Start a new topic

Delete Subtitle Language function: badly configured and in the wrong hands

 [July 4, 2013] Since the last upgrade, team owners and admins have the capacity to delete whole sets of subtitles, also made by others, via a Delete Subtitle Language button.

This button is dangerously placed where the Edit button normally is.

True, clicking that button opens a page of explanation, but it is only in English, because the Localization of Amara Website updates [has been] put on hold since at least January 18, 2013 (see the attached PDF, where I copied and annotated 2 samples of this page: one for translated subs, one for subtitles used by others to create translated subs): it's the same language issue that lead so many people to sync their YouTube channel and Amara subtitles without understanding the implications, because they were only explained in English.

Moreover, contrary to the make-believe and mostly not working trick added by Amara on April 1st, 2013, to the first post of Removing subtitles or videos, it really does delete [update, July 6: not quite, apparently - I'll try to explain in a comment] the set of subtitles the button is on AND, if requested, subtitles translated from it. See the Activity  page for "Long blank video (1:46:39)" (1): it still lists:

Claude Almansi edited Italian subtitles for Long blank video (1:46:39)

4 hours, 37 minutes ago

Claude Almansi edited Italian subtitles for Long blank video (1:46:39)

4 hours, 37 minutes ago

Claude Almansi edited English subtitles for Long blank video (1:46:39)

4 hours, 42 minutes ago

but the pages linked on Italian subtitles and English subtitles now say: "Please let us know what you were doing when you encountered this error.", because I used the Delete Subtitle Language function on the English subtitles, requesting the deletion of the Italian subtitles too. And team admins and owners are empowered to do that with any subtitle set of any video that has been added to their team.

This is completely wrong. The only persons - according to all copyright laws I know of - who should have this capacity are the authors of the affected subtitles (and the authors of the video - but for them, there already is the Amara DMCA takedown procedure). Team admins/owners should only be empowered to do this when they also happen to be the authors of the affected subtitles.  They might perhaps prevent authors from deleting their work, but exclusively if this is expressely indicated in the team's description - and I am not even sure about that.

Therefore, Amara staff, please withdraw this Delete Subtitle Language function, and rework it so that only the sole author of the subtitles affected can delete them. And check with a lawyer whether team owners / admins might be empowered to prevent authors from doing that.

[Update, July 6, 2013] Add to this that not all team admins / owners are knowledgeable about the consequences of what they do in these roles (various blocks to subtitling have been caused by an admin/owner wrongly configuring the workflow / tasks settings). Combined with the possibility to add to teams existing, already already subtitled video subtitling pages created in Amara by others, there is a definite risk that a not-so-knowledgeable admin / owner might use that Delete Subtitle Language function to delete subtitles that were made before a video subtitling page was added to a team.

This risk worries me in the Music Captioning  and Captions Requested  teams where I am admin, because they both have this kind of later-added video subtitling pages and, among team owners / admins, each has one whose profile says nothing about their knowledgeability of such consequences:
  • in Music Captioning, fernandotakai (admin): his  profile only says that he is also member of another publicly viewable team - JustinGuitar - and of 2 private teams: TEDxTalks Prep and Coursera - Prep; and that he has has started 1 (one) set of subtitles for a video, but neither the video nor subtitles can be viewed. True, a Fernando Takai is also listed as "Software Developer" in the About  page of the Participatory Culture Foundation site, but being a software developer is all but a guarantee of this knowledgeability: in June 2012, when subtitling was severely hampered  by Amara's decision to impose workflows and tasks to teams that did not want them and could not use them, he never answered any e-mail exchanged between admins and owners concerning this issue.
  • in Captions Requested, nuncho (owner): member of more teams than fernandotakai, and more active, but not in the Captions Requested team which he joined a few months ago. But there is no info about his qualifications in his/her profile, and s/he is not even listed in the About  page of the Participatory Culture Foundation site. He has never replied to Amara messages I sent him about team administration matters, whether concerning Captions Requested or other teams.
So I am particularly worried about these almost completely unknown fernandotakai and nuncho having this capacity to delete other people's subtitles, just because of their roles in these two teams. Unless Amara withdraws this capacity from team owners/admins, the only solution will be to delete the Captions Requested and Music Captioning and release their videos among the general Amara videos. It would be a pity, because they work greatly as an incentive to subtitling.
[/update, July 6, 2013]

(1) An empty video I made to try Amara things, where I am the only subtitler. I added it to the Captions Requested team in order to try this Delete Subtitle Language function. 

1 Comment

About "it really does delete [update, July 6: not quite, apparently - I'll try to explain in a comment] the set of subtitles the button is on" above:

Some weird things that happened yesterday seem to suggest that this deletion is not really complete.  turboboomshadow started a new set of English subtitles for "Long blank video (1:46:39)", where I had deleted the former ones by using the "Delete Subtitle Language" button. Oddities:
  • the software gave his subtitle set the same  URL that had been assigned to the deleted one;
  • the description of his new subtitle set reads: "Showing Revision 11, created Yesterday by turboboomshadow ." though the history of revisions only show one revision, his. (Moreover, "11" does not make sense as there have been 21 revisions, as the complete listing of the video's activities shows).
  • the description of the video, which I had changed to something shorter a few weeks ago, with the shorter version surviving the deletion of the English subtitles, was reverted to the first, longer version when he started his.

These oddities seem to indicate that the Delete Subtitle Language function does not really completely delete subtitles but that a copy is kept on the Amara server, which partly and messily acts upon new subtitles that get restarted after the "deletion" of the former ones. 

This messiness is one more reason why Amara staff should withdraw this function and rework it before offering it again. But the main point is that it should only be offered to subtitle authors, and NOT to team owners / admins unless when they are authors themselves.


Login or Signup to post a comment