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"Protected" prevents newbies from adding silly answers to popular questions. It doesn't stop not-so-newbies, as I just noticed following a link from the flags page.

How about if proposing to answer a protected question, for people > 10 (or > 10 and < N) resulted in a warning saying, "This question has been protected because the moderators think that it's already got all the answers it needs. Do you really have something novel to add?"

Note that a typical user never actually reads the 'protected' banner in this case. They read the question, and the banner has scrolled down. Then they go add their answer. This my suggestion that the act of adding an answer should nag, something like the "you're adding another answer" nag.

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How about hiding the answer box on protected from users below the belt? – random Aug 31 '11 at 23:00
@ran Sure. I'm not attached to any particular approach, I just think that it would save mod effort to make it harder for middle-range users to post answers to these. – Rosinante Aug 31 '11 at 23:01
Hiding the answer box might prevent someone inexperienced from wasting their time, but bumping into things like this really does show people how important it is to read carefully when using Stack Overflow. Should the proverbial guard rails really be less irritating to hit? – Tim Post Sep 1 '11 at 5:13

There's already a big

this question was protected by RuthlessModerator ♦ on Apr 1, 2010

banner on all protected questions. I don't think adding another warning would do much good. Better to just downvote such answers after they're posted (or upvote, if they actually do have something novel to add).

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See edit please. – Rosinante Aug 31 '11 at 22:39
As has been discussed elsewhere, I don't think the problem is a group of users who want to do the right thing but are naive/ignorant. This is all hypothetical, of course; I don't know where we can get relevant real-world data. (@Ros) – Pops Sep 1 '11 at 14:15

Questions can be protected by 15k users too, and the main purpose for protecting a question (which doesn't mean locking it) is to avoid "thanks," "me too!" and spam answers from new users.
A question is never protected because the question has already received enough answers, or all the necessary answers; if that were the case, the question should be locked, but (as far as I can say) no question has been locked for that reason.

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