A Bug in YouTube's Subtitle Functionality

12/04/2010 by Sylvain Hallé

  1. Login and go to your video library. Select a video that doesn't have subtitles, and in the Insight menu, choose "Subtitles".

    Screenshot

  2. Only the "automated transcript" is present. Click on "Add subtitles or transcript".

    Screenshot

  3. Select your file and click Open.

    Screenshot

  4. Bug #1: YouTube replies with something the browser does not recognize and only offers you to download it. A bit strange, since you are the one actually sending something to YouTube, you don't expect a file back.

    Screenshot

    In fact, the file in question is a JSON object whose content is the following text:

    {"error_list": [], "response_value": [{"languageCode": "en", "kind": "", "name": "", "is_servable": true, "type": "published", "is_processing": false}]}
    It basically tells you that the subtitle file has been published --just an a human-readable form.
  5. Bug #2: Regardless of whether you download the "file" or press Cancel, you are back to the same page as before. The subtitle file you supposedly added is not there.

    Screenshot

    If you're like me, you think the upload failed, you repeat the previous steps, and this time the "file" contains an error message saying that your subtitle is already there (?!).

  6. However, browse back to your video list, and you notice that the clip now has the "CC" symbol next to it. Strange...

    Screenshot

  7. If you return to the subtitles for that clip, this time you see the additional file you uploaded.

    Screenshot

Morale: stateful web applications are so hard to manage.

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