Should viki's paid subbers be overwriting volunteers

This now reminds me of the situation I had for my CM project “My Sassy Girl”. That had such a limited license that 99% of the Korean - English subbers I knew could not sub it. And the ones who could where busy. So the subbing to ages… years actually… with some abusers that needed to be dealth with in between as well. I asked Viki many times for help and just when I was about to give up, the help I needed finally came. What a relief because I was getting PM’s of people complaining, the comment sections where full of complains and there was nothing I could do.

So Viki’s paid subbers or even presubbed stuff isn’t always bad. But sometimes it happens at the wrong places which leads to issues like these.


It’s quite unfortunate that most of the “paid subbers” are not as good as volunteers. I mean, not trying to insult anyone’s hard work, but if you are going to get paid only to do a much sloppy job…I don’t think it is the right way to do things. On one hand, I get that they are getting paid to do a fast job, but they should cooperate properly. Though, this makes me question whether it is their fault or Viki’s. They are probably not well instructed by Viki, just like we never get proper answers from them, thus creating a communication gap.

What Viki should do is that, instead of “sending an army” of paid subbers at random times, properly introduce the paid subber team to the CM and have the CM control over the subs, like paid subbers should only jump in their assigned parts AND do a decent job or they should only jump in like x hours before the deadline and if subs are still not ready. Again, this is something Viki should let CM handle. Hiring people without any prior knowledge of how the volunteering community works either means

Viki doesn’t care about the quality subs or they just want to discourage all the volunteers and get rid of us. I don’t even know anymore…lol


There is a great variety. Some of them are quite good, some really not. For instance, I was very happy with the anonymous subber who did Lovers of the Red Sky. He or she used to faithfully read all our discussions/Team Notes and the moment we changed a person’s title or how we expressed something, or took a formatting decision, she also changed it in her translation.
The one who overwrote cgwm808’s subs is also a good translator (as cgwm808 has written herself in this thread).
On the other hand, I had a very bad experience with some others on another drama.
So you never know what you’ll get.

Yes, as Dudie rightly said, there are instances when, because the drama is not very popular, or because it only had a European license (Goblin, Temperature of Love), most of the Ko-En volunteers who live in America couldn’t access it. In those cases, paid subbers are a godsend.
So I am definitely not against paid subbers. They can save the day sometimes. It’s just that I’d like Viki to send them only when we ask for them.


Straight up! And in the midst of all this, the company is worrying about newbies not being given opportunities to participate and adding more rules aimed at limiting seasoned volunteers. If this continues, it won’t be all that long before there won’t be much for newbies to participate in unless they subtitle from English to another language. :no_mouth:


First, having returned to Viki after a long time, I didn’t even realize there were paid subbers? Where should I send my resume?

In all seriousness, I see two main issues.

  1. If Viki wants quick subs, they should pay volunteers who can then prioritize their time instead of doing, you know, the work that actually pays the bills. That will get the subs done faster.
  2. This problem could have been solved simply with a comment on the team discussion tab OR even just simply checking who’s already in the part by looking at the bottom of the subbing tab. (I discovered this - new to me - feature after I accidentally overwrote another team member’s subs.) That said, plenty of team members also don’t notify other team members of going into a part. This literally just happened to me. Two other subbers were filling in segments I had skipped the first round. (I sub the segments that are easier, clearer, shorter, or more simply phrased before the longer, more complex ones or the ones I can’t make out that ONE word.) I’m sure they both meant well, but volunteers are just as guilty sometimes of failing to communicate. So paid or volunteer, we should all be mindful of abiding by the rules.

Anyhow, so, where do I send my resume? LOL.


Okay, I realize that what I am about to say is a minority opinion, but here goes.

First of all, I disagree with the assessment that most of the paid translators are not as good as volunteers. As with the volunteers, the skill levels of the paid translators vary but I would rate most of them from decent to great. While there are some outstanding volunteer translators, there are quite a few questionable ones, not to mention abusers.

The modern K-dramas are getting more and more difficult to translate, with all the wordplays, idioms, hidden humor and whatnot. For those tough-to-translate shows, I would actually welcome an early intervention by the paid translators if I were a part of the English team in order to minimize translation mistakes. In fact, if I see a stronger and faster subber start translating in the part I am working on, unless it was done with ill intention, I would gladly move out of the way. After all, are we not all working towards the same goal of speedy and quality translation? I would not expect Viki to slow down the release of the videos so that I can have an opportunity to translate a popular show.

Let’s face it. We are all disappointed that Viki is not always able to secure the licensing rights for the good/popular shows. Licensing rights cost money and that money comes largely from the subscription fees and ads. If the viewers are unhappy about slow subtitles and leave Viki, so do the subscription fees. Then the argument over who gets to translate first will become moot because Viki won’t be able to afford to pay for the licensing rights.

Enough with doom and gloom, I was wondering if there were ever any efforts made to form a council made up of representatives from each volunteer community (i.e. segmenters, English subbers, English editors, large OLs, small OLs, etc.) to discuss matters of importance with the Viki staff. It may not be feasible but I think it is becoming evident that we have to find a way to communicate better with each other in order to restore the harmony within the volunteer community.


Ooh, I second this idea.


Whether they are paid subbers or not, as long as they are not editors, they should respect the translations of the current subs and follow the community guidelines. I see no problems with them fixing blatant mistakes, but this could easily be done while the current subber is not working on the same lines and literally stepping on their toes without any regard to their work. This presents problems not just in the general workflow, but also when it comes to translation consistency. If one subber uses one voice, but another uses a different one, it leads to inevitable confusion, no matter how good they are. If paid subbers are on a strict timeline, they should only worry about the unsubbed lines and move on to the next project. Trust that the channel managers know how to vet good editors who can output good quality translations for the final product. But know that good quality translations do take time, and it’s unreasonable to expect that level of quality compared to services like Netflix, who, in all likelihood got their videos days in advance to work on and edit before becoming available to the public.

Finally, Viki is one of those rare places where translation hopefuls are looking for an easy place to practice their work in a low pressure environment. Even if their work isn’t the best, we should provide for them a playground to practice good translations without making them feel like their contributions aren’t valued at all. If any measure must be taken, I think making the videos strictly available for the subbing team for the first couple days to work on, then releasing them for the public to enjoy is a good middle ground. That way the team has adequate breathing room, and paid subbers can remain a last resort, instead of being relied upon as a prod to everyone else on the team, causing undue stress and leading to further errors in translations.


This has controversy written all over it. And I’m going to get berated no matter what I write. But write I must: Paid, unpaid, staff, non-staff…

If you’re going to offer your services to Viki, then do it under the strict assurance that absolutely no one will tamper with your work.

If you’re seriously committed to this and don’t use google translate or anything, then demand that your time and effort be respected.


First of all dear Roymon, welcome back! You’ve been sorely missed.

As for what you suggest, I think it’s unfair for all the people (natives or learners) who can understand the original language without subtitles.

What quality? I’ve seen them skip stuff because they think people can’t read quick enough (when recent studies have debunked that), they gloss over cultural differences transforming everything into English-context dialogue. Yes, they are professional and the meaning is usually there, but not satisfactory if you are interested in learning about the culture.
Secondly, Netflix usually waits until the whole drama is over, that it has finished airing, before presenting it to the public. They want all the episodes to be available at the same time. This means that the translators have more time to do the job, but also that there’s a huge time gap between airing and viewing on the platform.


I totally agree with you and I understand from people who have lots more time here than I do, that Viki used to keep episodes unpublished until they were complete. If I’m wrong about this, please correct me. Either way, I believe that giving the team 2-3 days to have an English translation up to 95% (which would account for unpublished and unsubbed OST) before ever allowing them to be shown would be the smartest move. The hitch would be setting a final publishing schedule that allows for this, but I think it would be doable, and I wish Viki would consider it.

It is one thing to come to see if an episode is available yet and ready to watch and have to wait and return in a day or two to see a completed episode. It’s another thing to come to find an episode that has been made instantly available but is not subbed. The latter just invites whining and complaining. Hiding it until it’s ready to be viewed definitely makes more sense.

Irmar’s point about dramas being made available to native speakers who’d like to watch it does have merit. I think that could even be addressed. “If you’d like to watch this episode in the native language, without subtitles, click here…” or something even better.


One of the projects I worked on actually implemented this “hold for 2 days” system. I even got a survey asking about it from a Viki staff member once the project was completed. I didn’t even notice it at the time, but it seemed to work fine for the viewers. Not sure if Viki decided to try it on any other projects. But that’s been my experience.

Don’t worry about us natives by the way. :sweat_smile: We’re no more deserving to watch episodes earlier than everyone else just because we understand the language. I think psychologically, it works better for everyone if the subbing team gets a 2 day head start to get things ready for the public. And after the 2 days, release it for everyone to watch, and whatever portions are unfinished, then we can invite paid subbers, etc. But also with the condition that the paid subbers should additionally respect the general rules set forth by the rest of the team. It isn’t much to ask for them to not work simultaneously on the same page as other volunteers.

The benefit of this approach is that, even with really difficult episodes with limited staff, episodes are more likely to release 50% or more completed and it’s just a much better optics to have episodes that are released in an almost completed state than to release them with progress at 0%, even if the resulting timetable is still largely unchanged.

And I believe that a happy team will produce better work overall than a stressed team. So we should try to make a safe place for them when possible.


Good to see you too irmar! I’ve missed you as well and working on your spreadsheets. They’ve been immensely valuable as a resource during translations.


I think it depends on personal preferences.

The German subs on Netflix are - with very few exceptions - well-translated and comfortable to read. Netflix sometimes even keeps specific terms of the origin language (without explanation but it’s easy to Google that) while on Viki especially many German teams tend to “Germanize” everything from certain Asian languages… That’s terrible and very disappointing, especially for someone who’s used to Anime fansubs that offered both: correct German syntax and wording while keeping Japanese-specific terms and giving explanations for cultural aspects without cluttering the whole screen and causing the necessity to pause all the time because it’s impossible to read 10-lines-long segments within few seconds.

The Anime fansubs add additional explanations on top of the screen usually in right or left corner, also the way they translated lyrics and placed them was different. One reason they’re able to do that, was because it was all handmade by themselves while here we have to use the subtitle editor that still didn’t get the promised additional “overlay-info-box” that was mentioned by Viki few years ago.

(So far I did not see any German subtitles on Netflix that kept English words for German subs 1:1 in historical/fantasy-themed shows such as “Playboy” etc. the only show on Netflix that I skipped due to bad translation was a medieval Spanish show that has German synced and German subtitle version and the German voice-over was wrong so the German subtitles as well, besides the shows that only have German subtitles without German voice-over had good subtitles, otherwise I couldn’t watch hundreds of episodes. Another aspect is that German subs/synced versions by professionals usually keep the addressings in the origin language, even for voice-over, it’s common to do that for other European languages and rarely for other too. So if the fansubs on Viki really should be outstanding and special, the subs here should do that too, also for e.g. Chinese (some OL teams are doing that now which is great and gives a different feeling while watching it) because that’s a language that rarely gets this special treatment by professionals and then viewers could really get into the culture in the same way the Anime fans could. On the other hand the English subs often add addressings that are not said, e.g. “Sir”, “Ma’am” etc. although in Chinese they say just “yes” or something else. Then those who don’t understand Chinese and only translate 1:1 from English to their language translate things that aren’t said and that’s another aspect I did not notice in such high amount with Netflix’s subtitles - I checked/compared couple of scenes and shows with German subs/dubs and different languages on Netflix.)

I was speaking of the English, since I don’t watch in other languages.

I have zero knowledge about Chinese, but in Korean, for example, there is a very respectful “yes” (ye, instead of the usual “ne” pronounced ‘de’), and in that case I always add “sir” or “ma’m”, because that’s the equivalent that allows us to understand that there is a hierarachy and a respectful form of address. But even the usual “ne” (pronounced “de”), sometimes is done with a bow, a low and decisive voice and an almost martial-style demeanour. In those cases, again, “sir” is necessary, because in that context a simple “yes” would have been too casual and disrespectful.


Thanks for the explanation.

With that it makes more sense.

In Chinese the word itself stays the same, depending on context the character may use body-language too for showing respect. In German we have specific words that would show a respectful “yes” without adding a “Sir” so maybe English doesn’t have this option and then weird (German) subs are the result by sticking to English while for English it’s the best solution.


I think the idea of “early access” would work only if Viki translators actually get the access before the advertised air date. Otherwise, the viewers who have knowledge of the air date and time through MDL or other sources will still complain. For example, on MDL, “Sh**thing Stars” is listed as airing on Friday and Saturday, so the viewers would expect Viki to release the videos on those days. On the other hand, NFLX’s “Our Blues”, advertised as airing on Saturday and Sunday, is indeed available on those days with English subtitles.

I disagree with the mentality that Viki is a playground for the volunteers to practice their translation skills. I used to be a paying viewer long before I became a volunteer. As a paying viewer, I would be offended if the cause for delay in the release of videos is for the sole purpose of giving an opportunity for the volunteers to practice their skills. Viki no longer is a project developed by graduate students. It is one of the major streaming services for Asian content. Both Viki and its volunteers need to move forward, not held back by the past practices.


Yet, they still work with unpaid employees. The volunteers have to bend over backward, all for the sake of the paying viewers, who may indeed pay, but none of that money goes to the people who do the actual work. We do all this on the side, on top of whatever else life is demanding of us.
I’m not saying Viki should start paying us. That would probably just create new problems. But having people working for you for free should at least mean those people are being treated with respect and their needs and circumstances are being taken into consideration. Time and time hearing again that the paying viewers are more important than the hardworking volunteers is not exactly motivating.

I do of course agree that the subtitles should be of high quality, but stress and time pressure don’t help with that.


I am a volunteer myself so I am fully aware how hard volunteers work. This is why I said BOTH Viki and its volunteers need to move forward, not volunteers should be ignored or mistreated and Viki march forward on its own. One thing though, volunteers all need to ask themselves “Do I still find joy in what I am doing?” and if the answer is a resounding “No” then it is no longer “volunteering” you are doing.


If moving away from volunteer work means offering subtiltes in the way mango and iqiyi do (horrible, horrible subs for VIP products!), then I vote for volunteers with both hands!

One thing that Viki volunteers have and some paid translators may not have, is knowledge of the subject area. Sometimes it helps to know what the translated text is about. In translating agencies, people get hired according to specific skills and sometimes they hire professionals in the field to support a translation (legal, medical, historical etc). Why should Viki be any different?