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There is a robust, lively, enthusiastic, and passionate community of subtitlers around the world who have made it their goal to make subtitles available in as many languages as possible. They work tirelessly, and often for no money, around the clock, either providing closed captioning services, syncing, or translating as many movies and TV shows as possible. Why you may ask, would somebody want to do such monotonous work, even if they are not being paid for it? Because it is necessary to ensure that all people, regardless of circumstance or where they were born on this planet, have access to entertainment, educational, and informative content.
When a TV show, documentary, or movie does not get subtitled and/or translated from its original language, that piece of work becomes exclusionary. In other words, it excludes people from all people being able to enjoy it. Based on cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic constraints. Now, this is obviously not the intent of the film or TV show, but it is still an implicit effect.
It is a tacit cultural exclusion that, unfortunately, all writers must oblige. It is in the very nature of writing in one’s native tongue. Language is, by definition, exclusionary. But, then again, it’s not as if a writer, even if he knew several languages fluently, could realistically write in all of them at one time. We can’t, then, hold films or TV series too accountable for the lack of globalism in a given piece of work. There is nothing nefarious to it. It’s just an unavoidable fact of creating art – each piece has an intended audience, and each audience includes some and excludes others.
The exclusive nature of certain art forms, though, does not end at the cultural. Of course, the most common group of people who require subtitles are the hearing impaired and the deaf. Without subtitles, these people would not be able to fully enjoy movies and TV shows either. Short of attempting to lip-read throughout the entire movie (what a daunting task that would be), the hearing impaired rely on subtitles more than anyone else. Again, subtitles make film and television as inclusive as possible, for as many people as possible.
This is why subtitle enthusiasts make it part of their life’s work to create subtitles in as many languages as possible. This opens up audiences. This takes something that is necessarily exclusive at the point of creation and makes it as inclusive as possible after the fact. This, not to be too Romantic or lofty about it, brings the world together.
This is why I applaud those who spend their time subtitling movies and TV shows, especially those that volunteer their time in order to do so. And I would like to take a moment to give a special thanks to those subtitlers who translate across languages. You are doing noble and necessary work. Thank you.
It should come as no surprise, then, that subtitles sites are often predicated on community. The majority of them have extremely active, thriving, and helpful communities of members, all of whom play a role in making sure that the highest quality subtitles are available to all who need them, whatever the reason may be. Therefore, the best subtitles sites will often have large and heavily frequented forums, chat rooms, and member bases. A subtitle site is only as good as its community is active!
Speaking of an organized, active, and enthusiastic group of subtitlers, the site that we will be looking at today is called Addic7ed, named in honor of everyone’s favorite harmless addiction, I would assume, film and TV. Addic7ed is one of the best-organized sites that I have seen on which you can download free subtitles files for hundreds of thousands of movies and television shows. It is also one of the most dedicated communities of subtitlers on the internet.
Dedication, however, does not always necessarily translate into high quality. And, of course, the most important component, at the end of the day, of a subtitle site is the quality of its subtitles. That is, after all, the reason that a majority of visitors would visit the site, to begin with. So, having said that, does Addic7ed have what it takes to be crowned the best subtitles site of 2020? Well, let’s dive in and take a look and find out for ourselves, shall we?
Maybe it is best to get the weaknesses out of the way first and build Addic7ed up by its strengths from there. I should preamble my critique of the design of Addic7ed by first pointing out that I have yet to meet a subtitles site whose design I thoroughly enjoyed. And Addic7ed is, by far, not the worst subtitles site in terms of layout, look, and feel.
Trust me, subtitles sites, in general, are not exactly known for their stellar site design. And whereas relatively speaking, Addic7ed’s design is not bad when compared to other subtitles sites, it is still not great, as far as sites go more broadly.
I do, however, like the overall vibe, if you will, of Addic7ed. It has brand potential. A lighthearted sky blue and white theme unfurl in a toned-down and minimalist home page. My qualms with this site do not stem from its appearance as much as they stem from its functionality. I want it to be easier to browse and discover subtitles than it is.
On the home page, you’ll find a site menu bar, sure, which allows you a handy way to navigate the site. Choose from Sign Up, Login, Shows, Join the Team, and Forum. Below that, you’ll find several sections of featured and recent subtitles. Clicking into Shows, however, is where the site begins to reveal itself as not so user friendly.
Every single show that is featured on Addic7ed is accessible here, by letter. This is normally not a horrible way to organize content. But when you have so much of it, this becomes less than ideal. Click on a letter to see if Addic7ed has the show you are looking for. But what if you want to discover new shows? I would prefer to be able to browse by genre, release date, network, etc. as well. Alphabetical just does not strike me as the most effective sorting method for so many subtitles. I want there to be additional ways to browse content.
Content and Features
As I said before, Addic7ed offers hundreds of thousands of subtitles files that you can download for free. In a matter of seconds, you can have subtitles to just about any movie and TV show you can dream of. Then, it’s just a matter of loading the file up to your media player of choice as you play the show or film. Generally speaking, the subtitles on this site are pretty high quality. This probably stems from the quality assurance features that are built right into the community.
For instance, subtitles on this site are frequently peer-reviewed and checked for errors. If they have been checked, too, there will be an icon indicating so. Also, Addic7ed offers subtitle training to all volunteers who are interested in getting into the art of subtitling content. They have a powerful army of subtitle wizards who work for free on this site.
There are also plenty of forums for members to chat, discussing movies, languages, suggestions, requests, etc. This is also a great resource for anyone looking to get into subtitling, as there is an entire forum offering tutorials and tips on the craft. Addic7ed may be the best resource out there for aspiring subtitlers and translators to gain the skills they need and improve.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
I do have some good news on the site design front … unlike many other subtitle sites, Addic7ed is fairly mobile friendly. It’s maybe not as responsive or experiential as I might like, but at the very least, it is properly oriented when you access it on a phone or tablet, and it is easy enough to use. If you are looking for the most mobile-friendly subtitles site, this might just be the one for you.
Suggestions that I have for Addic7ed
My main suggestion to Addic7ed is to consider adding some new browsing functions. As I said earlier, I would love to be able to browse subtitles in a more intuitive way. Perhaps a tags system could be installed, allowing users to easily browse by genre, network, country, language, actor, etc. With this addition, I think Addic7ed could have what it takes to become the best subtitles site on the web.