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I participate in cs50.SE, a network site affiliated with a popular MOOC. Based on its privilege thresholds and absence from the "all sites" list, it seems to be classified as a private beta site.

In any case, we protected a question that had received a couple spammy answers in quick succession, and the notice reads:

This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 1 reputation on this site.

From the reputation tables in this FAQ post, this seems to be the way it works for private betas in general. Is it possible that at some point in the past, guest posts were allowed on private betas? I couldn't find another private beta site to check, but on this site guest posts are not allowed, so protecting questions doesn't actually impose any restriction on who can answer.

Here's an excerpt from the help center entry for the privilege:

What are protected questions?

A protected question prevents answers being added by anonymous and very new users.

Based on that description, this is a bug.

Here's the specific question for reference. (It's a shopping question, but that's a separate issue.)

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    Someone would have gone out of their way to intentionally lower the rep requirement down to 1, so I highly doubt it's a bug. More likely SE assumed that all members of a private beta are to be treated as active users, which sounds correct. – Servy Oct 24 '14 at 20:18
  • @Servy I went back and forth on whether I should tag this bug or support. But if a button is labeled "press to do X, Y, and Z" and pressing it doesn't do X, Y, or Z, that's buggy behavior. Assuming good faith on the part of whoever labeled it, at least. – Air Oct 24 '14 at 20:21
  • Anyway, that's my rationale for the tag - I could always be wrong. – Air Oct 24 '14 at 20:22
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This is quite intentional - private betas are supposed to be very short, and lack many of the normal protections against abuse available to public beta sites.

The cs50 site is... Unusual. Still, the fix there is to raise the privilege thresholds, which can be done independent of other changes. If this can now be done without inconveniencing students, it is trivial to implement.

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  • I think it's up to the course staff what level of convenience is acceptable. An exceptionally large portion of traffic is from new users. Only a handful have any familiarity with other sites on the network. – Air Oct 24 '14 at 20:46

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