I remember once someone in chat tried to bet 100 rep with someone else about some silly thing. Something like, "I bet you 100 rep this you can't tell what animal is in this picture!"


At the time, it wasn't really feasible for the loser of the bet to pay up, so we probably had to beat him up instead. I can't really remember.

Now I realized that it is actually feasible nowadays, since you can award bounties to arbitrary answers on arbitrary questions. All that is required of losers is that they have the ability to post bounties, and of course, the necessary amount to pay up. Then they go find an answer by the user who won the bet, and post a bounty on its question. Once the bounty award cooldown expires, he awards it to an answer by the winner.

The system is not perfect yet. It is it hard to have an elaborate betting system with different odds and all that, because among other things, payoffs can only be given in fixed amounts.

At least this let us use up our own hard-earned imaginary Internet dollar points in a truly adult manner. It opens up a whole world of possibilities. It would make real mafias possible and maybe some day we can mount a protection racket scheme and collect payment from chat rooms. Would it be frowned upon if I became a bookie?

  • 23
    I don't know. Beating people up sounds like much more fun.
    – Pekka
    Dec 18, 2011 at 21:20
  • 1
    I would be honored if John Skeet beat me up with a sack of doorknobs for not following through.
    – Pubby
    Dec 18, 2011 at 21:38
  • 2
    Related: Can the bounty system be used as a reward system?
    – Arjan
    Dec 18, 2011 at 21:41
  • 2
    The faq says: "Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers" - sorry, but what you suggest is simply not professional thus does not fit to this place. Dec 18, 2011 at 22:10
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    @Shadow: You might have missed that you're on meta. Very much of what's posted here daily doesn't fit that subscription.
    – sbi
    Dec 18, 2011 at 22:26
  • 3
    @ShadowWizard: except that 99% of the questions on SO are not asked by professionals. The only reasonable interpretation is that the "and" should really be an "or". SO is a site for (professional || enthusiast) programmers. Or to put it another way it is for professional programmers and for enthusiast programmers. It is not solely for "professional enthusiast programmers", as you seem to believe.
    – jalf
    Dec 18, 2011 at 22:40
  • @jalf the way I read "professional and enthusiast" is to mean "professional and/or enthusiast". But I'm no english expert. Dec 18, 2011 at 22:50
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    @jalf fair enough, but the "hard core" members aka "high rep" members should act as the responsible adults and be those professionals otherwise the place will lose its unique value. Dec 18, 2011 at 23:00
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    @sbi I was under the impression the OP means betting with SO rep.. am I wrong? Dec 18, 2011 at 23:01
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    no one told me I had to act like a responsible adult. This sucks!
    – jalf
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:02
  • By the way, that's a pony. You owe me 100 rep
    – jalf
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:04
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    @jalf: Not so; it clearly has a bony protrusion on its forehead. Therefore, unicorn!
    – jscs
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:09
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    +1 for that freehand uniponycornthingadongdong Dec 19, 2011 at 3:48
  • 2
    @Shadow: You seem to mix up your discussion levels. I'm all against it, and I'm sure the Martinho posted this only in a robotesque attempt to humor, but your reasoning for rejecting it ("is simply not professional thus does not fit to this place") is the most silly thing I have read here in this madhouse.
    – sbi
    Dec 19, 2011 at 8:25
  • 4
    Can we just beat people up? I mean, skip the betting part and just go straight to the beating bit?
    – user1228
    Dec 19, 2011 at 15:02

6 Answers 6


Would it be frowned upon if I became a bookie?

Yes, totally. This kind of activity would be suspension worthy. It would pollute our reputation economy and decrease the "measure of trust" associated with your reputation number.

  • 14
    Bah. I bet you 500 points that that wouldn't happen.
    – Pekka
    Dec 20, 2011 at 10:33
  • measure of trust? He's a stand up guy. A good fellow.
    – paIncrease
    Aug 5, 2014 at 23:33
  • well, at some point SE will need to come up with a way to incentivize the talent to keep coming around. I think betting would make it a lot more fun for them.
    – paIncrease
    Aug 5, 2014 at 23:36

Stack overflow is founded on the principle that you can't be given rep, you have to earn it. Thus you can only (theoretically) earn rep by asking good questions or providing good answers. In reality there are other ways to earn small tidbits, but let's ignore those for the sake of the argument. And so, when you look at someone's rep you can be highly confident that it reflects the actual value (proportional to his/her lifespan on the site) of that individual in the community.

If the use of reputation as a currency is encouraged of deemed to be acceptable use then I think the value of SO as a Q&A community would be dramatically compromised because you'd be messing with the foundation stone. All of a sudden reputation is as arbitrary as how much money/luck someone has in real life -- that is, subject to random happenstance, rather than knowledge and communication ability on the topic at hand.

If you privately choose to use the bounty system in this way then so be it, but you should be aware that you're undermining the egalitarian playing field of the site.


I thoroughly endorse this service and/or product. Warning: does not constitute an endorsement.

  • I see what you did here. Dec 18, 2011 at 22:44
  • +1, I see you've learned marketing / copyright disclaimer policy. Dec 19, 2011 at 6:25
  • 1
    I don't get it. :( Dec 20, 2011 at 5:55

The system does not (and should not) support this.

On the other hand, you can support it: use a bounty to award the winner.

Enforcing the agreement is a matter of genteel behavior and reputation in the real world meaning.

  • 3
    Um, I think it was the robot's point that the system already does support it in the way you suggest.
    – sbi
    Dec 18, 2011 at 22:24
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    It should be noted that while you can do this, you should not. Doing so amounts to collusion and is no different from vote rings; if found they are treated with extreme prejudice.
    – casperOne
    Dec 19, 2011 at 4:31

I don't think this is a good idea. Any way you implement it, it could be gamed to give arbitrary people rep. How long before we get people with large amounts of rep giving their friends a boost? A user with 20k could even give a pal 10k mod tools privileges. How long before we see people selling rep? "I've got 50k rep, I'll sell you 10k mod privs for $100," or ebay "10k mod privs to the highest bidder."

  • You know you can already do this?
    – Xeo
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:08
  • 1
    @Xeo sure, using the 500-at-a-time bounties [that is the max bounty, right?], but I'm sure someone would notice something was off if one person gave another 500 rep for each of 20 crappy answers.
    – Kevin
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:10
  • Probably only a matter of time. I think low-numbered accounts on /. started getting sold about six years in.
    – jscs
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:14
  • @Problem Probably, but we shouldn't help accelerate the problem. Perhaps something like bets with 250-500 max, 1-2x per recipient, 5x total per week or month could work so that people don't have to use the bounty workaround.
    – Kevin
    Dec 18, 2011 at 23:19
  • 4
    I'd hope the going price for a 10k would be better than $100.
    – Jeremy
    Dec 19, 2011 at 4:56

No , no and No. The system should never support this. This should not be happening. Here are my reasons.

Everyone will jerk the newbie around

Newbies and amateurs with low rep. will be possible victims of the big players. Same as it happens in casinos and cricket. This may greatly decrease the popularity of this site for newbies and may ultimately result in this site only being populated by the big players, and newbies may possibly stop coming. (Though whether this is actually a bad thing, I don't know)

Gambling Addiction

Many psychiatrists believe that gambling causes addiction, the only reason the everybody isn't spending all day in casinos is that to gamble money you first have to earn it. Which is usually done through jobs , crime , smuggling etc. Which is what most gambling addicts usually do when they're not gambling. But for rep. it is a different case, you can gain rep. and gamble it away at the same place, (stack-exchange sites). Though there is one advantage, it may greatly increase site traffic.

Reputation is overrated

If this is included, I can see a world where people will be judged according to how much reputation they have here, and chickens won't be able to cross the road without an attested permit stating their motives.

  • 1
    How exactly would newbies become victims of anything?
    – jalf
    Dec 19, 2011 at 13:40
  • inexperienced newbies will probably lose one or two times, possibly making them fall for the Gambler's Trap which will ultimately make them lose all rep. Dec 20, 2011 at 5:33
  • 2
    +1; I'm already addicted to SO. We don't need to make it worse! Dec 20, 2011 at 5:49
  • 2
    Still doesn't explain how people would "jerk the newbie around". Why would newbies be especially prone of losing their bets? Is a newbie less likely to correctly guess that the image in the question here is a pony/unicorn? I don't see why this is worse for newbies than others.
    – jalf
    Dec 20, 2011 at 7:11
  • @jalf I give up. You've got a point there. Dec 20, 2011 at 7:38

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