YouTube Discontinues Community Contributed Captions and Subtitles

August 13, 2020 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: March 9, 2021

YouTube captioning is changing as the Community Contribution feature – which allowed for crowdsourcing of captions and subtitles on the platform – is discontinued. The hope was that this tool would “offer a scalable and free way to make your channel more accessible to a global audience.”

Viewers could add a title, description, subtitles, and closed captions to your videos. Furthermore, once a video had same-language captions, the community would be able to submit translations to help reach a wider and more global audience.

1 While deaf and hard of hearing users found this tool a step in the right direction for increasing and improving accessibility, it was apparently underutilized. It was recently reported on Google’s support documentation that, “This feature was rarely used and had problems with spam/abuse.” YouTube has therefore decided to discontinue this feature as of September 28, 2020, to focus on other creator tools.

The fine print:

  • Community-contributed captions that have already been posted will continue to show up even after the removal.
  • Creators will have a chance to approve already submitted contributions until September 28.
  • Creators will now have to rely on Google’s built-in automatic captions, as well as manual captions and subtitles, or services from third-party vendors.

What this means for YouTube Closed Captioning


It’s disappointing to see the removal of this YouTube tool that is directly linked to improving accessibility. However, there are still a number of ways for creators to produce and add accurate captions to YouTube content. We’ll explore several of these options, including do-it-yourself (DIY) captions and those from a third party vendor, below.

Creating DIY Captions

There are several ways to create DIY captions for YouTube videos. Depending on the amount of time and your comfort level with captioning, you will find an option that works best for you. Three ways to DIY your own captions are to:

  1. Create captions using YouTube’s automatic captions as a starting point
  2. Create a transcript in YouTube and sync it with your video
  3. Create a separate transcript file and upload it to YouTube

 Discover DIY Resources for Closed Captioning and Transcription: ➡️ 

3Play Media + YouTube Closed Captioning

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If you’re looking for a solution that scales and takes the work off of your hands, working with a third party captioning vendor may be the right move for you. When selecting your vendor there are several things to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure you choose a vendor that provides high-quality and accurate captions. If you have a lot of YouTube content, you may also want to consider a vendor that has simplified workflows for captioning YouTube content.

At 3Play Media, we offer several easy-to-use ways to get YouTube videos accurately captioned depending on your specific video needs. Which one is right for you?

1. YouTube Integration

Do you have your own YouTube channel and create or upload your own video content? If so, you’ll want to learn more about our round trip YouTube Integration.

This integration provides an automated workflow for captions and subtitles. Your YouTube videos can be imported directly to your 3Play Media account for processing. Upon completion, your captions are automatically sent to YouTube and added to your videos. It’s truly like magic!

2. One-Line YouTube Embed

Are you an educator that likes to show YouTube videos in your classroom, but need them to be captioned? We’ve got you covered with our One Line YouTube Embed!

The One Line YouTube Embed is a simple solution that allows you to combine the YouTube video embed with 3Play Media’s captions plugin or interactive transcript embed into one simple iframe. Just copy the iframe and paste it into the <body> of your page. When you publish, the video will play with the plugin you selected to make your YouTube videos accessible, searchable, and interactive.

3. Live Automatic Captioning

Are you streaming live events on YouTube that need captioning? 3Play has you covered with our Live Automatic Captioning solution.

3Play’s live automatic captioning solution allows you to schedule automatic captions for live streaming events. This solution utilizes 3Play’s automated speech recognition (ASR) technology with Speechmatics, and can be implemented through iFrame or Javascript embeds or natively within select video players. Once your events end, you’ll have access to the final transcript with options for editing, upgrading to full transcription, or even ordering more services on the transcript.

Checklist: How to Set Up Live Auto Captions for YouTube Live Streams ✨

Start adding captions to YouTube today.

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