31

I've found a trend that I'd like to discuss. There are users that have reached 15K+ reputation that are participating in a question and then protecting it so that low reputation users can't answer. This wouldn't be a problem if the question was attracting poor, low quality or spam answers from these low reputation users. However, in these cases, that's not what's happening.

The Protect Questions privilege has the following guideline:

Questions should be protected when they are garnering lots of views and newbies are adding "me too!", "thanks!" and possibly even spam non-answers.

Some recent examples to consider:

Proposal

I'd like to propose a couple small changes to how a user can protect a question:

The question should not be able to be protected if all of the following are true

  • Has less a low number of views. We use 100 views to determine when close votes start expiring. I think 100 would work here too.
  • None of the posts have garnered low quality or spam flags
  • None of the answers have a score less than 0
  • The user protecting the question is a participant

If any of those criteria are no longer true, then the participants should be able to protect it normally. I worked with ChrisF to spot check the flags on the above posts. There are not any low quality or spam flags.

This means that the final question in my example would be able to be protected by both participants.

If you haven't answered the question, you would be able to protect a question as normal. The idea is that the author of the question or answers can't protect if if the other three criteria are true

Motivation

The idea is to prevent locking out low reputation users from these questions. They are not gathering the types of answers mentioned in the guidelines that require a post to be protected. Instead, it looks like a conflict of interest. The user protecting the post is one of the users that can benefit the most from preventing competing answers.

migrated from meta.stackoverflow.com Feb 8 '16 at 17:09

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • 2
    Interesting idea, but wouldn't it be more appropriate to flag for mod attention if you suspect someone is abusing their privileges for their own gain? – Becuzz Feb 8 '16 at 17:06
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    Flagging is appropriate now. I'm proposing a way to prevent over working the moderators though. The proposal also prevents the abuse from occurring in the first place instead of responding to it after the fact. – Andy Feb 8 '16 at 17:08
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    Checking for flags on-the-fly just to determine if the question can be protected or not seems a bit much. Also, the simple fact of there being a flag is not a great indicator. You'd be surprised how many high-rep users still misuse the VLQ and spam flags. I would maybe change that to "There are no deleted answers" or something along that line. Maybe even drop the last requirement, as nothing would prevent a user from simply protecting the question before they post an answer, while the condition is still untrue. – animuson Feb 8 '16 at 17:33
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    @Becuzz - The difficulty is that there currently is no good way, even for moderators, to see all the posts protected by a user. If someone is abusing this functionality, we can't see it. We've had multiple people be flagged for this, and unless the flagger gives us links to examples of improperly protected questions, there's nothing we can do. – Brad Larson Feb 8 '16 at 17:35
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    @BradLarson So then it sounds like the better solution is to just add an extra stat for moderators on a user's profile, or perhaps to come up with an automatic mod flag when a user has protected a certain number of questions with no deleted answers or something like that. – Servy Feb 8 '16 at 17:39
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    @Servy It's been requested to add it to the profile - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/269628/… – Taryn Feb 8 '16 at 18:28
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    Why aren't people looking at the existing 10k stats for recently protected? (MSE) Isn't that what its there for? Mods can already look at it. 10k can already look at it. – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 19:17
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    @MichaelT - "Recently protected" only seems to show three questions at a time, which on Stack Overflow only takes us back about two hours. You'd have to remember to check that every two hours to even see that there was a problem somewhere, and you'd have no indication that someone had protected twenty questions in a row from that. It's how people have found some of these cases, but then we've had no way to research beyond that. – Brad Larson Feb 8 '16 at 19:55
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    @BradLarson are you sure? Over on Programmers.SE, I grabbed this screen shot. You might have to click the triangle to expand it. – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 19:57
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    @BradLarson the essence behind community moderation is that (in theory) you've got the entire community of 10k users looking at it. If, on the other hand, community moderation is failing (and this is a symptom of it), there is a deeper problem that needs to be examined rather than all of these band aids as the symptoms pop up and trying to impose code to keep things sane. It is a key lesson from shirky.com/writings/herecomeseverybody/group_enemy.html - "the people running the system discovered to their horror that the technological and social issues could not in fact be decoupled." – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 20:11
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    @BradLarson there is also a pending feature request: Show 10kers a larger list of recently protected questions which would provide significantly more information that would let you identify things without having to click through as much. – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 20:19
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    @MichaelT We're reviewing not yet implementing anything. But I'm looking at restricting protecting unless it has one answer by a new user- if it doesn't have a single answer by a new user, then protecting will be prevented except for mods. – Taryn Feb 26 '16 at 18:15
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    @bluefeet so a post that gets 5000 views in two days won't be protectable by a trusted user? – user213963 Feb 26 '16 at 19:02
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    What is the definition of new user? Can a trusted user protect a question that has a post by a user with 111 reputation? 151 reputation? – user213963 Feb 26 '16 at 19:05
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    @MichaelT New users with 10 rep earned on a site are able to answer protected questions. We're just making sure that one of these new users with < 10 rep earned on the site has actually answered the question in order to be protected. – Taryn Feb 26 '16 at 19:19
17

We recently implemented a change to protected questions based on the suggestion by Robert with a few modifications. 15k users will still be able to protect but in order to do so the question must have at least one answer by a new user aka a user with < 10 rep on the site (which is the required rep limit to answer protected questions).

If the question does not have an answer meeting this requirement, then the protect option will not be available. This should minimize some of the protecting of questions that do not need it.

Note: Moderators will be able to protect a question at any time regardless of answers by a new user.

  • Do you want, or planning on, unprotecting the questions that wouldn't qualify for protecting under the new rule? – rene Mar 15 '16 at 20:11
  • @rene We're not working on anything that would automatically remove the protection but we're also working on expanding the list of protected questions in the 10k tools but that requires a bit more work. – Taryn Mar 15 '16 at 20:13
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    What if the answer is deleted? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Mar 15 '16 at 20:15
  • @ShadowWizard looks like there are 16 questions that match if you take deleted answers into account, over 300 if you only look at answercount in the posts table. – rene Mar 15 '16 at 21:01
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    @rene I mean if answer by <10 rep user is deleted, will 15k user still be able to protect the question? There's a pending bug report from gnat about it. If it's true, it's a major bug that renders the whole protection useless. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Mar 15 '16 at 21:19
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    @ShadowWizard If you're referring to the bug mentioned here you'll notice that it's in the process of being fixed. – Taryn Mar 15 '16 at 21:21
  • Thanks, noticed it just now. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Mar 15 '16 at 21:22
  • bluefeet, this answer made me wonder if there is a off-by-one error in calculation somewhere. At the moment of writing this comment its author has only 9 rep on site but protection link isn't displayed to 15K user. I also checked that question is old enough for this option to become available. Could you please take a look? if you prefer to have this posted as a separate bug please let me know – gnat Mar 20 '17 at 16:34
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    @gnat Please post a separate bug report, I don't want it to get lost here. – Taryn Mar 20 '17 at 16:36
  • I think you fixed the wrong problem. The site should address the problem of, "This question was protected by the author of the question (not the answer)." Gaming the system and abusing privileges should not be tolerated. – user173448 Nov 1 '17 at 20:12
  • @jww Feel free to post a feature request asking for changes to it. Ai'd also elaborate on why you feel it should be changed and what's wrong with this setup. – Taryn Nov 1 '17 at 20:15
18

This one has bothered me for awhile. I see a lot of questions being protected that show none of the problems that protect was designed to avoid (i.e. misplaced answers by low-rep users).

Preemptively protecting a question "just in case…" is essentially barring a certain class of users from participation where it is completely unnecessary. New users should NOT be barred from participation… unless there is cause.

So this can be made much much simpler with one straightforward premise:

Do not allow protect if #answers from low-rep users < 2

I understand your concerns about avoiding a (potential) conflict of interest, but look at your examples; they would all have been be avoided if we implemented this one simple rule.

I'm sure you can find the rare exception of abuse of this feature by a high-rep user, but those instances are easily caught if folks simply understand what the feature is for explicitly. My (simplified) version makes that clear by enforcing the use case of when it should be applied. It does assume good faith by our high-rep participants — I would hate to bar high-rep user from fixing threads they participate in — but this also avoids the blatant misuse of this feature when it is applied outside the purpose for which it was designed.

This restriction will make that clear.

  • 2
    What is low rep? Doesn't Community already protect a question when it gets 3 answers from low rep users in short order (see meta.stackexchange.com/q/226619 ). It should also be noted that that has the problem of "user was low rep when posted, got 2 upvotes, not low rep anymore" check done when a new post is made. So, when a post with 20 answers is bounced with a new user answer and everyone has 100 rep now, it still wouldn't be able to be protected until you get two low rep user posts? – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 20:23
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    Consider this query to run - if Do not allow protect if #answers from low-rep users < 2 was the rule, of the last 100 questions that were protected on (bunch of sites) was the case, how many of them would be able to be protected? Of those posts that were (in theory) not protectable now, how many are justified? How much of an actual problem is overprotecting? – user213963 Feb 8 '16 at 20:39
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    will be really funny to see this feature implemented and this one, and even this request for stats stay ignored. Business as usual, get more and more of the stuff, until it blows up – gnat Feb 8 '16 at 20:39
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    I agree with you in general, protection is an easily misused tool as the drawback is invisible. I think the automatic protection mechanism should catch most cases, and there might be room to tweak that a bit more. My main use case for protecting manually are older Arqade questions of mine with a high number of views that tend to attract non-answers. I think it would be safe to allow protections with only one answer from a new user if the question is a bit older and has a lot of views. – Mad Scientist Feb 8 '16 at 21:10
  • I keep thinking that unless there are many problem answers from low rep users within a short time that protecting a question is not needed. If there are only 2 answers from low rep users, I don’t think it justifies the use of protection. – Ian Ringrose Feb 8 '16 at 23:06
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    @IanRingrose Yes, that is generally true. I wasn't suggesting that > 2 means a questions needs protection. But any less than that, I'm suggesting the feature/option shouldn't even be available. It's a UI hint about when/why the feature should be used at all. But it should always be exceptional. – Robert Cartaino Feb 9 '16 at 0:03
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    How should a question that has 20 answers and is getting on average a post a month from a new user about how they do something be handled? The answers end up getting a vote or two in the next month. This is too low for the threshold for activity for the protection suggestion (several posts in a short time), and the reputation of the users are no longer low rep when the next one is posted. – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 16:10
  • @MichaelT See my prior comment. – Robert Cartaino Feb 9 '16 at 17:04
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    @RobertCartaino I'm sorry but that comment doesn't answer the example situation clearly. Am I correct in understanding that you believe that a post a month from a new user that is either down voted and deleted as an exact duplicate of other material or gets an up vote or two despite being poor quality is an acceptable situation and does not need protection? In particular, gaming.stackexchange.com/q/17381 gaming.stackexchange.com/q/8310 gaming.stackexchange.com/q/202454 gaming.stackexchange.com/q/39011 - isn't this exactly what protection is for? – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 17:12
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    @MichaelT Both questions you cited have tons of low-rep answers (i.e. they can be protected), so I'm not seeing this increasingly unlikely scenario being a huge issue. – Robert Cartaino Feb 10 '16 at 22:35
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    @RobertCartaino in another comment I had another list: programmers.stackexchange.com/q/250707 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/251431 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/226440 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/206321 - these are questions with a dozen or so answers, fairly high views for the site, and a number of less than ideal quality answers - and not from low rep users (probably because they were protected). If the questions are to avoid being closed as too broad or opinion, making sure the amount of community moderation on them should probably be kept to a min. – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 22:40
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    I would make the claim that the number of questions that are justifiably protected and have fewer than two new user posts in them is significantly higher than the number of questions that are improperly protected as described in the OP's question. – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 22:45
10

(I am basing the answer on Brad’s comment where he says the mod’s don’t have access to tools to investigate this)

We don’t need yet more automated complex rules to stop high rep users doing bad things, we need the mod to take action against them, after issuing warnings.

But before moderators can take action, they must be able to investigate. Therefore the moderators must be able to see all posts a given user has protected, ideally in a report that also lists if they have provided an answer to that post.

If a filter could be run to find all users that have protected more than N posts, that they have also answered, it could allow the moderators to search for problem users doing this. Also including number of deleted answers and comments in the reports may help.

  • "We don’t need yet more automated complex rules to stop high rep users doing bad things" - Why not stop it before it can happen? – Andy Feb 8 '16 at 18:33
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    @Andy, too many edge cases to think about. I also expect it does not happen much and if rules where put in, people would then consider it was OK to do everything the rules allowed them to. – Ian Ringrose Feb 8 '16 at 18:42
9

Near as I can tell, the "Protect" feature was based somewhat loosely on a Wikipedia feature called "Semi-protect" that restricts edits from new users without a nominal history of positive contributions.

As usual, Wikipedia has a set of rough guidelines for its use:

  • All or almost all of the vandalism is coming from unregistered users.
  • Unregistered editors should be making very few quality contributions to the article compared to the amount of vandalism coming from unregistered editors. The negative effects of semi-protection on discouraging positive contributions should be more of a concern than the positive effect of decreasing vandalism.
  • There are regularly many new vandals, therefore it would be a huge unending task to notify and warn all the vandals individually.
  • [...] The higher the percentage of vandal edits, the greater the need for protection.
  • Consider a lower threshold for protection for articles on living people as vandalism is potentially more damaging in these cases.

There are a few sites that occasionally host questions about living people, but generally this isn't a big problem on Stack Exchange; outside of meta questions, questions here are not potentially damaging to some 3rd-party's reputation. But the rest of these criteria are pretty solid - in fact, we've already baked the first two into the system for automatically protecting questions.

That pretty much just leaves those extreme edge-cases where a post is being vandalized by new users but the system can't reliably detect it. As usual, we've erred on the side of letting real humans identify these cases, but now it's been demonstrated that they're not applying any reasonable criteria...

...So let's educate them!

As bluefeet noted in the comments, we're considering removing the option to protect from questions that haven't received at least one answer from a new user. That's a bit of a no-brainer - by definition, you can't have new users vandalizing a question with their answers if none of them have posted any answers. Wikipedia's guidelines have much more complicated rules for evaluating this need, involving percentages of bad answers to good ones and historical data on the average amounts of vandalism - I elided these with ellipses in my quote, because I think something like that would be overkill here; I'd rather make it easy to protect when there's a chance it's needed, and just as easy to unprotect when no longer necessary.

With this change in place, our opportunity for education arises: rather than removing the "protect" option, cause it to fail with an illuminating message:

Protect only blocks new users from answering, and no new users have ever answered this question. Please reserve the use of Protect for questions that are attracting large numbers of spam of low-quality answers.

Now we're killing two birds with one stone: eliminating a chunk of completely unwarranted protections, and educating the folks with this privilege on its proper use for the remaining cases where it might be used.

  • 2
    How would existing deleted answers be counted for protection? Does "no new users" take into account the reputation of the user at the time the post was made? or is it looking at the current reputation of the users who have (undeleted?) posts in the question? – user213963 Feb 26 '16 at 20:30
  • All current systems examine reputation (less association bonus) at the time of action; this is pretty transparent. Taking reputation at the time of post creation into account would be possible, but extremely hard for a casual viewer (or even a dedicated one in some cases) to evaluate accurately. If the goal is education, it's more important that we teach folks who've earned this privilege to evaluate questions than it is that we're perfectly accurate; after all, if the system was accurate, we wouldn't need the privilege in the first place. – Shog9 Feb 26 '16 at 20:32
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    I would contend that the warning is misleading then. New users have answered the question, its just that their reputation on site is now greater than 10. It is also unclear how you handle deleted posts in this. Consider the following questions on P.SE: which ones are of questionable protection in your eyes? Which ones would be prevented? programmers.stackexchange.com/q/173086 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/202031 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/142065 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/103914 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/59880 ? – user213963 Feb 26 '16 at 20:38
  • All but the first one of those have recent, deleted or downvoted answers from new users, @MichaelT. Protection is serving a purpose. The first one hasn't been answered in over two years; I don't see any reason for protecting it and I've removed the status. Also, that question is unnecessarily inflammatory and probably should have been edited years ago if someone was really interested in preventing stupid answers. – Shog9 Feb 26 '16 at 21:28
  • (just for the record, not that I expect any action on that) request for statistics regarding chosen way to account for reputation stays ignored: How many questions escape community protection because of reputation gained within checked question? – gnat Feb 26 '16 at 21:30
  • Are you asking for a count of questions that would be protected if we operated only based on the reputation at the time of answer creation, @gnat? – Shog9 Feb 26 '16 at 21:48
  • I am asking for a count of questions that would be protected if you ignored reputation gained by user within checked question. It's a weaker criteria than rep at time of creation but one that's easy to test, collect stats and use @Shog9 – gnat Feb 26 '16 at 21:50
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    Yeah, that's horrendously painful to calculate @gnat. I can trivially determine if a user had passed the new-user restrictions when the answer was posted, but figuring up historical rep for an arbitrary point in time is too slow to bother with for more than a small subset of questions. Which also makes it impractical for any actual automated system, of course. – Shog9 Feb 26 '16 at 21:55
  • you explained me that a while ago @Shog9 that's why I picked approximate approach. System checks the question anyway, it can calc and deduct rep gained from answers within it. Maybe it can even be further simplified and narrowed to users who have only one (not deleted) answer - meaning all rep they've got is from posting to that question – gnat Feb 26 '16 at 22:04
  • If you're comfortable with... some pretty loose accuracy... I might be able to swing that, @gnat. I'll have a look while I have this beer & we'll see which finishes first. – Shog9 Feb 26 '16 at 22:07
  • I'd be comfortable to get anything tangible, even if loose accuracy – gnat Feb 26 '16 at 22:10
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    @Shog9 The alternative for protection for questions where new users who don't understand the norms of answering a question where the question is borderline problematic is to close the question. This brings up other problems of what should and shouldn't be closed along the border between "ok" and "this is not great and may generate good answers from users who know what to do, and may generate poor answers from users who don't know what to do." Closing the later has lead to friction in the past. However, if closing is a better option for the borderline questions than protection, so be it. – user213963 Mar 2 '16 at 17:55
  • Take each option to its extreme, @MichaelT: if every question is eventually protected, no one outside can answer and the community of answerers eventually atrophies. If every question is closed, no one can answer period and the community of answerers atrophies much faster. So clearly, neither tool can be used on every question; there must be a threshold beyond which maintaining the question is too much work for the benefit that it provides, and it is protected or closed in order to allow folks to focus elsewhere. Sites where EVERY question requires heavy moderation tend to grow slowly. – Shog9 Mar 2 '16 at 23:35
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    The difference being the amount of community moderation necessary after the action is done in the two cases. Closing a question tends to not have any more. Protecting it doesn't have too much more... leaving it open when it gets poor answers answers requires significantly more than the previous two. When community moderation is the scarce resource, it becomes a tricky judgement call about which of those three options is best. – user213963 Mar 3 '16 at 2:41
  • In cases where the question isn't obviously unproductive, the best course of action is to wait and see what happens then @MichaelT - and be ready to react based on the sort of attention it actually attracts. – Shog9 Mar 3 '16 at 16:37
1

This is all predicated on "we don't have the tools to investigate this."

Quite simply, we do. Most people are probably not choosing to look at them, or act on them, but those are different problems.

A quick walk over to the 10k tools brings us to: 10k tools > stats which provides a section:

Recently protected

And now you can click on those links and see why. This implies that people are actually using the tools that they are given. No additional code is needed. The "what was done recently" is already there along with all the needed things for human or mod oversight.

If there's a problem with 15ks protecting questions against low rep users, then that is something to flag for the mods to deal with.

No automated protections are needed. 10ks and mods just have to use the tools that they are already given.

If this is a 0.1% of protection being abused as described in the OP's question (that number is a guess), then what is needed is better auditioning of the tools and its use rather than a hard code prevention.


Lets look at what protection is intended to accomplish and see if this matches up with how the suggested restrictions would promote or hinder this.

Protection is intended to prevent new users to the site from posting answers in questions that are gathering poor quality answers. Many new users tend to follow the trend of other answers to the question. If there are poor quality answers, the new user is also more likely to post a poor quality answers.

Protection tries to prevent these poor quality answers by ensuring that the user has at least a minimum amount of familiarity with the site and its norms to be able to post a good answer. This is especially common on sites that are a bit more on the discussiony side and you get answers such as "I can't comment, but here's what I think." Or if a question that is borderline is getting activity, the new user chimes in with their two cents.

Preventing the post with protection serves two goals:

  • It prevents the new user from having a worse user experience than being prevented posting - getting down voted and having the post deleted.
  • It reduces the need for the 20k users to delete vote answers. And in the situation where the post gets up voted and attracts mod attention to clean up the dozen answers that somehow have an up vote and the mods then go through and wholesale clean all the poor quality answers out. This type of moderation doesn't scale well.

Thus, protection is a tool to reduce the amount of community moderation needed, or mods needing to come in and deal with all the answers. It prevents users from posting and thereby having a very poor user experience on the site.

If any restrictions on when a post is to be protected is put into place, one needs to carefully examine how these two goals of protection can be accomplished using other tools and the impact of the new user experience in situations where it should have been protected and now instead has their post deleted (either because its negatively scored now, or a mod came by and deleted a positively scored post and took away their points).

My contention is that the frequency of protection of a question being abused is less than 1 in 1000 protected questions. What needs to be done is making it easier to find these situations where the protection mechanic is abused rather than reducing the community's ability to protect itself and the need for people to explain the "why this answer marked down" comments on poor quality questions that are gathering poor quality answers from users who don't know better.

This might need to be coupled with better visibility of the 10k tools both to 10k users and moderators who apparently don't look at them frequently enough as the tools to prevent the sort of abuse described in the question already exist.


In my reviewing of recently protected questions, I found this: Dealing with failed sprints and deadlines which was protected by a diamond mod (which I assume isn't at issue), but rather I want to point out the various circumstances of the question:

  • It was asked less than 24 hours ago (thus the mod protect rather than trusted user)
  • As I write this, it has 5618 views.
  • It has 8 answers.
  • The least repped user answering the question has 552 rep.

If this wasn't protected by a mod, I would have been looking at doing it myself (as it shows up as #1 post on the 'most viewed 2 days' stats section).

The key consideration in this is that this sort of protecting shouldn't be restricted (given the time frame for a trusted user to protect it). Proposals that run counter to the ability for the community to handle such situations. The community needs to be able to protect questions where excess popularity can lead to diminished new user experiences.

  • 2
    This is all true, but I don't see why we shouldn't automate something that's so easy to automate. Having the tools to investigate this does not mean the time spent investigating it is worth it. – yannis Feb 9 '16 at 11:10
  • @Yannis in theory the 10k community should be looking at this every day, along with the rest of the stats that are presented there. The tools exist. In practice 10ks don't appear to know its there and the mods don't know how to use the tools for community moderation. Making protection harder to deal with the 0.01% (a guess) instances where it is abused is weakening community moderation and its ability to act. ... – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 12:01
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    Across the network it has been noted that mods don't scale - that the community needs to do more. Taking away an ability from the community disenfranchises them and makes for more necessary for mods to be activist or watch the SE they are charged with fall into poor questions that the community doesn't care to fix because they've been so restricted in what they can do. Vote to close, wait a few weeks as poor answers to a poor question pile on. – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 12:03
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    The thing is, no one is taking away an ability from the community. There's nothing in this proposal that would prohibit people from protecting questions, when protection is actually needed. This doesn't affect anyone who isn't abusing the feature. – yannis Feb 9 '16 at 12:06
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    @Yannis I point you to the question which the text "I'd like to propose a couple small changes to how a user can protect a question" which makes it more restrictive. Or an answer from an SE representative that says "Do not allow protect if #answers from low-rep users < 2" - those are both restrictions on the existing protection mechanic. – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 12:11
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    Questions should be protected when they are garnering lots of views and newbies are adding "me too!", "thanks!" and possibly even spam non-answers. The "do not allow protect if #answers from low-rep users < 2" restriction already exists, it's just not enforced at system level. If newbies are not adding "me too!" or "thanks!" answers, there's no reason to protect a question. – yannis Feb 9 '16 at 12:16
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    @Yannis so this question shouldn't be protected? It is getting off topic suggestions, has been bounced again to activity, the existing answers would seem to encourage new answers. Or how about this one which has four deleted answers and two from 1 rep users (one of which is rather poor quality)? There is more than "me too" prevention that is needed. – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 12:34
  • The first one should be closed, not protected. It only needed to be protected, because community moderation (at a much lower level) failed. The second one, I don't have a way of knowing if the "low-rep users < 2" restriction applies (no idea at what rep level the deleted users were when they posted their answers). – yannis Feb 9 '16 at 12:37
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    @Andy I will certainly grant that (your proposal does seem to be not too restrictive on the existing mechanic). I just believe that for these rare occasions, better auditing tools for protected questions is a better general solution than imposing restrictions. Especially in the light of Robert's suggestion that goes way overboard to the point of making it near impossible to protect anything even when it is needed. – user213963 Feb 9 '16 at 13:47
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    "It prevents the new user from having a worse user experience than being prevented posting - getting down voted and having the post deleted." This is only true if we assume that new users are incapable of posting anything but crap. – yannis Feb 10 '16 at 9:57
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    Your point being? I don't think anyone's arguing that there's no benefit from protecting questions. – yannis Feb 10 '16 at 12:18
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    @Yannis the phrasing that Robert used is that protection "... should always be exceptional" which suggests extremely rare and moderator only. I am claiming that it is something that isn't rare to have an old honey pot borderline question that should either be closed or protected and moderators don't scale. The old honeypot questions, when rediscovered rarely have the requirements that fit Robert's criteria. – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 12:32
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    @Yannis the wording there is closely aligned with the descriptions of other moderator abilities - that moderators are the ones to act as exception handlers, or to deal with the exceptional cases that come up on a site. That said, lets go back to questions that are protected and if they should be or not. programmers.stackexchange.com/q/250707 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/251431 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/226440 programmers.stackexchange.com/q/206321 - are there any there that would meet Robert's requirement? Should they be protected? open? or closed? – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 12:46
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    @Yannis would you care to review the use of the word 'exceptional'? meta.stackexchange.com/help/site-moderators meta.stackexchange.com/q/124439 meta.stackexchange.com/a/115758 meta.stackexchange.com/a/272241 meta.stackexchange.com/q/20696 blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/05/a-theory-of-moderation ? From my perspective, the consistent message when the word 'exceptional' is used in conjunction with an activity it is by in far related to the activities of a moderator. – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 13:52
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    @Yannis Ok, then find the other side of the argument. Find posts about things other than exceptional answers to be rewarded with bounties posted either in SE official blogs or by SE employees here that are about things that non-moderators are to do that are exceptional. My perception is that when SE talks about exceptional actions they are talking about things that are restricted to moderators. – user213963 Feb 10 '16 at 13:59

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