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Just now, the following two questions have been protected:

The immediate context is that the first question received a very poor answer by a new user and the second got a link-only answer from the same user.

I don't think that is nearly enough unwelcome activity to merit protection. We are perfectly able to deal with one bad answer to a question by the normal means of downvoting, flagging and deleting that answer. This has pretty much no down-side, whereas protecting the question means that a potential new user who might be able to give a good answer to either of those two questions will be prohibited from helping us become a better site.

I don't have enough reputation to see deleted answers, so it's possible that several bad answers had been posted and I arrived on the scene just before clean-up was completed. It's also possible that these questions have a history of receiving bad answers from new users and these two answers were the straws that broke the camels' backs. If either of those things happened, then protection may well be justified. But I don't think it's appropriate to protect because of just one or two bad answers.

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Good question!

What is the difference between cheap and less cheap road bikes? had only one low quality answer.

How do I measure the size of my bicycle frame? had another very low quality answer.

In both cases these questions were protected by me, using the new power (sorry, privilege) gained at 15 K rep. As with any new power it can take a little practice to use it wisely.

In my time with Bicycles, since gaining review privileges, I have been working to improve the welcome given to new members, and the feedback given when their efforts don't match our expectations.

I see a lot of these old questions getting low quality answers. I feel it's a poor welcome to new members to find something they think they can contribute to, only to have it removed as Not an answer or similar reason. So, in my view, protecting such questions helps us improve the welcome given to new members.

I am the eleventh member of Bicycles to have this privilege, not counting SE employees. Any of them can just as easily "unprotect" these questions, and this provides important peer review. The questions can only stay protected if there is reasonable consensus.

But with only eleven of us, it is to be expected that there could be some differences in approach, especially with me, the newbie. I am particularly interested to hear from the others with this privilege, and especially our moderators.

Perhaps some guidelines could be added to Help for new (and old) reviewers

On reflection, a few useful hints could be

  • the question should be old (a year?) and getting Late answers.

  • there should be an accepted answer, or at least a high quality answer.

  • or the question was of marginal quality and is attracting even more marginal answers.

  • Thanks! I think the thing is that most questions seem to pick up only very occasional new poor answers from new users. We can cope with that, on a per question basis, by the ordinary mechanisms. Protection is, as I understand it, for use when the number of such answers is becoming problematic for the ordinary mechanisms. This usually happens because of Hot Network Questions or, more rarely because of sock puppetry or a bunch of friends. I think it's important that your bullets at the end all refer to new answer_s_, plural. – David Richerby Feb 1 '17 at 0:00
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Poor answers are like graffiti or broken windows. If you don't remove it as soon as possible then it gets worse.

Protecting a question prevents the answerer's mates from copycatting on the same question.

In my mind, unprotecting the question after a week-a month might be a solution.

I note that the two examples were asked in 2010 and 2013, so both have had many years to gain decent answers, and they're unlikely to pop back on to the home page. The new user has found them through searches or following a chain of relevant questions, which now brings them back to the home page to be first on the active list.

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    Do we have any evidence that the answerer has mates? It seems we're pre-emptively cutting off a problem that probably doesn't exist. – David Richerby Jan 31 '17 at 12:28

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