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

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Englishmypassion

Senior Member
India - Hindi
Hello All,
Namaskar.
What do you do when you, as a non-native English speaker, receive PMs saying "Don't answer my questions/Don't post in my threads; I want native English speakers' answers"? Well, I'm not asking for no reason -- have you also received such personal messages? I'll tell you the names if you/moderators are interested and/or after you name some.

I would like to know your response, especially the moderators'.

Thanks a million.
 
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  • siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    De gustibus non est disputandum.
    If they are polite, I would feel sad. If they are not, I would fume quietly but giving any names, definitely no! *EDIT: I actually had a re-think, and maybe would PM the mods so that the person is discouraged from sending such PMs to new members who might take them more seriously.

    I'd probably tell them I'll try to remember their preference and not answer.
    And maybe even not post in their threads where the topic interests me, but since forum rules allow me to, I will actually only do so if I feel like it.
    I'd also say my memory possibly might be helped if they in all their first post politely stated that they are interested in natives only.
     
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    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    What do you do when you, as a non-native English speaker, receive PMs saying "Don't answer my questions/Don't post in my threads; I want native English speakers' answers"?
    I would simply ignore the message and do my thing. If I think I have something interesting to say about the question in the thread, I would just say it. I always ignore requests for "native speakers only".

    If someone keeps harrassing you, report him/her to a moderator.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hi,

    You don't need to reply to such a message, you can just ignore thenm. If the person is rude you can put him/her in your ignore list.

    I don't like this attitude (asking people not to reply to one's thread) but I understand it; I know some learners only trust native speakers and they think that only natives know their language better. But from years of experience in the forum, I've learned that many times foreigner learners can know even more things about my own native language than I do, because they learn and approach the language from a different stand point. So, the person who's asking this is actually missing on an opportunity to learn more. There loss, not yours. :)
    If the thread is of importance to you, and you don't want to look defiant, you can post and add to your post that you are not a native speaker (even if it's already obvious in your profile) and that you only need a confirmation or more clarification.
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Moreover, EMP, I like reading your input in other's threads, so if you stop posting, you might get a PM from me harassing you for more posts.:D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I like the idea of reporting the PM to the mods. This "I only want answers from native speakers" attitude makes me angry: it's short-sighted, misguided, and just plain wrong.:mad:
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    You are certainly welcome to report such a mesage. Alone, it might not be a big thing, but if this person is aggressively rude to multiple people and they all let the moderators know we can approach the person and explain the expected behavior here. No one "owns" a thread (other than WordReference). Once you ask a question here it is free for anyone to answer.
     
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    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Thank you, everybody. A very knowledgeable senior member (a compatriot of mine) and I once discussed it and found after comparing notes that it was the same members who had sent us both such messages. I'm sure the same members would be messaging other non-native speakers too. However, I don't get that lone receiver vs multiple receivers part of the rule. :confused:
    Thanks.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thank you, everybody. A very knowledgeable senior member (a compatriot of mine) and I once discussed it and found after comparing notes that it was the same members who had sent us both such messages. I'm sure the same members would be messaging other non-native speakers too. However, I don't get that lone receiver vs multiple receivers part of the rule. :confused:
    Thanks.
    It's not a rule, EMP. If even one member is being harassed by another member it should be reported to the moderators. I'm just saying that some people don't think to mention it to the moderators so we are unaware that it's a much worse problem than we know.
     

    elitaliano

    Senior Member
    Italia - italiano
    I think that when I post something in a thread (a question, an answer), it doesn't belong to me not more, but it belongs to the entire community.
    A question does matter not only for who wrote it, but for more foreros.
    So, Englishmypassion, if you know how to answer to a question, do it: you will help someone.

    (sorry for my English)

    Same text in Spanish
    Pienso que cuando escribo algo en un thread (una pregunta, una respuesta), ya no soy dueño de eso, sino eso pertenece a la entera comunidad.
    Una pregunta no importa solo para el que la escribiò, sino para muchos foreros.
    Asì que, Englishmypassion, cuando sepas como contestar a una pregunta, hazlo: ayudaràs a alguien.

    (y ahora: tambien mis disculpas por mi Español con faltas :oops: )
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I totally agree with eli.:)

    We need more helpful members who are capable of answering questions, as well as asking them. They bring an insight that the native speaker may not have, and are often able to get to the root of the OP's problem quicker.
     

    King Crimson

    Modus in fabula
    Italiano
    And I think there is another aspect that highlights the importance of the collaborative effort of native and non-native speakers to achieve a better translation: when posting a translation request sometimes non-native speakers are not proficient enough in the target language to correctly express their request, in other words second language learners tend to rely on their native language structures (this is called L1 to L2 interference, If I’m not mistaken) and therefore may be misunderstood by native speakers. In such cases only other non-native speakers, more proficient in both languages (or, ideally, bilingual speakers), can help the OP to clarify the request.
    A non-native speaker asking that only native speakers respond to his request is shooting himself in the foot, in my opinion.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I've learned that many times foreigner learners can know even more things about my own native language than I do, because they learn and approach the language from a different stand point.
    Amen to that, cherine. Here's a memorable post from EMP:
    A relative clause modifies its antecedent or provides information about somebody/something. It is an adjectival clause, while the clause "that he is entitled to be served like a king" is a noun clause, which is the object of the verb "feels". (A subordinate clause can be a noun clause, an adjectival/relative clause or an adverbial clause).
    If people waited for this native speaker to utter that, they'd be waiting for at least three more lifetimes. :)
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Thank you very much, siares, Peter, Cherine, James, Loob, Paul, fdb, Cyberpedant, osa, eli, Veli, King Crimson, and Copyright. I am much obliged for your kind posts and encouraging support.

    Additional thanks for your trouble, Copyright. I am overwhelmed with your appreciation and the way you have quoted that post of mine and given a link to the thread is really surprising! I envy your memory and search skills.:thumbsup:

    Thanks, everybody.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I would simply ignore the message and do my thing. If I think I have something interesting to say about the question in the thread, I would just say it. I always ignore requests for "native speakers only".

    If someone keeps harrassing you, report him/her to a moderator.
    :thumbsup: Forums are public not personal, so you have every right to comment wherever you choose.

    If the person is harassing you, you can block them.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If you ignore an annoying member, you won't see their threads at all - and possibly miss an interesting discussion.

    It's much easier for the OP who doesn't want non-native input to simply "ignore" the members she/he doesn't want to see in "his/her" threads.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Another important point that no one has brought up so far is that the purpose of answering a thread is not only to serve the OP; it's to serve any and all future users of the site. Threads are linked to dictionary entries and are intended to supplement the dictionaries. Naturally, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when we're answering a thread in the moment, and it's human nature to think of threads in the forum as conversations between the participants, but if we consider the future of a thread we quickly realize the OP's preferences don't really matter in the long run. :p
     

    germanbz

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    On one hand, I consider extremely rude and unpolite such attitude. You can simply say "thank you very much for your time and your help but If you don't mind I'm looking for native speakers opinions. I feel you could understand me.... I think in this case nobody would feel offended. So I think that is a problem of politeness not about the content of the message.

    On the other hand, sometimes I feel a bit ankward when in Spanish I read answers either from non native speakers or even native ones, that are not right at all, even with grammar or ortographic mistakes, and it is a bit difficult to say that that messages are completely wrong without opening a "conflict". (I don't say that is your case at all) but sometimes that happens.

    So people should pretty aware about their answers to be right and useful and absolutely well based in terms of grammar and orthography in their own native language.

    All in all politeness is the most important point. I don't see any problem when in Spanish people ask questions such as "Could any Spanish native speaker from Spain tell me....? So to ask for a native answer is right ... but the way that demand is made tells us if those people deserve to get an answer or not.
     

    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    EMP, did you get PMs in cases when you were the only person to answer the thread?
    I recently answered 2 threads by posting links to other discussions
    thread 1: I thought the link I am posting addresses the OP question 100%. The OP then thanked me and clarified he wanted answer about another part of OP sentence. That I couldn't address. He got no other answer - possibly because the forum was busy at the time and there were now 2 replies so the question appeared answered.
    thread 2: again I answered it by posting a link to another discussion. OP then posted a question on that (old) discussion, and got no answer.
    I feel awkward from possibly preventing them from getting more replies - all this would be solved if an 'unsolved' icon existed...:( I will be careful and not post link to old threads unless there are other answerers already engaged in discussion.
     

    Sowka

    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    OP then posted a question on that (old) discussion, and got no answer.
    I feel awkward from possibly preventing them from getting more replies
    In such a case, you can alert the moderators of the forum. They will then deal with the issue.

    By the way: When I see a thread with a reply, I never assume that the problem has been solved. I'm interested in reading the question and the reply/replies, and maybe I can add something ... Sometimes people don't reply just because they don't know an answer. You should not feel responsible for that. :)
     

    OSSEAN

    Member
    Spanish-Argentina/English UK
    Hi,

    You don't need to reply to such a message, you can just ignore thenm. If the person is rude you can put him/her in your ignore list.

    I don't like this attitude (asking people not to reply to one's thread) but I understand it; I know some learners only trust native speakers and they think that only natives know their language better. But from years of experience in the forum, I've learned that many times foreigner learners can know even more things about my own native language than I do, because they learn and approach the language from a different stand point. So, the person who's asking this is actually missing on an opportunity to learn more. There loss, not yours. :)
    If the thread is of importance to you, and you don't want to look defiant, you can post and add to your post that you are not a native speaker (even if it's already obvious in your profile) and that you only need a confirmation or more clarification.
    Hi,
    I think you wanted to say "their loss..."

    Greetings from BA...;)
     

    OSSEAN

    Member
    Spanish-Argentina/English UK
    Another important point that no one has brought up so far is that the purpose of answering a thread is not only to serve the OP; it's to serve any and all future users of the site. Threads are linked to dictionary entries and are intended to supplement the dictionaries. Naturally, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when we're answering a thread in the moment, and it's human nature to think of threads in the forum as conversations between the participants, but if we consider the future of a thread we quickly realize the OP's preferences don't really matter in the long run. :p
    If you ignore an annoying member, you won't see their threads at all - and possibly miss an interesting discussion.

    It's much easier for the OP who doesn't want non-native input to simply "ignore" the members she/he doesn't want to see in "his/her" threads.

    Quite right!
    I agree with both of you... let's not miss the forest because of the beautiful tree... (I think I just rephrased the saying :rolleyes:)


    Cheers from Buenos Aires waiting for Spring....
    OSSEAN


    Edited to clarify quotation. Cagey, moderator.
     
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    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    EMP, did you get PMs in cases when you were the only person to answer the thread?
    I recently answered 2 threads by posting links to other discussions
    Thanks. No, I was not the only member to answer neither did I give a link to any other thread, but I was the first to answer on two occasions. And, surprisingly the native English speakers who posted after me agreed with me!


    Thanks for your kind posts, everybody.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I answer questions fairly regularly on the English Only forum and I've often got messages like the ones the OP refers to. I've got several in the last few days.

    I can understand that people asking questions would prefer a native speaker's answer, as this post says.
    I know some learners only trust native speakers and they think that only natives know their language better.
    The thing that's difficult to take is that people asking questions here seem to have a sense of entitlement; they expect that they have a right to receive answers. People who answer questions here use their free time to try and help learners on the forum. Are there members who actually think that people answering questions here are paid to do so or something?

    One or two people have asked me reasonably politely not to answer their questions because they'd prefer a native speaker's answer. Most have told me, not asked. And not politely.

    As I see it, when people ask questions here, they're essentially saying "Whoever can help, please do". I don't think they should be allowed to choose who answers their questions. In any case, if someone provides a wrong answer, it'll be spotted and corrected, especially if the answer's from a non-native speaker. I can say that from experience.:) With native speakers' answers of course, inaccurate ones, if any, are more likely to go unnoticed because people see on the main page that the last person to answer was a native speaker and often assume it'll be correct.

    I find it strange that quite a few people seem to think they can decide who they want answers from, when, by asking questions here, they're essentially asking for a favour.

    I reported the last such message I received, and was told by the moderators they couldn't do anything about it because the request was "polite". When I expressed surprise, I was then told that they'd spoken to the concerned member about it. I don't know what they said to him.

    I've read the earlier messages here, some of which say that people who receive such messages can block the person sending it. Sure, that's an option, but isn't it more important that people sending such messages are told that they can't pick and choose, or lay down conditions? I mean, the cause needs to be addressed, not the effect.
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Over the course of the last four years since this thread was first started, we (the mods, that is) have started taking a tougher line on this issue and requests in threads for replies from "native speakers only" will in most cases now be removed. The "let's wait for native speakers" variant is potentially trickier, and 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. This whole issue may be more prevalent in some forums than others, too.

    It gets awkward when the request is made by private conversation rather than in the public forums. As long as the request is polite, then realistically the recipient has a free choice of either disregarding it and answering the questions regardless or taking the perhaps more pragmatic approach of "it's your loss and not mine" and simply going along with it: there are plenty of other threads to choose from where the OP will be more appreciative.

    Playing Devil's Advocate for a moment, the flipside of this particular coin is that 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. In those cases we do have to try and curtail the right of those members to freely pick and choose which questions to answer. But in more general terms, a "wrong" answer from a non-native will usually be corrected by somebody, and if no native speakers post a reply it generally means that the answer(s) already given are correct and there's therefore going to be no point in specifically asking for one.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    the cause needs to be addressed, not the effect.
    Hear, hear. Perhaps this sense of entitlement could be specifically addressed in the Rules?
    we do come across members (almost always new ones) who start answering questions above their level of ability
    A point which of course applies to native speakers as well as non-native ones.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    the flipside of this particular coin is that we do come across members (almost always new ones) who start answering questions above their level of ability
    Furthermore, members sometimes turn up who claim to be natives but clearly aren't.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    :D
    A point which of course applies to native speakers as well as non-native ones.
    Ain’t that the truth!

    It’s depressing to see Barque felt the need to dig up this topic and I am sad to read his experiences of PMs on the theme. Barque’s grasp of English is obviously remarkably good. For all I know he’s a professor in the subject, in any case, he’s capable of knocking spots off plenty of “natives”.

    So I’m pleased to hear Donny’s update on the mods’ views on this. It needs squashing where possible, especially for the reasons laid out years ago in post #4 and others.

    I’ve been thinking “what would I do if someone wrote to me saying don’t answer my questions?”
    I would be in-can-f’ing-descent! Honestly. The cheek of it.
    And the arrogance of thinking I’m going to notice the name of every OP thread I open and remember their precious name enough to ignore their questions.

    And I guess that’s the gist of what I’d write back: “get over yerself”. Or I’d ignore the PM and just block them. My current list of ignored members* runs quite long, all for infringements much less personal than this.:D

    *36 of them, if you want to know. I don’t think I miss them and I still find plenty to engage my own interests in here. So, Barque, that’s my advice. Ditch the bigots. They’re not worthy of you anyway.
     
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    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I don't block anyone. I just ignore those "requests" and I go on with my life..
    It’s never happened to me. My blocked list arose from a diverse range of stimuli, over the years, but never this one.

    However, I would block them if I got such a post because they didn’t deserve to have the benefit of my wisdom.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I've had one or two members question my status as a native speaker, which particularly annoyed me because that would imply that I've given false information on my profile.

    As far as English goes, I consider Barque to be a native speaker - and there are several "non-native" members here whose knowledge of English grammar is truly impressive. They are one of the reasons I come on here. Pearls before swine...:rolleyes:
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I get messages asking me to mind my own business and not answer posts, ranging from polite to not very polite, every few weeks or so. I've reported some and ignored some.

    Got another one today. It's getting boring. The only good thing is that it doesn't seem to be limited to any particular race--I've got them from east Asians and Middle Easterners and Europeans. And Indians. :)
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I get messages asking me to mind my own business and not answer posts, ranging from polite to not very polite, every few weeks or so. I've reported some and ignored some.

    Got another one today. It's getting boring. The only good thing is that it doesn't seem to be limited to any particular race--I've got them from east Asians and Middle Easterners and Europeans. And Indians. :)
    It's ridiculous. You can write on any "public" thread you want. They do not belong to him even if he started them.
    If he doesn't want to read your response he can block you.
    You can even block him if you don't want to get any more of these harassing messages.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    It would be rather easy to address this. 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, and their goal is to complement the dictionary, 2) all members in good standing have the right to comment in a thread if they feel they can shed light on the question, 3) all members are valued equally regardless of origin, language, background.... gender....
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    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).

    Although making alterations to the rules might appear outwardly straightforward, it's actually a major task, which entails agreeing on the wording and layout, and then updating reproductions of them in all or most of the individual forums, together with the associated translations of them. Whether the reported scale of this particular problem justifies all that effort is open to question in my view.

    In addition, to give out any appearance of an unfettered right to post in any thread you felt like, could, depending on how you worded it, open the door to all sorts of useless ill-informed fifteen-minutes-of-fame contributions of little or no value to the person who asked the question, or to anyone else. The mods have enough disputes to deal with as it is over whether a post is a valid contribution to the thread or not.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Interesting, all that. :)

    In my experience, people who insist on an answer from a native speaker are usually at or near the very top of English language competence in their respective countries. This makes them think that only someone born with English could match their own competence. They feel insulted and ashamed that someone else who also speaks English as a... well, second language... may actually be able to answer their question. Of course, the fact that you cannot recognise the truth that stares you in the face if it was uttered by 'your ESL peers' means that you still have a lot to learn. :D Like we all do, of course. Maybe one day I will display myself as bilingual just to spite them and see if they can tell the difference. :D

    For my part, when I ask a question, I never set conditions because I believe I will know the truth when I hear it, irrespective of who's said it. And then, I find it rude - I have friends out there...

    As for private messages, no, I have not received PM, although I have been challenged on the open forums. I do not think I would report. I hardly ever report anything. I know, however, that my answer to such a PM would be "reportably" rude :D
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    Hello All,
    Namaskar.
    What do you do when you, as a non-native English speaker, receive PMs saying "Don't answer my questions/Don't post in my threads; I want native English speakers' answers"? Well, I'm not asking for no reason -- have you also received such personal messages? I'll tell you the names if you/moderators are interested and/or after you name some.

    I would like to know your response, especially the moderators'.

    Thanks a million.
    Sorry this happened to you. That is so rude. Just put these people on your "ignore" list so you never have to deal with them again.
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    :D

    Ain’t that the truth!

    It’s depressing to see Barque felt the need to dig up this topic and I am sad to read his experiences of PMs on the theme. Barque’s grasp of English is obviously remarkably good. For all I know he’s a professor in the subject, in any case, he’s capable of knocking spots off plenty of “natives”.

    So I’m pleased to hear Donny’s update on the mods’ views on this. It needs squashing where possible, especially for the reasons laid out years ago in post #4 and others.

    I’ve been thinking “what would I do if someone wrote to me saying don’t answer my questions?”
    I would be in-can-f’ing-descent! Honestly. The cheek of it.
    And the arrogance of thinking I’m going to notice the name of every OP thread I open and remember their precious name enough to ignore their questions.

    And I guess that’s the gist of what I’d write back: “get over yerself”. Or I’d ignore the PM and just block them. My current list of ignored members* runs quite long, all for infringements much less personal than this.:D

    *36 of them, if you want to know. I don’t think I miss them and I still find plenty to engage my own interests in here. So, Barque, that’s my advice. Ditch the bigots. They’re not worthy of you anyway.
    jajaja...I like your attitude, Suzi. I have an "ignore" list, also, for various petty offenses because it's just easier to steer away from negative energy. :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, I don't often visit English Only. It happens in other forums too.
    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.
     
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