I registered on math.se only to post an answer to this question.

However, since it's a protected question, I am not allowed to answer it. (I found this info from here).

Worth to mention, I can comment on the above question, just not post an answer.

I was under the impression that the whole point of association bonus was to bypass such limits, so why isn't that the case for answering protected questions?

  • 1
    Ack, that sounds like a horrible question to answer anyways...you could write a blog entry on the topic though.
    – user7116
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 16:34
  • I think this answer explains the reason better than the answer to this question. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


The association bonus is ignored explicitly to prevent people from other sites with no experience with the site or its community they just joined up at from putting their oar in.

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

To give an example: just because you know how to code in JavaScript doesn't mean you know how to answer a protected question on the Islam site. And just because you understand the site culture of Software Engineering doesn't mean you know how the community at Computer Science expects questions to be answered.

  • 28
    Then the notification text displayed should account for this, as it is the text says "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". A veteran user from any site would know not to do these things, so if they're being blocked for other reasons, the reason should be more clear.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:19
  • 3
    The association bonus is not something you earned on this site. Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:19
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    I'm not arguing about the reputation, I'm arguing that the description is misleading. Telling a new user that they can't post "thanks" or "me to" style answers makes sense because they don't have experience with the StackExchange network, but when a user has enough rep to get the association bonus they would typically have enough experience to not do these things on any SE site. If the reason is because the user is too new to have provable experience with the subject at hand, the descriptions should be changed to indicate it.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:22
  • 1
    If you feel strongly enough about that, perhaps you could make that a feature request. :-) Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:26
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    I only hit this question because I was bit by the protected question message, and didn't understand why my 101 rep on a site wasn't sufficient to answer a question that's blocked at 10 rep. I'm sure I'll be able to earn the 10 rep on that site easily enough, but I think I will take your advice and open a feature request to add clarity.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:30
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters The messages on various pages of individual stackexchange sites do explicitly express that the association bonus does indeed get earned on the new sites a user is signing up for.
    – Tom Pace
    Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 7:23
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    Well, I do have a problem with it. The purpose this answer gives has nothing to do the purpose stated for locking, which is to avoid "me, too" style answers. If you've gotten 200 points on any Stack Exchange site, you know that those types of answers are bad. The current state of affairs lies twice to us, first when we get the 200 points, as we are not trusted to know how to use the site as claimed, and at the point where we are told we need at least 10 points, which we already have. Locks are not supposed to be about expertise, but about the ability to write an answer.
    – trlkly
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 1:21
  • 3
    This doesn't make sense as an answer, because many sites are similar. For instance, I earned most of my rep on StackOverflow (a programming site). Now, I go to Programming Puzzles & Code Golf (a programming challenge site) but don't have enough rep to answer protected questions. I have more than enough real-life experience, but the system blindly blocks me, anyway.
    – Ky -
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 2:08
  • 3
    @Supuhstar The technical issue here is that software running the sites has no direct access to your brain to determine your level of familiarity with the community standards on the particular site. (Community standards can be different between sites with similar topics, e.g., Ask Ubuntu vs Unix&Linux.) Thus, it's up to you to communicate this information to the software -- by contributing to the site and earning 10 points there.
    – user259867
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 2:41
  • @CareBear but they are all linked to and have reputation tracked by StackExchange, so can't it see that this +100 came from a coding site to a coding site, so I must have coding knowledge?
    – Ky -
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 2:43
  • 1
    @Supuhstar but it is not your coding experience that counts here, but your experience with the community of a site. And that cannot be carried over because the communities are not the same. Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 6:51
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    @Supuhstar I tend to find these restrictions irritating too, because unless you are willing to "work the system" it's somewhat of a Catch-22. I can't answer protected questions to get rep, I'm not interested in answering other questions or don't feel my answer would be good enough, and I don't have any questions of my own to give. So now I have to wait a long time until I think of a question, or happen upon a question I can answer, and by the time that happens, the window for answering the question I feel I had a decent answer to is gone.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 23:16
  • 2
    @Michael also, as a new member, if you are curious about if your question is worth asking, you can't ask it on Meta because you need 5 rep to do that.
    – Ky -
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 17:34
  • 1
    It's rather silly that the association bonus gives you enough rep to comment on a protected question but not answer it. Questions are protected to stop clueless noob behaviour but, s others have stated, the whole point about the association bonus is that you get it because you've already demonstrated you're a clueful SE user. Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 15:12
  • 3
    @DavidRicherby: the point of the association bonus is to give you a leg up on functionality you are now familiar with. That doesn't mean you are familiar with the community of another site. Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 15:33

Basically it's because of the Hot Network Questions.

Some sites, like Codegolf* or The Workplace*, have a different definition of a good answer. It's happened quite often (often enough for it to be a problem) that questions from these sites show up in the Hot Network Questions, and users with no experience on these sites but with a lot of reputation on other sites (like Stack Overflow) think those questions look interesting and create an account there to answer them. Even though their answer would look acceptable for a user who is only active on Stack Overflow, it is not considered as a good answer on those sites. It's to prevent situations like this that the association bonus doesn't count towards answering protected questions.

*I'm not active on any of those sites, so I don't have any personal experience there. I'm just summarizing what I've seen in answers to other questions. Here are my sources: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/246001/349538 and https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/326351/4284627

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