Discussion: Guidelines about collaborative captioning / subtitling + beta Google group

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Aug 6, 2012, 8:31:02 PM8/6/12
[text of the message sent to the participants of the Music Captioning team via Amara messaging]

Hi Music Captioners,

Now that we are over 80 participants, some guidelines about captioning / subtitling ("subtitling" and "subtitles" in what follows, for brevity's sake) seem needed. Of course, the main guideline is the description of the Music Captioning team:

"The place where music is captioned to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf world. Everyone is welcome to share and create a worldwide audience to enjoy music in every language of the world."

I.e. the first goal is making music videos accessible to the deaf world, and the secondary goal is to translate them. But here are a few more indications, based on issues that have already arisen in the team.

1) Attribution

The Amara platform is meant for collaborative subtitling, and each collaborator's work is attributed to her/him in the revisions tab of the subtitles s/he has collaborated to, as with Wikipedia articles. So what counts for attribution is this history of revisions, not the name appearing on the subtitles themselves, which is only the name of the last person who edited them, maybe only correcting one typo or adjusting the timing of one subtitle.

2) Collaboration

General principle: anyone can edit anyone's subtitles, and must expect that their subtitles be edited by anyone else.
  • If you disagree with a new version, you can either correct parts of it, or revert entirely to a former version: but please explain why in a comment to the subtitle set
  • If you want to work alone for a while on a given subtitle set, please say so in a comment to this set, indicating for how long. And if someone has said so there, don't interfere with his/her work.

3) Re-use in another subtitle set

At times, subtitling approaches may diverge yet both be legitimate.
For instance:

  • with videos that already include texts, these texts must be included in the subtitles made towards translation, but are annoying for Deaf / Hard of Hearing (HoH) native speakers who use subtitlws for accessibility
  • conversely, proper accessible subtitling for Deaf / HoH people, i.e. with descriptions of non verbal sounds, can be too long for non native speakers who can't read fast enough, whether they are Deaf / HoH, or hearing.

So in case of such a divergence in goals,  download the existing subtitles, then  reupload them, creating a new, differently-named subtitle track where you can edit them, and add a comment acknowledging the original subtitlers, with link to their set, and explaining the reason for the 2 sets.

As to "differently named", Amara offers local variations like "English, British",  "French, Canadian" and several such variations for Spanish. So you can use one of those local variations to rename your reuploaded subtitles, explaining what the subtitles actually are in a comment, with an apology for the squatting.

4) Communication: comments, messages, Google group

Collaborative subtitling can only work with good communication.

Hence the above requests to use comments. Therefore, when you collaborate on a subtitle set, please enable notifications about its changes and comments by "Following" it. However, as Amara automatic notifications don't always get through, check the comments again when you resume subtitling.

Amara messages to a given person don't always get through either, and then if something needs to be discussed about a subtitle set, it's better to do that publicly, so that future collaborators know about it too.

Google group: we (Dylan Mahoney aka Booger Bender and Claude Almans) have created a Google group for the team:
https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/musiccaptioning - because of the above-mentioned issues with Amara messaging and notifications, but also to enable easier discussion of subtitles for each video. So there is one post for each Music Captioning team video; all these posts are tagged "MC-Amara-team" - and other posts too: see the group's description for more details.

We shall now add this message in this Google group too, in https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!topic/musiccaptioning/HNPz-1sw56E, so that you can discuss these guidelines and propose additions and modifications.


Dylan Mahoney aka Booger Bender and Claude Almansi
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