Require users to have Student (First question with score of 1 or more) or Teacher (Answer with score of 1 or more) on the site to be able to answer or comment on protected questions instead of the current reputation-based requirement.
Moderators and Trusted Users currently have the ability to protect questions. This prevents answers from users who have earned less than 10 reputation on the site, which prevents lots of spammy and noisy answers.
However, this does not prevent users with the association bonus from commenting on the question, and often these are drive-by comments with no value, which generates more flags for moderators to handle, or more review items for the community to handle.
Additionally, users who have the association bonus are prevented from answering protected questions if they have offered bounties if their reputation is less than 110 (and less than 10 for users without the association bonus).
Requiring users to have either the Student or Teacher badges on the site in order to either comment or answer will have the effect of:
- Reducing the number of noisy comments on protected questions or answers
- Reducing the number of flags that moderators will need to handle and the number of items in the review queue
- Allowing those users who have contributed positively to the site but who have given away reputation through bounties to contribute on protected questions
In my view, these are all beneficial effects.