YouTube Offers Crowdsourced Video Subtitling Tools

February 15, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: June 14, 2019

Back in April 2015, we reported on YouTube’s plans to release community contributed closed captions, subtitles, and translations. At the time, the feature was in beta testing with a handful of channels. Now, YouTube has launched the service for all channels.

YouTube’s Crowdsourced Captioning & Subtitling Tools

Download the White Paper: ROI Analysis and SEO Benefits of Captioning

ROI Analysis and SEO Benefits of Captioning
YouTubers can add closed captions to their videos by uploading a caption file or editing the automatically generated captions that display by default.

But for those channels with an enthusiastic following, crowdsourced captions are a great option to involve fans in making videos more accessible and SEO-friendly.

YouTube’s crowdsourced caption tool lets viewers add or edit captions voluntarily. They can correct spelling errors, add punctuation, and include speaker IDs. Since automatically generated captions are only 70% accurate, there are usually plenty of mistakes for fans to edit.

Fans can also add subtitles in other languages, making your videos accessible to a global audience. Crowdsourced video translation works wonderfully for Ted.com, so YouTube can expect to see an explosion of community-generated subtitles, too.

Why Translate YouTube Videos?

80% of YouTube views come from outside of the United States. That means there is huge potential for capturing more viewers and longer watch times if you include subtitles in foreign languages. That will in turn boost your video SEO, exposing your video to more English-speaking viewers as well.

Including subtitles in other languages increases the chances that your video will appear in search results in those languages. Since there is far less competition for non-English queries, you can gain a significant edge on the video SERP.

How to Turn on Crowdsourced Captioning & Subtitling

YouTube channel managers can activate the crowdsourced captioning feature on individual videos or across an entire channel.

To activate community contributions, log into your YouTube account and go to the Creator Studio.

Under Translations & Transcriptions, click on Community Contributions.

Click on the Settings gear in the top-righthand side of the screen.

This launches a window for you to activate community-based captioning and subtitling. From there, select Turn on for all videos.

Community–contributed subtitles and CC: Turn on or off community-contributed subtitles and closed captions for all of the videos you've uploaded. This will also turn on this feature by default for new videos. You can turn this feature on or off for an individual video at any time from its settings page.

Are Crowdsourced Subtitles Any Good?

If you open up your video captions to the public, what’s to stop someone from sabotaging your captions with spam text or profanity?

Well, YouTube thought of that. Channel managers can moderate crowdsourced captions and subtitles by approving changes before they go live.

But even if your fans are contributing captions with the best of intentions, you may still run into quality issues. People could add captions with poor spelling, incorrect grammar or punctuation, or type-os. You might have a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen problem when it comes to formatting inconsistencies.

If the captions are riddled with mistakes, Google can penalize your video in search results. And, of course, bad captions fail to provide a good user experience and can be embarrassing for your brand.

Ultimately, you would need to provide editorial oversight to ensure quality control.


If you’d rather have peace of mind with 99%+ accurate captions and subtitles delivered quickly and directly to your YouTube videos, check out 3Play Media’s YouTube captioning integration.

Learn more about 3Play Media's YouTube Integration and start captioning today.

This post was originally published on December 17, 2015, by Emily Griffin, and has since been updated.

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