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The bounty system incentivizes people to provide good answers to difficult questions. But if the person offering a bounty later provides the best answer, SO does not allow him to claim the bounty—in effect penalizing him for his effort.

If people are really gaming the bounty system by regularly claiming their own bounty, why not find a way to detect/deter that behavior without penalizing the people who legitimately deserve to claim their own bounties?

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Well, I don't see how one could "game the system" using bounties, as the bounty goes off the rep of the person offering it. Even if one could claim their own bounty, they would only get their rep back. At least in terms of reputation, there is no "gaming the system".

Not allowing this means that people understand that they can't just offer a bounty, get good answers, give their own fake answer and reclaim the bounty rep (so, getting to have a question in "bounty mode" for free). You may consider this to be "gaming the system".

This is one reason that claiming your own bounty is no longer allowed - and it is not possible to easily distinguish genuine cases from bad behaviour.

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I'm sure it was also discussed to only allow accepting your own answer if it had a certain number of upvotes? –  Thomas Ahle Dec 27 '11 at 18:54
    
@ThomasAhle - Can you find a link to such a discussion? –  Oded Dec 27 '11 at 18:55
    
I don't recall a time where one could "award" the bounty to oneself and also get the bounty reputation for that? (As far as I recall, this always resulted in zero reputation being awarded.) –  Arjan Dec 27 '11 at 20:22
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It's also resulted in some amount of irritation in cases where the person offering the bounty awarded it to themselves simply to avoid letting it go to someone else. Comes off as petty, y'know? –  Shog9 Dec 27 '11 at 20:52
    
I'd like to know people's opinion on how this relates to something like stackoverflow.com/questions/8304940/… . I posted the bounty, no one else provided any meaningful answers, the OP accepted the answer I posted after I realized no one else was answering, and the bounty went to no one. Shouldn't the OP have been able to award the bounty to me? –  ziesemer Dec 27 '11 at 22:50
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