how to verify answers for accuracy

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raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
I don't know if this is the right place to discuss this matter, but a post of mine that requested a forum member to support his answer by reference to a dictionary was recently deleted. The reason for the deletion was, "Most people answer out of their experience with the language; they are not required to a cite a source."

But then I found the following forum rule:

Answering:
Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your information or translation, please say so.

How do we ensure that an answer given by a forum member has been verified? If a forum member is a well-educated native speaker of a language we are studying, then we can often take his or her intuitive judgment as evdience that a certain account is reasonable (factually speaking, though not always analytically speaking). However, when a forum member that has posted an answer is NOT a native speaker, then things become tricky. How do we know his or her answers have been verified? Many questions raised in the forums do not have answers in standard study materials. Are answers based on non-native speakers' limited experience or (inadequate) understanding reliable enough to be counted as "verified for accuracy"? How do moderators ensure members post responsibly?
 
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  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    How do we ensure that an answer given by a forum member has been verified?
    Who is "we"? The forum rule you quote puts the onus on the person posting the answer, not on "we". There are no "verification police" in the forums. It is left to other members to agree or disagree with an answer. Perhaps you should also read the forum's explanation of the role of the moderators FAQ about Moderators
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Who is "we"? The forum rule you quote puts the onus on the person posting the answer, not on "we". There are no "verification police" in the forums. It is left to other members to agree or disagree with an answer. Perhaps you should also read the forum's explanation of the role of the moderators FAQ about Moderators

    By "we," I refer to all parties concerned. If there is no one or no way to enforce the rule, then it is vacuous and is inappropriately called a "rule."

    If the person posting an answer does not verify it, what will happen? A rule should specify some response.
     
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    By "we," I refer to all parties concerned. If there is no one or no way to enforce the rule, then it is vacuous and is inappropriately called a "rule."
    If the moderators believe that some users are deliberately and systematically posting careless and inaccurate replies, they will have a word with them.
    That's exactly what happens when people refuse to comply with rule #3 - Be clear and provide context.
    What happens next depends on the users' willingness to comply.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If the moderators believe that some users are deliberately and systematically posting careless and inaccurate replies, they will have a word with them.
    That's exactly what happens when people refuse to comply with rule #3 - Be clear and provide context.
    What happens next depends on the users' willingness to comply.

    Rule #3 has more to do with question posters than with answer posters.
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Texas)
    From my perspective, a more common problem, especially in the English-Only forum, is when someone posts a question, receives a solid answer from one or several English speakers, and then proceeds to question, argue, debate and insist that the given answer is somehow inadequate in post after post.

    I mean, it's fine to ask for clarification and even debate a little, but asking a question and then arguing endlessly when you don't like the answer is just rude. And I don't see how these round-and-round discussions contribute much to the forums' oft-stated purpose as a supplement to the dictionaries.

    AN ADDED COMMENT: Also, when I ask questions in these forums, the subjective opinions of educated native speakers are, in general, exactly what I'm looking for. Of course, if someone can answer my question with a reference to a recognized authority, that's great. But for the most part, I can find information in dictionaries and reference books on my own. What I'm usually really looking for is guidance from natives about whether a particular word or a particular construction seems natural in a given context. What I'm hoping for is that two or three natives, ideally people I know from the forums and perhaps from different regions, will say something like "sounds good to me" (or, conversely, "that sounds silly").

    That is valuable information, and it's not always easy to get it elsewhere.
     
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    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You asked what happens when people give inaccurate answers and I've pointed out that the way moderators deal with those issues is the same, that is, they get in touch with those foreros.

    Have you seen any answer posters who have their posts removed for failing to abide by the rule "Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy"?

    I haven't.

    From my perspective, a more common problem, especially in the Enlglish-Only forum, is when someone posts a question, receives a solid answer from one or several English speakers, and then proceeds to question, argue, debate and insist that the give answer is somehow inadequate in post after post.

    I mean, it's fine to ask for clarification and even debate a little, but asking a question and then arguing endlessly when you don't like the answer is just rude. And I don't see how these round-and-round discussions contribute much to the forums' oft-stated purpose as a supplement to the dictionaries.

    Some questions are just so difficult that no satisfactory answers can be given. Endless debates are common in academia.

    But that's outside the realm of the thread.

    AN ADDED COMMENT: Also, when I ask questions in these forums, the subjective opinions of educated native speakers are, in general, exactly what I'm looking for. Of course, if someone can answer my question with a reference to a recognized authority, that's great. But for the most part, I can find information in dictionaries and reference books on my own. What I'm usually really looking for is guidance from natives about whether a particular word or a particular construction seems natural in a given context. What I'm hoping for is that two or three natives, ideally people I know from the forums and perhaps from different regions, will say something like "sounds good to me" (or, conversely, "that sounds silly").

    My question has to do with the (frustrating) situation where a non-native says a certain word has such-and-such a usage, or a sentence is analyzed in such-and-such a way, when in fact no such usage is recorded in dictionaries or found in standard reference works, nor can they provide independent examples.
     
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    Have you seen any answer posters who have their posts removed for failing to abide by the rule "Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy"?
    Yes I have, when some people were carelessly and systematically giving wrong answers.
    Anyone can make mistakes now and then and in general it is not one of the moderators' tasks to assess the accuracy of answers and consequently remove the wrong ones. However when a reply is blatantly wrong, there's always someone who steps in and points it out.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes I have, when some people were carelessly and systematically giving wrong answers.
    Anyone can make mistakes now and in general it is not one of the moderators' tasks to assess the accuracy of answers and consequently remove the wrong ones. However when a reply is blatantly wrong, there's always someone who steps in and points it out.

    Maybe you could send me a private message describing what you saw.
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    My question has to do with the (frustrating) situation where a non-native says a certain word has such-and-such a usage, or a sentence is analyzed in such-and-such a way, when in fact no such usage is recorded in dictionaries or found in standard reference works, nor can they provide independent examples.
    I think in these cases you should wait for the opinions of other forer@s.

    One main characteristic of the WordReference forums is that they go beyond the rules and examples given in dictionaries. This is the additional value that the forums provide to the WordReference dictionaries. This value is obtained by the discussion among participants with different backgrounds.

    In the discussion, you can see where people agree and where they disagree. The decisive aspect is the discussion as a whole, not a single contribution.

    By the way, some non-native speakers of German have a far better understanding of German grammar than I, as a native speaker of German, do. It's the cooperation between all the members with different backgrounds that counts.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    One main characteristic of the WordReference forums is that they go beyond the rules and examples given in dictionaries. This is the additional value that the forums provide to the WordReference dictionaries. This value is obtained by the discussion among participants with different backgrounds.

    In the discussion, you can see where people agree and where they disagree. The decisive aspect is the discussion as a whole, not a single contribution.

    The problem is that many "insights" that come from non-natives are on an ad hoc basis; they cannot be applied to other sentences. The problem is easy to spot when you ask for independent examples. (Well, to be fair, even natives have this problem, but at least they have their reliable judgmens that could prove useful.)
     
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    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    The problem is that many "insights" that come from non-natives are on a ad hoc basis
    Is that true? Can this be verified? Can you prove this?

    Even if this is true, are there instances where the, according to you, incorrect answers, are not corrected by other participants in the threads?

    Aren't you just a little bit frustrated because one of your posts has been deleted?

    As a number of other forum participants have already pointed out, there is no requirement for a participant to back up his/her contributions with references to scientific sources. He could do that if he wants to or if he feels the need to do that, but you cannot just expect that he does it because you would like him to. If you don't want to trust him, then don't trust him. It's as simple as that.

    EDIT:

    By the way, there is nothing wrong in giving an answer that only applies to a specific sentence. In fact, that is actually what the forum rules require: the original poster should give a specific sentence and that is what the answer should focus on.
     
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    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Is that true? Can this be verified? Can you prove this?

    Even if this is true, are there instances where the, according to you, incorrect answers, are not corrected by other participants in the threads?

    I cannot post it here because to do so would result in my post (or thread) being deleted.
    But you could send me a private message asking for an example.

    As a number of other forum participants have already pointed out, there is no requirement for a participant to backup up his/her contributions with references to scientific sources. He could do that if he wants to or if he feels the need to do that, but you cannot just expect that he does it because you would like him to. If you don't want to trust him, then don't trust him. It's as simple as that.

    That is exactly what makes the said forum rule vacuous. There's no way to enforce it. The said rule is more like a suggestion.

    By the way, there is nothing wrong in giving an answer that only applies to a specific sentence. In fact, that is actually what the forum rules require: the original poster should give a specific sentence and that is what the answer should focus on.

    There is something wrong with that, I'm afraid. The purpose of a grammar rule (or rules in other fields of study) is to be predictive and generative, i.e., allow an infinite number of similar sentences to be produced and understood. Failure to do that simply means the rule is questionable or useless.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is something wrong with that, I'm afraid.
    No, there is not. The purpose of these forums is explained by the FAQs and the rules of the various forums.
    The purpose of a grammar rule is to be predictive and generative,
    If that is what you believe - that grammar should be prescriptive and not descriptive - you are asking your questions in the wrong forum.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, there is not. The purpose of these forums is explained by the FAQs and the rules of the various forums.

    What is wrong is NOT giving an explanation about a specific senence, but the belief that it's okay to provide no general account that applies to other sentences of the same structure.

    An ideal answer should be something like post #9 in the following thread. Uncle Jack not only explained the use of the simple past that a learner suspected was an error, but also offered an independent example, i.e., the dialogue between a detective and his/her assistant.

    If the first vampire came into existence

    If that is what you believe - that grammar should be prescriptive and not descriptive - you are asking your questions in the wrong forum.

    I suggest that you check your understanding of prescriptivism vs. descriptivism as well as whether terms like "predictive power" and "generative" are associated with prescriptivism or descriptivism.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    These forums are provided by Mike Kellogg as an adjunct to dictionaries. Contributors contribute because they wish to be helpful. They are unpaid. The moderators exist for specified purposes. They too are unpaid. Members who ask questions pay nothing but get much free advice. If you don't like the way it works, go elsewhere.
     
    What is wrong is NOT giving an explanation about a specific senence, but the belief that it's okay to provide no general account that applies to other sentences of the same structure.
    That's NOT wrong, it's personal choice.
    Some people may be occasionally willing to spend some of their free time posting very detailed answers. They don't have to, they choose to.
    Some others prefer to give brief answers, assuming that whoever is really interested in that subject will follow it up.
    You can't demand and not even expect that those foreros who are kind enough to help you and answer your questions must then be under the obligation to provide a thorough grammar lecture on the subject so that you don't need to make any further personal effort.
     

    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Texas)
    These forums are provided by Mike Kellogg as an adjunct to dictionaries. Contributors contribute because they wish to be helpful. They are unpaid. The moderators exist for specified purposes. They too are unpaid. Members who ask questions pay nothing but get much free advice. If you don't like the way it works, go elsewhere.
    I think this is important to keep in mind. Perhaps especially in the case of members who reply to questions. I have long noticed that especially (but by no means exclusively) in the English Only forum, there is a relatively small group of very knowledgeable English speakers who consistently dedicate a lot of time and effort to answering the questions of English language learners and non-native speakers. They give a lot of good advice, and they do it out of their own generosity. I don't know of anywhere else on the internet where students can get such high-quality advice from such knowledgeable people without charge. The owner of this site, all the site's users, and most especially the posters who take advantage of their expertise should all be grateful to them.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    These forums are provided by Mike Kellogg as an adjunct to dictionaries. Contributors contribute because they wish to be helpful. They are unpaid. The moderators exist for specified purposes. They too are unpaid. Members who ask questions pay nothing but get much free advice. If you don't like the way it works, go elsewhere.


    I appreciate their unpaid service, but adherence to the forum rule in question and its value are a different matter from their dedication.
    I think no one really takes the rule seriously now. The situation has led to an amount of misinformation (including but not limited to a mistaken understanding of prescriptvism vs. descriptivsm), which defeats the purpose of the website.

    That's NOT wrong, it's personal choice.
    Some people may be occasionally willing to spend some of their free time posting very detailed answers. They don't have to, they choose to.
    Some others prefer to give brief answers, assuming that whoever is really interested in that subject will follow it up.
    You can't demand and not even expect that those foreros who are kind enough to help you and answer your questions must then be under the obligation to provide a thorough grammar lecture on the subject so that you don't need to make any further personal effort.

    A helpful answer does not need to have the length and scope of a grammar lecture. And that fact does not justify the failure to verify an answer.

    Some answers are brief but verfiable. And if they contain reliable judgments, they are still helpful in that I can arrive at my own conclusions based on them. Answers that concern me are those which not only fail to provide a generalization but also fail to provide reliable factual evidence.

    Is the forum rule in question ("verify your answer") a mere decoration to make the forums appear more respectable? If not, how is it actually enforced?

    I think this is important to keep in mind. Perhaps especially in the case of members who reply to questions. I have long noticed that especially (but by no means exclusively) in the English Only forum, there is a relatively small group of very knowledgeable English speakers who consistently dedicate a lot of time and effort to answering the questions of English language learners and non-native speakers. They give a lot of good advice, and they do it out of their own generosity. I don't know of anywhere else on the internet where students can get such high-quality advice from such knowledgeable people without charge. The owner of this site, all the site's users, and most especially the posters who take advantage of their expertise should all be grateful to them.

    Yes, I do recognize and appreciate certain members' answers, but what I'm concerned about is answers that not only lack an adequate generalization but also lack factual basis.


    That's NOT wrong, it's personal choice.

    Do you mean personal choice can override a rule? Why do we need that forum rule if that's the case?
     
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    What is wrong is NOT giving an explanation about a specific senence
    That's what you said.
    It's up to the posters to decide how detailed their answer is, that is, it's a personal choice. They are free to frame their reply as they so wish, as long as it's helpful, on topic and polite. You are free to ignore answers that you deem incomplete or inaccurate.

    I think no one really takes the rule seriously now.
    We do. Do you? :)
    Have you ever heard of the "clean hands doctrine"?
    Clean hands is the legal principle that only a party that has done nothing wrong can come to a court with a lawsuit against the other person
    You keep insisting that some people don't abide by the WR rules because "they don't support their answer by reference to a dictionary"
    Are your hands "clean", so to speak? Do you always comply with the WR rules?
    Be clear and provide context.
    Asking questions:
    Be descriptive, specific, and succinct in your posts, to avoid misunderstandings.
    Provide complete sentences and background information every time you ask a question. This allows us to understand your question and to help you better. Questions or answers with non-WR links must have a brief summary of the link's content—do not post "bare" links to external sites.
    Thread titles must include all or part of the word/phrase being discussed. (Avoid phrases like "translation please", "how do I say this", "I'm new" and similar expressions.)
    It's almost impossible to provide very good answers to context-free, source-free questions.
    Pull your own weight first and you will definitely receive better answers.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That's what you said.
    It's up to the posters to decide how detailed their answer is, that is, it's a personal choice. They are free to frame their reply as they so wish, as long as it's helpful, on topic and polite. You are free to ignore answers that you deem incomplete or inaccurate.

    Yes, posters can decide how detailed their answer is, but the bottom line is that it has to be VERIFIED, or demonstrates a reasonable effort toward the goal, if we truly abide by the rule. Don't you see what the issue is?


    Have you ever heard of the "clean hands doctrine"?

    You keep insisting that some people don't abide by the WR rules because "they don't support their answer by reference to a dictionary"
    Are your hands "clean", so to speak? Do you always comply with the WR rules?

    First, the thread is only about one particular rule: Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy.
    As far as other rules are concerned, I have no objection when I am penalized for offending any of them. Therefore, I see nothing wrong in having my posts deleted when I fail to provide contexts or sources.

    Second, you have conveniently left out an important part of the clean hands doctrine:

    An equitable defense that bars relief to a party who has engaged in inequitable behavior (including fraud, deceit, unconscionability or bad faith) related to the SUBJECT MATTER of that party's claim. (Consider this scenario: a female thief was raped by a man, who is later charged with rape. The man cannot invoke the so-called clean hands doctrine and escape punishment for his crime.)

    What is the subject matter in our case? Ans: The forum rule "Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. "

    By the way, you have demonstrated what a red herring is:

    anything that diverts attention from a topic or line of inquiry (from The Collins English Dictionary)
     
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    when I fail to provide contexts or sources.
    That's likely to be one of the reasons why people can't or don't feel like spending too much time giving you detailed answers.
    What is the subject matter in our case? Ans: The forum rule "Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. "
    It says VERIFY, not prove in writing each time one posts an answer.
    The rule's rationale is that people should make the effort to verify beforehand any potentially misleading or controversial piece of information they are going to post.
    No matter how hard you are trying to misinterpret that rule to your own advantage, it doesn't in any way require people to always "support their answer by reference to a dictionary". These are language forums and most of the WR members are just people who love languages, want to expand their proficiency or simply enjoy helping language learners by sharing their knowledge as native speakers. They are not language teachers and they are under no obligation to back up every single word they write by posting a link to a dictionary or a grammar book.
    As I've already said before, if and when users' advice is questionable, someone else will step it and point it out and eventually the OP will be given realiable advice.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That's likely to be one of the reasons why people can't or don't feel like spending too much time giving you detailed answers.

    The problem I described occurred even in threads where contexts and sources were provided, so that's not the reason.

    It says VERIFY, not prove in writing each time one posts an answer.
    The rule's rationale is that people should make the effort to verify beforehand any potentially misleading or controversial piece of information they are going to post. No matter how hard you are trying to misinterpret that rule to your own advantage, it doesn't in any way require people to always "support their answer by reference to a dictionary".

    True, "verify" does not mean "prove in writing," but there must be some way to show the effort. Otherwise, anyone could lie to anyone else that they have verfied their information. Providing evidence from a dictionary or independent examples (created by themselves or others) is a manifestation of the effort. If you think verification in the brain is sufficient, it only shows the rule is vacuous, as I said upthread.

    These are language forums and most of the WR members are just people who love languages, want to expand their proficiency or simply enjoy helping language learners by sharing their knowledge as native speakers. They are not language teachers and they are under no obligation to back up every single word they write by posting a link to a dictionary or a grammar book.

    Note that I have specified the particular problem as related to certain non-natives (and I've said even if natives provide no detailed accounts, their reliable judgments are still useful). Second, no matter how hard you are trying to gloss over the problem, it does not in any way change the fact that you are ignoring that particular rule and trying very hard to justify the failure to abide by it, so much so that you have resorted to a strawman, a red herring, and misinterpretation of the clean hands doctrine.

    If you think it's okay to ignore it, then why not admit the rule is vacuous?
     
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    there must be some way to show the effort.
    Those who are kind enough to spend some of their time to reply to your questions don't need to make any further effort!
    You are the one who should make the effort to research more thoroughly into the subject if you are interested, not them.
    When I read through a thread I judge people's posts, regardless of whether they are native speakers or not. Perhaps you should do the same.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Those who are kind enough to spend some of their time to reply to your questions don't need to make any further effort!

    Translation into plain English: Those who answer questions don't need to care about the rule!

    Are you saying the rule is vacuous, in a way?

    You are the one who should make the effort to research more thoroughly into the subject if you are interested, not them.

    Sure, I typically research more than most answerers to my questions, but whether I research more thoroughly or not has no bearing on the forum rule in question: Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy (which is a requirement on answerers).

    That's another red herring on your part, isn't it?

    When I read through a thread I judge people's posts, regardless of whether they are native speakers or not. Perhaps you should do the same.

    Considering the subject matter of this thread, it seems you're saying, "Regardless of whether they are native speakers or not, they do not need to care about the forum rule."

    Is that what you are really saying?
     
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    they are under no obligation to back up every single word they write by posting a link to a dictionary or a grammar book.
    To me that's plain English and I think you understand what it means. That rule is not "wrong" or "vacuous" (to use your own words) just because it doesn't require people to give you a free lecture every time they decide to answer your questions. You're just being overly and pointlessly confrontational and if you carry on with this attitude many people will end up ignoring your threads altogether. When that happens, don't blame it on us.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    And when those answers can't be found on the Internet, how are we supposed to prove that we are correct as you insist?

    I check the independent examples and judgments you and others provide against those from multiple sources to ensure those examples are most probably correct. The process also allows me to detect potential regional differences.

    To me that's plain English and I think you understand what it means. That rule is not "wrong" or "vacuous" (to use your own words) just because it doesn't require people to give you a free lecture every time they decide to answer your questions. You're just being overly and pointlessly confrontational and if you carry on with this attitude many people will end up ignoring your threads altogether. When that happens, don't blame it on us.

    I'm sorry, but that's another strawman. Verification does not mean giving a free lecture. Second, do you believe that providing independent examples is equal to giving a free lecture? Also, quoting a dictionary and a grammar book is by no means the only way to verify accuracy. Independent examples are also helpful. However, judging from your statements, somehow you seem to be limiting verification to free lectures, posting a link to a dictionary or a grammar book to suit your purpose.
     

    jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    You will forgive me for dropping in after only a precursory reading of this thread, but it seems me that there are two underlying issues here.

    1. First, you seem upset by the reason for deletion of your post:
    a post of mine that requested a forum member to support his answer by reference to a dictionary was recently deleted. The reason for the deletion was, "Most people answer out of their experience with the language; they are not required to a cite a source."
    Perhaps a less diplomatic reason for deletion would have satisfied you? For example, "Please leave moderation to the moderators (rule 12)." If your complaint stems from frustration about a particular discussion that you feel has gone off the rails, or about a member who seems to provide misinformation on a regular basis, the Report feature is the tool to use. And you can always reach out to the moderator who deleted your post to discuss privately (rule 15).

    2. Second, you seem to assert that each element of the WordReference Forums Mission Statement and Guidelines is without value unless it is enforced universally to the letter:
    If there is no one or no way to enforce the rule, then it is vacuous and is inappropriately called a "rule."
    I think no one really takes the rule seriously now. The situation has led to an amount of misinformation [...] which defeats the purpose of the website.
    And yet, your own continued participation over nearly a decade is testament to the interest and value of at least some of the discussion threads on the WR forums under the more flexible style of moderation applied here.

    The so-called "rules" establish both guiding principles for behavior and expectations about the way things are done. They provide grounds for moderator action when a situation is becoming problematic, not a blueprint for a system that has to be built to spec. The choice to intervene or not, and the degree of public visibility if intervention is deemed necessary, reflect the training and best judgement of the moderators about how to keep the forums running smoothly... not a police-state mentality about rule enforcement.

    The wording you have focused on, a sub-statement of rule 3, asks users to make a good-faith effort to avoid posting misinformation, and to disclose any doubts they may have. If you doubt the utility of this rule, maybe that's because it's doing its job: helping folks who bother to read the rules to understand the culture of WR (prevention), and providing a clear justification when the mods need to remove certain types of problematic posts from view (remediation).

    You generally won't see the remediation process unless you post problematic content yourself, or happen to stumble across it before the mods have dealt with it. I'm talking about things like replies from students who submit nonsense to inflate their postcounts after their teachers assign forum participation as homework, answers from well-intentioned but clueless new users who suppose their wild guesses at translations to be helpful, and the like. The rule is also a basis for mod intervention in the case of users whose repeated attempts to make WR into a soapbox for their pet theory about a given language topic are proving detrimental to the quality of discussion on the forums. Those are real examples, stated in the generic, since public discussion of specifics is obviously inappropriate out of respect for the members involved. I see nothing vacuous about this rule or how it is applied.

    Here's what the rule isn't: an exclusionary standard of lexicographical perfection for silencing non-experts, a debating tool for catching someone you disagree with on a technicality, or a bludgeon for beating other users into submission when their views differ from yours.

    P.S. Please learn to use the multi-quote and edit features of the forum software to avoid posting multiple times in a row. You may observe that the moderators have quietly merged some of your sequential posts from earlier in this thread.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I check the independent examples and judgments you and others provide against those from multiple sources to ensure those examples are most probably correct. The process also allows me to detect potential regional differences
    My whole context was that these things do not exist. You cannot check them.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    My whole context was that these things do not exist. You cannot check them.

    Those sources are not limited to published data online; they can be living people like you. When the former, i.e., pre-existing data, does not contain answers to a question, I consult real people.
     
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    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    As a native speaker of English (British variety) if I say something like "Yes that sounds reasonable", this means that I think the usage is unremarkable or something I would use myself. With respect to another language I would either be more circumspect and say something like "I see it frequently here" if talking about French. For historical examples I would refer to a respected example. If talking about Latin, Cicero or Caesar are the best example. If trying to write Latin, to claim the authority of Cicero is a trump. If I were talking about Elizabethan poetry, to be able to quote Shakespeare or Spenser would be similar. It is not that they were never ambiguous or unclear, but they are well respected writers of the language in question. If the grammar books say something else they are wrong. Grammar is descriptive of the language in question.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Now you're saying I am allowed to be the verification of what I say. You're talking in circles.

    Obviously, there are other native speakers. They can be your verification. If you were the only native speaker in the world, I'd agree with your assessment.
     
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    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    That a native speaker of a language uses an expression is prima facie evidence that it is useable, even if not all speakers of the language might use it. For example it may be thought to belong to a dialect, or be too coarse. Some consideration should be given to the function of usage of the language. If one is translating from a language into ones own, the competance needed is less than that needed to to read or write it. Many people who can speak a language cannot read or write it, and the inverse: people who can read and write a language cannot speak it at all, or if they can not like a native speaker.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That a native speaker of a language uses an expression is prima facie evidence that it is useable, even if not all speakers of the language might use it. For example it may be thought to belong to a dialect, or be too coarse. Some consideration should be given to the function of usage of the language. If one is translating from a language into ones own, the competance needed is less than that needed to to read or write it. Many people who can speak a language cannot read or write it, and the inverse: people who can read and write a language cannot speak it at all, or if they can not like a native speaker.

    Usable in the individual's idiolect or dialect, that is.

    But if someone is researching on the mainstream variety of a language, verification involving more than one person is necessary. Those who claim to speak the standard variety could still unknowingly use regionalisms or idiolectisms. Besides, humans are subject to temporary mental lapses that might affect their judgment.
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    From the OP:
    But then I found the following forum rule:

    Answering:
    Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your information or translation, please say so.
    From #39:
    Usable in the individual's idiolect or dialect, that is.

    But if someone is researching on the mainstream variety of a language, verification involving more than one person is necessary. Those who claim to speak the standard variety could still unknowingly use regionalisms or idiolectisms. Besides, humans are subject to temporary mental lapses that might affect their judgment.
    Are you asking native speakers to consult with several other native speakers before posting a reply to a question, or are you asking native speakers to include a disclaimer of some sort describing their background? It seems to me that people already do the latter, in the English Only section at least.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    From the OP:

    From #39:

    Are you asking native speakers to consult with several other native speakers before posting a reply to a question, or are you asking native speakers to include a disclaimer of some sort describing their background? It seems to me that people already do the latter, in the English Only section at least.

    If they are offering an analysis or mini-theory, it'd be helpful if they could verify it by consulting something or providing independent examples that the analysis makes predictions on. But as far as judgments on acceptability are concerned, I myself would be interested in seeing the range of variaiton and the extent of convergence displayed among native speakers in threads. I think a thread could be a place where the verification is done. And I don't necessarily view such contributions as "answers," but rather as data on which I can base my own theory.
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I myself would be interested in seeing the range of variaiton and the extent of convergence displayed among native speakers in threads.
    It seems to me that people do this pretty regularly. Can you please give some examples of situations where you are sure there are variations among native speakers that do not come out in the comments?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Obviously, there are other native speakers. They can be your verification. If you were the only native speaker in the world, I'd agree with your assessment.
    Now I can't post unless I have another poster to agree with me at exactly the same time. Neither of us can post first because that post wouldn't be verified.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    You seem to be suggesting that we might not know the difference between the regional or dialect language we are familiar with, and the standard English that as highly educated people we all use here as our reference point.
    Such an idea is preposterous.

    You believe that we might have "temporary lapses of judgement" that impair our understanding without us realising.
    Such an idea is ridiculous.

    Sir, you are insolent.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Now I can't post unless I have another poster to agree with me at exactly the same time. Neither of us can post first because that post wouldn't be verified.

    I distinguish between "answers" and "data." See post #41.
    Not every post is an answer.

    You seem to be suggesting that we might not know the difference between the regional or dialect language we are familiar with, and the standard English that as highly educated people we all use here as our reference point.
    Such an idea is preposterous.

    You believe that we might have "temporary lapses of judgement" that impair our understanding without us realising.
    Such an idea is ridiculous.

    Sir, you are insolent.

    Speakers of any language might think some usages from their own dialect/idiolect are the norm unless they have experienced other dialects/idiolects. Even then some subtle differences might not be acquired. Even when they are acquired, some dialectal or idiolectal forms might still creep in. Don't you agree? Don't you also agree humans are fallible and do make mistakes under particular circumstances, for example when they are exhausted?

    It seems to me that people do this pretty regularly. Can you please give some examples of situations where you are sure there are variations among native speakers that do not come out in the comments?

    Yes, there is a thread where only one participant is a native, and the sentence, "Think of a fun-sized liquid metal T-1000 from 'Terminator 2,' if it was built to help rather than harm" seems unremarkable to him, whereas two people from another website think it is "not good" or "a little awkward."
     
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    User With No Name

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Texas)
    Sir, you are insolent.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:

    As numerous people (regular forum members as well as moderators) have told you repeatedly, your expectations of people who reply to your posts are simply not reasonable. And many of us find the expectation that everyone who replies to a post of ours should provide extensive documentation to be, frankly, absurd, if not downright insulting.

    With all respect, please just stop already.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Good. Then just consider all posts as being data and then we don't have to worry about proving any individual post.

    Some posts are analyses or mini-theories. They are not data. That's where the issue of verification is relevant.


    :thumbsup::thumbsup:

    As numerous people (regular forum members as well as moderators) have told you repeatedly, your expectations of people who reply to your posts are simply not reasonable. And many of us find the expectation that everyone who replies to a post of ours should provide extensive documentation to be, frankly, absurd, if not downright insulting.

    With all respect, please just stop already.

    That accusation is founded on a careless reading of the posts. Obviously, you haven't read post #41.

    Now I can't post unless I have another poster to agree with me at exactly the same time. Neither of us can post first because that post wouldn't be verified.

    Maybe I should remind you of the following remark of mine:

    I check the independent examples and judgments you and others provide against those from multiple sources to ensure those examples are most probably correct. The process also allows me to detect potential regional differences.

    Isn't it obvious that it is I, not you, the data provider, that do the verification of your judgments?
     
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    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Isn't it obvious that it is I, not you, the data provider, that do the verification of your judgments?
    No.
    If they are offering an analysis or mini-theory, it'd be helpful if they could verify it by consulting something or providing independent examples that the analysis makes predictions on. But as far as judgments on acceptability are concerned, I myself would be interested in seeing the range of variaiton and the extent of convergence displayed among native speakers in threads. I think a thread could be a place where the verification is done.
    My boldening.


    And I don't necessarily view such contributions as "answers," but rather as data on which I can base my own theory.
    What exactly are you wanting from WR? Are you wishing to learn good, natural English that you can use (which judging by your writing is already pretty good), or are you working on some sort of grand theory of language? We can help you with the former, but I don't think many of us are equipped, willing, or have the time to help with the latter. Remember that we are all volunteers here, and that there are many other learners who we are keen to help.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Isn't it obvious that it is I, not you, the data provider, that do the verification of your judgments?
    Again, now you're saying that you will verify all our posts so there's nothing for us to do here. In performing these verifications, you will find the answer to your own question which is basically saying that we could have just posted "research it yourself."
     
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