It’s time to say goodbye to YouTube’s community captions.
Early in August, YouTube announced the discontinuation of the Community Contributions feature, also known as community captions. If you’re a YouTube content creator, you might already have an idea of how significant captions and subtitles are. And without community captions, you might find yourself one of the many who will have to live through this change.
Here are the things you should know:
What are community captions and why is it being discontinued?
Community Captions or Community Contributions are now officially gone. This feature, back when YouTube still had it, allowed anyone to contribute translated video titles, descriptions, closed captions, or subtitles to any video on the platform. These contributions are then reviewed and published by creators (or automatically published after receiving enough community reviews).
This was a helpful tool, both for creators and audiences. So why did YouTube decide to get rid of it?
From their official announcement, YouTube stated that they were saying goodbye to the feature because “it’s rarely used and people continue to report spam and abuse.” They also cited low-quality submissions and low usage rates among creators. As a result, they decided to officially discontinue the Community Contributions feature across all channels after September 28, 2020.
Will this have a negative impact?
To cut it short, yes it will. Though YouTube has their own good reasons to discontinue the feature, both creators and audiences relied on community captions in one way or another.
Community captions are invaluable to the deaf community, helping deaf or hard-of-hearing creators to make videos accessible for others. Of course, it also helps deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences to consume videos in their own right and experience videos.
Non-English speakers and international audiences also benefit from this community feature. People can translate the video and turn them into captions, therefore widening the reach of a specific content. Audiences from around the world then have the chance to watch videos in their own language or in English.
Those with learning disabilities or cognitive disorders also benefit from captioned videos. They can understand the content they’re viewing and refer back to it as many times or as slow as they want.
This will also negatively impact creators who cannot afford to invest in captions. Good captions cost money, and there are YouTube creators who relied on contributors for their videos to be captioned. Now with this decision from YouTube, it will be harder for them to provide captioned videos, inconveniencing their audience and limiting their potential reach.
Without community captions, it will be harder for people to provide content, watch and engage with videos, learn, and even entertain themselves. Accessibility will be harder to achieve, and a lot of people will be affected.
What can you do?
While community captions cannot be utilized anymore, there are other ways for you to make sure your content is accessible to all kinds of audiences.
Upload your own captions
When making new content for your YouTube channel, make sure you also have captions ready. Upload your own captions alongside your video, so that the audience can easily consume your content without any hassle or waiting.
Utilize automatic captions
YouTube has its very own automatic captioning tool as well. YouTube uses speech recognition technology so it might take time before the automatic captions show in your videos. You can then review it and edit or remove any parts that haven’t been properly transcribed by their technology.
Utilize a free transcription service
You can also choose a free transcription service that will save you money, time, and effort all the while generating automated transcriptions in an instant. With transcriptions on hand, all you need to do is upload it as captions for your video. This might be one of the most cost-effective solutions for a lot of creators out there.