YouTube creates unintentional comedy with automated captions

March 6, 2010

YouTube creates unintentional comedy with automated captionsEarlier this week, popular video site YouTube added auto captioning to increase the usability of the site by those with disabilities, but at the same time the site may have created the next viral comedy hit of the Web.

YouTube announced on Thursday that it was launching auto captions on several channels so those with hearing disabilities would be able to enjoy videos without any delay.  Currently the service is only offered for videos recorded in English, but more languages are expected to be added in the coming months, as well as in more areas of the site.

While the service is very usable, two problems have surfaced already.  The first is that the captions are visible at normal size, but if you enlarge the video to full screen size, you lose the bottom line of the captions behind the YouTube control bar.  This is probably a fairly easy fix, but a bit annoying for now as it restricts what size you can watch it at.

The second issue is that YouTube admits that for the captions to work properly, the audio track needs to be as uncluttered as possible, and that the speaker needs to be talking clearly.  You are of course going to get some garbled transcriptions, but already people are calling it “YouTube Caption Fail”, and turning it into a popular past time on Twitter.  People are collecting screenshots of some of the oddest captions they spot, and then posting them to blogs and photo sharing sites for all to see.

Hopefully the technology will improve with time, but for now it is passable, and a great new game for people to hunt down the oddest failures.

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One Response to “YouTube creates unintentional comedy with automated captions”

  1. David:

    Check out http://youtubecaptionfail.com :-)

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