Users with more than 15k reputation can protect questions. I would argue that it doesn't make any sense anymore to keep this privilege since the automatic protection of questions with three deleted answers by new users has been implemented.

Protecting a question has a practically invisible, but still significant drawback: It can prevent good answers from ever being posted by new users. I think that protection is somewhat overused, and that we, the moderators and the community, should be more careful when to apply it.

Shog9 stated in no uncertain terms that

proactively protecting questions is a stupid idea, and you should never do it even if the system does allow you to do it.

I agree with that, and my personal guideline on when to protect a question fits very well to the automatic protection mechanism, which is after three removed posts from new users.

There might be some exceptions, but in general I would say that we just don't need to protect questions earlier than that. I almost never use my moderator or 15k power to protect questions and would not miss it at all.

I think that the exceptions can be handled by the moderators, though even those should probably try to avoid protecting questions if there isn't a clear record of bad non-answers from new users on that question. There is no need for this as a regular user privilege and it should be removed entirely, or replaced by some other privilege.

  • "...being posted by new users" is an incomplete description. I'd add something that would mean: ...who don't want to invest time and effort into getting 10 rep points to walk over protection before posting an answer, just worded nicer than that
    – gnat
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:29
  • 3
    I can't say I agree with this. I've protected questions that were getting multiple low-quality (but valid) answers from new users. These low-quality valid answers, if left to accumulate, will eventually force the entire question into wiki bringing down all the high-quality answers (and the question itself) with it.
    – Mysticial
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:35
  • 1
    Not data, but most of the times I've seen manually protected questions it seems to have been somebody exercising the privilege for the fun of it, without any need. Actually, it often seems to be the same somebodies, but unlike when users close questions inappropriately, otherwise users can't undo it; maybe we should be able to vote to revoke users' protection privileges.
    – Jeremy
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:48

3 Answers 3


There are actually two privileges worth considering here:

  • Protect questions
  • Unprotect questions

It may be worth relying on (or perhaps beefing up) the automatic protection while retaining the ability for trusted users to remove that status when appropriate.

That said, this is a bit hard to discuss in abstract, so here's some data:

  • I think your query for manually protected is broken. I can't find stackoverflow.com/questions/12135518/is-faster-than on the list.
    – Mysticial
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:09
  • @Mysticial: try asking for text-only results and then searching; it's there.
    – Shog9
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:17
  • Ah ok. So they weren't completely sorted by post ID. I was only looking near the bottom.
    – Mysticial
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:20
  • Yeah, there's no sort - go ahead and add one if it helps.
    – Shog9
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:20

As I started to read your question, I felt like I wasn't going to agree with you but by the time I finished reading I believe I do agree. I have always felt it was a little to easy to apply by a single user; the privilege could be removed for 15k users and I would personally not miss it.

However, if the idea of removing the privilege outright cannot gain support I would propose voting as an alternative. Rather than removing the privilege, I would like the ability to vote to protect. Similar to close votes, 5 protect votes from 15k users may be a suitable solution. Given that there are a lot of 15k users and not that many of them currently seem to exercise their protect privilege often, voting could have the negative effect of more questions being protected, however. Protect votes, just like close votes, would be likely to attract other protect votes so the action would need to be carefully considered.

Just as we have reopen votes though, I would expect to have an unprotect vote to counteract this.

Another suggestion woould be to take away the privilege from non-diamond moderators, and leave protect as an explicitly stated flagging reason. Flag to protect, and a diamond moderator would be able to pass judgment on the flag.

  • 6
    I don't understand why we would need to make the process more cumbersome by needing multiple people to turn the key. This isn't the answer, as we don't need this applied proactively (which this supports implicitly, because you now want multiple people to contribute to it) we just want it to be applied by the system when the conditions warrant it. It's so low-level that it shouldn't be this hard, and additionally, it's so low-level that it's something people shouldn't even do, the system should just do it.
    – casperOne
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:13
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    To be clear, I do support removing the privilege from 15k users and leaving it to the system (and mods), but if there isn't much support for this and it is left in, I would like to see it be made more difficult for one person to mis-apply protection. Jan 18, 2013 at 20:25

They should probably modify the Protect mechanism to do more functional things; for example, protecting a question to keep it from being closed by overzealous 3ks.

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