Creating a YouTube community captions platform

September 21, 2020

Watching YouTube videos has always been a hobby for me.

I have often encountered myself sharing videos to friends. However, this didn’t always work because some of them could not understand the language in the video very well (usually English). I decided to take action and caption the videos myself.

I found out about

A few years ago I found an awesome website called Amara, where you can use its own subtitle editor to caption Youtube videos (even if you don’t own them), and I have then started a new hobby: captioning videos.

Initial struggles with sharing my subtitles

My initial struggle with sending videos to friends still existed, because even after I managed to create the captions, the YouTuber had to accept them to be used in their video or my friends would have to go to Amara’s website, which did not look very friendly to them. Plus, their link to the video with my custom captions did not look interesting enough for anyone to click on it (it didn’t have the video’s thumbnail, or the translated video title).

Solving my own problem with coding

My software developer side had no other option but to create my own tool to allow users to caption any Youtube video and be able to share a link to the video which goes directly to my website using their custom captions. And of course, the link now has a video thumbnail and the user’s translation of the video title. Let me introduce you to

Captionfy is born

Captionfy was born in September 2020 (although it has been in my head for years now) and its main focus is to help with community captions. I have built a captions editor which allows the users to start based on existing Youtube captions (if there are any) and simply enhance or translate them. You can also upload captions files to Captionfy, and anyone will be able to enjoy the videos better with your help transcribing/translating them :)

YouTube discontinued the old community captions in September 2020.

This year Youtube is removing its community captions feature, and there is a huge community of users who will miss this feature to be able to enjoy watching some videos, so there should be a second option for them to keep finding proper captions for any video they want. This has me thinking of building a queue functionality to allow users to mark videos they would like captioned, so that whoever wants to help can also contribute.

Enjoy the platform and reach out with any feedback!

Let me know what you think of the website and I will try to improve. There is a feedback button integrated into every page, or you can directly comment here :) I hope this tool can be useful for others like me, and for the ones who need the captions to enjoy the videos. I hope you like it!