Some of the more successful questions that have been around for years are often "protected".

This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site.

Could someone elaborate a bit further as to what this does and why it is put in place on older questions?

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    You may also be interested in this post; FAQ for Stack Exchange sites if you want to learn more about the operation of the site. – Valorum Feb 20 '15 at 22:28
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    "Thanks!" :P I do suppose that this meta question is part of a larger group of questions that can be answered there at the FAQ. I should have investigated further, but I appreciate you helping me understand and develop proper etiquette on here. – Nomkins Feb 20 '15 at 22:34
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    Happy to help. Now go answer something :-) – Valorum Feb 20 '15 at 22:36
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    @Richard Can't; you've left no questions to be answered :p – Möoz Feb 22 '15 at 21:39
  • @mooz - scifi.stackexchange.com/unanswered – Valorum Feb 22 '15 at 21:40
  • @Richard Funny, I guessed that you might have said that! Oh well, if you haven't answered them yet, then no-one can! – Möoz Feb 22 '15 at 21:42
  • @Mooz - There are a number of universes that I don't touch (for various reasons); Game of Thrones, Big Hero 6, Mass Effect, Warhammer, etc are currently in my ignore list. – Valorum Feb 22 '15 at 21:51

I'm just going to shamelessly plagiarise the answer from here

What does it mean for a question to be protected?

Protected questions have the additional restriction that new users are not permitted to answer the question. Unlike locked questions, they can still be edited, commented on, and voted on. You can even vote to close them.

Why are some questions protected?

Some questions are protected because they are expected to attract either spam or users -- often new users -- who may mistake the site as a traditional forum, posting "noisy" answers such as "Thank you" or "This worked for me" or "I'm also having this problem".

Who can protect and unprotect questions?

Who can answer a protected question?

Users with 10 or more reputation can answer a protected question. However, the +100 account association bonus is ignored for this check, so you must have earned 10 or more reputation on that specific site to answer a protected question.

When should I protect or unprotect a question?

  • Do protect questions that are attracting a lot of non-answers or very poor answers (spam, etc.) from new users.
  • Don’t protect questions just because they’re linked to on a high-traffic news site.
  • Do unprotect questions that aren’t currently attracting a lot of attention and don’t have a long history of unproductive answers.
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