how to verify answers for accuracy

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raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
No.

My boldening.

The parts you put in bold refer to analyses or mini-theories, which the forum rule in question is concerned with.

It seems that you have missed the keyword in post #41, where the difference between JUDGMENTS and answers is explicitly made.

Please allow me to capitlize the keyword of the post to which you have replied:

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


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.

I post for both purposes. Remeber that upthread, I said I appreciate and recognize native speakers' judgments, which are different from analyses or mini-theories.

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."

I'm sorry, but that's a straw man. In my quoted sentence, I only said I will verify JUDGMENTS you and others provide. If an analysis or mini-theory is offred, like those provided by non-natives, then the forum rule is relevant.
 
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  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just so we are all talking about the same things, can you please give us a couple of examples of what you mean by "analyses", "mini-theories" and "judgments", and clearly explain how they differ from straightforward 'answers'.

    I don't relish the thought of simply being a "data provider", I'd far rather offer helpful answers to genuine questions.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Just so we are all talking about the same things, can you please give us a couple of examples of what you mean by "analyses", "mini-theories" and "judgments", and clearly explain how they differ from straightforward 'answers'.

    I don't relish the thought of simply being a "data provider", I'd far rather offer helpful answers to genuine questions.

    A question seeking judgments often takes the form: Is the following sentence OK? Which of the following sentences is OK?
    After a partiular response has been given, the discussion may proceed to this question: Why is A OK? Why is B incorrect? Such questions call for an analysis, or mini-theory (a term I use informally). It should have predictive power in the sense that it makes predictions on whether a given sentence is OK. It should also be general enough to cover other sentences with the same grammatical features.

    Very few native speakers can offer an analysis (except in the case of questions the answers to which we can find in a textbook). A lot of analyses come from non-natives.

    Note that I am not seeking a highly abstract theory here, as that would go beyond the scope of the forum. (In this connection, maybe I should retract my remark, "I post for both purposes" in a previous post, as a "grand theory of language" may strike people as being a highly abstract, philsophical theory of language.)
     
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    Kelly B

    Curmodgeratrice
    USA English
    Setting aside for a moment the value of such an analysis or mini-theory, I question its desirability.

    I really prefer concise answers, where possible. If a few members I trust offer decisive opinions, however brief, I am perfectly satisfied. If they disagree, or express uncertainty, I am happy to research the question further on my own, newly armed with ideas to use as a foundation.

    Frankly I'd rather not feel obliged to read walls of text simply because people spent their valuable time writing it all.

    I believe I am not alone in that.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The parts you put in bold refer to analyses or mini-theories, which the forum rule in question is concerned with.
    I assume you can provide a reference which backs up this assertion? As @Paulfromitaly said earlier, the moderation team do not interpret it in this way. It is basically asking people not to just guess without saying so. All of the rules are there to allow the moderators to take action against problematic users without them saying “but it’s not in the rules that I can’t do that”. You would be hard pushed to find concrete examples of the rules being enforced because the moderators in general tidy up and, so the offending posts are no longer visible. I can assure you that this rule is enforced and action has been taken against users who didn’t adhere to it. Certainly it’s more frequently used in the translation forums than in EO, but even in EO it is used. I don’t want to discuss the particular incident which prompted this thread, but I can assure you that we are well aware of it, and if we thought that the post you objected to or the poster in question was posting private theories inconsistent with generally accepted English usage, action would have been taken long ago.

    This forum provides answers from well educated speakers of English, whether native or not. It does not provide answers from scholars who have spent their long and distinguished academic career studying English grammar in every variety and dialect of English, if indeed such academics exist. I think you should assume that in this day and age no reasonably educated native speaker has not had considerable exposure to speakers of other varieties of English. Whilst we frequently see examples of things which some people haven’t previously come across, they are generally aware when some word, phrase or structure is unique to their variety of English.

    To answer the original question, the rule is enforced by the moderators, aided by members who report problematic posts. When someone posts a theory or a general rule, who is to judge that it is less valid or valuable than someone who has published their theory? Indeed many published theories have precisely the problem you complained about, in that they have a limited scope which is not stated.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    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."
    Just to put the record straight about that thread, I noted that the original sentence was badly written.
    I agree that my post didn't contribute much to the thread, but I too am a native speaker.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Just to put the record straight about that thread, I noted that the original sentence was badly written.
    I agree that my post didn't contribute much to the thread, but I too am a native speaker.

    Thank you for bringing that to my attention. Somehow I missed it.

    Setting aside for a moment the value of such an analysis or mini-theory, I question its desirability.

    I really prefer concise answers, where possible. If a few members I trust offer decisive opinions, however brief, I am perfectly satisfied. If they disagree, or express uncertainty, I am happy to research the question further on my own, newly armed with ideas to use as a foundation.

    Frankly I'd rather not feel obliged to read walls of text simply because people spent their valuable time writing it all.

    I believe I am not alone in that.

    An analysis or mini-theory need not be a "wall of text"; it can be concise and, at the same time, yield predictable consequences and allow us to produce and understand sentences with the same grammatical features in question.

    The requirements are what grammar is all about.
     
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    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I assume you can provide a reference which backs up this assertion? As @Paulfromitaly said earlier, the moderation team do not interpret it in this way. It is basically asking people not to just guess without saying so. All of the rules are there to allow the moderators to take action against problematic users without them saying “but it’s not in the rules that I can’t do that”.

    That's the second part of the rule, repeated below for ease of reference. What about the first part? Do you know of any criteria for determining whether a proposed analysis has been verified?

    Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your information or translation, please say so.
    I think you should assume that in this day and age no reasonably educated native speaker has not had considerable exposure to speakers of other varieties of English. Whilst we frequently see examples of things which some people haven’t previously come across, they are generally aware when some word, phrase or structure is unique to their variety of English.

    Nevertheless, there are subtle or lesser-known grammatical phenomena speakers of one variety might find odd. For example, I have the idea that many AE speakers profess shock at "The house needs some work doing on it."

    Indeed many published theories have precisely the problem you complained about, in that they have a limited scope which is not stated.

    Just so we are talking about the same issue, could you elaborate on that assertion?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Just so we are talking about the same issue, could you elaborate on that assertion?
    EO is littered with examples of learner guides and grammar books which make definitive-seeming statements without mentioning that there are exceptions. The guidance on article use or conditional sentences are prime examples : actual English usage is too complex to exhaustively describe, so learners are confused when they come across something which doesn’t fit into the tables proposed by their reference material.

    That's the second part of the rule, repeated below for ease of reference. What about the first part? Do you know of any criteria for determining whether a proposed analysis has been verified?

    Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your information or translation, please say so.
    Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy means don’t guess. It doesn’t mean ensure that you can quote an authoritative source. If someone asks what the BE equivalent of AE sidewalk is my verification process is simply asking myself if I’m sure of my answer. I don’t need to consult the OED (luckily, since I don’t have access). Similarly when someone asks about backshifting in reported speech I just answer the question without consulting some usage guide. Rereading my posts and trying to think of other examples is the « reasonable attempt ». Can you tell if I did this? No. You can only tell if it’s blatantly obvious that I didn’t - and that’s how this rule is enforced. Just like « search first », « respect intellectual property », and so on. If we deleted all posts which didn’t prove that they had rigorously respected all the rules there would only be one or two posts per day. It’s a balance.

    Nevertheless, there are subtle or lesser-known grammatical phenomena speakers of one variety might find odd. For example, I have the idea that many AE speakers profess shock at "The house needs some work doing on it."
    That’s precisely why we ask people to state the variety of their native language. And there are so many members who systematically go through all the threads that if someone does answer in a way which is « local », this will soon be pointed out. Since there is nobody who is familiar with all varieties of English, nobody would be able to answer anything if they had to be sure that their answer was universally true.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    EO is littered with examples of learner guides and grammar books which make definitive-seeming statements without mentioning that there are exceptions. The guidance on article use or conditional sentences are prime examples : actual English usage is too complex to exhaustively describe, so learners are confused when they come across something which doesn’t fit into the tables proposed by their reference material.

    Then we are talking about different issues. What I'm talking about is the lack of generality in many analyses in the forums. Granted, traditional rules about conditional sentences have exceptions, but they achieve some degree of generality and often serve as a point of departure for a more fine-grained analysis. On the other hand, many analyses here are like paraphrases of individual sentences, with no predictable consequences or independent examples.

    Make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy means don’t guess. It doesn’t mean ensure that you can quote an authoritative source. If someone asks what the BE equivalent of AE sidewalk is my verification process is simply asking myself if I’m sure of my answer. I don’t need to consult the OED (luckily, since I don’t have access).

    The issue I'm concerned with has more to do with grammatical issues than with lexical ones, which tend to be more straightforward.

    Although I agree attempting to verify accuracy is not equal to quoting an authoritative source, the two stand in a subset relation. More specifically, the latter is a manifestation of the former, but there are certainly other ways to verify accuracy, including independent examples, which many analyses fail to provide.

    Similarly when someone asks about backshifting in reported speech I just answer the question without consulting some usage guide. Rereading my posts and trying to think of other examples is the « reasonable attempt ». Can you tell if I did this? No.

    You are talking about judgments, and I certainly agree native speakers' intuition alone determines whether a sentence is OK (although judgments sometimes need to be taken with caution), but I'm talking about analyses.

    That said, I agree that "trying to think of other examples is a reasonable attempt," which many analyses fail to do.

    That’s precisely why we ask people to state the variety of their native language. And there are so many members who systematically go through all the threads that if someone does answer in a way which is « local », this will soon be pointed out. Since there is nobody who is familiar with all varieties of English, nobody would be able to answer anything if they had to be sure that their answer was universally true.

    Since you acknowledge that sometimes local (or ideolectal) usages do creep in, I stand by my belief that it's a good idea to check judgments supplied here against those from other sources.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It depends on whether you’d rather have an answer to your question. People tend to answer the most recent questions, so if you want an analysis which is hard to do, the chances are your question will never get an answer if everyone applies that standard. On the other hand someone making a good faith attempt is likely to provoke debate, which often results in a more robust analysis, or occasionally a failure to agree (which is valuable in itself). I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of users want a rapid answer to their questions, rather than one which is rigorously researched.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It depends on whether you’d rather have an answer to your question. People tend to answer the most recent questions, so if you want an analysis which is hard to do, the chances are your question will never get an answer if everyone applies that standard. On the other hand someone making a good faith attempt is likely to provoke debate, which often results in a more robust analysis, or occasionally a failure to agree (which is valuable in itself). I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of users want a rapid answer to their questions, rather than one which is rigorously researched.

    So most of the time I am content with the availability of judgments.
    But we should return to my question about the verification of analyses. Do you know of any criteria for determining whether a proposed analysis has been verified? Are you saying a debate is a sort of verification?
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    An answer has been verified if the poster states how it has been verified. In the absence of this we have to look for an absence of verification : if the answer is blatantly wrong, for example, or if it fails to stand up to other examples, or if it contradicts readily available analysis. A debate is not verification, but it can be a refinement of an initially flawed analysis.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The rule that is being discussed is the following:

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

    If any member suspects that somebody has posted in violation of this rule, by either (1) failing to make a reasonable attempt to verify accuracy, (2) failing to say that they are unsure of the accuracy of their information or translation, or (3) both, they are invited to signal this to the moderators by reporting the post and/or contacting one or more moderators privately; and to give their reasons for suspecting that the rule has been violated. The moderators will take action if they determine that such action is warranted.

    All nuances of this rule have been thoroughly covered in this thread.

    This thread is closed.
     
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