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I recently started an account on Android Enthusiasts, and went to add an answer to a question which was protected. I have enough rep on other sites that I have the "Association Bonus", so I was confused as to why I wasn't being allowed to answer the question.

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.

After re-reading the message and reviewing a related question, I realized that the bonus didn't count as points earned toward that site.

This is a really minor issue, but I think it's worth fixing (not sure if bug or feature).

I believe that users who have enough rep to receive the association bonus should generally already know not to post "thanks!" and "me too!" style answers, so if the message is accurate, users who receive the association bonus should be able to answer protected questions.

If there's another reason to keep users from answering protected questions, such as Martijn Pieters' claim that:

For protected questions, you are expected to have experience on the target site itself. Experience at other sites is not enough.

then the message should be updated to reflect this.

Option 1:

make protected questions open to anyone who has >10 rep on that site and update the message to read:

This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have at least 10 reputation on this site.

Option 2:

leave protected questions the way they are, but update the message to read:

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 to show that you have experience on this topic; experience on other StackExchange sites is not enough.

Option 3:

Answer with your own suggestions/improvements to these ideas.

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Users driving by other SE sites are not always familiar with the norms of that community that may differ from others. This can be seen when someone posts a link to a question on reddit or the like and suddenly the site gets hit with a bunch of people with 101 rep trying to add their two cents in the form of an answer. –  MichaelT Dec 6 '13 at 19:56
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@MichaelT, I'm pretty certain I addressed that when I said "If there's another reason to keep users from answering protected questions...then the message should be updated to reflect this." The current message doesn't say anything about needing to take the topic into account. –  zzzzBov Dec 6 '13 at 20:04
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Yep, the message is indeed an improvement (and you do have an upvote from me on that). Just noting that in some cases the 101 rep users posting on a suddenly hot question expecting things to work the way on their 'home' SE can be just as... disruptive... as a 1 rep user. –  MichaelT Dec 6 '13 at 20:30
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This isn't THAT minor IMO, I was just writing up a suggestion for this same idea, we get a confused complaint about this every few Hot Questions we get on UX. Would be really nice if this fact (and the reason for it) were clear upon seeing the "you can't answer this" box –  Ben Brocka Jun 2 '14 at 20:57

4 Answers 4

I'm posting an answer since the only other one is downvoted, and I feel I've looked into this enough in the last hour to say something useful.

A summary of what follows:

The message needs to be removed and the restriction cleared, when viewing it at 101 reputation, having "earned" the association bonus. :)

As identified in the question, this specific issue is a message sent to users contradicting the system implementation, but I add, it's a number of messages, not just one.

From http://english.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation

If you are an experienced Stack Exchange network user with 200 or more reputation on at least one site, you will receive a starting +100 reputation bonus to get you past basic new user restrictions.

Emphasis above is my own. The exact same text appears on Android Enthusiasts

To further make my case, and to confirm zzzzBov's question, following is the Association Bonus from StackExchange site header's inbox drop-down:

You've earned a bonus of 100 reputation because we trust you on other sites in the network

This explicitly states the reputation is "earned". Also, it very convincingly expresses this point from within the context of the new site, despite being a network-based achievement. This expression of trust seems shallow and useless if I'm immediately blocked from an insignificantly low-rep activity.

So, to again confirm the poorly worded restricted message on the new stackexchange I joined to post an answer:

protected by _ 2 hours ago

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.

Despite being trusted, and having earned 100 reputation on the site, as a courtesy to lift new-user restrictions, I do not feel the message needs to be tweaked. I do feel the message needs to be removed and the restriction cleared, when viewing it at 101 reputation, having "earned" the association bonus.

One final, and conceding point: the idea of the bonus reputation is based on earning rep on another site, that much is explicit. And I know there are more low-rep limits than just posting in protected questions. So, I'm feeling... maybe there was a case history in years past, rampant spamming with some accounts after a minimum rep on one system was reached. Given that possibility, my argument would change to: kindly have the extra messages I identified updated very soon, please not 6 months or a year from now.

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if one is unable to get mere 10 points at a site (by an answer, question, or edits), it's hard to see how bonus makes them more qualified than users without a bonus. See also The association bonus should not enable users to vote on every site –  gnat Jun 3 '14 at 7:22
    
@gnat I agree. And ignoring the cases where people spam without any value, it's a bit backwards to consider a person who has earned reputation on one site and earned a network-wide reputation bonus, cannot earn 10 points in 10 minutes and immediately pass that restriction. The specific case where I experienced this, and afterward posted the above answer, I gained 50+ points within a few hours on that new site. That, from decent quality Q & A, which drives StackExchange. So I passed the restriction but I SHOULD have had it with the associate bonus. –  Tom Pace Jun 4 '14 at 1:43
    
Hi @gnat I just noticed you marked a question I posted as a duplicate, of a month-newer question. Can you explain why the other wasn't marked as duplicate of mine? –  Tom Pace Jun 4 '14 at 1:57
    
which question is newer doesn't matter, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/147643/… –  gnat Jun 4 '14 at 5:05

There's a reason why the association bonus alone does not let you answer protected questions, and that reason is (basically) the Hot Network Questions side bar.

When a question with a catchy title from a "soft," low-volume site like The Workplace ends up in the side bar, it can attract a huge influx of visitors from the rest of the SE network, including much larger sites like SO. The effect is pretty much exactly the same as if the question had been linked from, say, Reddit, except that most of the visitors will have 200+ rep on their "home" site, and will thus qualify for the association bonus.

Most of these users coming in from other sites will not be familiar with local norms on the target site, or with what counts as a good answer there (since such norms on "soft" sites tend to be significantly different from those on "harder" sites like SO or Math.SE), but a lot of them feel that they do have their two cents to contribute (since pretty much everybody has, say, had an unappreciative manager at some point in their career, and feels that they know what do in such a situation).

The way Workplace.SE, for example, deals with this issue is by rapidly, and sometimes automatically, protecting questions that are experiencing a flood of bad answers. However, such protection would be all but useless, if anyone with 200+ rep on SO was immune to it.

That said, I do agree that the protection message could be worded better. Here's my tentative suggestion (with changes in bold):

This question is protected to prevent low-quality answers from new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site (not including the association bonus).

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bounty awarded for compelling and well presented analysis, "protection would be all but useless, if anyone with 200+ rep on SO was immune to it..." –  gnat Dec 31 '14 at 7:45
    
This is exactly the change I would like to see. I understand and agree with the rationale for excluding the assoc bonus from overriding question protection, and these five simple words added to the 'question protected' notification box would eliminate a whole lot of confusion. –  Brian Jun 4 at 16:30

Theoretically the message is very clear:

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.

However, I was also once very confused for me, because you must read the question very carefully to understand it's not about the reputation on this site, but the reputation, that was earned by the activities on this site.

The solution: just add clarification in parenthesis:

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 (association bonus doesn't count).

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8  
Down-vote from me. I think you've missed the whole point. The issue is with the first sentence in the message. Why would 101 rep users add "thanks!", "me too!" or spam answers? –  Duncan Jan 17 '14 at 10:02
    
So the system implements, and many people opine the Association Bonus should not count, but it clearly ought to count. Two reasons: the message from the stackexchange system make it clearly earned, and clearly on the site in question, despite being a network-based achievement. Further to those two reasons, the specific website, in my own troubled case of this Association Bonus, explicitly declares that the bonus affects new-user limitations, and the verbiage for protected questions holds against spam/new users. –  Tom Pace Apr 6 '14 at 7:00
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@Duncan I've never seen 101 rep people post "Thanks!" "me too!" or spam, but I have seen quite a lot of 101 rep users seeing popular questions on 'other' sites and wading in with "Well I have no experience or knowledge in this area, but my unsupported opinion is...", or acting like XKCD's 'Physicists' –  user568458 Apr 11 '14 at 12:18
    
@user568458 I agree. So that's an argument for the message being changed, since only "thanks!", "me too!" and spam are referenced. –  Duncan Apr 11 '14 at 12:19
    
Strongly disagree that it's clear that the assoc bonus is not 'earned on this site'. When the +100 shows up in the 'achievements' list in the header bar, it appears directly associated with the site on which the rep is "earned": imgur.com/ETWNs8o. I argue it's not up to the user to deeply inspect a notification such as this in order to divine the actual meaning. Question for UX.SE, perhaps...? –  Brian Jun 4 at 16:32

I posted the following as a question before I was aware that this one exists. Consider the following user experience. When joining a new SE network users are given 100 rep points with the following message:

You have earned a bonus 100 reputation because we trust you on other sites on the network

So far, so good. The user expects to have basic privileges. Then the user discovers a protected question:

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

The user see's that they have 100 rep, makes sure they are logged in, mashes the F5 key a few times, but still can't post an answer. Being a persistent user, they go ahead and search for an explanation and discover:

Users with 10 or more reputation can answer a protected question. However, the +100 account association bonus is ignored for this check, so you must have earned 10 or more reputation on that specific site to answer a protected question.

From http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/52765/167831

The above quotes are conflicting and misleading to the user. The low score of 10 rep points required to answer protected questions conveys to the user that answering a protected question is among the most basic of privileges. The user is confused and possibly frustrated at having invested this much time at this point. The user asks "Isn't the intention of the +100 rep to grant trusted new users like me basic privileges on the site?"

Instead of having a complete mental breakdown over these unfortunate events, the user takes it to the community to ask you all, concerned netizens of StackExchange, is it not time for a change?

The two most obvious solutions that I can see which resolve this conflict are:

  1. The user is not trusted and should not be told they are in the rep notification.
  2. This privilege is not intended to be among the basic <100 privileges and should be set at a solid >110 required rep for all users.

The third option is to leave things as they are and allow for continued confusion and possible butthurt among users who discover they are not as trusted as they had previously thought. Oh my poor butt! I thought we had something special, SE.

As a user, I both understand and appreciate the need for spam prevention and other reasons that the ability to protect questions exists. At the same time, I detest when such preventive measures interrupt my experience on the site. What do you think is the best solution to providing a balance between protecting questions and improving user experience?

Edit: In hindsight, the message "posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site" is technically clear, although just ambiguous enough as to lead to confusion without mention that the +100 bonus does not count toward this. Perhaps updating this message another potential solution.

Since this is now an answer to a question, the simplest solution is probably to go ahead and add mention that the +100 bonus does not count to the notice currently appended to protected questions.

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