Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fansubbing errors

It's been a while since I've done a fansubbing post.  With the fact that I've been going through health problems, it makes for a perfect way to talk about something that is hotly contested among fansubbers, namely the concept of "quality" and "errors".

Right now, I'm probably have about half my normal amount of energy to do things.  The main reason is that I'm currently on several allergy medications, and they have two effects.  One is that they tend to knock you out, and the other is that your mind gets a bit foggy sometimes.  When both of these happen together, I tend to do things like the following when I translate:

Luckily, my timer caught it and put a note in to have it fixed.  I try to not translate when I don't feel 100% able to do so (which is why we've had fewer releases this month), but sometimes I do, and I end up taking a risk of making mistakes.

The best way to not have an error is to not make them.  This has nothing to do with the amount of time you spend working on an episode.  It just means that you have to be focused and alert.  When you're missing one of the two (or in my case, missing both of them), mistakes occur.

There's heated discussion about quality control in fansubbing.  Typically, a group will designate someone to do quality control to prevent things like what I illustrated from happening.  However, anyone who has done any sort of work involving the publishing industry knows that there will almost always be something that will slip by, and fansubbing is no exception to this rule, no matter how much quality control is used.

Furthermore, in fansubbing, the person who you least want to notice your error will find the error, and will publicly ridicule you, claiming that your release lacks "quality" due to the error.  For this reason, many groups no longer do quality control because the reward simply is not worth the extra effort.  In a way, it's an application of Murphy's Law.

I won't go into whether it really is worth doing quality control in this post, because this is something that has no clear answer.  I wish there were a clear answer, but those of you who actually know what quality control really means knows that the anime fansubbing concept of quality control is not really "quality control", and "quality control" has a specific definition behind it.  This specific definition is backed by statistical analysis and tools.

For the purposes of this post, I think the main things to learn from what I said is that:
  1. The way to prevent errors in fansubbing is to not make them
  2. It's impossible to never make an error
  3. Focus and alertness are critical to good fansubbing work
  4. Quality control done in fansubbing is not really quality control 


    1. A friend of my parents who has a small publishing company always says "There is no book without any errors in it". I guess that's true for all media.

    2. Yeah, Doll Licca . . . I run into the same thing when I am editing an episode synopsis page on the English Wikipedia. I recently had a row with another editor who has a thing for accurate Japanese to the point where she seriously vandalized the data table of all the insert songs for »Romeo no Aoi Sora«. The composer name missing for one song, the arranger name missing for another, a song title bastardized . . . the vandal made a real mess. The romanji and kanji titles that I used for the episode titles came from the Google Language translator; the vandal also removed that.

      If that vandal feels so strongly about accurate romanji and kanji, she should write the entire episode synopsis page from scratch. I have been scolded about how it is unfair that another editor has to go back through my handiwork and normalize stuff . . . strange community English Wikipedia is. It encourages anyone to contribute and yet the editors rail and wail about me giving them more work to do . . . (-_-;;)

      I know that you do what you can when you can, Doll Licca; go ahead and take it easy. I have another episode synopsis page on Wikipedia about »Porphy no Nagai Tabi« that only needs a synopsis for Episode 13 in addition for Episodes 2-4 before I can release it into the ether. I suppose that I will end up causing some stormy politics in spite of the fact that I have hidden away the Google-translated kanji and added in romanji from a source that I have already referenced . . . oh well, all in a day's work!

    3. Even then, it's usually in the best interest to attempt to minimize the number of errors we make as part of our work.

      Even if we receive criticism, it's important to take it gracefully and politely explain why we do things in a certain way, or take their criticism and improve our work. In essence, it's usually not a good idea to shoot the messenger.

      For example, alchemist11 from ray=out fansubs occasionally comes here and gives some critiques on the way we do things. He had a legitimate complaint about the typesetting, and we used his suggestions and improved what we produce. Just because we provide something does not give us special rights or power over anyone, and it does not prove we're correct over anyone else. It's important to keep a reasonably level mind when it comes to dealing with complaints.

      Now, sometimes we receive a critique that, if published, would make this blog not family-friendly. We usually will deal with such cases as quietly as possible.

    4. I felt somewhat relieved after reading your post and sad at the same time. Relieved, because I also have health issues after the car accident and that I'm not the only one having those problems, and sad, because I can understand it too well what you're going through.

      Get well and keep up with your good work!
      Here is best regards from letias:

    5. I really agree with you Licca about your post but most of all, I wish you a prompt relieve to your allergy and health issues! Thanks for all your dedication to the old school / WMT anime cause!

    6. I am hoping you'll be getting better soon.