When editing compromises accuracy of translation

I have a huge respect for all Viki editors. It’s not a job I would ever volunteer for because I know it requires extraordinary commitment, both time and skill.

Knowing that all editors work with best intention, I just want to bring up an issue I’ve been noticing lately. As most of you may already be aware, I usually decline to work as a TE. On those few k-dramas I reluctantly agree to moderate, I have noticed that there have been some perfectly good subtitles that have been edited, sometimes for esthetics, other times for grammar, and on rare instances for supposed correctness of translation. Most of these edits are harmless and may possibly be viewed as improvements to the original subtitles. However, I did notice that some of these edits have compromised the accuracy of translation.

We all make mistakes and having layers of competent and dedicated editors help improve the quality of Viki subtitles, but perhaps the old saying “too many cooks in the kitchen” is not wrong at times.


Do you mean that, once a subtitle has passed through three sets of hands (the TE, GE and CE), it’s more likely to become inaccurate?

What would you suggest to ensure accuracy of the subtitles?


This question was addressed to choitrio, so this is me answering straight off the question, as it relates to the thread’s topic. All three editors, could each check with the original subber, to maintain accuracy


I think I made it very clear that it is only in limited instances where editing has a negative affect on the accuracy of translation. I didn’t create this thread because I have the answer but rather because I am hoping that we can find the answer together.



Thank you so much for bringing this to the attention since I feel many here need to ‘‘see’’ that they might be/are part of the problem when a subtitle gets lost in translation, and ends up a pile of a mess. I believe a lot in the saying that: IF IT AIN’T Broke, don’t FIX IT.

I have seen subtitles that another subber did so well, and comes along another moderator and/or editor, making changes that were not needed in there. That is why I told that moderator/Editor in the drama I worked a while back, not to dare to try to ‘‘correct’’ or ‘‘edit’’ my work because it was so obvious her English proficiency was based on the Goggle translate tool only.

This ‘‘GE’’ changed almost everything that another subber wrote, so I contacted the subber to let her know what they did to her perfectly done subtitles, and because of that; I was ‘‘removed’’ from the team. The CE in the team allege she knows both language to perfection, and stated the corrections were right, but I can prove otherwise. Although I reported what happened in there with evidence, to this day nothing was done about it.

Like you, I feel they need to cut down on how many cooks they have cooking in that Kitchen, and for those who don’t know the meaning of that saying here it goes;

That means there are too many people working together on something , which may result in the final product being negatively affected.

In my personal opinion is mainly because we have cooks in there that don’t know how to cook, but they swear they do, and end up ruining what could have been a perfectly cooked meal.

The solution is: Kick out of the kitchen the ones that really don’t know HOW TO COOK; as simple as that.

@choitrio I have so much respect for your observation and opinion, and I agree 100% with you, and I can only hope the higher ups get involved, and find a solution to something that is affecting so much the quality of the subtitles here at RVIKi.


I did not say otherwise. I asked whether you think it is more likely.

1 Like

My apologies. When a subtitle is created by a competent subber, this might be the case. If for instance, a particular sub is created by Viki staff subber or subber with solid reputation who also happens to be a native, wouldn’t over-editing affect the accuracy?


As an outsider (an OL moderator stalking the Team Discussions with curiosity), I’ve seen it happen only once or twice. It’s good when the mistake is noticed by the CE. But I assume some are not. Since you yourself are fluent in Korean, you will catch them all.

It’s tricky when some of the members of the English team aren’t fluent in the original language. I suppose that’s when these errors mostly occur.


Yes, and also when some feel that they know the origin language better than others. I know everyone means well when they are editing but with Asian languages, due to the difference in the sentence structure and also heavy reliance on the nuance, when a subtitle is corrected to satisfy an English editor, the meaning sometimes gets lost.



What baffled my mind was that I was informed (by a respected source) that in this specific drama (won’t mention title) they had working there 5 fluent in the Korean language translators. They were also getting paid for their work. I can’t understand if these were paid translators, and they were so fluent in the Korean language; Why the English subtitles were in such terrible condition?

I started blaming the non so proficient English subbers using GT/other translator tools to translate the subs, but as I paid close attention to the drama, and as I heard the actor/actress (with the little Korean I understand) I knew the Dialogue in Korean was not translated accurately enough.

I was wondering why this was happening, and who was to be blamed that started the mess in that drama, and for the first time in my life, I wished with all my heart I knew the Korean language well enough, but sadly I don’t. Once we know the source and cause of the mess in translation, we can fix the problem, but until then, this vicious cycle will continue to play on, and on, in here.

I always mentioned the domino effect; that if one language messes up, and is not caught/fixed on time, the OL will fail to give a good translation no matter how proficient they may be. But I also noticed an ugly pattern here, and that is that certain translators will edit a subtitle although it has been done correctly. This happens in EVERY language specially with some people that have the ‘‘know it all complex,’’ and refuse to accept and respect a good translation done by another person (translator).

We all by now have noticed that, and we have to hope some staff members out there (if there’s any) are taking notice too, and can help out into resolving/fixing this problem. They need to get to the bottom of who is doing what, and why that’s going on so much here lately. I was watching several movies/dramas and there are so many ridiculous things going on in the subtitles. I saw a movie that the ‘‘subber’’ was actually expressing things about the character like writing (jerk) when the character was being mean.

You know how long ago this never happened here at this site? Long time, but now we have a comeback of the subbers adding their own feeling towards certain characters. We all know by now why this is happening here so much BECAUSE there are no consequences for their actions. There are NO one here to report this things. Like I mentioned before the submit button didn’t work when I tried reporting certain things.

I saw in a team 14 EDITORS in Spanish, and they need to fix that PRONTO. The technical department has to make it so that only Editors have access to editing dramas/movies, and Of Course we need to put a limit as to how many Editors a drama should have. Sometimes in life, less is more. It has been proven that too many Editors in dramas/movies, is not the best route to go.

I can totally understand what you’re saying here. I happen to edit the English subtitles of a Thai lakorn as the CE. There had been a couple of sentences that needed to be edited so they could make sense in English. However, I was afraid that my editing would cause a change in the meaning of the sentence. That’s why I asked the TE to check those subtitles again and explain to me what exactly she wanted to convey.
Every language has its idioms and phrases that don’t exist in other languages. Changing those sentences can lead to mistranslation.

In conclusion, I believe that as an English editor (GE or CE) when you come across a subtitle that confuses you, the best thing you can do is open the history under the segment to see how the subtitle came to be like that. If you still can’t understand completely, you should ask the TE. Nobody will criticize you if you make some questions.


I agree with this. If the editors are too many, I think there won’t be consistency in the translation flow. Everyone has their own writing style that appears when they translate a sentence. One editor can correct the subtitles giving them a neutral and word-to-word translation. Another editor can give them a more personal and based-on-meaning translation. That will lead to two different styles of editing and can cause confusion.
Also, if someone from the editing team has the:

all the work from other translators and editors will be wasted.

In my opinion, editors of languages other than English should be one or two. I can accept three if the drama is too long and complicated (like the historical ones).


This is very significant to note. Thanks for your guidance.!


I absolutely agree that the best course of action for editors is to ask when in doubt. It gets a little more tricky when:

  • The subber is correct and the TE makes an edit. The TE is not necessarily the strongest subber in the team.
  • The subtitle in question appears to have obvious grammatical error but there is a reason why a subber translated a sentence in such way. For example, when you see “this early in the morning”, many editors would be itching to change it to “early this morning” but I assure you there are instances where the former is appropriate.

Nobody will criticize you if you make some questions.

That depends a lot on your luck bc we have here many teams that are not receptive to answering questions, helping out others, etc. Some can be really rude and uncooperative bc they suffer from the’’ know it all syndrome’’ just because they have been at this site for many, many years.

Contrary to @choitrio who from day one that she’s been here, she has tried her best to help everyone who asked her questions; within the means that she was able to do so. Her work as a Korean to English is excellent, and I admire her integrity and honesty with everyone. One time she worked in a drama and I was happy with my subs, but more than halfway, the subs in the drama were declining, and I lost interest to keep watching. I don’t remember if I asked her what was going on, but she informed us that she had to stopped working in the drama, and of course, the subtitles were never the same.

Being the sweetheart that she is, she praised the ones working there, and encourage me/us to continue watching (which I did later on). She never boast about her great translations, and give everyone credit for work done. Unlike others that no matter how much effort or how good other team members are, they never will acknowledge it.

You had a great TE in your team that worked with you to give better quality work in the subtitles, but we have here some TEAMS that won’t communicate well with others. In other words; they are not good team players, and as such they create a barriers that causes a lot of mistranslations in the subtitles, and so many more other issues.



That is why I feel that not everyone can be an Editor, and just bc ‘‘maybe’’ they are proficient enough in English, they can be a better TE or CE either. Like a puzzle; to become whole, it needs all its parts in its proper place.

That is one of the main reason why I never volunteered to be an Editor in K-dramas since knowing English doesn’t give me a free pass to Edit dramas. It is also knowing the original language that plays a big role into doing editing work correctly.

When we change something in a dialogue or script, not only we can commit copyrights infringement, but we can also change the meaning of a sentence, and therefore we are making it a wrong sentence. No, thank you. I would never want to be part of something that is so wrong because it takes away the desire from the viewers to watch the drama/movie (it does for me).

1 Like

I am not very good with compliments, but thank you! Humility is a trait I value highly.

  • Always be the first to admit mistake, and be the last to take credit.
  • 벼는 익을수록 고개를 숙인다, which loosely translates to “As the crop ripens, it bends its head.” To a humble person, the weight of knowledge should feel heavy.

My kids are probably sick of me repeating these to them.


I’m currently working on a Thai lakorn as a TE. This lakorn actually comes pre-subbed and by the time it gets to me (after seggers etc…) there’s already been some translation editing going on by other members. Personally, I don’t mind. I just do my part as TE. I do check each and every single “pre-subbed” subtitle or edited subs, just to make sure context isn’t lost.

When there’s a phrase, idiom or innuendo that needs more explanation (for OL) I make a T/N. It’s important not to overlook these things because the context can get distorted in editing or OL. Plus, it will confuse the viewers if the translation doesn’t flow smoothly.

Another thing I’ve done was make a note of anything that may need more explanations in the Team Discussions. In the end, it’s up to CE to decide what’s best for the translation.

Communication is key. If you have a good supportive team, anything can be openly discussed. Afterall, as TE, this person’s duty is to make sure the translation is the most accurate in meaning and context.

p.s. When something can’t be literally translated in OL, I provide translation options that will mean the same thing without losing accuracy.


I agree wholeheartedly that communication is the key in any teamwork.

I try to provide T/N for the viewers as well but I also recognize that by doing so the subtitles may become too long or not as esthetically pleasing.

As to posting comments in the Team Discussions, I wonder if there is a way to pin questions “still to be resolved” so that they do not get buried by other comments?


I try to keep T/N very short and concise, about 3-4 words max. I haven’t had to add too many, which is a good thing.

For comments in Team Discussions, I direct it @ a specific member, so that they can look at it right away. So far, I’ve only mentioned the CE & GE. For us, who are TE these are the only two people that we will work closely with most of the time. In general, if you’re unsure just direct it at the CE since they have the final word (in editing). They will be the one to work it out with whomever may be causing trouble or need the heads up.