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There's a friend of mine, who I share an IP with (university proxy). He's asked a question on Physics.SE, and hasn't gotten an answer yet. Is it OK if I place a bounty on that post?

I'm asking for the general policy here, the fact that I'm a moderator on Physics is irrelevant.


I've actually been on the other side of this situation as well: on Chemistry there was a case where a user had placed a bounty on the post of another user who shared an IP. At the time, we didn't take any action, but I was wondering if there was any policy about how mods should deal with this as well.

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You've already won the election, why do you still have users as friends? –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 12:48
    
It's not as if you're giving your friend the bounty... –  ben is uǝq backwards Apr 6 '13 at 12:49
    
@Yannis: These are new friends, who I introduced to the site :P –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 12:49
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@Manishearth Got it, you're already getting ready for your next diamond. –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 12:50
    
@benisuǝqbackwards: I know, which is why I think this is OK and that we didn't do anything on the case on Chem. Buuut... better be safe than sorry. I don't want to have to suspend myself for bountying irregularities. –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 12:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

People put too much faith in an IP address being identifiable. It's very common for an ISP to put its clients behind a NAT, thousands of people can share the same outgoing IP. Every time someone says "they have the same IP" I ask if they also have the same eye color. But, I digress.

It's your rep - spend it like you want. While conceivable that the bounty system, in conjunction with association bonuses could be used over time to help build up a sock puppet, that's an extremely corner case. If you want to add a bounty to your friend's question in order for it to receive an answer, there's absolutely no problem with that.

Likewise, there'd be no problem placing a bounty to reward an excellent answer that a friend wrote. Again, it's your rep. When the bounty system is used, someone's rep inflates as someone's rep deflates. It's not like they're earning reputation that wasn't 'there' to begin with, as they would with votes. Plus, it's completely open and over the table - everyone sees it.

If you place a bounty on a .. shall we say .. less than good question, you'd probably get some strange looks, but hey - it's your rep :)

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Technically bounties attract votes for the question as well (this is a rather extreme example where I got 30-40 votes in a couple of days because of the bounty). But I guess that's not that big an issue. –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:13
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Sharing links to your friend's questions could also get them votes and we actively encourage that - it's a non-issue. –  Tim Post Apr 6 '13 at 13:14
    
Hm, makes sense :) –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:18

Who cares?

Honestly you are approaching this completely wrong. Let's say user A sets a bounty on user's B awesome question. Would you bother to check their IPs if the bounty was legit and there was nothing suspicious about it? Of course not, you'd never check a user's IP unless there are strong suspicions that something weird might be going on.

The same goes for you and your friend. The fact that you happen to know there's an IP association is irrelevant, as you didn't came to know that because of something suspicious happening. And since you are behind a university proxy, who knows with how many other users you've shared IPs. You may have already bountied a question from one of those people and not even know it.

Awarding a bounty to your friend would be a whole different discussion, but just setting one on his question only benefits him by getting some extra attention to his question. And, well, that's what bounties are for, you are just using the feature as intended.

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In the Chem case we deemed it suspicious enough to xref. A 101 rep user just dropped in and placed a bounty on a rather specific question. Suspicious indeed. (of course my own problem won't be suspicious in this case). –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:11
    
@Manishearth That's the key you deemed it suspicious first. Set your bounty normally and walk away, if one of your fellow mods deems it suspicious... you're in trouble ;) –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 13:13
    
I know, like I said my own problem won't be suspicious. I wasn't really looking at a policy for my current problem -- hey, I'm a mod and I can convince the rest of the team to not suspend me ;-). I can leave them a note or something (I already did mention once that user X is a friend who shares an IP but is not a sock). I'm concerned about the general case -- which may or may not be suspicious -- does it warrant any action from mods? (to which the answer seems to be no) –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:16
    
@Manishearth If there's something suspicious (like an "award existing answer" bounty on a question with one link only answer, for example) then yes one of your fellow mods should investigate. And from the moment he/she starts investigating she/he should treat you as a normal user. Or, if he/she can't do that, she/he should escalate to SE and let them deal with the situation. –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 13:19
    
of course, that goes without saying :) –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:20
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@Manishearth Generally I'd say if the bounty isn't obviously moronic or abusive (offensive bounty message or a small bounty to stop close votes for example) this is a non issue. A good bounty brings more visibility to an unanswered or poorly answered question and hopefully also a great answer. That's a win, and honestly who cares if the asker and the bounty-er (?!) are real life friends. –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 13:21
    
Meh, similar arguments apply to voting for friends. I see the difference, though :) –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:25
    
@Manishearth No, nothing similar to voting for friends, a bounty is public, it can be reviewed by everyone. And you are also not awarding it directly to your friend, all you are giving him is some extra attention (that may even translate to downvotes for all you know) –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 13:27
    
Like I said, I see the difference. –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:28
    
Anyway, I agree with you, no point arguing about minor things ;-) –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:28
    
@Manishearth If there's no point arguing about minor things, why does MSO even exist? ;P –  Yannis Apr 6 '13 at 13:29
    
That too :P Let's argue about the correct polish required for unicorn horns! –  Manishearth Apr 6 '13 at 13:31
    
@Manishearth: The correct polish is none at all. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 6 '13 at 13:45

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