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I, as a user, got tired of the same situation. I see a question on the Hot Questions list. I know exact answer to it. There is no proper answer to it yet, and sometimes even dangerous advice.

But the question is on some weird SE that I never saw before and it is protected. Basically, about half of all questions that I find on Hot Questions and can answer, are protected against me.

It is very annoying. If I really want to help, I have to walk around that SE, say dumb and obvious things, in hope to get those 10 points quick enough. If whole SE theme is outside my expertise, what I do is basically spamming. So usually I just walk away.

Please remove questions I may not answer from my selection on Hot Questions.

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  • You get the assosiation bonus, 101 rep at every site you join, you can answer protected questions anywhere.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:52
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    @MarkKirby Are you sure? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/306005/…
    – rene
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:55
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    @Mark the association bonus doesn't count toward answering protected questions
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:55
  • Oh OK, I did not know that, just assumed :/
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:56
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    From What is a “protected” question? "the +100 account association bonus is ignored for this check, so users with the association bonus require 110 reputation to answer protected questions"
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 9:57
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    I am somewhat confused, at one hand you say it can be "whole SE theme is outside my expertise" but then how come that you "know exact answer to it. There is no proper answer to it yet, and sometimes even dangerous advice", this feels somewhat contradictory. I mean if you can't contribute to site topic at all (not even with edits I guess) then how could it be that you know particular topical question that has been already answered, voted and highly visible to users who have proven expertise in topic
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 10:16
  • @gnat HNQ tend to consist of questions with easy answers, otherwise it will never reach HNQ. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 10:28
  • For example, if I am not a veterinarian, but I have experience in dog training, than I can give advice about dog behaviour, but not it's health. However, both topics are combined in pets SE. Additionally, there is a lot of questions, like "what's the voltage of mains power in Russia" for which all Russians know the answer - and its wrong. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 10:52
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2 Answers 2

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It's not against you. It's to protect the site from answers coming from people with zero experience in the site.

While your answer might be awesome and perfect for the site, more chances that you'll miss the point of that "weird" site, and what you write will, in general, decrease the overall quality of that site.

Bottom line: the system works. Let's not change something that works as intended.

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  • 2
    I did not talk about removing protection/ I talk about not offering a user the questions he may not answer, in Hot Questions. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 10:46
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    @BarafuAlbino I love the HNQ sidebar. It’s brings all sorts of interesting questions to my attention. 95% of the value I get out of it is simply reading these fascinating things; rarely do I even think about answering.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 11:08
  • @Dan that's worthy of an answer, coming from different angle. I refer to one side of the question. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 11:10
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    @ShadowWizard Sorry, this Q came to my attention from the HNQ sidebar and I’m just here to read, not to post answers ;)
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 11:24
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    @DanBron this is probably related to your comment: Can we get a comments only lock? :)
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 12:51
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    @BarafuAlbino 'Hot questions' aren't intended to highlight questions you can answer; it's supposed to highlight stuff your peers found interesting. Perhaps you are looking for How to find the right questions that I can answer? Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 15:44
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    @RobertCartaino real feature implementation (explained eg here) seems to contradict to what you declare in that it explicitly encourages answering: "algorithm will heavily favor questions with LOTS of answers..."
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 17:54
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    ...and it's fairly easy to observe that system behavior follows that real implmentation and not your "declaration of intent". Many HNQs are polluted with truoblesome "answers" from careless passers-by, gaining upvotes from similar passers-by armed with association bonus. This may be the reason for misunderstanding like expressed in this feature request, "why are you showing me hot questions that I can not answer"
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 17:54
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The design intent of HNQ is to provide interesting reading. The HNQ draws from 170+ sites, so the odds that any given reader will have the expertise to answer a random hot question are very low.

But you're describing a case where the HNQ leads you to a question you can answer, because while you're not an expert on the site's overall topic, you have specific knowledge here. And when you get there you can't answer because it's protected. That's frustrating; I've been there too.

HNQ isn't the only path that leads there, though. I see questions that have been tweeted, questions that are linked from other questions (on other sites), and questions that hit Reddit or other sites. And if those questions are protected I can't answer them either.

The HNQ is global; there's no per-user filtering (and it would be expensive because of how often the list changes). The only way to solve your problem would be to bar protected questions from HNQ entirely. That wouldn't solve the Twitter/Reddit/etc problem, but at least it would stop you from having a bad HNQ experience. And I should also mention that, as a moderator on a site that often has stuff on HNQ that we'd rather not, I could get behind a "protection blocks HNQ" idea.

Except that the questions that get protected are usually the most popular and active, the ones that -- for better or worse -- will actually draw visitors to the site in question. I'd like to see changes to HNQ management, including a way (short of closure) for a community to remove a specific question from it, but this proposal seems too heavy-handed. It's also likely to produce a flurry of anticipatory protections across the network, making it harder for visitors to contribute and help grow our sites and communities. Maybe that's fine on big sites, but the smaller sites I'm on don't want to pre-emptively drive prospective users away.

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