There seems to be an ongoing trend from video creators and consumers in that closed captions on YouTube are not accurate, so it’s not worth worrying about.
What?!? Why do you think it’s not accurate? The responsibility of accurate video captions relies on you as the creator, not the technology that is creation auto-captions (aka CRAPtions).
Not only should all video creators take closed captions seriously, but if you are relying on some kind of artificial intelligence and machine learning to do the work for you, it will never be accurate. So take ownership of your content and make it accurate.
You can watch the video…
…listen to the podcast…
…or read the transcript below.
In my experience, video creators generally (not all of them) don’t really bother with captions.
I hear a variety of different excuses on why that is. For example:
“It takes too much time”.
“It cost too much money”.
“It’s never used, rarely used, really”.
“I can’t be bothered”.
“Ach, technology will do the job for me. It will do”.
There are more reasons to add to these points, but in general, in my experience and what I can tell you, that each of these points are nonsense because you can get around them in very easy ways.
But really, I want to focus on that last point, which is about technology and how “we should just leave it to technology to do the job because it’s good enough and it will do”.
But the thing is, it’s not enough. It’s not just a thing that you leave it and then it will do the job, and it’s perfect.
I’m mainly focusing about YouTube and this applies to other platforms, mainly YouTube, because obviously Google, who owns YouTube, they have the technology to provide auto-captions on the video directly. When you upload it, it’s there, you click it and the auto-captions are there for you.
But the thing is, in my experience, they tend to be awful. Most of the time they tend to be just awful.
And just so you know, when I say in my experience, I’ve got a lot of experience in it. Because the situation I’m in right now is that when I see a video on YouTube, especially from people that I don’t know the creators I’m not familiar with, my immediate first impression that they’re not captioned properly. Auto-captions are not proper caption.
And I immediately go in assuming that it’s not captioned because that is a general feeling and the overwhelming majority of videos on YouTube are they’re not captioned at all and this an issue because people tend to leave it to technology, among the other reasons.
But really, I’m hearing a trend where people are saying, “well, closed caption is not accurate anyway”.
Well, why do you think that is? It was never intended to be perfect. It’s like a part-solution it’s there for you and make it even better. And technology is not going to make things perfect for you.
It’s there to assist you. And you can then do a bit more. This is why I want to focus on the technology part, because people really focus on that so much.
I remember when back in November 2009, Google had announced automatic captions on YouTube and people saying:
“Wow, technology is amazing!”
“This is going to provide all the solutions for everyone”.
“We don’t have to put in the effort of writing captions out and creating them.”
“Accessibility is now perfect on video”.
But of course, it’s not. Even to this day, I can tell you, it’s not perfect. It has gotten better. I can tell you it’s definitely gotten better, but it will not be perfect.
And certainly I don’t think it will ever be perfect. I don’t think it will ever be able to replicate what humans can write down.
And that’s the thing that people are saying, is that, “oh, well, the closed caption aren’t accurate on YouTube, so I’m not going to bother”.
It’s just so frustrating when I hear that. People are saying “it’s not accurate anyway”.
And I’m like, “what?!?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why do you think it’s not accurate?”
The responsibility of ensuring that it’s accurate is on you, not on YouTube or Google, not on the technology. They are not there to do that work for you. The accuracy is down to you, as the person who has uploaded the video.
You’ve already got a head start when the auto-captions are there already. It’s there when you upload it onto YouTube and then they create auto-caption. Then you go to the subtitles section or the caption section and you can edit it manually right there.
And then you can see clearly it’s not accurate because it’s machine learning, it’s artificial intelligence. They’re not there to do everything for you when it comes to copying and maybe other technology allow you to do that, but not captioning.
It needs that human touch. It needs it so much that it just relies on you to do it for them. Because if you think about it, how do you expect the artificial intelligence to be able to distinguish between certain sound or certain words?
When you’re trying to say one word with another, but it’s down to you to make sure it’s accurate.
Even Google advice you to check all automatic captions, stating that:
“You should always review automatic captions and edit any parts that haven’t been properly transcribed.”Source: Google
But even the overall guide is spot on when it comes to why you shouldn’t fully trust the automatic captioning.
And it’s just like when anybody, for example, is writing an article or a book, you get an editor to check for you.
It’s exactly the same thing.
You are like the editor of the machine learning technology that does the auto-caption: you edit it and make it accurate. That applies to everyone, everyone who upload videos on to YouTube.
There was a research done and I’ve read that on average, the automatic captioning technology is around 60%-80% accurate. So one in three words approximately are incorrect.
And if you think about it, it’s not good enough because imagine if your video is one in three incorrect.
Imagine if your blog post is incorrect by one in three. Imagine if the book that you put together and created it is incorrect. Would that be OK?
Of course not.
So why then is it OK for the caption to be incorrect? But you make sure that your book and your articles and your videos are accurate as possible.
And don’t you think that the rest of the people who requires the caption who needs it like myself, don’t you think that we deserve it?
And also, don’t you think that’d be great for more people to watch your video because you have made it accessible?
It’s kind of common sense.
I’ve talked to a bunch of time about the benefit of captioning and get this, you know, it might be breaking news for you, but not just for deaf people. It can benefit so many different people and I’ve done a separate article about it, a separate video about it.
But you can benefit a lot from having captions if it properly done. Do not depend on auto-caption, which is also known as “CRAPtion” in the deaf community because they are crap (and bad for search engine optimisation (SEO) too).
It’s as simple as that.
So do me a favour: take responsibility of your own content when it comes to captions.
If you’re uploading videos, make sure the caption is there and it’s accurately done. You are taking responsibility for the video and the content and the
articles and podcasts and the book.
You do that anyway, so take responsibility for those, but also the caption as well, because in my opinion, a video is not complete if the caption is not done. And that is just the way it works.
So take responsibility for the content that you created, because I can guarantee you that there will be some people out there when they come across a video, they will require your caption.
So why not give it to them? Why do you want to deny the people the pleasure of enjoying your video? I’m sure you’d appreciate that.
And I can guarantee you they would appreciate that as well.
So, take responsibility and don’t depend on technology to do all the work for you. We have to put in the effort as well. If you disagree with me, let me know in the comment.
I just don’t understand the disagreement that people are saying about, “oh, no, I don’t think we should bother”. It doesn’t make sense for me. But please just clarify for me why it doesn’t make sense? Why would you not want to do that?
Apart from the excuses I’ve heard earlier about cost and time, there are ways around it? Trust me, there are ways around it.
But let me know if you have any question. If you disagree, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.
Thank you for watching the video. Make sure you Like and Subscribe, and don’t forget that I will be here again next time and I will speak to you again soon.
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captioning ends before it is finished
Ahmed Khalifa says
I’ll have a look at it. Thanks!