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YouTube will kill off its community caption feature in September due to spam, low usage

In a support post this week, YouTube has confirmed some unfortunate news. In September, YouTube’s community caption/translation features are being removed from the platform.

YouTube says that the “Community Contributions” feature will be done away with on September 28, 2020. Why? It boils down to a lack of usage and issues with spam. Apparently, the feature is used by just 0.001% of channels on the platform and only 0.2% of watch time on the platform in the past month. YouTube adds that captioning tools other than Community Caption — which aren’t going away — are used instead.

Community Contributions lets anyone contribute translated video titles, descriptions, closed captions and subtitles. These contributions are reviewed and published by creators, or automatically published after receiving enough community reviews. 

While we hoped Community Contributions would be a wide-scale, community-driven source of quality translations for Creators, it’s rarely used and people continue to report spam and abuse.

Both creators and viewers have reported problems with the community contributions feature, including spam, abuse, and low quality submissions. As a result, the feature is rarely used with less than 0.001% of channels having published community captions (showing on less than 0.2% of watch time) in the last month. Instead, creators are using YouTube’s alternative captioning tools. 

There are plenty of creators who aren’t happy with the decision, especially deaf creators, as the Verge points out. A petition has also been started with over 49,000 signatures that asks for YouTube to keep the feature, as removing it “locks so many viewers out of the experience.”

To lend a hand to those creators, Google is offering a free six-month subscription to Creators who qualify (used Community Captions on at least 3 videos in the last 60 days) will be notified soon.

Notably, community-powered captions already in place or published before September 28th will remain in place after the feature has been killed off.

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