Protection is a hack. When it was first implemented in early 2003, it
was noted as such; from the start, there has been the idea of
improving on protection by "reduc[ing] the requirements for sysop
intervention for useful things to happen".
Wikis are designed to be editable; the ideal wiki is as open to
incoming content as possible -- a metric of a wikis success at
wiki-nature might be how long it takes first-time contributors to make
typical edits, and how long it takes them to get/see feedback.
"Open to incoming content" isn't the same as "open to changes in what
everyone else sees as outgoing content". We should strive to increase
our openness to inboud content, even as we tighten quality controls on
outbound content. Articles for Creation is an even worse hack than
protection, and regularly fails silently and completely [the user
never comes back, or thinks their work is lost; their work *is* lost].
Semi-protection is also a hack. One way to make these protection
hacks work more effectively is to recognize that they are *not* the
desired solution, but a quick way to implement something close.
Protection is a 'reasonable' hack because anyone can still edit the
talk page, leave comments for page-contributors on *their* talk pages,
&c. New editors don't know any of this. Old editors and vandals
don't need to be told what protection's all about.
Suggestions for improving these hacks through more information :
* make protection templates very short and inobtrusive; not in the
header, to maintain a clean interface : most readers don't need to
know about them (an NPOV or Disputed template can be placed there if
needed, that's separate. If an article's being protected just b/c it
was on slashdot, that's different).
* keep the "edit" button for protected pages. add a little icon in
that tab if needed, to denote the protected nature. Offer a message
on editing, varying by protection type, explaining briefly why the
protection, and where to post edits and suggestions (the talk page),
with a link to a longer explanation of who can edit where, how to
request unprotection, how to ask for help, &c.
* update the "this page is protected from editing" message one gets
when viewing the source of a protected page. make it friendlier,
again linking to where one *can* suggest changes and explaining this
in postive rather than negative terms.
* make it more clear than it is now who applied protection when, and
what their protection-summary was. pull this information into the
notices listed above.