Bad subtitles


Thank you! Then it probably mean he will give her a job and give her an advance payment (as he did with her brother later), but sure it’s not the most clear line, right?
Again thank you… like a load off my mind! :slight_smile:


Right. He meant that he will look for a job for her. In Korean language, subject is dropped most of the time and you just know the meaning by the context. So that’s why the subtitle sounded a little ambiguous in English, even though it’s clear in Korean.


I only discourage the use of any kind of translators google, bing etc…because those subtitles are incorrect. They make no sense to the viewer anyway.


I go through the same thing with Spanish subtitles done with translator the grammar is wrong and sentence make no sense. I’m shocked this is happening in other language too. I hope you have better luck than me.


For English we use the Revised Romanization rules set by the Korean government circa 2001.
I also found a machine that does it for us recently.

The teams I have worked with use revised romanization because that way everything is romanized consistently.


I know it’s an old post but I was always thinking about something along these lines. It may sound arrogant but I know that the shows I work on as a main editor, the subs are really up there. I don’t drop any words or modifiers. I also make sure that we’re using the proper legalese, medical and business terms. Same goes for building signs and documents too! If a character looks at it, I sub it.

It’s really discouraging and frankly draining when viewers don’t know or care and all they want is speed speed speed. I agree with your proposal. Yet I am worried about the OMG where are subs! Comments killing the ratings. Perhaps viki can make a temporary button that only appears for clicking at the END of the show (or right before previews) and not some annoying pop-up.

I know the comments section is where the cheering happens, but unless I go to comments and CHECK for them. I can’t see them. Would it be possible to have them viewed in seg timer or sub editor? It makes way more sense!

Yeah I am an “old” ID from pre 2010 I joined like… 2009 once you had to log in to modify subs. But I watched starting like 2006ish. Viikii was too hard for me to use :frowning: and my translation level was so so so so low a 10 min segment would take hours.


Don’t think that only rare languages have problems. I’ve seen Italian translations by people who can’t even write Italian, let alone know anything about English. They don’t know the things which were taught in elementary school. As for the English, we routinely see literal translations of things like “It’s a piece of cake” (which in Italian only means the dessert, not an easy thing to do). And yes, when I found some sentences that were too weird, I copy pasted the English into Google Translate and lo, the exact Italian “translation” appeared. That’s why it was so crazy.

Apart from the lovers of automatic translations, the problem is that most translators don’t know how bad they are. They have no idea. That’s the worst of all, because sometimes they are really nice hard working people with a sincere desire to help.

Moderators sometimes are too nice and polite to kick out useless people from the team, saying “Oh, viki guidelines say we shouldn’t discourage anybody”, so they let them be and sometimes don’t even correct them so they won’t feel bad (but the poor audience? won’t they feel bad?). And I’ve seen some moderators make bad mistakes themselves.

So what’s the solution? Who can be the judge of the quality? Who chooses the judges, who decides whether the judge is really qualified? Ask for degrees and such? Or what? And do degrees really mean something? For instance, a person with a Cambridge Proficiency is probably someone with a certain level of English (although the Proficiency test nowadays is a joke, nothing like what it was in my times), but what about his writing skills in his native language? How can those be assessed? And even if the grammar and translation is right, does the target language flow naturally? Does it sound as if real people were talking? Would real people talk like that?

I don’t think assessing quality and weeding out bad subtitles is easy. And random buttons which can be pushed by “rivals” or by ignorant people will make the problem worse instead of solving it.

Did I just rant without offering a solution?
Well… yes.


hmm… that’s no literal translation.
a more literal translation would be:
Would I need to have a taste to know if its dung or soybean paste?

So far none of the subbers I met so far has subbed that literally lol…


What do you mean by “block”? They really block users or they just lock the episodes? In that case, you could contact them and ask to be part of the team.


That exactly. I busy with uni right now but I am supposed to edit a drama and there is 1 person who’s parts are always such a mess that I have to edit basically every sub. I do correct everything but I guess it would take less time to just do all of them again instead of correcting and the thing is since it’s all volunteering it’s not like you can’t kick them off the team when you still feel like they are most likely translating on their own (it isn’t ob Google Translate Niveau yet so…)


Also, some CMs are giving the moderations for new users who is not even QC, and not good translators either. It really frustrates me. :confused:


I understand how you feel.
The problem is that a Channel Manager cannot know whether a person is a good translator.
And let me point out that being a QC or having a 100.000 subtitles badge does not mean a thing. I’ve seen people who have made many thousands of very bad subtitles. Being hard working does not mean you know the language well.


Yeah I know, I don’t blame them for that. They can’t tell who is good or bad.
But giving it to someone new, makes no sense at all. :confused:


I think… it also depends on first-come-first serve.
It also depends on the channel mod. I have been under a chief that likes it if they are good in their language and her preferences. others do not.


It’s only logical that you see the same people in some teams. When I get a channel I’m not going to wait until someone drops by and says „hey I want to seg/sub/moderate/edit”. What I do first is PM a bunch of people I like to work with again because I know they are good. When that is done I do promotion for my channel by sending notifications about it on other channels and then it’s first come first serve most of the time. Sometimes you get several PM’s for 1 moderator position so then I try to pick one of who I think is the best option.

The CM also has the problem that they don’t know any language so what can you do when nobody tells you like hey that moderator isn’t doing a good job or those subtitles are all google translate?! You can blame the CM or Viki but if you won’t tell anyone how are they supposed to know? I had a situation like this before and I only wish it was reported to me earlier before it got at the point it was. Not that you can do much as a CM if people are simply not willing and Viki doesn’t care but you can at least try as a CM and so far it worked out fine for me.


Google translate is the only easy thing to check when someone points it out to you. Because, even if you don’t know the language, if I tell you that a certain subtitle has been done on Google Translate, then you can copy paste it yourself and see the result with your own eyes.
The other mistakes, however, you cannot control, and you have to just trust the accuser. But what if the accuser is just jealous and malicious?
Unless you have acquired some trusted friends all over viki, who are knowledgeable in languages you don’t know, and you can ask then to check it for you.


I hope I am joining the right conversation… I see this is an old topic, but the title drew me here.
First of all, I apologize for eventual mistakes in my English: although I think I have an acceptable understanding, I’m not so sure about my written expression (feel free to correct me).

I started to be a subtitler, even if I think I’m not enough qualified, because in my Viki journey I found so many horrible Italian subtitle that I wanted to figure out how this work and what I actually can do for that problem. My costant worry is to increase the number of bad subbers instead of fix the problem, so I’m wondering how can I improve fastly and how the whole system could improve.

In my opinion, when you start as a subtitler, there should be at least one basic grammar test in your own language. I think it wouldn’t be too selective (so it wouldn’t go against Viki’s spirit), but at least it would get you a minimum knowledge of your language shortcomings.
Watching dramas on Viki, I’m not looking for “subtitle masterpieces” (I think it would be a utopia to find only professional subbers on Viki), but I hope the subtitles can be understandable for an ordinary Italian person without causing him/her a “grammatical heart attack”.
When I receive a guideline from an Italian Moderator (and I can assure it’s not taken for granted), it often has a compilation of the most common grammatical errors you should avoid, but sometimes even the guideline is full of typo, if not downright, really scary grammatical errors, and I wonder how that person could have raised enough to be a CM. So I thought that a simple test could stem the problem (a little…).
And not to justify bad subtitlers, but I think many moderators do not help to identify them: in my very little experience I happened to work with a moderator who made me translate an episode’s part as a test and then, without saying anything, she assigned me other parts. Not being sure at all about my translation skills, I asked for a feedback, but the moderator said she hadn’t read the part. So what’s the point of making test subtitles? The number of my contributions has increased without anyone having checked my skills… Fortunately, only that incident happened to me… But from what I read in the discussions I fear that it is not an isolated episode.

After that, as I read before in a discussion (I don’t remember which, sorry), there should be a way for volunteer subbers to be “diverted” onto old abandoned projects where they could improve their skills without affecting the larger amount of viewers. As a newbie in this volunteers world, I found really difficult to “discover” channels where I can practice (Viki does not show easily the worst rated shows or the olders ones). If Viki could collect incomplete old dramas, it would be easy to find them for new subbers and even for CMs who are recruiting for their teams and could have a look at the beginners. Being “forced” to work on old projects, moreover, would discourage the lazy ones and, at the same time, create a basic CV for future Qualified Contributors.

Last but not least, it would a dream if some good moderator (and I see many of you here in the discussions) could take care of the new volunteers in their very first steps: I know that’s not your job, but I also know that no one else but you guys could do it…
When I first came on Viki as a subber, I couldn’t find anything: nor Viki guidelines, nor dramas to subtitle, nor how to contact a moderator (Now that I know how to sourch for them, it seems really easy, but when you are a simple Viki viewer it is difficult to find them following only Viki’s instructions). If I hadn’t been interested in a specific drama, perhaps I would have abandoned the idea. How glad I am to had found many useful tips in this community! But how better it would be if someone with more experience (and not an automatic answer) could give you the basic information at the moment you ask for becoming a volunteer. I don’t mean we could have everything spoon-fed, but it would be enough if someone could show you the right direction.

And about how to improve as a subber, if there was a space (like some old dramas) where every moderator could freely check new volunteers at work and send feedback, I think there would be less work to do when those same subbers will deal with on-air dramas. In this way, a beginner volunteer could receive feedback on his/her work from several people, and a moderator should not feel the charge to be the only one to do the “teacher job”.

I’m realizing just now how much I’ve written, sorry… But it’s a topic that matters a lot to me.

What do you think when Mods recruit "QCs only" to sub a new drama?

Some of the things you are asking for are planned for the near future or are being done but sporadically.

  1. We have repeatedly asked Viki to update the Project Finder and make it easier to find old unfinished or abandoned projects. They promised to do so. Let’s see.

  2. Some moderators do coaching, if they have the time and inclination. I’ve been doing it via Skype - as you read on the other thread. I enter the Subtitle Editor and I share my screen, while we talk (microphone, not video), and discuss each subtitle, why some are wrong (in my opinion) and search together for ways to improve them, rather than me editing it right away. Doing it “live” is much quicker than giving written feedback, which I also do sometimes but then editing takes three times as much time.
    By the way, please note that some subbers don’t want feedback and don’t take feedback well at all. They feel insulted. Of course it’s very important to express the criticism in a considerate manner. But, no matter how diplomatic the tone of writing, deep down nobody likes to be criticized, and some people are much more sensitive than average. One Korean subber recently told me that she feels frustrated and bitter that her efforts in volunteering her precious free time are not appreciated and was adamant in leaving the team. Others respond enthusiastically. And others somewhat in-between. Strangely enough, the ones who feel insulted are the ones who never bother to even look again at their work, and the very best subbers are the ones who take the advice to heart and ask for more, and thank you for it. Maybe that’s how they became so good? because they are always thirsty for ways to improve instead of feeling threatened?

  3. The problem with an “entrance test” is… Who will have the credentials to judge the contestant? Who is recognized as authority? Who decides the judges? Being an old-timer with many projects done is no guarantee. I’ve seen horrible things done by old-timers with hundreds of thousand subs. Numbers don’t mean anything.
    When I first came here, on Viki I was a nobody, on the lowest step of the ladder, but in real life I had been a professional translator and language teacher for decades, not to mention having a Cambridge Proficiency diploma with straight A’s (achieved at a time when that exam still had some meaning and wasn’t easy as it is nowadays, just a means for them to make more money). So… who would be the person who would judge my entrance test? When I worked as a subber I often found my own moderators making mistakes and I had to exercise self-restraint to keep my mouth shut.
    Interesting news:
    As we talk, representatives of the Italian community are preparing to create an Italian subbing academy (there is already a French and Dutch one), and to enter the training there will be a test which will test your English AND your Italian. I am on the team that is compiling it. Of course this training won’t be compulsory for anybody, but once it is in place, some moderators may want to take it into account and give preference to those who have done it.

  4. When you’re talking about errors and typos on guideline documents, are you referring to mine? I know you’ve read them. Please tell me which, so that I can correct them. None of us is 100% perfect and we all make typos. Even if I check something 100 times, I will find something to correct each time. The human eye is like this, sometimes it assumes what it knows is right rather than what is actually there. The important thing is to keep those mistakes to a minimum, and a second pair of eyes is precious for this, so do tell!


Thank you very much for your answer. I feel I can really rely on you in this “crazy Viki world”.

I really hope so! It’s a bit tiring to look for “not so popular” shows with active moderators that have time to look to your work.

I see you do that and I don’t know how to thank you for your totally selfless help. But I know you are an exception (an amazing one). So I wonder about a free space in which each moderator can ideally check the work of each new subber…

In the space I imagine, being checked in your first steps would be the norm, so you couldn’t feel criticised or insulted (at least not aloud). Moderators comments would be only a guideline: you may or may not follow them, but the moderator may know in advance how you work.

I was thinking of a standard online grammar test, without the need of a human judge. This may not assess subtitling skills, but it may prevent the existence of subbers that barely manage their own language.

I’m really excited to hear that (and a little bit scared, too :sweat_smile:). I also find it a little scary just to talk to you, because you are way smarter and prepared than me… I really had to gather all my courage to write to you :blush:.

Not at all! I constantly read your document (it’s my Viki bible) and I don’t remember noticing any typo. (The only thing I can’t understand is why you prefer tassì over taxi, but the more I think about it and the more I like it :wink:)


Equal opportunities: when asking the French academy, they accept anyone in the academy and train in the same conditions: the subtitle editor and the same marking scheme. Not blocking the entrance.

After correcting a part or a few parts, they talk among them and see whether to continue the training or not in case they doubt. Senseis ask opinion of other senseis. Fair.

All in all, in the end, they ask to be trained and the academy lets them the opportunity to be trained and follow this training.
During the training, they get feedback on where they can improve and where they have good understanding already.

The foundation of this academy is: to improve.
With a barrier to the entrance, people don’t get the chance to improve.