Given the many junk answers that tend to accumulate, and the current absurdly low rep threshold for bypassing protection of questions, should questions be automatically protected? I'm not after preventing answers, but preventing spam (counting the congenial "Thanks!").

Question age is the most obvious criteria, but I'd also use view-count. The latter seems the most likely statistic to correlate with questions likely to attract junk (which the technical term for nonsense questions and comments, since it's not quite spam).

I would not want to protect questions with, for example, 100 views and 2 answers, even if one of them is accepted, because it's entirely possible a new user posting an answer there can meaningfully contribute. It might even be more likely, for that new user to have searched and found such a question – it could correspond exactly to an issue of theirs.

Numbers from thin air

As a starting point, 3-month-old questions with 500 views appears okay for automatic protection. I'll see about modifying a SEDE query for stats, unless someone beats me to it.

Starting with a sample query, 500 views may be too high and 3 months may be too old.

  • Also, I'm not saying 10 rep is too low, just that it's absurdly easy to get.
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 6:48
  • There's an interesting edge case with title text: you have to escape >.
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 6:54
  • @The Cat, I meant I wrongly read 10 as 10k originally, not because of escaping the title text
    – YOU
    Jun 8, 2010 at 7:17
  • @sma Yeah, I got that, but it pinged me on this question when you did and I realized that bit could use some clarification.
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 7:18
  • I wanted to write my own answer but Jeff covers the general case against automation. I just want to bring up this question and its accepted answer as providing more reasoning to oppose automation of blocking low rep users from providing answers. Protected works great, but it should not be automated.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 8, 2010 at 10:57
  • 1
    @ccomet: I agree in principle, but was amazed at the sheer multitude dug up. I removed the [feature-request] when I realized this needs a lot more discussion, and should probably have waited to post this question, protected status being so new. How many user hours per week (counted twice, once to evaluate and flag and again for moderators to evaluate and protect) are worth losing a really good answer from a user without even 10 rep?
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 12:02
  • FWIW, I did avoid using whether an answer was accepted; only considering those questions with higher views that have aged a little (3 months? 6 months?) should target common search results – which are the most susceptible to spammers and "thanks"-users alike.
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


No, we don't want to do this.

It's entirely possible to get a great drive-by answer from a 1 rep new user on any old question -- I used to see it all the time on Coding Horror (before I had to require logging in to comment due to size).

Since most questions are the definition of "long tail", I don't think this will be necessary except in outlier questions -- which will be rare enough that the moderators (or 20k rep users, if we make protecting a question a 20k rep ability) can protect questions as necessary.

I'd rather do this based on actual data, and the current data does not support automation here.

  • I thought 500 views would exclude the majority of the long tail. I imagined (but perhaps I'm wrong) that protection is mostly (90% or more) only needed/requested with higher volume questions. In any case, I certainly agree with your motivation on that score.
    – Gnome
    Jun 8, 2010 at 8:01

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