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This question already has an answer here:

There's a question down at EL&U about the correct English word for a child (for example) allowed to play by relaxed rules when competing against adults (for example) with a natural advantage at this activity. (The question's author provides some Spanish words for this privileged weaker player.) This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

What's the purpose of this protection? I know -- to prevent "thanks!" etc. But when is protection advisable? It seems to me that I've usually encountered this after a series of very good answers. But at the moment, I think, there's only one answer, and it has a score of zero.

marked as duplicate by choster, user067531, Mitch, tchrist Jan 22 '18 at 21:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    It’s usually applied after one or two poor answers which have to be downvoted and/or deleted. And if the they’re deleted, you won’t see them, which means you won’t see the motivation for protecting the question (until you have 10k rep). The reason you’re used to seeing questions protected only after a series of upvoted answers is because of a natural correlation. Sometimes an answer strikes a chord and becomes popular, and attracts many answers, good & bad, and it’s the bad ones, not the good ones, which prompt the protection. Again, the bad ones may be deleted & therefore not visible. – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 20:20
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    Sometimes, quite rarely, the protection is applied inappropriately and punitively, as a kind of resentful last-ditch “mini closure”. I saw one of these yesterday when a mod tried to close a Q for triggering one of his pet peeves, but ultimately couldn’t defend the closure on procedural grounds as there was nothing about the question which violated any rules, and so he was forced to re-open it. But immediately after re-opening it, he protected it, to at a minimize the # of people who could provide an answer to a question which offended his sensibilities. – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 20:24
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  • But such cases are the exception rather than the rule, and are easy for the community to manage, as a single 20k+ user can unprotect a question, and is entitled to do so for such politically motivated protections (and the original protector can’t raise much of a huff, because of a Q hasn’t attracted a couple or more poor-quality As, there really is no ground for such protections). I did that with the mod-closed Q yesterday and I’ve just done it with the Q you wake about here (because I can see there are no deleted As on that Q, low-quality or otherwise, so no justified need for protection). – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 20:28
  • @Dan Bron I don't follow. If a question is protected because of bad answers, (1) how is that different from closure, and (2) why does the message say that it was protected to prevent "thanks" or "me too" responses? Who would be saying thanks or "me too" after bad answers? – Chaim Jan 22 '18 at 20:40
  • @Chaim Closure prevents anyone from answering. Protection prevents only people with < 10 rep earned on the site from answering. That is, if a user has 10 or more rep (which you can get from answering one question and getting a single upvote), he can answer protected questions. No one, with any amount of rep, can answe closed Qs. The idea being that complete newbies may not know the ropes and therefore post low-quality answers. Protection protects a question (positive connotation) from bad answers; closure closes a question (negative connotation) from ever being answered. – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 20:45
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    The most common type of poor-quality answers are answers posted by complete newbies posting “answers” like “Thanks, these other answers helped!” (not an answer) and “I’m having this problem too!” (also not an answer). They do this because they’re new to SE and used to message-board sites where a thread is more of a conversation and there is no requirement that each post after the first (the Q) must be an answer and strictly an answer. Protection makes sure that the only people who can answer are familiar enough with the site structure (eg have answered once and gotten 10 pts) to not err so. – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 20:48
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    The answers to the second "original" question are outdated, the statistics cited are totally superseded. It doesn't answer this question. – Mari-Lou A Jan 22 '18 at 21:39
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    I don't see how those linked broader questions specifically answer this question about protecting "tumbleweed-y" questions. – NVZ Jan 22 '18 at 22:05
  • I'm totally lost. I'm the author of the linked question -- but I found this meta question totally by accident. Anyway, I don't see any protection on my question. On top of all that -- I don't see any potential to cause noise in my question. Please, could someone succinctly lay out the story so far for me? Because I truly have no idea what the tempest in the teapot is really about. – aparente001 Jan 31 '18 at 22:59
  • @aparente001 I was also surprised and a bit puzzled (and somehow flattered) by the activity here. The answer to my question seems to be that protection is for questions that are attracting (or, some think, will attract) lots of bad responses from people with low ranks on the stack exchange. But I touched a nerve about the propriety of moderator's using protection and closure in idiosyncratic ways for subjective reasons. And I also agree that the protection seems to have disappeared from your question without a trace. – Chaim Feb 1 '18 at 12:32
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Moderators regularly defensively protect questions that have the potential to cause more noise than signal on the site.

I protected this one because in my experience, guessing-game questions soliciting uncountably many random unsupported one-liner one-and-done answers that wind up having to be deleted just make more work for everyone. We don't need that around here.

The same goes for questions about controversial, inflammatory, or potentially offensive topics, as well as for those that hit the Hot Network Questions list.

The community is invited to please Protect those as a matter of course.

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    -1. Don’t do that. It’s an abuse of the tools (not an abuse of mod power, to be clear, just abuse of regular 20K+ user tools). We don’t proactively protect questions; that tool is intended to be retroactive and is usually applied to questions which have gotten too much attention, instead of not enough. And doing so simply shoots ourselves in the foot: it makes it even harder to attract new users with a real interest in English, which is the remedy ColleenV (also a mod on ELL) suggests for your “how to raise quality on ELL thread”. Protection isn’t mini-closure, don’t abuse it as if it is – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 21:06
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    @DanBron That may be your opinion, but do not pretend it is more than that. – tchrist Jan 22 '18 at 21:07
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    It is not my opinion, it is the stated objective of protection (not vilification) of questions, as documented in the official SE FAQ and on our own site by another mod, accessible from the “possible duplicate” link on this meta-Q. As for not imposing one’s opinions on the site: physician, first heal thyself. – Dan Bron Jan 22 '18 at 21:10
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    The site's community certainly has evolved since 2012. However the multicollider still exists and questions that reach it still garner unwanted attention. If a mod spots a question that looks likely to hit the multicollider, it makes sense for them to preemptively protect it. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 22 '18 at 21:48
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    @NVZ Pre-emptive protection is used for specific types of questions that have historically brought in the dregs. The type of question wouldn't change once the heat is gone. It will always be the kind of question to attract crap answers. – Kit Z. Fox Jan 22 '18 at 22:12
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    Why is this an issue for you now? This is the way we have done things for years. We'll get that information for you although I'm surprised you haven't already done the analysis yourself. – Kit Z. Fox Jan 22 '18 at 22:18
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    @danbron That's a bit of an odd comparison. Nobody expects someone to come back and edit their question full stop, although it does happen. We have learnt through repeated exposure what questions are likely to hit the multicollider. I do admit we need to try harder at unprotecting. Also the comparison to locking is unfair, as protection is nothing like locking. Preemptive protection is not an epidemic, it happens occasionally when experienced moderators see a question that will draw unwanted attention. I doubt we lose users through protection, I find it more likely that we retain users. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 22 '18 at 22:19
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    @DanBron Preemptive protection is not punitive. It is to help keep a question from experiencing a burst of disruptive activity. I disagree with your perception of the situation. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 23 '18 at 12:08
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    @DanBron You believe there is an issue with tchrist's judgement when it comes to closing/protecting pejorative language questions. Instead of digging up statistics, can we just agree that the perception of bias is just as much an issue as actual bias and work from there? Would it resolve your issue if tchrist simply agreed to get another mod's input before protecting that class of questions? We all have things that get under our skin that maybe we don't have the best perspective on. I regularly ask other ELL mods to handle certain issues that I know I could use a 2nd opinion on. – ColleenV Jan 23 '18 at 14:57
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    Pre-emptive protection is not censorship. It is protecting the site from low-quality drive-by answers. If someone is prevented from answering by the threshold, then they have only to use their talents to get 10 points on a different question, and then come back and answer. It doesn't prevent them from answering; it merely places an "established members only" cordon around the question. – Andrew Leach Jan 23 '18 at 16:13
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    You seem to be confusing (or at least conflating) protection and closure. The two are not the same. And, any moderator can only do so much. I'm sure I've homed in in the past on the question which is most likely to be troublesome and/or easiest to deal with, simply because I can deal with that and don't have time to deal with the lesser problems. Is that bias or a good use of time in protecting the site? – Andrew Leach Jan 23 '18 at 16:36
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    Dan, I appreciate your good intentions. I know you are trying to defend ELU. You see bias in @tchrist's mod decisions on "pejorative" word requests, but as far as I can tell the other ELU mods do not agree. At this point I think you have exhausted that avenue of inquiry. If you do not intend to drop the matter, I encourage you to bring it up with an SE Community Manager through the contact form. – MetaEd Jan 23 '18 at 16:52
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    @DanBron I think it is unreasonable to expect that one moderator should have their power limited because there's a conflict with one community member. It's fine to identify an area where you think someone needs to be a little more careful, but you seem to me to be over-reacting which is making it difficult to come to a constructive resolution. The only thing a moderator can do unilaterally to truly censor content is to edit comments. Everything else is reversible either by the community or by the mod team (even comment deletions can be undone). – ColleenV Jan 23 '18 at 16:53
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    A pattern of selective enforcement of the rules is problematic in any setting. That, I think, is the core issue that Dan Bron's extremely articulate series of comments attempts to focus on. If fifty cars are going 70 mph on a stretch of freeway posted with a 55-mph speed limit, and a highway patrol officer stops only the one car that happens to be an old Volvo station wagon—and does this repeatedly, disproportionately singling out old Volvo station wagons—then we have a problem of selective enforcement. If something similar is happening at EL&U, I agree with Dan Bron that it should stop. ... – Sven Yargs Jan 23 '18 at 19:55
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    ...Obviously, what makes selective enforcement possible in the first place is a flood of rule breaking that renders consistent and systematic enforcement of the rule in question impossible. But if that is the case, perhaps we need to revisit whether the rule itself is poorly drawn or unrealistically stringent or (in the worst case) a formally neutral but practically invidious standard designed to make ticketing old Volvo station wagons administratively convenient. – Sven Yargs Jan 23 '18 at 19:55

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