The prequel

I am a Stack Exchange user mainly interested in sciences. However, I sometimes notice something an interesting question on the Hot questions block and open it.

In some rare cases I feel that I can contribute to this question by providing a new perspective or additional information. For example, my only post on Workplace SE turned out to be number 3 answer on that question with 80 upvotes.

The problem is that in most of those cases even though I have something to add, I can not add it because the question is protected. Here is a recent (and still hot) question.

I was going to address a point in question that no one else had touched and also provide some additional information/examples regarding other points. But I could not post an answer. Instead, I provided the information in comment form. But all of the comments on that question got removed by a moderator (I guess it's because the total amount was too large).

I am not going to become an active user of Workplace SE or UX SE. But is there no worth in single answers? How could adding information harm anyone? What is the point of questions being protected?

I know the answer (it's written by the "protected" stuff) - it protects the question from low-quality answers. Guess what - it also protects the question from medium quality and high quality answers. The Hot questions are the cases where an expert that is not an active user might come and contribute. Why are we protecting a question from such people?

A protection mechanism against low quality answers is already there - it is the downvote. Those low quality answers and questions should not be seen as strain by moderators. They should just get downvoted to hell (just as this post probably will).

The point

I beckon you to embrace the downvote and stop fearing it. Stop crying "please explain the downvote" and fearing to hurt someone by downvoting a post. If you think a post is crap - downvote it. Let the community moderate the content quality. There is no need for some elitist protections, content removals and other demonstrations of moderator power that hurts far more than downvotes would. Leave moderation for actual problems of illegal content and let the simple folk vote on quality. They are sometimes more competent than the moderators are.

Why this is not a duplicate of Allow people to answer protected questions if they have earned at least some amount of combined SE rep

The initial problem was that I (and others) can't answer where something useful might be provided. However the solution I ask for is different. Just check the opinions about downvotes. Stop calling out explain your downvote? There is too much sympathy for the poor downvoted fellows here. Let the people downvote without punishment. This is a system that works great elsewhere (Reddit is the best example I know). I am sure that bad answers would receive enough downvotes if downvoting wouldn't be seen as a bad thing.

So what is someone answers "thanks, I had the same problem"? Let him get five downvotes, a single toxic comment of "this is useless, you don't understand what an answer is" and fade out so no one else sees the "answer". Protection guaranteed.

marked as duplicate by Glorfindel, Nathan Tuggy, kiamlaluno discussion Dec 6 '16 at 8:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • How could adding information harm anyone? You decrease the signal to noise ratio. You obscure the useful information in piles and piles of useless information. You also take it as an assumption that people actually downvote posts that aren't useful. That's simply not a true assumption. The vast majority of users don't actually do that. – Servy Dec 5 '16 at 20:23
  • Downvote useless, upvote useful. As it stands now, protecting means those who come later are assumed to post something useless. It is wrong ;) Yes, I know that most don't downvote as downvoting is seen as really aggressive and bad manners here. Which is why I am asking to change this opinion and use the downvote option. – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:25
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    No, protecting means, "those who haven't provided even a single useful contribution to this community won't be able to post an answer to this question, because there is a history, or an extremely high likelihood, of low quality answers from said users for this particular question". – Servy Dec 5 '16 at 20:27
  • @Servy it is not the people that don't want to downvote. Just check reddit. But it's somehow engrained here that it is harmful to downvote. – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:27
  • You can tell people to change their opinions all you want. 99.999% won't ever see this question, and of those that will, exactly 0% are going to change their opinion because you told them to. – Servy Dec 5 '16 at 20:28
  • I disagree because I suspect that SE folks anti-downvote opinion is shaped on this meta. But we should stop arguing before this gets moved to trashcan called chat :( – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:32
  • You'll find that the majority of the people that view meta posts actually downvote posts that they feel aren't useful. They unfortunately make up a rather significantly large portion of the people that actually downvote posts that aren't useful though. – Servy Dec 5 '16 at 20:33
  • FWIW, your example is locked in addition to being protected - NO ONE can answer it, regardless of reputation. – Shog9 Dec 5 '16 at 20:38
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    I'm not sure where you got the idea that people here don't want to downvote, there is a lot of downvoting here. – Cai Dec 5 '16 at 20:38
  • Anyway, in principal I completely agree with you, but in practice it doesn't work. If you look through current/previous meta discussions here you'll see that hot question are a problem, drive-by upvotes can far outweigh downvotes from regular users and its genuinely frustrating to see completely off-topic content upvoted completely disproportionately – Cai Dec 5 '16 at 20:39
  • @Shog9 it wasn't locked when I came to answer. I think it got locked along the comment removal :) – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:45
  • Been locked for two days, @Juris - but easy enough to overlook if you're bound to answer (protected notice at the bottom of the answers vs question). (or do you mean you went to answer two days ago?) – Shog9 Dec 5 '16 at 20:46
  • @Shog9 the comments were removed before the lock. As I say that I added a comment before they were removed, I were there (and wanted to answer) before the lock :) – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:53
  • I don't see what you're practically suggesting more than the dupe... 1. I think your assumption that people don't downvote is simply wrong and 2. How would you change that behaviour anyway? Downvoting is anonymous, optional an unenforceable (outside of serial voting etc). – Cai Dec 5 '16 at 21:38
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    @haykam I have the association bonus, it is not counted in protecting. – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 22:52

The crux of the problem here lies in two aspects of the reputation system and one aspect of user behavior:

  • Downvotes are unavailable to new users... However upvotes are available to anyone who has earned at least 200 reputation on any site (thus granting them the reputation bonus as a new user on any other site).

  • Downvotes on answers cost reputation (just one point, but still significant to many).

  • Folks are generally much more reluctant to downvote than they are to upvote; part of this is due to the reputation cost (and thus intentionally-encouraged by the system) and part is due simply to the nature of how folks express opinions (downvoting is often seen as much more "personal" than upvoting).

As a result, answers - even fairly poor ones - are much more likely to attract upvotes than downvotes. The problem is exacerbated on more subjective topics, where agreement on a lackluster answer expressing a popular opinion can overwhelm even wide-spread disapproval for the lack of objectivity or supporting material. This can leave moderators in the uncomfortable position of having to delete heavily upvoted answers simply because they add nothing useful to the question (and detract from those which aim to solve the asker's problem). Communities which suffer from such effects tend to take a proactive approach, critiquing, downvoting, and flagging inappropriate answers quickly... But when a given question is attracting a large amount of traffic, this can quickly consume all available resources.

Thus, Protected status: if a question has proven itself to be a time-sink due to new-user attention, this allows it to be made unavailable to folks who've yet to internalize the community's standards.

See also: Changes and guidelines for the Protected Question status

  • I see some threads of "remove downvote penalty". But I think the problem is not the penalty but the public frown against downvotes. Especially against unexplained downvotes. – Džuris Dec 5 '16 at 20:59
  • @Juris: Most of the disapproval for unexplained downvotes comes from new users. How do you propose to handle that, when experienced users have already been trying to counter it for years? – Nathan Tuggy Dec 5 '16 at 21:49
  • Shog I think people would be more receptive to ideas in the guidance you refer here if you drop the dirty hack invented only to protect Stack Overflow questions from sticking in hot list (and instead implement proper penalization using parameter that was intended to serve this purpose). Until then, recommendations like given over there sound a little bit disingenuous sorry – gnat Dec 6 '16 at 6:08

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