YouTube’s New ‘Heroes’ Program Gamifies Video Captioning

September 23, 2016 BY EMILY GRIFFIN
Updated: January 4, 2018


Last year, YouTube released fan captioning, which allowed YouTube channels to crowdsource user-generated captions and subtitles.

YouTube just announced a new program, YouTube Heroes, which would add an element of gamification to crowdsourced captioning.

YouTube Heroes Program

The YouTue Heroes program is an attempt to crowdsource more comprehensive moderation of YouTube videos. An overwhelming amount of new video content gets uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the deluge is far beyond what YouTube’s paid moderators can reasonably review.

Anyone of legal age with a YouTube account can sign up to join the Heroes program (business YouTube accounts are exempt). Heroes are volunteers that are compensated by earning points, which can then unlock certain perks. The point system is designed to ‘level up’ your hero status, up to level 5, with more perks available at each tier.

How to Earn Points

Heroes earn points by taking steps to moderate public YouTube videos.

Tasks include:

  • Contribute to Google Product Forums. Answer questions asked by other users and teach them about unfamiliar features.
  • Flag videos that may violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
  • Submit closed captions or subtitles to videos that accept user contributions.

Heroes accrue points until they reach a certain threshold, then they unlock a new level of benefits.

There are 5 Hero levels (see below).

tiers of Hero levels: Level 1: 0-9 points. Level 2: 10-99 points. Level 3: 100-399 points. Level 4: 400-999 points. Level 5: 1000+ points

Hero Perks

Each Hero level has its own perks.

  • Level 1: Gain access the Heroes dashboard as a member of the Hero community.
  • Level 2: Chat with other Heroes in Hero hangouts. Attend exclusive workshops on advance YouTube features.
  • Level 3: Gain permissions to mass flag abusive videos. Become a moderator within the YouTube Heroes community.
  • Level 4: Get a sneak preview of product launches. Can contact YouTube staff directly.
  • Level 5: Beta test new products. Potentially attend an in-person Heroes Summit conference.

Getting Credit for Captioning

Up until now, YouTube fan captioning was based on goodwill and volunteerism.

The new Heroes program gamifies closed captioning by awarding 1 point for each caption or subtitle edit approved by the video owner. Gamification is a powerful incentive to spur action, and it will be exciting to see how the Heroes program improves closed captions on YouTube as a whole.

If you’re wondering why people need to contribute caption edits when YouTube already adds automatic closed captioning to videos, take this quiz to see just how inaccurate those can be.

Read the free report: 2017 State of Captioning.

The closed caption CC icon shown in the middle of a TV.