jump on board and fix timing incorrections, words that weren’t quite picked up correctly, and also sound cues that the robots just don’t understand.
This feature was obviously an incredible way for those who are deaf or hard of hearing to view the content they like without having the words jumbled up for no reason other than technology being a mess.
youtube is apparently getting rid of community captions? which means… i'm going to have a lot of trouble understanding my favorite low effort japanese cooking show soon
— saba sabaton (@sabato__n) September 28, 2020
In the company’s original July statement, it spoke as to why they were making the change.
“While we hoped Community Contributions would be a wide-scale, community-driven source of quality translations for Creators,” they wrote.
“It’s rarely used and people continue to report spam and abuse.”
“As a result, the feature is rarely used with less than 0.001% of channels having published community captions in the last month.”
This statement, however, was contradicted by their push towards third-party paid services like Amara.org.
“Many of you rely on community captions and thanks to the feedback we received,” the statement continued.
“YouTube will be covering the cost of a 6-month subscription of Amara.org.”
Wait, didn’t you just say that nobody used the community caption service? Interesting indeed.
As of today, the petition is still rolling along, but it looks like YouTube will still be axing the feature in the place of robotic voice detectors. Go future!Image: YouTube / Rikki Poynter: 'Channel Trailer!'