Don't answer my questions; I want natives' answers

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wildan1

Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
English - USA
They would just need to specify in the rules that 1) all threads belong to WR and its members, not just the original person creating the thread,
Rule 16 of the Forum rules, by which anyone applying to be a member agrees to abide, already specifies this:
16. When a message is placed in WordReference or its forums, you are granting an irrevocable license to the site to use it in perpetuity.
 
  • OSSEAN

    Member
    Spanish-Argentina/English UK
    I must admit I'm not personally in favour of tinkering around with the rules to try and solve this. We already have a stipulation to the effect that members should contribute to "an atmosphere ..... with a respectful, helpful and cordial tone" and " Treat others in the way that you wish to be treated. " (Rule 7).
    Terms and rules
    :idea:May be that same 7th rule could be posted on All WR Forums main page ¿As a recall or a warning perhaps?:rolleyes:
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    The PMs too, merq? It's clear from previous posts that there are "natives only" requests in various forums, but I was wondering specifically about the "don't post in my thread" PMs.
    Yes, it does happen on occasion. I thought everybody got an arrogant message once in a while asking them not to answer.
    The worst was a person who would copy my post and ask a question like "Can a native just confirm this answer or else give the right answer?" Normally no one would answer. Then once he wrote me a private message telling me I was rude and not to answer his queries because he wanted to interact with natives and the natives didn't ever reply after me because they thought the question had been answered. I blocked him but he's still around, and I would never answer his threads anyway.
    I don't get it much anymore because after a while you get to know the forum and what type of person is susceptible to have an attitude.. so you can avoid them naturally.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Let me just offer an idea.

    Part of the rationale behind the introduction of "reactions" was to let people see at a glance which versions of a translation or which answers to a question were 'agreed' by members as being reliable. Is there any mileage in making members' reaction scores publicly visible (at the more they're not) - either by default or as an individual preference setting? This could (in theory at least) offer some reassurance that the member concerned had a 'reputation' for giving reliable answers. An obvious downside is that it would effectively penalize those members who post exclusively or mainly in forums which don't have them.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I have a variation on that idea. Could things be set up so that when a member receives an "Agree" reaction, an alert is sent to everyone who's posted on the thread, just as they are for new messages?

    Not for Thank yous. There are some members who run around using Thank you reactions like "Likes", including posts in threads they haven't even participated in.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm sorry, the idea of making Reaction scores public sets my teeth on edge: it would turn the forums into a popularity contest.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Is there any mileage in making members' reaction scores publicly visible (at the more they're not) - either by default or as an individual preference setting?
    I quite like the idea of regularising members' general 'street creed' as some publicly visible score, of sorts.
    At the same time
    I'm sorry, the idea of making Reaction scores public sets my teeth on edge: it would turn the forums into a popularity contest.
    I have to agree with Loob that a nice language forum may degenerate into some beauty contest :D And then, this may give impetus to a scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours attitude whenever any two forum members are good enough friends. :)

    Perhaps counting thank yous from the thread starter alone could be considered, although thread starters may be unable to evaluate the answer they have received. :confused: It is complicated. Maybe, still, a new 'attitude' may be added along the newly introduced 'thank you' and 'agree' - 'disagree'? Although I agree that a simple 'disagree' is not enough without an explanation.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Could things be set up so that when a member receives an "Agree" reaction, an alert is sent to everyone who's posted on the thread, just as they are for new messages?
    I would support this. I've had the same thought myself.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I have a variation on that idea. Could things be set up so that when a member receives an "Agree" reaction, an alert is sent to everyone who's posted on the thread, just as they are for new messages?
    :confused: I thought a strong reason for introducing the "agree" and "thank you" symbols was to avoid participants in the thread being notified when nothing of significance was added to it.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I agree that applies to the thank yous, but letting the OP know of an "Agree" reaction could tell him that there are others who agree with the person who answered him, and give him some reassurance if he wasn't convinced earlier. And sometimes there are multiple OPs, so to speak, with people asking related questions in an existing thread, so I suggested an alert to everyone.

    I'd say it's as important for the OP to know there are people who agree with the person who answered him as it is for the person who answered, perhaps more.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I wouldn't like to get an alert for every "agree" and "thank you" in the thread. I'd have 20 alerts every time I connect.
    I don't care if there is a score for "agrees" and "thank yous". I probably wouldn't look at it anyhow. A popularity contest would be linked to "likes", and fortunately we don't have "likes" and "loves" here.
    When you've been on the forum for a while as I said earlier, you know what people to trust, listen to, or not.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I wouldn't like to get an alert for every "agree" and "thank you" in the thread.
    I assume that if this feature were added, you would have the option of disabling it — as is currently the case with all other types of alerts.
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    You can also configure your private messaging preferences so that only people you follow can message you. This is something @Barque could try for a few months. That way, whoever is trying to harass you will see their attempts at disqualifying your contributions frustrated. It may be a deterrent since they will probably feel less prone to make the same requests in public.
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    You can also configure your private messaging preferences so that only people you follow can message you. This is something @Barque could try for a few months.
    No, no, no! I wouldn't have been able to message Barque that way.
    I have a variation on that idea. Could things be set up so that when a member receives an "Agree" reaction, an alert is sent to everyone who's posted on the thread, just as they are for new messages?
    I like the idea.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    the idea of making Reaction scores public sets my teeth on edge: it would turn the forums into a popularity contest.
    I'm curious, why do you think it would? I'm not saying it wouldn't, and I'm not even necessarily advocating making reaction scores public, but I don't see any evidence indicating that they would trigger a popularity contest. After all, post counts are visible, and have always been, and although I'm sure there have been some cases of people posting just to increase their post count, I don't think this has ever caused any major problems. Making reaction scores public comes with its issues, but I don't see any reason to suspect that one of them would be turning the forums into a popularity contest. Perhaps I'm missing something.
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    Reactions are a very recent implementation, so whatever scores you may find will be meaningless unless you have been around for some time. Since there seems to be no plans to roll out the reactions feature across all forums, people who engage mostly in those forums where reactions have not been enabled will appear to have a reduced number of community endorsements. People who engage mostly in non-linguistic forums where other people endorse their political and ideological stances will appear to be trustworthy in translation and language matters. It’s quite misleading.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I agree; I referred to these issues in the post I linked to. I still don’t see any reason to assume that making reaction scores public would trigger a popularity contest.
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    I just can’t see how public scores will counter someone’s sense of entitlement, racism, sexism or bigotry. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    The subject of reaction scores appears to be a solution in search of a problem. Simple truth is... people are a-holes. :) I know that's brutal but it's the one constant thread that runs through the entire bloody book of human history and no silly scoring system will change it. Familiarity breeds contempt. If I may speak for my compatriots, most native English speakers are not extremely interested in what other English speakers have to say on foreign language. We want to hear from the natives! And why not? They know the secrets! They possess the Holy Grail we all desire! We want to be like them and I don't see anything wrong with that. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

    Maybe what's missing here are poor manners, lack of social skills and proper education to know how to talk to people with mutual respect. We see this plaguing our world today and many of us in our own countries. Maybe it's endemic to our species as we all share tribal beginnings. Oh well, end of sermon. Have a good weekend, all.
     
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    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    People who engage mostly in non-linguistic forums where other people endorse their political and ideological stances will appear to be trustworthy in translation and language matters. It’s quite misleading.
    This also applies to linguistic forums with, or without, Reactions enabled: the total number of reactions does not reflect the member's actual competence in a particular language. Even crossing the number of reactions with Post areas in the profile does not tell you how reliable a person is: you don't know if the person is asking or answering, agreeing or thanking, until you read their actual threads.
    And, of course, there are always people you agree or disagree with, because of ideological reasons, because you (dis)like them, and the like.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I just can’t see how public scores will counter someone’s sense of entitlement, racism, sexism or bigotry. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️
    They probably wouldn't. Public reaction scores came up in this thread as a possible way to avoid at least some of these "don't answer my questions because you're not a native speaker" cases -- namely, those in which the request stems from a belief on the part of the requestor that the answers they've received are not reliable simply because the responder is not a native speaker. In that case, public reaction scores could in theory help quell some of those concerns (in the case of non-native speakers who do consistently give valid answers and this is reflected in consistent agreement with them via reactions).

    Loob then objected to public reaction scores on account of her belief that they would turn the forums into a popularity contest. I continue to be curious as to what reasons there are to suspect that they would. Again, I've repeatedly acknowledged that public reaction scores would come with issues, and I realize it doesn't just come down to whether they would trigger a popularity contest. My question really was a straightforward one about Loob's reasons for her prediction: I was not suggesting that we should make reaction scores public, nor was I suggesting that public reaction scores would fully resolve the issue being discussed in this thread (in fact, I'm almost positive they wouldn't! At best they might decrease the number of incidents). I'm curious about Loob's reasons because this would be something to possibly consider if we ever seriously look into making reaction scores public (for any reason).
     
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    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    But discussion about whether scores create problems was a reaction to a proposed solution.
    Problem: harassment.

    Solution 1: changing the rules
    Drawback to 1: complicated to implement, probably will not happen

    Solution 2: send alerts to everyone who participated in the thread, so as to reach second OPs
    Drawback 2a: people who don't want to receive alerts will receive more of them
    made more serious by the fact, that only a disadvantaged minority of OPs in EO and some other forums choose to add to existing threads, so it is unlikely these second OPs do the most harassing

    Solution 3: make reaction scores public
    Drawback 3a: not all forums have reactions. Harassers from those forums will have not be put off.
    Drawback 3b: people may be fooled into thinking somebody is reliable based on agreements with the answerer's, say, CCposts
    This still takes care of the problem though.
    Drawback 3c: people may be fooled into thinking somebody is unreliable based on low score count, for answerers posting only seldom etc.
    Drawback 3d: people may treat reaction scores as popularity contest

    Solution 4: harassed people turn off receiving PMs
    Drawback 4a: not really that serious, as answerers still can communicate with the outside world if they write, or if they follow others.
    Maybe if there was a solution: only people who are following you can PM you, that would act as psychological deterrent

    Solution 5: reporting
    I don´t know what happens after reports.
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    Solution 5: reporting
    I don´t know what happens after reports.
    To me, that’s the best solution. Mods will examine the situation and handle it privately. :) If the behavior is recurrent, the harasser will receive a warning, and if their behavior doesn’t change, they will be banned.

    Post counts, post areas and, presumably, reaction scores, are not immediately visible. With the previous software, the post count was visible under the username. It would take several clicks or hovering-over the username to get all those details.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Solution 5: reporting
    I don´t know what happens after reports.
    Drawback 5a: It's in the nature of 'damage limitation': it doesn't stop it from happening. We would contact the individual member who's done it, privately, and explain the situation to them. In time, we might be able to get a rough idea of why some people are doing it (or, if you like, why they felt the need to do it). But it still leaves us with the need to develop an effective strategy to prevent it.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    But it still leaves us with the need to develop an effective strategy to prevent it.
    Perhaps the forum rules, or something else new members are required to read, could have a provision saying different people from different parts of the world may answer questions on any language forum, and these are generally likely to be seen by other, native-speaking, members and mods, and that if you have a problem with this, please contact the mods.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Perhaps the forum rules, or something else new members are required to read, could have a provision saying different people from different parts of the world may answer questions on any language forum, and these are generally likely to be seen by other, native-speaking, members and mods, and that if you have a problem with this, please contact the mods.
    Yeah, I half-answered this, I think, in post #44.

    A big snag I can foresee with it is that considering the number of people who seem to blithely ignore what it says in the rules and in the individual forum guidelines, I'm not sure how effective it would be. A case in point is that a message tells you when you try and edit a post not to edit it in a way that makes nonsense of subsequent responses: we've experimented now with a number of different versions/placements of that message, but it's made little difference, people still do it.

    One of the things it seems to me that we don't really know is why some members try and ask specifically for responses from native speakers. I've certainly seen this 'help from native speakers' line used as a "selling point" on websites, but why do members do it here? Do they just automatically assume native speakers will give better answers, or have they had negative past experiences?
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    why do members do it here? Do they just automatically assume native speakers will give better answers, or have they had negative past experiences?
    They must have had negative experiences outside the forum... and they can ask non-native speakers anytime, in real life. There is higher chance of correct answer from native speakers, if we assume that both native and non-native members who answer posts are random. Normally they are a bit of language nerds.

    I imagine people would still be interested in an answer from anybody, except...any post that cannot answer the question - but adds to post count - puts the thread into risk of never being answered. Then the solution would be

    6 Solved/unsolved button
    Drawback 6a complicated to implement technically?
    6b extreme ideological opposition
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Do they just automatically assume native speakers will give better answers
    It seems so, and they clearly don't take into account that a poorly educated native speaker is more likely to give inaccurate and unreliable answers than a very well educated, yet non-native speakers who, for example, has extensively studied that language, especially when grammar is involved.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    I've certainly seen this 'help from native speakers' line used as a "selling point" on websites, but why do members do it here? Do they just automatically assume native speakers will give better answers, or have they had negative past experiences?
    WR also does:
    The WordReference language forum is the largest repository of knowledge and advice about the English language, as well as a number of other languages. If you have a question about language usage, first search the hundreds of thousands of previous questions. If you still are unsure, then you can ask the question yourself. Native speakers from around the world will be happy to assist you. Source: English to French, Italian, German & Spanish Dictionary - WordReference.com
    Indeed, if users have seen this, they are likely to expect answers from native speakers. Point 1 is - if (same as for rules: who does read this?). Point 2 is that correct answers are not always provided by native speakers - for example, no native English speaker is a specialist in a given area, and a non-native specialist is available: should that non-native be silent forever?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    They must have had negative experiences outside the forum... and they can ask non-native speakers anytime, in real life. There is higher chance of correct answer from native speakers, if we assume that both native and non-native members who answer posts are random. Normally they are a bit of language nerds.

    I imagine people would still be interested in an answer from anybody, except...any post that cannot answer the question - but adds to post count - puts the thread into risk of never being answered. Then the solution would be

    6 Solved/unsolved button
    Drawback 6a complicated to implement technically?
    6b extreme ideological opposition
    I think we tend to rely on the OP posting a thank-you or acknowledgement for (6). I wouldn't personally bother posting another answer in a thread where I'd seen one. That, plus the fact that they can report the thread if it's received no answers (or only ones that they're not happy with).

    How does this work in the bilingual forums, incidentally, given that relatively few members are actually bilingual?

    Do people seem to prefer/trust translations/answers provided by a native speaker (given that they're presumably not allowed to specify them)?
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    for example, no native English speaker is a specialist in a given area, and a non-native specialist is available: should that non-native be silent forever?
    Great question! The answer is of course not, but subject matter expertise is something that not all people seem to value or appreciate following a coherent standard. If the expert is not a native speaker of the target language, some people will not feel comfortable until a native, albeit less proficient and possibly clueless about the specific nuances of a given technolect or dialect, comes along and vouches the presumably better informed and experimented non-native specialist.

    Some people also discourage tagging experts, which they perceive as a deterrent to free discussions. Go figure.
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    That's always been the gold standard in language forums. Others can pine away all they want and offer solutions, and their contributions are appreciated but it's not official until a native puts their stamp of approval on it. I've noticed some people even take it a step further and request only people from a specific country answer! You can regulate and social engineer to your heart's content but I doubt you can change human nature.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    @DonnyB , in my experience of bilingual forums, answerers often add "we should wait for a native" or "I am not a native, though". Best-case scenario - a native will come over and validate the answer. Worst-case scenario - the OP whines "Can't a native answer me?" even if they have the right answer to their question.
    Also, when several variants of the target language exist (e.g. Spanish, or BrE vs AmE, or France vs Canada...) and there may be more than one trustworthy and valid answer, I do post additional information as far as needed in threads that have been answered. Answering threads is not just about making the customer (the OP) happy, nor about competing for the best answer. The "one best way" concept does not apply to speaking a language. Sometimes I would do so even if an answer from a specific country has been requested (in that case, I would add information about the country or region where this variant can be found, if necessary), because after all, information needs to be shared and threads are owned by WR, not by members.
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    You can regulate and social engineer to your heart's content but I doubt you can change human nature.
    :thumbsup:
    Sometimes I would do so even if an answer from a specific country has been requested (in that case, I would add information about the country or region where this variant can be found), because after all, information needs to be shared and threads are owned by WR, not by members.
    I just ignore the portion that says how would this be phrased in <country>? and provide the dialectal varieties I am familiar with (which sometimes includes the sought-after variety). Typically, someone from the mentioned country has already chimed in, so all the more reason to provide other options. After all, threads are an extension to the dictionaries. :)
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    A specifically-English version of the quote in post 81:

    The English Dictionary
    WordReference is proud to offer two English dictionaries--the WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English and the Collins Concise English Dictionary. These prestigious dictionaries contain more than 125,000 words and phrases.

    If you still cannot find a term, you can ask or search in the forums, where many native English speakers love to assist others in their understanding of the English language.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    A specifically-English version of the quote in post 81:
    If you still cannot find a term, you can ask or search in the forums, where many native English speakers love to assist others in their understanding of the English language.
    So, where does that leave us, then?

    Do we:
    - (a) Leave it as it is on the grounds that it doesn't offer a guarantee that your particular question will in fact be answered by a native English speaker?
    - (b) Ask the Administrator how he feels about amending it (and the other version(s) of it), possibly by removing the word 'native'?
    - (c) Allow members to specify a preference if they have one, while making it clear that they can't insist on it?
    - (d) Something else?
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Let me just offer an idea.

    Part of the rationale behind the introduction of "reactions" was to let people see at a glance which versions of a translation or which answers to a question were 'agreed' by members as being reliable. Is there any mileage in making members' reaction scores publicly visible (at the more they're not) - either by default or as an individual preference setting? This could (in theory at least) offer some reassurance that the member concerned had a 'reputation' for giving reliable answers. An obvious downside is that it would effectively penalize those members who post exclusively or mainly in forums which don't have them.
    I don’t think so personally. Few of my much thought out and carefully considered posts get reactions. Most of my reactions are from social threads.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Or maybe "native and other advanced speakers (of English)"?

    I think it's good to include the fact that many native speakers reply. It's a good selling point.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    A couple of years ago, I noted such a demand to have the question answered by a native speaker when a much respected contributor had responded. I saw it as completely unacceptable and, given the immediacy of the slight, included a response in my answer. I felt this direct method justified as busy mods might take some time to reply. I also believe that it sent an important message of support and sympathy to the insulted member.

    I take DonnyB’s point above at #29
    I wouldn't for example object to a request for a speaker of American English to answer whether something which doesn't work in British English does on the other side of the Atlantic.
    to be particularly relevant as my AE skills are nowhere near as sharp as I once believed. However, I suggest there is a difference: the request for an AE speaker is made only if the responder states that they are a BE speaker: In the cases of non-native speakers the discriminatory assumption is made that they are not.

    we do come across members (almost always new ones) who start answering questions above their level of ability, causing confusion, and in extreme cases, wrecking the thread.
    Reporting the post as “likely to mislead”, and thus to have it deleted, is the solution.

    Non-native speakers who receive such messages might wish to try stating that they are bilingual in their profiles. In the circumstances, bothering about the precise definition of “bilingual” in the case of respected members is trivial.

    Finally, I have taken from Loob’s posts the feeling that I share: unsubstantiated and discriminatory PM’s and posts are completely unacceptable.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think we should be distinguishing between PMs and on-forum posts.

    Not everyone is a nice, polite person (or completely sane), and some rude people may send personal messages that are offensive, to a greater or lesser degree. I always think the best thing to do is to ignore them - or if you think that the rude person may be harassing other members as well, to report them. It isn't fair to the mods to involve them in a personal quarrel conducted via PM.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    A couple of years ago, I noted such a demand to have the question answered by a native speaker when a much respected contributor had responded. I saw it as completely unacceptable and, given the immediacy of the slight, included a response in my answer. I felt this direct method justified as busy mods might take some time to reply. I also believe that it sent an important message of support and sympathy to the insulted member.
    The 'busy mods' would very much prefer that you not do this, please. ;) As I mentioned earlier (post #29) we have been taking steps to eradicate this practice in the public forums and have certainly I think succeeded in reducing the incidence of it.

    Clearly and obviously, posting a straightforward endorsement/confirmation of the previous answer is helpful in -
    (a) Reinforcing to the person who asked the question that the previous answer was correct.
    (b) Giving backing to the allegedly "insulted" member.
    (c) Last but by no means least, providing information to anyone who may read the thread in the future that the answers are the correct ones.

    However, adding a criticism of the type you describe, however well-intentioned, is not helpful. It -
    (1) is off-topic.
    (2) can provoke a counter-reaction from the OP.
    (3) can further detract from the progress of the discussion if other members then start commenting on it, leaving the impression that members are 'ganging up'.
    (4) leave us (the mods) the task of performing extensive 'surgery' on the thread in order to restore it to a fit state for public display.

    It's much better to simply report the problem and leave it at that. We aim these days for a fast turn-round time on reported posts, and in the vast majority of cases will be able take any necessary action before any real damage is done.

    Non-native speakers who receive such messages might wish to try stating that they are bilingual in their profiles. In the circumstances, bothering about the precise definition of “bilingual” in the case of respected members is trivial.
    I'm not sure I'd agree that anything to do with allowing members to label themselves as 'bilingual' is trivial. The word does have quite a specific meaning, which most people I imagine will interpret as signifying what is normally meant by the standard definition of it. We could, on the other hand, usefully look into the possibility of just allowing two native languages to be listed, as signifying near-native competency in the second one. :)
     
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