# Why can members with low reputation post bounties worth more than their total reputation?

Today on CV I saw an OP with a reputation of 6 points offer a 100 point bounty. The problem wasn't even difficult. It was a self study question and one person gave an answer of useful hints. By giving a 100 point bounty, it seems like the OP is trying to force a complete answer.

Since he put up the bounty it will draw more answers but the way the bounty system works is that if nobody gets the bounty within 7 days it goes unclaimed. The OP could post the bounty with no intention to award it. Yet he gets the benefit of activity and possibly the complete answer that he is not entitled to under the rules of the community.

What happens if the OP chooses to pay the bounty? Does he wind up with negative reputation?

• stats.stackexchange.com/help/bounty is basic documentation worth reading. Jan 13 '17 at 9:28
• It's just impressions but I've not got a sense that many people are much influenced by bounties at all. The main side-effect I've noticed is that a question can't be closed if there's a bounty on it. That can bite temporarily with a poor quality question, but I don't regard it as a fundamental problem. Jan 13 '17 at 11:40
• @NickCox I have never posted a bounty and I never tried to win one. Lately I have seen a few that I didn't feel deserved pursuing. One had a 50 point bounty awarded on the last day and it wasn't to a new post. The other that stands out to me is currently still open for 100 points that I mentioned in my question. Jan 13 '17 at 12:48
• @NickCox: A good question tends to get more up-votes when a bounty's placed on it, & then good answers to it do too. But I'm not sure how much placing a bounty on a question increases the odds of its being answered. I tend to find that questions I (1) can answer, (2) will enjoy answering, & (3) have time to answer properly aren't so common that I've the luxury of choosing between one with a bounty on it & one without. I'd certainly advise anyone wondering what to do to get their question answered to improve it as much as they can before starting to think about bounties. Jan 13 '17 at 12:58
• @NickCox I learned some important things from your link. One had to do with conditions where half the bounty is awarded by the community. I still wasn't sure if the bounty is unclaimed after the 7 day period plus grace period whether or not the poster of the bounty loses any reputation points. Jan 13 '17 at 13:00

Bounties operate as follows:

1. You cannot start a bounty if you have less than 75 reputation. You cannot make them for more reputation than you have (you can't start a 100 point bounty with 90 reputation but you can start a 50 point bounty)

2. Reputation cost for bounties is paid immediately, as soon as you start them. Presumably the user had 106 reputation and then created a bounty for 100 (all legitimate so far) at which point their reputation immediately dropped to 6, which was what you saw after they had already paid the cost.

3. The reputation is lost whether or not you award the bounty (you don't get it back either way). If you don't award it the reputation goes to waste. However, if you don't award it but you have upvoted an answer during the bounty period, that answer will be "auto-awarded" half the bounty value. The other half is wasted (there's a bit more to this situation but you can read about that on meta.SE if you care to)

As a result, most of what you ask about is based on a mistaken premise.

Details about how bounties work are in the help, in the section on Reputation and moderation, there's a subsection on bounties: What is a bounty? How can I start one? (Edit: now that I've added the link, I see that Nick posted the same link in comments earlier) with possibly more than you care to know about penguins bounties to be found in the relevant section of the network FAQ: How does the bounty system work?

The only thing that I see in your question that could be an issue is that someone might be induced to answer a self-study question "in full" in order to get the bounty (who might otherwise follow the guidelines).

Given it has not really been much of an issue so far (both bounties and the special treatment of self-study type questions have been around for many years), I don't expect it's going to substantially impact the site any time soon, so I don't think it's necessary to pre-empt anything -- if someone answers more fully than seems appropriate, the usual approach of a polite comment is usually sufficient, and I expect it will continue to be for the near future.

Consequently, I don't see anything we need to do here, at least not yet.

• @MichaelChernick: The OP had 106 rep, meeting the requirement in (1). On posting the bounty they paid 100 rep, leaving 6, as per (2). That 100 rep is now in escrow, yet to be paid out to an answerer of the OPs choice (see 3). Jan 13 '17 at 13:15
• The wording "claims" in the first comment should not stand uncorrected. @Glen_b's numbered points are factual statements. Jan 18 '17 at 14:50
• @MichaelChernick Why do you say that it was Glen_b and me who downvoted this question? I don't see either of us saying as much. In any case, no amount of upvotes or downvotes should prevent you from accepting an answer that resolves your question. If you feel that something is still unresolved, you can always edit to clarify. Jan 18 '17 at 19:58
• Of course it doesn't tell you who down voted. Also you could still choose to upvote. I approved Glen_b 's answer which was very good. These discussions are very enlightening for me and I am sure for many other members also. Jan 18 '17 at 21:56
• @Michael For information how to see votes: see the How do I view vote counts? section on privileges for people with 1000 reputation. Please take some time to become familiar with the basic functionality of the site. Besides checking out the various menu items and subitems, and the various links on each page (including the help), and various questions here on meta, if you hover your mouse cursor over various page elements, you can find a lot of information. $\:$(NB Please stop asking amoeba to upvote you. It's inappropriate) Jan 18 '17 at 22:35
• @Glen_b Thanks for the information. I don't see why you should advise me how to behave. Jan 18 '17 at 22:38
• Explaining to people when their behavior is inappropriate is one part of my job as a diamond moderator, surely you're aware of that. Even if it's not obvious to you as a matter of plain courtesy, not repeatedly asking people to upvote your posts in comments is a fairly well-established norm for the network (outside some arguably established reasonable exceptions, it's not widely seen as okay to ask people to upvote you at all). If you disagree and think it is seen as okay to ask more than once for people to upvote you, feel free to post a meta question and see what the consensus is. Jan 18 '17 at 23:01
• @Glen_b I am not interested in what you think your job is. I also don't need to find out what the majority think if I raise an issue on this. Probably it is not appropriate for me to ask someone like amoeba to upvote my question but is it appropriate for him to ask me to accept your answer or for you to tell me what to do? Jan 19 '17 at 1:39
• @Michael, you can hardly tell me you're not interested in responses you invited by your comment and then ask a question that's already answered by the response you say you're uninterested in. Yes, as already explained it is appropriate for me to tell you when you violate site norms. Either you can accept that's the case when I tell you that (in which case, you should attempt to stay within those norms) or you can do something to establish that I am wrong when I say what those norms are (which you do by asking a question on meta and establishing what the consensus is here on CrossValidated) Jan 19 '17 at 1:55
• Incidentally, I can find the help section that says that what you're doing right now is wrong (Criticisms which do not add anything constructive and/or Secondary discussion or debating a controversial point; use chat instead). Maybe the diamond moderator needs to review the site rules and realize he's contributing to the problem here--@MichaelChernick isn't going to sit here and argue with himself. Generally, it seems like you spend a lot of time following Michael around and censuring him. Give the man a break! He contributes a lot to the site and he's not hurting anyone. Sheesh. Jan 19 '17 at 2:30
• @gammer, note that this discussion is under my answer. I'm hardly "following someone around" when they're commenting under my answer. Nor do I "follow" Michael around elsewhere. I read a large fraction of the posts on site (it's my job) and comment (or take action) where I see an issue. Please identify a particular thread where you think I have "followed him around" rather than acting in a reasonably typical manner for a mod (finding a problem in the normal course of dealing with the site). 2. I invite you to raise this as a new question on meta so a full discussion can occur. Jan 19 '17 at 3:19
• Of course you focus exclusively on the least relevant part of my comment, and the part I have no interest in defending (i.e. searching the site and in the case that I found something, debating you about your motives). It's possible I've confused/combined you with another diamond or someone else. I just have the sense that MC gets piled here and your name is familiar. I apologize if that part of my comment was wrong. I still stick by my statement that you share responsibility for continuing this argument, and you seem to be violating the "letter of the law" that you claim is your job to uphold. Jan 19 '17 at 3:30
• Once again, a search reveals discussion on whether it is good form to ask people to accept an answer meta.stats.stackexchange.com/questions/1741/… and that seems the best place to continue that discussion if you dissent. Most concretely, I don't think anyone is claiming that it is a rule not to do this. Jan 19 '17 at 8:53
• Lack of respect for the principle of moderation I find troubling. But no moderator is outside the law: other moderators are there to consider comments and complaints about particular moderators' actions and users with minimal reputation can join in discussions. Asking separate Meta questions about particular events or (usually better) the general principles of what a moderator can/should/cannot/should not do is a way forward. Personally I find @Glen_b's remarks here entirely reasonable. Jan 19 '17 at 8:57
• I was done with this post a long time ago but I appreciate the support I got from gammer and sometimes Nick Cox also. Jan 19 '17 at 23:23