We, as active Spanish team members of the volunteer community, appreciate the fact that you are letting us know about this “AI project” instead of implementing it without reading our opinion first. As you will understand, this comes after a very unfortunate turn of events or issues such as the vikibot, the inbox change, the project finder, etc. Things that have led our team members to a lack of trust towards these type of initiatives since none of these changes have brought any improvement to our community but have caused lots of trouble for the volunteers.
When we saw the post, we were taken aback because we thought that we (the Spanish community) had already conveyed our reasons last year regarding the controversial usage of the Vikibot. The issue we are confronted with today is of the same kind. We ought to not dehumanize the incredible feeling of reading authentic translations. At least in Spanish, we have so many variations that “one size fit all” tool would render the translations completely inaccurate. Gender indicators are a core part of many languages and cannot be ignored, a machine puts aside these conventional norms (pronouns exist for a reason, right?), especially in Romance languages.
We, as a team, have thought over the past few days about the cons and pros of this journey you propose. However, we agree that the negative effects that our moderators, our active subbers, and that our editors will have to face will be far greater than the positive aspects that we can see, at least, for now.
We are aware that a lot of the complaints about lack of subs come from the Spanish speaking fans, however, we also know that an important number of those understand English too, so once an episode is completed in English they also stop asking for subs. Some of us had the opportunity of being channel managers for a long time, so we have the experience in moderating timed comments and almost 80% of those who complain, do it within the first hours of the episode being uploaded. By now, most of us have gotten over the impact of complaints about this aspect, so it is not a pressure for us anymore.
What would be a pressure on us, will be to have on screen “poor quality subs” even if those are not created by us. We will have unmotivated subbers who may not find a reason to hurry up, stressed moderators because we want to get rid of the auto subs soon, and the pressure as a team will increase. We also don’t feel it is okay to auto translate the hard work of the English team just to calm down the whiners.
We know that Viki has to be competitive in the market in order to survive as a company, but that won’t happen by lowering the quality of the subtitles. This would be possible by emphasizing or making more known how this website is a community. Highlighting how different we are from the rest and what aspects make us unique, because we are. So, we are not agreeing in the way this wants to be accomplished even though we understand the goal.
If you want to start trying out this tool, we believe it is a horrible idea to start with any of the romance languages. In the case of Spanish, we must consider the formal or informal way of speaking between characters, we consider a neutral form of speaking because Spanish is spoken in so many countries that we have already set an agreement into which slang or idioms are not allowed to be used while subbing, or which curse words are allowed etc, etc. Our rules of subbing are such that we normally do a google document per drama to clear this out for this specific case. Other teams do not make a document but they clarify in each “Go” all the vocabulary, and how each character speaks to each other. So, to summarize this part, we put a lot of thinking into the dramas in different ways. Therefore, our teams create the Spanish subs with such love that we are indeed one of the fastest languages to get to 100% after the English team releases episodes, so why do we need this tool applied to the Spanish language then?
Moreover, developing a solely performance-oriented strategy can jeopardize the core of what our communities stand for. We are committed to do our best, doing an activity that we cherish in order to broaden our audience and share the thrill of discovering such fascinating dramas. Putting bots to replace humans will deteriorate the atmosphere in which we work because human contact is essential to humanize the possibly cold virtual world. For these concerning reasons, we wish to advise you to think twice before taking major decisions in that direction. We thank you for the post, giving us an opportunity to voice our views and contribute to a project that we value greatly. From all the community, we wish to echo once more our will to find ways to work better together. What makes Viki special is its community, composed of many members that put effort, time and commitment in addition to their personal and professional responsibilities. That generosity is something that may not be measurable quantitatively at a first glance but that on the long term sustains the foundation on which Viki was built on. Once this is lost there is no turning back, therefore it calls for caution.
Something that could be done is not releasing new episodes until they are fully subtitled in English. And, as other legal sites do, establishing a releasing date in the app and website so viewers know when exactly the episodes are available in each language. In this case, the episode will be visible only from the editor to the added team in the channel and volunteers could work without pressure and the viewers could watch on an expected date without feeling “cheated” because they think that episodes come with subtitles and they don´t.
Thanks for your attention, time and concern,
Rumble95, Pilar_velasquez, Kalmendarez, Eun_soo_lee_2, Sita24, Miss_rochester, Klore6, Wendy_gutia, Henrri_11, Niennavalar.