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As you all probably know, some questions on the Network are sometimes Protected to:

prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users.

For example, this question.

When I first read the word Protected it gave me the impression that it was done because that question was of great quality and importance, and it was protected to make it stand out or be easily found by other users. It also came to my mind that another reason could be to prevent open/close wars on those questions (therefore protecting the question).

I consider that the word "Protected" should be changed to a better wording, perhaps to "Restricted", so it actually conveys better the original intentions/meaning of doing that to the question (restricting it from spam answers and comments by new users).

Could it be renamed to another more accurate word?

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    FWIW, the name likely comes from Wikipedia, where it means roughly the same thing. – Shog9 Aug 25 '17 at 17:00
  • A question and its answers are a "thing" itself, @MaskedMan. Protect is hardly unique in how it treats this. – Shog9 Aug 25 '17 at 18:03
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The problem with your suggestion is restricted has the same sense of double meaning. Particularly in the US, that word is more associated with things that are restricted to people aged 18 and above, which doesn't make any sense on a question either.

We can sit here and play the word game for a long time to try and come up with a perfect fit that probably doesn't exist. Or we can just provide a description directly below where it appears that explains exactly what we mean by the word we used. It is protected in the sense that we are protecting it from low quality answers. We explain that in the notice, and that's really all that is necessary.

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    So you suggest we just ignore this possible improvement because its sub-optimal meaning is compensated by having to add more explanation to the real meaning? – DarkCygnus Aug 25 '17 at 2:59
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    @GrayCygnus I'm saying that most words can be defined in multiple ways and claiming it's not a good word just because of that is a poor excuse for changing it. We also use a slightly different definition of "off-topic" than most sites do. As long as you explain what you mean, then it doesn't matter. Changing every instance of a word in the system like this isn't something to do when the current wording simply isn't a problem. – animuson Aug 25 '17 at 3:00
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    @MaskedMan So confuse an entire country just because this is an international site, based on a request that doesn't really have any merit? – animuson Aug 25 '17 at 14:31
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    No, it's really not. Your argument is unfounded and I'm not going to continue this conversation with you. The bottom line here is all possible words can be read with different meanings and you need to explain what you mean, which we have done. There isn't a problem to solve here and we will not make a change. – animuson Aug 25 '17 at 16:05
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    @animuson so why have language at all if all possible words can be read with different meanings? If you want to go the route of Tech Republic, continue to be as dismissive to people's concerns. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Aug 25 '17 at 16:12
  • @RichardU Good question. That's where context comes into play. I remember having a conversation about some Portuguese word that has like five different, completely unrelated definitions. – animuson Aug 25 '17 at 16:14
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    @animuson German and Japanese are both very contextual languages, a word's meaning can be changed by what it's proximity to other words. Schön can change it's meaning wildly, for example – Richard says Reinstate Monica Aug 25 '17 at 16:17
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    Restricted has a "Taboo" feel to in in the US. I do not think the intent is to mark the questions Taboo. That said is there any willingness to consider alternatives to protected? – Chad Aug 25 '17 at 17:43
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    @GrayCygnus That comment was more directed at animuson – Chad Aug 25 '17 at 20:06
  • I read better now @Chad thanks for your comment. I agree that we should be open for alternatives and not just discard the possibility at first glance – DarkCygnus Aug 25 '17 at 20:07
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Firstly, let's give a definition of what protected means within the StackExchange context:

Protected questions have the additional restriction that new users are not permitted to answer the question. Unlike locked questions, they can still be edited, commented on, and voted on. You can even vote to close them.

Furthermore on the motivation of protecting a question:

Some questions are protected because they are expected to attract either spam or users -- often new users -- who may mistake the site as a traditional forum, posting "noisy" answers such as "Thank you" or "This worked for me" or "I'm also having this problem".

Taken from: What is a “protected” question?


Next I looked up the definition of protected on dictionary.com:

to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger.

This definition seems pretty spot-on, especially when you shorten the definition to: guard from annoyance

Now looking at the definition of restricted:

limited to or admitting only members of a particular group or class

Now this seems accurate, except when you consider new users can still look at the question and interact through: comments, votes and edits. You would need to be more specific and say something like Answer Restricted.


Just to explore some other options I had a look on thesaurus.com, and the key synonyms that were appearing included:

Shielded, covered, guaranteed, preserved, secured, sheltered.

In my opinion:

covered can be dismissed it gives the impression of concealment, but new users can still look at the question.

guaranteed can be dismissed because spam is not guaranteed to be prevented.

preserved can be dismissed because it is more to do with maintenance and retention.

secured can be dismissed because it is too absolute.

sheltered can be dismissed because it creates the imagery of established SO users hiding inside whilst new users claw at the doors trying to get out of the rain.

Again shielded creates similar imagery of keeping new users at bay. Essentially this is true, but the objective is to reduce spam and not directly oppose new users.


In a nutshell, after exploring some synonyms and alternatives, I think protected is the best word for the job.

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