We see a lot of bounty questions asked by people who are only her when they have that question and never help around with answering, commenting or even as much as voting.

Now since they don't do the above they have less then 50 points of reputation, and yet they can ask bounty questions of 50,100 and I've seen a few of 200 points, in which they get a higher priority of answer.

My Question is how and why is it possible? And should it even be possible?

  • 3
    Ehm, examples? Note that reputation is spent and substracted when placing bounty, so them having 50 points now doesn't meant they hadn't X+50 before placing that bounty.
    – Rarst
    Jul 26, 2012 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


You need at least 75 points of reputation to set a bounty. The reputation for the bounty is immediately deducted from the askers account, so it may happen that s/he has a very low reputation then.

About the ‘question only’ participation … It is allowed, and if the questions are good even welcome. For people asking low quality questions too often we have moderation tools like private messages or even a suspension. Fortunately, that happens not so often.


Just in case anyone is wondering why a mod is asking such a question: There is no magic manual for moderators, and bounties are difficult to handle.

  • A question has to be open for at least two days to be able to receive a bounty. Enough time to let the community collect five close votes for bad questions. This is true … on Stack Overflow. We don’t have that many active users with the reputation required for close votes (3000), and even these users tend to set their close votes (too) cautiously.
  • Once question has an open bounty the community moderation process comes to a halt: Only moderators can close such a question, and we have to refund the bounty before we do. This procedure looks a little bit … risky. And it is not exactly democratic. If the question is not really, really bad we probably just wait until the bounty period is over.
    As a result users can “misuse” a bounty to protect a bad question or to promote their own answers.

And that’s why we look at those questions with a mix of mistrust and uncertainty. Not much – I really want to see more bounties on our site to spread some reputation – but it is there.

  • thanks didn't know that.
    – Bainternet
    Jul 26, 2012 at 21:24
  • I don't have a problem with users "spending" their own rep points to place bounties. (After all, the community doesn't actually have to do anything with such questions, and can just let the bounty expire if need be.) What I do have a problem with is the complete short-circuiting of community moderation tools/workflow for bountied questions. But that's a separate matter, really. Aug 2, 2012 at 13:21

I noticed that too. Most of these questions are around a 50-100 points bounty. That means, that are worth about 2-3 answers (or one really good one). In most cases that I've seen, they then tend to want a lot - close to a finished plugin and similar - but don't get it. People can do basic math (at least most of them) and 15 points for a solution + 10 for an upvote = worth half of the bounty.

EDIT Here's the reputation history of a user, who is only gaining reputation to use it as do my task for my-bounty.

I personally don't really care about this, as the amount of such bounties is still low. If you look at the featured section on SO, then this might be a problem in a year or two. But then we're maybe at a point, where simply raising the min. bounty is enough.

EDIT 2 As I stumbled upon another user who uses bounties to get people to code close to finished plugins for him, I'm not too sure anymore if we're handling this issue correct...

  • 1
    nice analysis :), thanks
    – Bainternet
    Jul 26, 2012 at 21:25
  • You're welcome - thanks that you brought the topic up. :)
    – kaiser
    Jul 27, 2012 at 0:30
  • @Bainternet I guess, you're talking about something like this? It currently isn't a bounty Q (user has too low rep), but I think it's a perfect example.
    – kaiser
    Jul 29, 2012 at 16:50
  • Yep That's a perfect example.
    – Bainternet
    Jul 29, 2012 at 17:32
  • @Bainternet See edit for an even more perfect example.
    – kaiser
    Jul 29, 2012 at 19:09

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