Should viki's paid subbers be overwriting volunteers

Viki gives you a legal space with pre-built editors so that even those not well-versed with technology can translate shows. Sure, it has its flaws, but it works. Not-so-legal sites steal subs. Or translators get pirated videos and subtitle them. That comes with the risk of the original network suing or taking down the videos. It’s also a hassle for viewers. They either have to create accounts on less-known sites or download the video and srt files, then integrate the two(The Jdrama translation world is one huge pain in the neck). Also, they work alone a lot of the time.

Now THAT is a hassle. But you don’t see anyone complaining about it because there’s really nothing else they can do about it, unless Japan miraculously starts seriously promoting content and granting licenses to streaming services. Until then, everyone is going to have to jump hoops to watch the dramas they want to watch. Since there’s no higher power or company to appeal to there, there’s no point complaining. You just take what you can get and work with what you’re given. No matter how much you scream and cry for subs or the video, they aren’t going to be available until someone accesses pirated videos and subs it. Sure, there are a lot of other problems that come up that they definitely need to work on, but Viki removes all those hoops by buying licenses and letting volunteer teams sub those shows.

Till now, I’ve had a good experience on Viki. ​I like the concept.​ I like working on teams, and I like the workflow. I love the dedication with which everyone works and collaborates to give viewers the best experience possible. I can’t speak for OL teams, but I have had a good experience with teamwork and workflow on English and segging teams. I don’t know where else I could find such meticulous, caring trainers​ who made sure I was doing my best. I had wonderful senseis in the NSSA and a really really lovely English Editing trainer. I couldn’t have expected all this by striking out on my own or using non-legal means.

Discussions is where we discuss Dramaland and share our grievances/constructive criticism/complaints/praise. That’s why it always looks a little worse than the ground reality. We have to complain when things go wrong, but that doesn’t mean things are always going wrong or that I always feel like an unappreciated, persecuted slave being constantly harassed by some Viki higher power. I joined knowing fully well that I will not receive monetary compensation here. I never expected to find such a vibrant community, but I did. I do love working on dramas. I don’t mind spending time on them. No one is forcing me to do this, and I can quit whenever I want to, just like all the other volunteers here.



Viki simply wants the best of two worlds.

They groom volunteers to do the bulk of the job with segments and subtitles, to search and lobby for new shows, to do the bulk of the PR and buzz by maintaining a lively community, to pay for passes, to bring friends and family to share the joy, to resolve most of the intercommunity misunderstandings and trolling. Briefly, Viki relies on the customer to do the job!

Viki also keeps a team of professionals to appease the entitled beggars who think subtitles magically appear by pushing a button. Having professionals on board is a good thing, in principle. However, Viki doesn’t seem to have issued clear guidelines, instructions and job descriptions for them. Instead of producing better results, the professionals and the volunteers overlap each other instead of complimenting each other. At the same time, shows in bad need of subtitles remain untouched. Viki doesn’t even consider sending the pros there, instead of unleashing them on shows with competent volunter teams.

If you see my contributor history, it’s obvious that I practically left Viki for greener pastures (legal). Their subtitles are of lesser quality but they have a bigger range of shows, their VIP perks are meaningful and their regional restrictions are less… restricting.
I made the mistake to come back to Viki recently, only to realize that I’d better leave again.

The fact that the community here is awesome, well versed in the shows’ cultures and very competent in managing subtitling and segmenting projects doesn’t mean I’ll forfeit my rights for adequate customer service!


Since I like you and appreciate you, I’ll take everything you wrote at face value.
I’m just glad you’re enjoying it. Please continue the good work. :grin:

Perhaps it would be useful for subbers and segmenters to write something similar to this (adapted to individual circumstances):

Attention @vikicommunity . . .

"I am a part of the volunteer section of the Viki community. For about a year, I have contributed my time and effort to creating well-written English-language subs for Viki dramas. To date, I have contributed to a C-drama, a K-drama ongoing series, and a Thai lakorn. I have been trained and mentored by among the best volunteer subbers/segmenters currently active on Viki.

"By my calculations, my inborn talent, the graduate education I received in medieval English lit in my 30s, AND my thirty-plus years doing graphic design, writing, proofreading, and editing within my local volunteer community have given me a skill set and a knowledge base that would make me worth $300,000 to $600,000 on the open market.

"Even if my skill set were the result of what I learned and experienced on an informal basis, I take great pride in being able to work diligently, accurately and collaboratively with people of a wide variety of backgrounds. And I do it because I truly believe that Viki is, as its well-known tagline says, "The heart of Asian entertainment."

More than with Netflix and more than with any other multi-lingual showcase for Korean and other Asian dramas, when Viki volunteers and paid members work together, communicate well, and support one another, the dramas that Viki is able to release to the public are without exception–IMHO–the best of the best in terms of bringing Asian culture to the world.

However, over the past three or four years, what I have observed is that, though Viki is dependent on volunteers for the majority of subbing and segmenting, and though Viki would be (as the old English saying has it) up a creek without a paddle if there were no volunteers to work tirelessly for free (and keep certain costs very low), Viki nevertheless takes unfair advantage of its loyal volunteers in various ways.

Viki persists in telling the story that the Viki volunteer community is unified in its support for the official Viki organization and that the official organization appreciates and regularly recognizes the efforts of the volunteer community in ways that are deeper and more meaningful than providing mere financial compensation.

However, the volunteer community does not have reliable access to paid staff when technical problems arise with the subtitle editor. Suggestions about meaningful and simple website improvements are ignored. When changes in Viki policies and procedures regarding subbing and segmenting are announced, they are seldom announced in a timely way that can be easily understood, and the effect is to completely undercut the sunny, friendly volunteer atmosphere Viki wants the world to believe in.

From my point of view (if I can use a word pictuure) it is as if a five-star restaurant has hired the staff of a popular street food stall to prepare all its highly rated rice, kimchi, and gimbap . . . and the restaurant is paying the food stall staff in pats on the head and coupons for cup noodles.

And the restaurant advertises that it is the best place in the world to eat and gets big crowds. And things run along fine until someone criticizes the menu.

Then the restaurant says (or implies) that the problem does not lie with the owner who has no idea what the restaurant actually does every day, and it does not lie with the head chef who is paid a hefty salary to create world-class menus.

The fault lies with the food stall staff . . . whose modest business is failing because they spend so much time making and remaking and revising the dishes they supply to the restaurant. And it’s failing because middle-management types come in from headquarters and start demanding changes with no clarity an no specificity, and they ignore the very rules they say must be obeyed. Or they interfere with well-established routines.

And then they have the nerve to blame the food stall staff for being difficult or slow or something equally bogus if the staff complains.

You know what? If every single subbing and segmenting volunteer decided to take a week’s vacation at the same time and left that work to paid staff, Viki would be history in a hurry.

It seems to me that Viki needs culture changes somewhere above the level of the subbing and segmenting volunteers.

  • An open door policy when volunteers have questions and concerns.
  • Regular and meaningful requests for suggestions on how to improve volunteer compensation.
  • Policies and procedures explained, changed, and updated by people who have real authority to explain, change, and update.
  • Hardware and software that is up-to-date.
  • Willingness to trust experienced volunteers who know what is going on sometimes better than paid staff.

The list could go on. In the meantime, because I love Asian dramas, I am giving away my knowledge and skills to Viki. I am using my precious time. I am putting up with lack of communication and respect in return. But I don’t have to.

I’m not a passive, easily frightened entry-level clerk in some huge Korean conglomerate. I’m an intelligent, well-educated human being who does not have to put up with the frustration. I can cancel my subscription to Viki and have an easier time watching Asian dramas on Netflix or another streaming platform.

And every other volunteer can do the same.

Is that what Viki really wants? If Viki actually wants something better than the status quo for itself AND for its volunteer community, now would be a great time to make that happen.



Viki is not afraid of this, because its volunteers put the joy of their fellow viewers above their own. It’s an occupational hazard of being a volunteer.

It would be a good idea, though.



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Excellently thought out and expressed.

I know how fast our competent subbers are and have verified that they are as fast or faster than professionals with a viki-an who works for a large international agency which provides translation services globally. So I cannot agree that the paid subbers are “fast”. The paid subbers are paid to arrive at a set time and that is something we cannot do to a volunteer. We can’t “fire” volunteers nor can we withhold paychecks for not following a pre-determined schedule.


I don’t think it’s just about the viewers. I think it’s about social bonds within the teams, similar to social bonds within progress guilds in online games.

Even the addictness is similar for some: When a game gets some nerfs that making it harder to achieve certain things, some players quit or stop playing frequently while others play even more although it’s less fun. The same happens here on Viki, certain circumstances are less fair than before, yet some volunteers do even more than before.

It’s about people’s mindset and psychological aspects and the pandemic for sure pushed some volunteers deeper into the addictive part of Viki.


But our competent subbers aren’t on every single show… that’s why I added the clause that we should be able to request them and not have them jump on every show when there is already a team that can handle it.


Could you explain? I don’t know about the Spanish teams.

They have so many subbers that their moderators usually divide one part among a few subbers and then those subbers are in the same part at the same time, each working on their own share of that part.


Yes, this issue needs to be resolved. However, limiting the number of subbers might cause another issue. What if subber stops working, but forgets the screen open and leaves?Then the part will be inaccessible to others. It will cause a problem if the team is trying to meet a deadline. Maybe instead a pop-up message or some kind of warning message can be sent to both parties.


In a way, this article reminds me of how some volunteers might feel, in addition to not getting paid for their work, while this guy actually is paid for his work (by a company) but became desparated by the negative work environments:

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I am not a subber, but was interested in this thread as a viewer for many years. I LOVE YOUR POSTING!! I come here BECAUSE of the awesome subbing by the volunteers. Paid subbers on Nfx are the worst on earth. It’s my thought that Viki is doing this because there is so much whining about subs and they don’t want to hear it. I like your suggestion that the video does not get uploaded until you’ve had time to sub and edit. That’s what a lot of people are used to on other sites, so they expect it here. It would cut down on the sub-whining a lot! I also agree that they need to remove sub-whining from the timed comments. Those are truly irritating to everyone. I cannot express how much I truly, truly love and respect all the wonderful volunteers here. You are all saints to put up with this abuse and still devote your free time for us. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!


Why, thank you! I wasn’t expecting this when I wrote the post.

As I said already, with the current system on Viki it is not possible to withhold subtitles until they are completed. And what counts as completion exactly? Should the episodes be released as soon as the English subtitles are done? Then you might get complainers from other languages claiming English speakers get their subtitles right away, so why do they have to wait?
Or should the system be build in such a way that it only releases the episodes when all languages are finished? Well, imagine the chaos and anger that would bring.

There is no one size fits all for this subtitle problem on Viki. Both volunteers and viewers must be aware of this.

One thing Viki can and should do, is explaining more clearly that the work is done by volunteers and how, because not all volunteer work is the same.
I remember a post from someone who is now a subber. She said that even though she knew the work was done by volunteers, she thought they would go to an office and write their translations for a couple of hours and then go home again.
In reality, we all work from home and might work as short as 2 minutes or as long as 2 hours on a day.


Ever since college, I have always loved those glossy little Japanese rice crackers in different shapes. And when I found out about little candies in edible rice paper . . . how cool are those? Yes, indeed, the top producers in the volunteer community deserve the package you propose.

[I did not know until this very moment that Pop Rocks, which my college roommates and I bought to annoy each other–no, I don’t want to listen to your mouth–is one of Japan’s less obvious gifts to the world.]


(Viki screen cap)

Discofart is watching. We’d better sub right or no Japanese-style cheese nips for us.


This is unbelievable but also inevitable. Viki is driven by $$ like any company and getting subs out quicker means more viewers in their eyes, although the English subs by volunteers are not by any means slow. You do great work by the way, cgwm808. It’s disheartening to see that the time of volunteers are being disregarded and not valued. I’m sure anyone would agree that it’s not an easy endeavor and to do it for free no less. At this rate, I’m sure Viki will start losing a lot of the volunteer subbers or perhaps that may be part of their goal to push out volunteers on the newer, popular dramas. I hope that is not the case and Viki can find a resolution to help their paid subbers and community volunteers to work efficiently together by following rules and etiquette already put in place through the hard work of volunteers.