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We had a new question asked yesterday that hit the Hot Network Questions list and received more answers and votes than average:

Why can't we all agree to create a self-fulfilling prophecy with regards to the stock market?

As of the time I am writing this, it seems that the attention has already slowed down.

I noticed that moderator Ganesh Sittampalam protected the question 11 hours ago. I am wondering why this was done? It looks like there were no spam answers or low quality answers posted. Is this something that is regularly done on popular questions, and if so, why?

I can understand protecting a question if it starts getting spam or terribly inappropriate or low quality answers. But I'm wondering why we would preemptively protect a question while it is gaining popularity when there haven't been any problems. I would think that encouraging participation on our site by new users is a good thing.

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In this case, the question already had 10 answers at the time I protected it (we get an auto-flag at that point). I didn't think any new answers were likely to add anything new, and answers from new users even less likely. In general I would say that 10 answers is too many, instead of having a Q&A it's more like a forum.

My overall sense is that on average the questions that hit HNQ don't tend to be very representative of the site, so I don't think they are that great for attracting new users. So I probably am fairly trigger-happy on protecting those questions.

  • Thanks for replying so quickly with your explanation, Ganesh. I appreciate it. I’m still thinking about whether or not I agree with the reasoning, though. :) – Ben Miller Feb 23 '18 at 16:55
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    Completely agree "...on average the questions that hit HNQ don't tend to be very representative of the site, so I don't think they are that great for attracting new users" – Dheer Mar 1 '18 at 4:06
  • If by “not representative of the site,” you mean that the HNQ are not as boring as most of our questions, then I will agree with that. :) On the contrary, I think that some of our questions that hit the HNQ are the best ones with the best answers. There is a reason for the popularity. The HNQ is what brought me here initially, and I bet that is true for most of our top users. – Ben Miller Mar 1 '18 at 18:38
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    @BenMiller I guess I was putting it softly, but to be explicit, I don't like many of the HNQ. Before your statement I'd have guessed the opposite, that most top users didn't come here that way. Now I'm not sure. I guess it might be possible to write a SEDE query to help find out. – Ganesh Sittampalam Mar 6 '18 at 6:41

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