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Occasionally I stumble onto random protected questions like this one: Is it possible to kill everyone or are some NPCs unkillable? and I wonder if it's really necessary that they are still protected.

It seems like there are two broad classes of protected questions, one because they briefly see a surge in low-quality answers (usually due to some fleeting publicity, e.g. being a "hot question" in the quick box top-left), and those that are more chronically afflicted because their popularity doesn't ever truly wane.

Is there any system like Wikipedia's timed semi-protection (WP's semi-protect being roughly equal to SE's protect) where it can optionally expire after so long (e.g. a day, a week)? Would it be a useful feature for those 15-minutes-of-fame questions?

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3 Answers 3

Protection is for that class of questions that seem to attract low quality answers from low rep users. Questions don't auto-protect until three or so such answers have been deleted from the post, so the question has already been identified as one that attracts multiple low-quality answers. This quality about the question (that it is a low-quality answer attractor) is unlikely to change over time.

I understand your concern about questions that get Reddited, however. Perhaps you could flag for unprotection, if you feel strongly about it. Creating two different kinds of protection seems like overkill.

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It would be the same kind of protection, just one automatically expires... –  Nick T Sep 5 '11 at 4:25
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Yes, but I'm not sure the benefit outweighs the additional complexity. Protection on SE is a blunt instrument anyway; that's the reason the rep level to overcome it is only 15. On Wikipedia, it's a much more useful and finessed tool, largely because each page arguably has much more effort expended into it than your typical SE page. Having that finesse allows things like Google Doodles (something that is never a problem on Stack Overflow) to more easily be accommodated. –  Robert Harvey Sep 5 '11 at 4:49

That might work if you could figure out in advance which questions those might be. It might be hard for the Protector to know if it's a killer link that's delivering the users, or just the Google monster. If it's Google, then you would definitely want to leave it protected, while just a killer link could be timed. I suppose the Team could implement something so that any trusted user/moderator could see where the hits were coming from, and make a decision based on that.

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That particular one was protected for a bad reason -- simply because it had four "Jeans" spam posts on it, all from March 8th at around the same time.

I'm not at all convinced that set of one-day (within the same hour, even) spam would really indicate an ongoing problem worthy of protecting a question over...

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IIRC on Unix & Linux that spammer came back to the same question at several weeks' interval. So protection did hinder him. Don't assume a competent spammer… –  Gilles Sep 5 '11 at 8:52

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