The prevailing technological feasibility has enabled the rise of the digital era and has contributed to the seemingly changing nature of translation. One of the implications of this shift has been articulated in the area of Audiovisual Translation with the emergence of online communities of volunteer subtitle translators. This paper explores the emerging phenomenon of ‘volunteer subtitling’ and tries to shed light on its role in the transition to ‘professional subtitling.’ Volunteer subtitling platforms are broad communities of practice that consist of thousands of actively involved members. Despite the increasing interest in investigating various issues regarding online volunteer translation, not much is known about the process of transition from the volunteering world into the professional one. Using the most popular Turkish subtitling platforms (Turkcealtyazi.org and Planetdp.org) as a case study, this paper will present the very first insights into this transition through an analysis of a survey with translators who started their subtitling practice as volunteers and then moved into the professional world. Based on the analysis of the respondents’ experiences, it will be argued that the volunteer praxis and the active support of the online community strategically contribute to the improvement of a wide array of translation skills and open up the door for the move into the professional world. In doing so, this paper will also shed a light on both volunteer and professional environments from various perspectives like working conditions, the translation process, types of the work, and translator motivation.
volunteer subtitling, professional subtitling, online communities, collaborative online translation, translation process