Advice for new subbers who are looking for their first drama

Good evening,

I am observing a new tide of new subbers asking CMs of diverse channels to be allowed to sub episode xxx of a drama xyz into language zyx. I hope that some of the new/inactive so far subbers will take a moment to read this missive because it will really spare you a lot of

  1. If you really want to start your adventure as a subber on Viki, assess your skills first. be honest about your language skills and choose only those projects that will match them. Do not venture out to a 60+ monster drama with magical realms, historical facts or specific vocabulary (like medical or criminal dramas) when you cannot fall back on your skills in this matter. you will only get discouraged in the middle and will probably abandon the project in the end, leaving your potential viewers hanging.

  2. look for ONE or max TWO projects you really want to work in - check the premise of the show, watch at least 2-3 episodes that are already translated and apply only when you are convinced that you can stay loyal to the show. spreading yourself thin just because Project Finder is bursting from the dramas that apparently need help will probably end in abandoning most of them because you will not have enough time, interest or patience to deal with them all (and believe me, some dramas start out really cool… and then you just want to strangle all the characters, the writer and the director in the middle of the drama because you just cannot believe something could be that bad). yes, there are exemptions from that grim rule and we stay up into wee hours of the morning just to finish the next episode, but they are scarce. so, especially if you are a beginner - find one or two dramas that will not tax your skills and the time you can spend here. there will be aplenty opportunities for translating something fun in the future.

  3. check if there is a moderator for the language you want to sub the drama into. if you are a beginner - and I have been there as well - it is always better to work in a team of subbers under the guidance of an experienced moderator that will help you in getting everything right. it will also ease your work and help you build your experience without problems. if you choose a drama that has no Moderator - you will be working all alone - Channel Managers will be mostly unable to help you as they do not have necessary language skills when it comes to your national language and you will be left alone with a monster drama that will seem to have no end. I have been there and done that… and I do not recommend it. so, when you are choosing your first/new project always keep in mind to check if there is a language moderator responsible for your language and write this person directly that you want to contribute. adding some more information about your language skills, availability, how much time you can spend on a drama every day/per week is much more welcomed than the “Hi there, I want to sub episode 43 into …”. this does not help us at all.

  4. it takes time to gather experience and to be smoothly accepted into a drama of your choice. some of us, the Channel Managers, are wary of the subbers that apply to xxx dramas with a very limited number of contributions so far. we are especially wary when it comes to the “flagships” that are being promoted by Viki so do not get discouraged by the fact that you will not be automatically added to a blockbuster show just because you love the drama. we also love it, but sometimes we have to rely on people that will do it the way we want it rather than do it the “fast and furious” way.

  5. if you choose your project and get your access granted - stay loyal to it. I know there will be plenty of new shows arriving here every week. they will be new, shiny, sparkling and maybe even far more interesting than the one you have chosen. do not falter. preserve. stay loyal to the drama you have chosen and the viewers will appreciate it. your moderator will appreciate it. and finding a new project in the future will be much easier, because you will not only gain the experience and confidence, but you will also have people who will take you to another project with them.

I hope this missive will help you all in concentrating on this one drama that will both satiate your subbing need and the need to stay connected to the great community that Viki is. it would greatly help me if some of the new subbers would use it :wink:

Loads of hugs!



“It would be so great if it were possible to go through life without making a single mistake but there is no such path. Falling, tripping, losing the way, making mistakes, little by little, walking one step at a time, this is the only way.”

Natsuki Takaya
Fruits Basket (can’t get rid of the books)


Love Fruits Basket :purple_heart:

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What about when the problem seems to be pretty much the opposite? I’m new/inactive (worked on one drama before, My Secret Romance) and looking to translate from Korean to English. My skills in both languages are good, but Project Finder is definitely not “bursting” from dramas that need help. I’m guessing it’s not working for Korean to English, and it’s almost impossible to find dramas that need English subtitles just by scrolling through dramas. I would be willing to (re)learn the conventions of subbing thoroughly and I’m ready to focus on any kind of drama at first, but is it really that there are zero dramas that need English to Korean subtitles? I don’t know, maybe I’m just a newbie who doesn’t understand something :smiley:

My pov is theory is different. Being realist from my own experience:

  • it’s difficult to find a volunteer like that (in any role and no matter how long he’s been contributing): working on only 1 or 2 projects max on monster projects, staying loyal to the show, telling his availability, contributing regularly (a consequence of staying loyal and telling availability), having correct contributions (acceptable in term of quality, it goes with assessing skills and reviewing one’s self work).

If beginners have to follow these rules, anyone has to. One of the rules (or the only?) that would change between a beginner or not beginner would be the number of projects. The other conditions are also expected from anyone?

With the current situation, probably many people will be out of the game if that happened. Just a statement. How many can fulfill these conditions on any projects they are or were?

I have been in some incredible situations. I won’t cite them.

  • Subbers who don’t have a team or are subtitling a language where subbers are very few on Viki will be most of the time subtitling alone.
    New subtitlers who have finished subtitling a drama alone (counting just for a few projects I have): no more than 10.
    How can I explain that among all the subbers working alone, no more than 10 managed to finish it?

I think it’s a matter of 3 things:

  1. passion
  2. or responsibility sense
  3. or turnover: even if 1 new subber is not coming anymore, there’s another one who can come or in the future, someone will ask to subtitle. In the long term, it’s possible to finish like that. There’s a group in a sense.

  • finally, a consequence is that not sure they will find the correct drama with the best suited conditions to begin with or the moderator who will be there for them to explain them.
    A rare language, more and more dramas require the pass, or the CM could be inactive or doesn’t want to or it’s completed in their language or it’s not licensed anymore or region availability… old dramas I’ve been working on or where I started as a new subber a few years ago are not licensed anymore. A lot of factors that are not under 1 person alone’s control.
    It’s possible to find the best suited drama to begin with, but for some languages, it would be difficult.

  • my opinion: I can accept that subbers (new or old) realize while subbing a drama they don’t find it to their taste or it’s harder than what they thought. Like I accept that they want a divorce that is quite common nowadays. I also can accept the same for segmenters or moderators or CM.
    But then state it when people want a divorce, because it leaves ambiguity between people if nothing is stated or done.
    Yes, I do or No, I don’t.

For people remaining and who want to finish, sending a message because the recruiter took the time to answer when he recruited, he might need to adjust and find someone else and the team would need a CM or moderator, etc.
And if needed letting the place to someone else with tact and grace and not keeping it because of the reasons mentionned above.
Communication from people who have people under their responsibility (CM or moderator or editor or chief segmenter or the only segmenter or the only English subber).

(Communication with a new subber:
One of the moments where communication is ++++ = for me, when recruiting and giving guidelines on the drama. They might never have heard of them, but it is essential to know them.
Therefore, it is essential for the recruiter to tell them clearly, give links for this purpose and explain how it works. Never letting them begin without giving clear guidelines.)

For a new subber who is alone or not alone, the need of communication is proportional to the responsibilities/roles, I would expect more from someone who is supervising.

Most of the time, I had to ask the moderator about his progress instead of him telling me if he has completed it. I had to inquire and change moderator instead of him telling me by himself he’s not active or will be busy or won’t be able to subtitle ep 1 or 2. I had to inquire and find someone else because the supervisors had left without telling me. You imagine doing a drama and suddenly, the editor or the chief segmenter has just left without any words? Well, it happened and a team can’t work without them.
There was no fun in doing all that.

The goal is not to blame someone or anyone. It’s showing that the emergency situations I could have met are not with new subtitlers involved (not abusers situation), but with key responsibilities that were left without supervisors or without any segmenter or without any English subtitler (or too few).

So I want to tell new subbers, if one day, they decide to take another role with more responsibilities, don’t leave people hanging and say what is needed to say at the right time, because at this time, you will have more responsibilities and people under your supervision.


For Korean, Japenese, Chinese to English translations, since these source languages are important for other languages, it’s another reasoning I would say?

You can message the Chief editor or the English subbers recruiter to ask to participate (you see under reviews of a drama page, there’s a colorful picture with people contacts, “we recruit.” It’s eye catching normally, you will probably find it)

Look for +++ currently on-air shows and ++ coming soon. Shows where the English subtitles are being currently done or are not available yet.

It’s on the main page of the website.

Good luck!!

Thank you for your tips. They are indeed appreciated especially for me who is considering helping with subbing :slight_smile:

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I am about to launch a program to train new Italian subbers and help more experienced ones hone their skills.
It’s here:
(it’s in Italian, sorry!)