We all know that the HNQ causes good- or okay-questions to be flooded with activity, especially if they have an abnormal or controversial title. There’s no need to get into the mess which kicked off this latest round of HNQ concern here, so I’ll get straight to my feature request:
Create a new ‘HNQ protection’ type between ‘protected’ and ‘locked’, and apply this to all HNQ questions automatically for the duration of their time on the list.
Protection currently prevents a user without 10 reputation on the site from answering a question. This ignores the association bonus, which restricts people who don’t know the specific site from contributing.
This new form of protection would prevent all interactions from users with less than 10 site reputation —
answering, upvoting, commenting. Downvoting is already prevented due to the association bonus providing less than 125 reputation.
It was mentioned in comments that an answer from an outside contributor can often be good. As we already have protection, it could be that ‘HNQ protection’ still allows answers. A high reputation user / moderator could then chose to apply protection in addition to ‘HNQ protection’, if desired.
A small number of new users who find this question naturally will be prevented from performing actions on the question and answers. I am confident this would do very little to harm the site; most users who aren’t coming from the HNQ list will have 10 reputation, and those who don’t can easily gain it. We already have a similar rationale for protected questions.
It will do a great deal to help the question, by preventing people who don’t know the site culture from jumping in and blindly upvoting low effort, or even flat out wrong answers, from posting off topic comments which have to be cleared up, and from answering a question with quick, irrelevant answers.
This would break the feedback cycle of ‘popular question goes on list’ → ‘people upvote question and boost popularity’ → ‘good question stays on list’, and significantly reduce the workload of moderators, desperately trying to keep up with thousands of irrelevant comments across hundreds of answers.
It would also help to prevent some other negative effects — if an inexperienced user posts one thing which goes ‘viral’, they can end up with way more reputation than their post — and their experience of the site — deserves.
This would be a system-only privilege. Only questions on the HNQ could receive this, and all would receive it automatically. However, a moderator would have the ability to remove this form of protection if it was deemed unhelpful, and, once removed, could reenable it at any time, until the question was no longer on the list. This would be a moderator only privilege, to be used only in those situations where votes are being artificially inflated by external visitors from the HNQ, Reddit and Hacker News, and potentially other social media, or when comments are getting out of hand.