Bad subtitles


Continuing the discussion from Fraudulent Subtitlers:


Well, they got what they fought for.
First of all the matter is their idea of “anyone can be a subtitler” is entirely wrong.
Moreover, some knowledge of a language and an ability to translate from/to the language is not the same.
Sure Viki is fantastic opportunity to watch dramas we could never watch without it.
But they started with a translator’s work devaluation, made people think it should be done for free, so now any passable quality of subtitles is out of question.
So the output is a huge scrap heap of low grade subtitles. Ok, and not a bad pastime.

[Viki Community] We Want Your Feedback

I would not agree with some of the things you said.

Anyone should have the opportunity to test oneself as a subtitler. But, yes, not everyone can truly become one.

There is nothing devaluating about translating voluntarily. The only thing is, that’s why you cannot fully control the quality of the subs. But there are ways to do so, should Viki finally decide to implement some form of quality control.

Most of the subtitles are of good to excellent category. But there is a concerning rise in the number of low-quality subs. As the body of subtitles grows, it’s to be expected to have more bad subtitles. But I think the percentage of bad subs has lately increased.

The concept of translating at Viki remains to be revolutionary and brilliant. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be improved. That’s why the community is here. To voice out its concerns and come up with ideas to solve them.


Poor translators :slight_smile: No one will even think to visit an amateur dentist, but of course anyone can translate with “good to excellent” quality :slight_smile: Sorry for my harsh comment, it’s just a sore point for me. My apologies.
As for quality control - I don’t know ways to implement it. But I can judge a situation with Russian subtitles, and it’s horrible. 90% of Russian subtitles on Viki now are just trash. No less.



Unfortunately, I have failed to read the guidelines thoroughly (before, but I did now). After watching multiple drama series’ on Viki, I consider myself a loyal member to Viki. As I was subtitling in-correct subtitles (not on purpose, but by a translation program), I thought this was just too easy, I knew there had to be some restrictions. I went to the guidelines, I found out it was prohibited, then I deleted the in-correct subtitles (6% Tamil). On another drama before I read the guidelines, I also made the same mistake, but it was then edited and corrected by someone else. Should I be in any position to worry about this? If I should be worried, what necessary measures must I resort to?


You’ve posted the same exact thing (if not for minor wording changes) at least 3 times. Please stop.


Oops sorry, I don’t know what is happening. I am not doing this deliberately,


I feel like bad subtitles isn’t a problem for any of the major languages (that is, English, French, Spanish and the like). Enough people are screening these subtitles on a regular basis that there’s no room for subpar subtitles (or subbers for that matter). If someone continually writes bad subs, they get called out on it and their subs get edited.

Viki’s main language is English. The English subs are the first ones to be completed, and all other subtitling is based off those, so of course it’s important that they are of excellent quality. For this reason, it’s common to have one or two people on the team as editors whose sole job is to make the subs sound better and more natural. Many of our community’s best and most hardworking Korean/Japanese/Chinese - English subbers are not native speakers of English and do make silly mistakes sometimes. But that’s okay, because they know that the editors have their backs. As long as they have a good enough grasp of the language to convey what is being said in a coherent and somewhat detailed manner, we should let everyone subtitle.

I think that the problem lies with minor languages with less volunteers and a smaller audience. Personally, I’m a Swedish subber. Now, Swedish isn’t a widely spoken language, nor are most Swedes restricted to Swedish subtitles but rather able to use the English ones just fine. Because of this, the Swedish subbing community is quite small and I’ve never come across a team which has an editor, or even more than two subbers. I have on several occasions come into contact with people who are clearly not fluent in Swedish and heavily reliant on Google translate and word-for-word translations. This results in terrible, terrible subtitles.

One possible solution, or at least improvement, for our current situation could be randomised quality controls, sort of building on the “evaluate-a-subtitle system” that is in place today. Viki members could be given a random subtitle in a language that they are confident in, evaluate the sub as excellent/good/okay/poor and have that score count towards the author of that subtitle’s credibility. That score would then be visible, perhaps not to everyone, but for channel managers and moderators that are in charge of recruiting subbers. Because no one wants a lousy score, those that speak their language well would try a little harder to write good subs, and those that know that they aren’t very good and relies a lot on google translate would stay away, or go hone their language skills.

All of this being said, I don’t think we should discourage people too much, especially speakers of minor languages. Writing subtitles is time consuming. Subbing one episode as a lone subber takes several hours. If you are continually told that your subtitles aren’t quite hitting the mark, you would stop, and that’s a shame, because without subbers, no subtitles would be written. Surely subtitles that are occasionally poor are better than no subtitles. Viki is aiming at a vibrant community of languages, after all.


I believe as long as you’re aware of your previous mistakes and will not repeat them again, you should be fine.

Keep up the good (and authentic) work :wink:


Okay, thank you for believing me. I am just trying to be honest since I use the Viki site all the time and watch dramas from it. I don’t want to hide anything at all. (And if this repeats itself; the sentence, then it is probably an error so sorry) anyway thank you for reading


I translate to (Serbo-)Croatian. There is quite a big demand for the subtitles, since an average Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian is not that well-versed in the English language. If you take a look, currently there’s about 20 subtitlers, out of which ca 10 are significantly productive. Yes, I don’t know what it’s like to have an editor in my team either.

I’m worried about what @bushuo_woxiaoyu_950 mentioned, that a majority of Russian subtitles is of substandard quality. If that is true, it’s a battle uphill and users themselves cannot solve this issue. For one, stopping all the bad subtitlers is difficult if there are more coming in every day. Second, only the Russian-speaking persons can verify the quality of these subtitles, making it a time-consuming task for them and stealing the time required for subtitle checking from the time they would otherwise use for translating.

We made several suggestions about the quality control in other discussion threads (see above). I don’t think we ever mentioned, though, that our viewers could be our quality control, as well. After an episode has finished playing with subtitles in a particular language, a small pop-up window could appear, asking for a quick 1-5 star appraisal of the subtitles they just saw.


Thank you for paying attention to the Russian subtitles problem.
Just one example: not long ago I tried to open a discussion here about the same problem:
I hoped to get an answer from the certain subtitler made all the outrageously bad subtitles I cited in my previous post. That’s why I wrote that post in Russian. No response.
All the subtitles of that subtitler are translated by Google. All of them have totally wrong grammar and no sense at all. It could be confirmed by any native Russian speaker.
And a cherry on top: the subtitler I meant is not just a subtitler. It’s the Russian Moderator working with an ongoing TV series right now.
Well, now you can see a scale of our problem here.


Increasing the volunteer population on viki for the languages (and viewers) in which these abuses are happening seems like the ideal way to solve the problem without having to rely on new quality control methods. The viewers would be able to discern what seems outlandish and report to the moderators or channel managers.


I’m afraid a very small percentage of newly active subtitlers follow these discussion pages.

One thing you could possibly do is to PM the “moderator” about the problem. Not PM here in the forum, but on the Viki site.

Another thing, maybe you could post these problems in discussion threads in English, because they concern everyone, you will be more likely to find a proper solution if you have a wider audience and another person with the same problem might find the discussion useful.

Finally, should the “moderator” not respond to your very polite (!) and constructive criticism, it means they are fully aware what they are doing and should therefore be reported to the Viki Help Center. I suggest you use screenshots of his/her translations alongside screenshots of respective Google translate results.



I’ve already sent a message to the CM on your behalf. Follow option 2 if you would like.

Option 2: (I doubt this option gets you anywhere personally because I don’t think viki staff know Russian)
send a request here outlining the problem:


Thank you, I will think well and try to follow your advice.

Another problem I meant is a lack of any editing of currently existing Russian subtitles. Just a simple example (I guess, you have similar problem in Serbo-Croatian translations because of Cyrillic…): most of Korean personal names could be transliterated in Russian by at least four methods. All four are generally possible, althought only one is officially acceptable. And almost every Russian subtitler has his/her own method of Korean names transliteration! Just imagine watching a drama with a lot of characters and a different name spelling for each of them! It’s a problem of the most dramas with completed Russian subtitles, like “Boys Over Flowers”. If we add to it a lot of translator’s mistakes, direct translations and just mistypes, we will get what I meant telling about “trash”.


Thank you… sorry for my long figuring out. I tried to decided what language I have to use to persuade the Moderator :slight_smile:


I know where you’re coming from, with the names ambiguity :slight_smile: Actually, I also came across some English translations where they were confused about the romanization of Hangul, even though Viki has rules about it.

I figure, as long as you stick with one system throughout a drama, or one way of writing for each character’s name, it’s good enough. Mixing two or more different forms of the same name in the same drama is a clear sign of amateurism.


To stick with one system throughout a drama is possible when we have an editor… or just one subtitler for all the drama. But I talk about older dramas, where every part of each episode was subtitled by several Russian translators. It’s a disaster :smile:
Frankly speaking, I would prefer personally to have a list of Hangul names. As probably most of subtitlers here I can read Hangul and I would like to check some vague moments. I know some Korean dramas has Korean subtitles, and it’s a huge help, and lists of Hangul names in Team Discussions are very useful too. But it’s rather rare thing.
Or examples like that… I definitely like the drama “Mask”, I like its Kor-Eng team, but they don’t make Korean subtitles, and one petty (or maybe not) thing still troubles me… Ep.1, part 2, 18:13… a loan shark threatens the main character, but for some reason this loan shark says: “I even told you I’ll look for the job and give you the advance payment and you still are not going for it?”… it’s out of context totally. I asked the team to help, but got no response. I know they are busy, and in general their work is marvelous. Well, maybe it’s only my fault :slight_smile:


I’m not watching this drama but I did check that part and the translation is accurate. Since I’m not watching the drama, I’m not sure why the loan shark is saying that. My guess is he must have offered her for all those in exchange for something else from her and she isn’t going for the deal. Good luck!