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This was prompted by this chat message:

@PearsonArtPhoto We're each losing at least 140 rep today due to rep cap ... we should put in motion idea to be able to spend excess rep on bounties, maybe only with ability to assign them to questions and later award answers of others, so there's no cheating. :|

Therefore, I'm putting it into motion.

The basic idea behind it is that some people, usually top users, have thousands of reputation points that they never see. The reason behind the repcap, as far as I know, is to keep people from getting tons of points off of one popular question.

Wouldn't it be nice for these points to actually go somewhere instead of being thrown into a black hole, never to be seen again?

Therefore, I think we should implement a system which allows users to use the points they have lost to the repcap for bounties.

This would:

  • Dilute the effect of people not posting once they have hit the repcap
  • Make people less angry at the repcap
  • Make people more likely to make bounties, as it wouldn't effect their progress towards privileges.

If people would create more bounties with the rep that they can't use for anything else, then other people would benefit from it - both the questioner and the answerers.

Thoughts? Comments?

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I had a similar thought a while back, community bounties automatically assigned to highly upvoted questions (aka good questions) without upvoted answers to use up bounties which are never assigned –  Richard Tingle Sep 23 '13 at 19:02
    
I feel that this would be taking the reputation game too far... But as long as they don't decrease the visibility of normal bounties (so they should not appear in the featured that), I dont' really care. –  Pablo Sep 23 '13 at 19:21
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Dilute the effect of people not posting once they have hit the repcap This seems at odds with one of the reasons for the rep cap. Note the third bullet under Aims of the rep cap this question To encourage heavily active users to step outside once in a while You can judge its effectiveness on that. –  Some Helpful Commenter Sep 23 '13 at 19:24
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Lots of good points here. I wouldn't mind seeing repoverflow being pooled and offered on auto-bounties for great questions, if the consensus shows that it would be detrimental to allow end-users to control it. The parameters of that allocation may be worth a separate discussion, though. –  Hyper Anthony Sep 23 '13 at 20:09
    
This is a great idea! I hope it gets approved un-amended. –  Gayot Fow Sep 24 '13 at 10:47
    
The users that hit the rep cap often and so would benefit most from this already have plenty of rep to spend on bounties if they so desire. In the tags I frequent I have occasionally looked through the unanswered questions to see if any were worth bountying and just didn't find any that appealed. –  Martin Smith Sep 24 '13 at 11:45
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6 Answers 6

This would

  • make reputation calculation even more complex
  • work counterparts the intention of the rep cap. Yep. The rep cap's intention is to make you not give up on your social life completely and if you can honest that rep for other stuff, the rep cap is useless
  • make high-rep users through their bounty points rash on questions just because they have lots of them and the bounty system lives from the fact that not everybody uses it - it would not be special anymore

BTW I hit the rep cap too from time to time. So I don't want to crush this feature just because it doesn't concern me.

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If the rep-capped rep is limited to use within the day we may have issues with users just dumping what would be, to them, "free rep".

I have concerns about this feature being used as a sort of Pollyanna lottery, which may artificially inflate the value of the bountied questions and the answers the bounties are awarded to.

On Meta it is fairly harmless, on SO though it could be a bit more troubling. I think users tend to give answers that have been awarded bounties a bit more consideration when they are looking for information, if the bounty was awarded simply because someone had rep to give away, rather than on the merit of the answer itself it skews that system.

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In a scenario when we can trust users not to abuse a feature, I think this could possibly work because it would encourage more bounties and possibly more and better answers on interesting questions.

But this is not an ideal world where we can trust everyone to act in the best interest in the community. Because bounties are exempt from the rep cap, this would effectively create a market where rep capped users can trade bounties with each other in order to earn back the reputation they lost due to the cap.

Sounds interesting on the surface, but unless you can find a way to remove the possibility of cheating around the rep cap, it won't be a workable solution.

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We've already got a pretty decent one for serial upvoting. I'm sure something similar could be put together if this were explored as a feature. –  Hyper Anthony Sep 23 '13 at 19:55
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Bounty Repcappot!

Just some ideas for thought...

I like the idea of the overflow rep from the rep cap just going into a users personal bounty pot.

Limits for overflow bounty earned
The amount being overflowed into the rep cap pot should have daily and total limits.

Say maximum of 50 bounty rep per day into the pot, and a total maximum of 1,000 bounty rep allowed in the pot at anyone time.

Can't earn your own overflow bounty
As this is overflow rep a user wouldn't have had added to their actual rep, I think you'd have to disallow a user being able to earn the bounty they placed from the rep overflow pot.

Users could just put the bounty on a question they are good at/have an answer prepared for and whack a good answer out, and earn rep they were originally capped from earning.

High rep users only
I also think that the overflow bounty pot should only be allowed to higher rep users. Say 5k (for figures sake). It would be nice to give it to everyone, but I think it will be enough giving it to those with a good chunk of rep already.

Users with > 5k are obviously active having such total rep, and so know the site etc and more likely to place it on decent questions, and less likely to abuse it somehow.

Lower rep users still gain from this too as they can win the bounties passed on by higher rep users.

Cap on overflow bounty earned per day
There should also be a maximum limit you can earn from bounties placed from overflow rep bounties.

Current bounty you can earn as much as you like, which is fine. As it comes from your own site rep not many people throw bounties around, and also the site's total rep is just shifted from one user to another, and not additional injected creating an imbalance in the total high and low rep users.

However, with the overflow bounty, the overflow rep that was originally lost is now injected into the site.
So users earning bounty from overflow rep should only be able to earn a total of (say) 500 per day, as with this bounty there is some potential of creating a lot of high rep users.

Though from this new feature I really don't see a sudden burst of hundreds of bounties every day and every Tom, Dick and Sally becoming high rep users.
It still has to be earned to be passed around and won.

Limits for placing overflow bounty
I think users with overflow bounty rep should be allowed to place up to 500 per question, or less and split the total overflow bounty they have (1,000 limit suggested) over as many different questions however the users wishes.

Monopoly Money?
I also don't think many users would throw their overflow bounty points rashly on any old questions. Yes some will, of course, but do you think more or less than currently high rep users throwing their real rep around?
While overflow rep bounty isn't from their site rep, it has still been earned, and so I think people who don't throw rep around now will value it similar to their site rep. Those who would throw it around, well, does it matter so much as long as it's not "gamed" and is earned?

I don't see much of a difference. People with > 5k easily have 150 real rep to throw around a few times as it is now, so I don't see them changing their attitude to their rep just because they got a bit extra in a pot for bounties only.

Likely a big project, but benefits Stack
All that said, it is a large ish project to do all this.
With the new requirements and all sorts of functions, checks and monitoring in place, even the basics like when you place bounty people with the overflow pot you now have to be presented with some kind of choice of "from your site rep" or "bounty pot" and that having to calculate what they can place based on the total of each individually.

I think it would be quite a lot of work, but certainly offers benefits..

This additional overflow rep is earned, by those who have the overflow bounty pot, and those winning the bounty. As this is earned by providing good questions and answers, it surely only benefits Stack and it's users/visitors.

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"Users could just put the bounty on a question they are good at/have an answer prepared for and whack a good answer out, and earn rep they were originally capped from earning." - Except for the fact that you can't award a bounty to yourself in the first place. –  animuson Sep 24 '13 at 3:01
    
Not award, no, but you can earn it (which is what I said ;)). If you place bounty on a question, then answer it, get enough upvotes, you are auto awarded (afaik) when the bounty time ends - even if it is half the bounty (afaik). Regardless, I just suggested that one shouldn't be able to earn [or award] your own overflow bounty specifically as it would be rep you were capped from earning. –  James Sep 24 '13 at 11:47
    
No, you can never earn your own bounty. It can't be auto-awarded to you either. –  animuson Sep 24 '13 at 15:23
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Good idea, but to prevent the devaluation of bounty (by top users starting 10 bounties per day) the amount of extra reputation from repcap that could be converted into bounty should be limited.

Let's say, 50 rep. It allows you to start one bounty per day gratis, assuming you earn at least 50 rep over repcap in that day. It would not flood SO with bounties, and it could make starting bounties on other people's questions more common.

Or make it 100 rep, but only on bounties given on other people's questions.

It should not be expensive to implement.

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Invoking socialism is something I don't generally do, but I think you'd still have to ... cap the amount of lost reputation recaptured, or otherwise restrict to whom it's awarded through bounties.

Otherwise you'd be tempting (largely) high-rep users to line each others' pockets by awarding it to each other. One person awarding 2k reputation to one other person could be detected, but 500 users awarding rep (mostly) to each other? How would you detect that?

This could be done by making the amount of "bounty-only reputation" accrued equal to X percent of the reputation lost through the cap, where X is less than 100 -- 50, maybe?

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@John: We can trust high-rep users to generally be impartial, use the system right, and not be tempted to go making bounty circles. The high-rep users are probably already all aware that there is voting circle detection in the system. –  Jonathan Hobbs Sep 24 '13 at 0:11
    
To tempt someone is to test them. Some people can walk away easily from a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, but that doesn't change the fact that the warm chocolate chip cookies were there for the taking. –  John Sep 24 '13 at 18:35
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