Jeff have written many times, they optimize for answers and not questions, and for pearls, not sand. As general rule, everyone can answer, as long as the question is not closed. The protected questions are the exception, and are designed, at least as I understand it, for the cases where new answers are unlikely to add something new, but it's very probable that the rep hunters will post, attracted by the large activity and large number of upvotes on the answers.
All protected questions I've met pass to that schema. The questions that were protected, had unusually large number of answers (typical is a few) covering various aspects, and it was in that cases quite unlikely, that the novice has something to add. It's more probable, however, that the hotness of that question (often they are featured as hot questions) will attract people who have nothing to add, but want to write something nevertheless.
As I see it, there are 3 main cases where unprotecting of the question would be required, both not very likely:
- The most of the answer have been deleted, for any reason.
- Someone has protected the question without important reason
- Some new user have posted a draft of potentially valuable answer as a comment, and the question was unlocked specially for him