Since April 2014, streaming companies have been required to provide subtitles and closed captioning. Though this may seem great, this captioning is done automatically, without the carefulness of human touch.

The problem with automatic machine translation is that it does not have the capability of registering emotion like; sarcasm or a crowd cheering. It also does not have the ability to register foreign languages. Instead, automatic captions often say something like, “speaking in foreign language,” which doesn’t give everyone an equal viewing experience.

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“It just types what it registers,” stated Atlantic writers Nam and Quartz. “Imagine watching classic baseball comedy Major League and only hearing the sound of one fan shouting from the stands. Or only hearing every other line of lightning-fast dialogue when watching reruns of the now-classic sitcom 30 Rock.”

One solution to this captioning issue is crowdsourcing, which allows for communities of fans to translate videos into multiple languages through platforms like Viki and Amara. Crowdsourcing gives captioning the necessary human touch that machine captioning lacks. It allows for true fans of a television show or movie to edit captions for other fans who can’t get the same experience through machine captioning.

Though captioning has come a long way, a little bit of elbow grease needs to be put into making captions accurate and equal for all viewers.


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