This question was automatically protected at the same time as this answer being deleted. However, I believe it was incorrectly protected.

Per the protection FAQ, questions are automatically protected if:

  • Three answers from three different low-rep users were deleted.
  • Five or more answers from low-rep users were posted in the last 24 hours.
  • Two answers were deleted by spam flagging.

The FAQ does mention that the first and third criteria above are implemented in a crude fashion, and links to another post that describes the true way they are implemented. However, that doesn't seem to describe what happened here.

The protection seems to have been caused by the deletion of that answer, so it can't be the second one. It was also voluntarily deleted by the author, so it can't be the third one either. Finally, the answer was posted by a high-rep user with 32.5k+ rep, so it's not posted by a "new user".

How did the question get protected after an answer posted by a high-rep user got deleted, and that too voluntarily?

I suspect that the "unique authors" check in the linked MSO post is not properly checking if the author is new, so this may be why the most recent contest's revision history has entire pages consisting of auto-protection/unprotection events.

  • Could it be that the high rep author clicked the wiki checkbox, and the system then thought it was posted by a 0 rep user for purposes of that check?
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 4:29
  • 2
    The current code does not check who the answer belongs to. It runs the auto-protect trigger check on every answer deletion, always. But I'm not sure if that's intended or we just didn't think about that check when commenting out this line so that null users (commonly deleted users) would still trigger the check: // if (Owner == null || !Owner.IsNew) return;
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 4:45
  • It's behaved like that for a while. Worldbuilding (and I think PPCG?) had to turn off auto-protection on meta so sandboxes wouldn't keep getting auto-protected. That doesn't work here on MSE. Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 1:48
  • @MonicaCellio This is less of an issue on per-site metas, since the system doesn't subtract 100 for users with the association bonus on per-site metas. However, it does present a problem for new users as well as on this site. Commented Feb 3, 2019 at 2:32

2 Answers 2


Jane implemented a fix for this last week: these checks are now only run when a qualifying answer is deleted (spam or new-user post).

  • 1
    What about the posted answers check? Can a question still be protected upon a high-rep user posting an answer, if five or more answers from low-rep users were posted in the last 24 hours? Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 18:13
  • That check already only runs when the new answer is from a new user.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 18:48

As animuson pointed out, the protection occurred because the code doing the protecting is too simple.

Any time an answer is deleted (probably), the sum of (deleted answers by low rep users + answers with helpful spam flags) >= 3, we protect the question. I suspect if a mod were to delete and undelete an answer on that question, it would end up protected again.

I'm adding this to our triage queue, but this bug will probably receive a fairly low priority. On MSE, there are only 32 questions that currently pass the query, only 3 are neither protected or locked, and only this one is really at risk of getting re-protected. The work and the risk of fiddling with this code probably outweighs the benefits.

  • This ended up being a huge issue for the Stuff-A-Way contest. While it may not be much of an issue now, please make sure it's fixed by the time the next contest runs. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 20:05
  • @SonictheIntrovertedHedgehog I believe that was a separate issue (Stuff-A-Way has zero deleted answers.) The 5+ low-rep answerers protection is triggered independently on post creation. I'll write up meta.stackexchange.com/questions/318026/… for triage independently, since that's a much higher impact. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 20:13
  • To be clear here, that question's auto-protection was triggering every time someone (including a high-rep user) was posting an answer, since it had 5 answers from new users posted in the last 24 hours? Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 20:17
  • That auto-protect rule doesn't consider deletion. Whenever an answer is posted, it just checks if 5 answers have been posted by low rep users in the last 24 hours, and if so it protects it. I think the idea behind that rule is that a question is that a question is getting a lot of answers at a time when the site isn't getting a lot moderator attention, so it locks it up before it gets out of hand. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 20:29
  • Your decision to triage makes sense, given that on main Q&A sites, once protected usually means always protected, so that rule usually never gets in the way. On meta sites, it can end up being a problem, but those issues can be resolved by implementing that feature request you linked. Commented Feb 4, 2019 at 20:43
  • IMO, it's better to pay more attention on this one, and once that's solved, this one is also solved. Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 2:15

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