Among the so-called YouTube Experiments, one has turned out to be very well received. It is the opt-in feature to “Translate comments,” available exclusively to Premium users in iOS and Android. (Just one day left to try: Chrome users can hurry over to this link to add the Translate-comments feature with a click of a button; or visit the Experiments page on their phone.)
Unlike Slator readers who, going by a recent poll, were split in their opinions about deploying machine translation for social media comments, the Twittersphere has been overwhelmingly positive about YouTube’s latest experiment.
The complaints were limited to the why only for Premium or why no Korean variety. (Korean-into-English translation is actually available.)
But most welcomed the feature with any number of exclamation points. One user, @idkbria, said she could now understand what everyone from overseas was saying; and @Beta64Official, excitedly tweeted, “The YouTube app has the option to translate comments now let’s gooo.”
The YouTube app has the option to translate comments now let’s gooo pic.twitter.com/TYtA92g4wK— Andrew (Beta64) (@Beta64Official) September 2, 2021
Meanwhile @ouronymphx posted that “youtube is letting me translate comments as a beta feature and im heavily invested in the japanese dieting community atm.”
youtube is letting me translate comments as a beta feature and im heavily invested in the japanese dieting community atm. pic.twitter.com/LHEYQDpQjQ— 🗝UMI🗡 (@ouronymphx) September 2, 2021
YouTube (or Google) would occasionally push pop-up options for select users; as it did back in May 2021 for video titles and descriptions. According to Android Police, those who did see the pop-up offer did so “in dramatic fashion,” and could immediately read the text of video titles, descriptions, and closed captions as they are translated automatically.
Most users though will probably not even have heard of the new Translate comments feature. (We would not have if it weren’t in the course of research.)
Almost as many as tweeted plaudits were those who expressed surprised dismay, such as @ameliahshshs who said on September 5: “we can translate YouTube comments?? since when”; or @Dola_91, who tweeted, “I just realised you can translate comments on YouTube now,” just two days before YouTube is set to pull the plug on Translate comments.
Once users opt in, nothing really dramatic happens. A tiny button that reads “Translate” simply appears near the comments that are not in the user’s primary language. To switch back, simply tap “undo” (Chrome) or “See original” (Android).
So how can one increase the likelihood of getting prompts for experimental features out of YouTube and Google? One way is to sign up for Google’s UX research.
At this writing, YouTube has not said what it plans to do about the Translate comments feature past September 9, 2021. Judging by netizen reactions, they should retain it — and offer it to users in more overt fashion.