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Disclaimer: no offence intended to Americans, Australians, or any other group! It's all part of the puzzle.

What am I talking about in the following riddle?

There are many different types of men;
They often come in groups of two or three.
Each group has a matching group of women,
But they should stay with their compatriots.

In Europe we have several different kinds;
The Americans are only half as good as us.
Those from Down Under are all thin and weedy,
Not as tough as the solid British men.

The French can have a woman in their group;
The Israelis won't fit into any other land;
But if you need translation services,
I can provide you with a magic cube.

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    $\begingroup$ Given the accepted answer, I'm not sure "half as good" is accurate; at least not without mixing metaphors a little. That American "men" are fully capable of being as "good" as the others, but they're "ordered" not to. And actually, it's the women that are half as good in this case, anyway. $\endgroup$ – TheRubberDuck Nov 14 '14 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop I believe half refers to the fact that American 'men' are ~100V and all the others are >200V. I'd link to worldstandards.eu but the url would give away the answer. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Nov 14 '14 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Pharap I understand what it meant, but I tried to avoid giving any hints in the comments. I just don't think "is half as good" is a very accurate description. The quality of "goodness" (which might be more accurately called "strength" or "potency") actually belongs to the females and not the males. $\endgroup$ – TheRubberDuck Nov 14 '14 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop - Fair enough, but then I didn't say I was referring to American men! I didn't want to say 'strong' because that was too similar to the metaphor I used for Australians. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Nov 14 '14 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with "half as good" is that in a place where American men (or women, whatever) might gather, they almost always come in different amounts of "goodness". A typical place will have one or two men just as "good" as the Europeans and several other men half as "good", and sometimes other amounts of goodness besides. $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Mar 15 '18 at 19:59
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Solution:

Electrical plugs. Sorry, I don't know enough about others to contribute anything additional.

Explanation as requested:

"There are many different types of men;"
"Men" referring to the "male" pins of an electrical plug.

"They often come in groups of two or three."
Most plugs have two or three pins (usually a "hot" and "neutral", and sometimes a separate ground pin).

"Each group has a matching group of women,"
"Women" referring to the "female" parts of the receptacle.

"But they should stay with their compatriots."
Keep plugs with their intended receptacles or risk electrical damage/fire.

"In Europe we have several different kinds;"
There's no single European standard on plugs.

"The Americans are only half as good as us."
Could refer to the relatively thin plug blades in North American plugs, but more likely to the difference in voltage of household electrical service (120V vs. 230V).

"Those from Down Under are all thin and weedy,
Not as tough as the solid British men."
I'm not familiar with Australian plugs, but presumably the blades are thinner than those used in the UK (which are certainly stout).

"The French can have a woman in their group;"
Looking at plug Type E in the link above, commonly used in France, there is actually a "female" bit in the plug that accepts a pin from the receptacle.

"The Israelis won't fit into any other land;"
Type H is "used exclusively in Israel, the West Bank & the Gaza Strip." (same link)

"But if you need translation services,
I can provide you with a magic cube."
Adapters exist that allow you to plug a device into a physically-incompatible receptacle. Some of them are vaguely cube-shaped.

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  • $\begingroup$ You got it! Well done :-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Nov 14 '14 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Interested in hearing the reason for a downvote. $\endgroup$ – glibdud Nov 14 '14 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ @glibdud it might be because the correctness wasn't explained. People can go back and compare your answer to the riddle, but the answer can be improved by doing that for us. $\endgroup$ – TheRubberDuck Nov 14 '14 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop Fair enough. Added explanation. Couldn't figure out how to do a block quote within a spoiler block, so the formatting is a little... odd. $\endgroup$ – glibdud Nov 14 '14 at 21:49

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