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This question is protected, and the box at the end says: "To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site."

What does this mean?

I am asking because I am currently shown as having 102 reputation but I cannot see the button to write an answer to the question. Maybe the way the minimum 10 of reputation is counted in a special way or the button is actually there and I just missed, or it should be there and it is a bug, or there is another level of protection applied to the question that is not shown in the protection box.

I am not sure on how to tag this question.

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Clarified version (for original to which comments refer see below):

At the point of writing the meta question OP had 102 points, but these 102 points included the association bonus of 100 points.

It is by design that the association bonus is not taken into account (see the meta.SO question What is a “protected” question? for confirmation of the above), so that these 102 points in this context should only be worth 2, and thus less than 10.

The intent is that users unfamiliar with a/this site should not be able to answer protected question only by association bonus but still should be forced to have some positive contribution to the site (and thus, it is hope, familiarity with the site).

The current case however shows an interesting coner case, in that OP had had a lot more than 10 points of contribution to this site over time but lost/used them via a bounty (and possibly a couple of them via casting downvotes, too).

That they still cannot answer a protected question in my opinion goes counter the idea of protection. It is not clear to me if leaving this corner case is also by design (perhaps for convenience of the implementation) or was so far ovelooked. In any case I think the documentation likely should be clearer here.


Your 102 points include 100 points association bonus, which is not taken into account. Put differently to explain the phrasing, you have not earned 10 points on this site, the 100 points bonus are a gift, given due to things you earned elsewhere.

Also see the meta.SO question What is a “protected” question? for confirmation of the above.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh, but that is strange. I have earned, in MathOverflow, more than 400 reputation, since I gave 400 away in a bounty. I guess the formula just subtracts 100 always. Is that the case? $\endgroup$ – O.R. Oct 31 '13 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ I agree, this is not in the spirit why this exists. It should protect from new users. $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Oct 31 '13 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of this scene of the Golden Antelope. What if the 100 bonus were among the 400 I gave away, and I only kept points that I earned? $\endgroup$ – O.R. Oct 31 '13 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ @ABC sorry I hadn't checked your account in detail and did not notice this. I only checked the meta user to see if you have activity elsewhere and thus the bonus. I assume it is as you say, if one has received the association bonus then one effectively needs 110, but I don't know for a fact. Alos I don't know if this is really intended like this, known to be strange but kept for convenience, or not yet known. In any case I agree it is strange and a bit against the idea of protection. I will update the answer to be cleare later. But likely one should pursue this matter further. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 31 '13 at 23:43
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    $\begingroup$ One could argue the bounty documentation says "Slice off anywhere from +50 to +500 of your own hard-earned reputation, [...]" therefore bounty-points are points one earned and therefore not the bonus making this consistent. This is a big stretch of course and more meant as a joke. Also there would be the issue what happens if one gave away points via downvoting (not getting downvoted!) It is quite possible ABC's situation shows that these points will be discarded for the protection issue too [there are a couple dv but I think I cannot tell if they costed points]. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 31 '13 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ I updated the answer in view of comments, but I also intend (if nobody does before) to pursue this matter further in the nearer future (as suggested in comments on OP). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Nov 2 '13 at 23:02

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