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Critical issue with uploads and rollbacks: software deletes/mangles subtitles and revisions

 When a set of subtitles is updated by upload,  or object of a rollback - or even when existing subs are resplit differently,  a bug in the Amara software sometimes replaces other sets of subtitles by an "uploaded" revision, and deletes the content of their former revisions.

  1. This bug can also affect subtitle sets that are NOT translated from the one where the upload or rollback has been done. 
  2. In the case of bug-affected subtitles that were formerly translated from the original language, the bug-uploaded version cannot anymore be edited in the translation interface, but only directly from the video, and there is no way to get back a translating interface for them.

Instances of this critical issue have long been reported in help forums. So:

  • Developers really must make a priority of correcting this bug, as it gravely affects existing subtitles and the possibility to further edit them.
  • Until they do, we subtitlers should be extremely wary of using rollbacks, updating by upload and even resplitting subtitles, i.e. only do these things if they are absolutely necessary, and first saving all existing subtitles for the concerned video. If you are aware of other instances of this bug, please indicate them in a comment here.

Some reported instances

BUG in subtitle uploader  reported by Ambrose Li on March 22, 2012 (on the former help forum, when Amara was still Universal Subtitles):

  • concerned video:
  • triggering action: update by upload of the English subtitles
  • bug effect: Spanish and Portuguese subtitles were replaced by bug-uploaded revisions attributed to Ambrose Li, and the content their former revisions was deleted
  • Amara staff's response (Margarita Shamraeva): "These are the normal consequences of uploading subtitles to a language (English in this case) which has translations made from it - some changes happen to the translations as well. These changes affect the link between languages in our database, but the text and timing remain unchanged." 
  • problem: deleting the content of former revisions is NOT "normal", and even it "the text and timing remain unchanged", severing the link between languages prevents their further editing via the translation interface.

Can't add a new translation  reported by me (in the second comment starting with "Curious variation of the uploading a translation problem") on Aug. 12, 2012, but incompletely as it was my first encounter with the bug, and back then another issue with uploads complicated understanding. Actually, based on the video's activities page 3 :

  • concerned video::
  • triggering action: update by upload of the Tagalog subtitles
  • bug effect on the Tagalog subtitles: 3 uploaded revisions (Revision 1 and 2, empty and attributed to me, Revision 3 with the subs I uploaded, attributed to "retired user"); content of revision 0 deleted
  • bug effect on other subtitles: existing and formerly translated from English  subtitles (Arabic, Burmese, Estonian, French, Gujurati, Hebrew, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish) were replaced by uploaded revisions attributed to "retired user" that cannot anymore be edited via the translation interface, and the content of their former revisions was deleted
  • Amara staff's response (Darren Bridenbeck): inaccurate generalization (and not only due to my incomplete report); no further response after I corrected the inaccuracies and suggested that the developers examine the issue.
  • problem: though in this case, the bug-affected translated subtitles were already completed, further editing them - e.g. in case of an inaccurate translation - cannot be done in the translation interface.

History of revisions messed up by the software  reported by me on August 27, 2012

  • concerned video:: 
  • triggering action: a rollback to a former revision of the English, British subtitles
  • bug effect: the content of all former revisions of the English, British subtitles was deleted (no effect on the French subtitles, then the only other existing subs, as they were started by upload)
  • staff's response (Jules Rincón): "Thanks for expanding on the issue and pointing us to another case where this is happening, it will make it easier for the devs to pinpoint where the issue is. It is not normal behavior and I hope we soon have it resolved."
  • problem: although this is a big progress from describing the bug's effects as "normal" (see BUG in subtitle uploader , above), the issue is still unresolved.

If 2 original subs are merged, the translation of the second disappears - and former revisions of the translated subs are destroyed  reported by me on November 5, 2012: this is a particularly worrying case, as the bug was triggered by simply merging 2 of the English subtitles, not by a rollback or by an upload

  • concerned video:: 
  • triggering action: merging 2 subtitles of revision 3 of the English subtitles, in revision 4
  • bug effect: the bug replaced  French subtitles, formerly translated from English (revision 1) by an uploaded revision 2 attributed to "retired user", with the translation of the 2nd merged subtitle deleted; revision 2  cannot be edited via the translation interface
  • staff's response (Jules Rincón): "Yes, the data model design causes any changes made to the number or IDs of lines in the original transcript affect the dependent translations. Erasing lines in the original would destroy matching lines in the translations; uploads and rollbacks made to the transcript can fork or completely destroy the translations.
     Your suggestions are good ones, however right now developers are focused on refactoring the data model, which should be a long term solution for this and other problems."
  • problems: the French subtitles remain uneditable via the translation interface; more in general, original subtitles - especially those automatically added from YouTube - often have to be resplit more logically, and doing so might trigger the same bug.

A roll back destroys Spanish subs and messes up most other subs for PSY's Gangnam Style video  reported by me on Dec 23, 2012

  • concerned video:: 
  • triggering action: an attempt by Richard Gresswell to rollback to a revision 1 of the Spanish subtitles, after they had been defaced by a vandal in revision 2
  • bug effect on the Spanish subtitles: their link disappeared from the navbar; instead of rolling back to revision 1, the bug created a revision 3 "uploaded by retired user", containing the defaced subtitles of revision 2; the bug created an empty revision 4 attributed to Richard Gresswell the content of revisin 0 and 1 was deleted.
  • bug effect on other subtitles: the bug replaced other existing subtitles (English, British, Esperanto, Spanish, Persian, Finnish, French, Ido, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese) with an uploaded version by "retired user" that cannot be edited using the translation interface
  • staff's response: none in the forum thread where I reported the issue, but on December 24 or 25, Maggie S (Margarita Shamraeva?) completely deleted the set of Spanish subs and restarted it, creating a revision 0 and a revision 1 she attributed to their former author, Carlo Solis.
  • problems: though Maggie S' intervention is documented in the  in the Activity  subpage for the whole video, there is no trace of it in the history of revisions of the Spanish subs; moreover, the other existing subtitles that were mangled by the bug remain uneditable via the translation interface.

Mixed up subtitles reported by Anna Röing on March 26, 2013

  • concerned video:
  • triggering action: update by upload of the Swedish subtitles by SafeTex
  • bug effect: the bug totally wiped out Anna Röing's former revisions, not only their content: SafeTex' revision now appears as revision 0, and as he mistakenly uploaded the wrong file (which can happen to anyone), Anna's work on these Swedish subs is lost. No other subtitles seem to have been affected.
  • Staff response: none
  • problem: uploading the wrong subtitle file happens frequently. It shouldn't delete former revisions.

Chickarama's  request for deleting some subtitles presently on p. 6 of Reply here to request to Delete a video or Remove subtitles on March 28, 2013 (archived in  as the relevant page and its URL might change as further requests are made)

NB though Chickarama was not aware of the rollback-triggered bug when she posted that request, she has confirmed off-forum that this was the cause of the problems she describes in that request; she has also reported the issue via a ticket.

  • concerned video: 
  • triggering action: a rollback to revision 0 of the English subtitles in revision 4
  • bug effect: the bug replaced subtitles formerly translated from English (Danish, Dutch, German, Greek) by an uploaded version that cannot be edited via the translation interface
  • staff response: noneon the forum (nor to the submitted tickets)
  • Chickarama's solution: she created a new set of English, British subtitles, from which she created new translated sets for the affected languages, and added a warning withing the affected ones, asking to use the new version
  • problems: though Chickarama's solution works, it took a lot of her time to implement it.

First post archived in .


New instance: today May 14 2013, I rolled back the English subs  of "Learn about Universal Subtitles" because someone had translated the first sub into Japanese. This created "retired user's" uploaded versions and deleted the content of revisions in translated subtitle tracks. See e.g.  .


thread archived in .


New instance: in What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains [Epipheo.TV] .The  Activities  subpage shows that the bug hit when Thais Moreno de Barros started the second set of  Portuguese, Brazilian subtitles - by an upload.

This added an "uploaded version by retired user" and deleted the content of revisions  in all subtitles that were being translated, making it impossible to use the translation interface. I.e. the bug hit:
  • the other set of Portuguese, Brazilian subtitles - i.e - by mbthais.23.
  • Italian subtitles by MonicaTerenghi and me (Claude Almansi )
  • Chinese, Traditional subtitles by Elva Lee and  ltsai511 (the link to these subtitles disappeared from the navbar when ltsai511 attempted a rollback to revision 1, probably unaware that its content had been deleted by the bug).In this case, all the above-mentioned subtitlers whose work has been mucked up / deleted by this bug that Amara developers have kept ignoring in spite of repeated reports since March 22, 2012 - except Monica Terenghi - are members of the Captions Requested  team, to which I had added the video, and of which I'm admin. So I'm going to send a copy of this message to all team members.

Monica Terenghi is not. She is participating in the subtitling of this video as an activity of   Laboratorio di tecnologie internet per la scuola #LTIS13 , a Italian University Line  workshop for teachers about using internet technologies in schools, organized by Professor Andreas Formiconi .

This is the second  of Professor Formiconi's online workshops for Italian University Line where I set up a subtitling activity for the participants who request it, and use Amara for it. Last time no one did any upload or rollback in the videos we were working on,  but unless:

this is the last time I use Amara for such an activity with teachers.


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