Asked a question, no (interesting) answers for two weeks

Set bounty on it this morning

Found the answer to my question two hours later. Answered my own question.

Bounty reputation is lost. It was not awarded to me, it was not returned to me (the 100 I invested).

Right now, I feel really stupid for answering my own bounty question.

If this is accepted behavior, then user should be warned - you are answering your own bounty question, your bounty reputation will be LOST.

  • 9
    I sincerely hope this behavior changes. If I had known I'd lose rep and not even get an answer after posting a bounty for a hard question, I wouldn't have bothered.
    – Cerin
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 14:11
  • 1
    Did you actually get at least 2 upvotes? Why doesn't anyone clarify what happens in this case. I did all the above and being the only answer, got 4 upvotes and still I wasn't awarded half the bounty back.
    – kon psych
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 6:59
  • By the way this should not be a duplicate because if worded properly it asks whether this is the best way to treat a bounty where the only answer comes from the bounty setter. A possible answer is that since the question gains attention you are more likely to get upvotes so you get some reputation back.
    – kon psych
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 7:08
  • 1
    If it were to happen any other way abuse of the bounty system could occur. Logically, you shouldn't be offering a bounty on a question you only had to spend a few hour to figure out the answer to.
    – johnny 5
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 21:46

7 Answers 7


This is accepted behavior and has been detailed in the FAQ topics concerning bounties. If you answer your own bounty you are not eligible for getting the bounty back.

Basically the only way the bounty will get awarded to anybody is:

  • You manually award the bounty or accept an answer during the bounty period.

  • If the bounty period expires, the highest voted answer (minimum score of +2) wins half the bounty.

  • If there is a tie on answers with minimum score of +2, the oldest answer breaks the tie.

Any other scenario and you will lose the reputation and no reputation will be awarded to anybody else.

  • 66
    IMHO, this behavior is penalizing me for finding the answer on my own.
    – Vnuk
    Commented Aug 30, 2009 at 14:40
  • 6
    It is put in place in order to avoid people from gaming the bounty system. You could just accept your own answer and not lose your rep. Commented Aug 30, 2009 at 17:05
  • 24
    You wouldn't gain any rep either. I don't see how this is "gaming the system".
    – innaM
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 8:26
  • 16
    Nathan, it doesn't work that way - I DID accept my own answer and invested rep was lost. I consider this a problem. If I answer my own bounty question and get (ONLY) my invested rep back, how exactly did I "game the system"?
    – Vnuk
    Commented Aug 31, 2009 at 9:26
  • 51
    You could put a 1000 bounty up to encourage lots of people to post, only to intend to post an answer at the last minute and accept your own answer. That way, it only looked like people were answering for a bounty, and in reality, nothing was up for grabs. Commented Sep 21, 2009 at 17:09
  • 6
    I would have to agree with Vnuk. If you invest your own reputation and answer your own question you should not get the entire bounty but you should be entitled to the amount the you invested. The reason is because you took the time to provide an answer for the community so people who run into this issue in the future will benefit from an answer.
    – ricbax
    Commented Oct 27, 2009 at 4:29
  • 1
    @Guard - well, 500 of your own, plus 50 from the system, so not quite 1000, but the point stands. Commented Nov 30, 2009 at 6:10
  • 4
    The current behavior makes sense, but I'm not sure what you mean when you say it is described in the FAQ topics. stackoverflow.com/faq#bounty mentions nothing about what happens when you accept your own answer.
    – davidcl
    Commented Dec 21, 2009 at 17:49
  • 8
    What if nobody answer the question ? Simply am losing my reputation...
    – S.P.
    Commented May 4, 2010 at 5:38
  • 7
    @Sijo Yes, a few days ago I lost 50 repo on my question! :( I think, if no answers were done to my question, the good think is to return my 50 reps back to me.
    – mosg
    Commented May 14, 2010 at 8:35
  • 16
    This is horrible behavior, as it encourages people to not post bounties. If no one answers your question, then you've flushed your reputation down the toilet. I posted a bounty for a hard question I couldn't solve on my own. Turns out, no one else could solve it either, and I was penalized as a result. I won't ever post a bounty again until this "behavior" is fixed.
    – Cerin
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 14:00
  • 29
    It does suck, but I can understand the need to prevent "gaming" of the bounty system. One way to make it suck less would be to award points back to someone who answers his own question, IF THERE ARE NO OTHER ANSWERS. At least then if you ask a question, AND get absolutely no value (read: answers), AND add value back by answering it yourself, you can recover your reputation without harming anyone. Commented Oct 14, 2010 at 4:33
  • 2
    I'm also not understanding how this prevents gaming the system. What harm is there in refunding the invested rep back to the asker if nobody provides a suitable answer within the bounty period or if he/she answers the question him/herself? I lost the rep when I posted the bounty, what am I cheating if I get it back for answering the question myself or not accepting an answer by the end of the bounty period?
    – Ortund
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 13:30
  • Makes sense as Will Eddins said, if bounty was awarded to your own answer, you could virtually wait for any valid answers from other users and finally accept your answer and get the rep pts back, which would in itself defeat the purpose of the bounty and be unfair to others who posted their answers. I do agree that when no other answers were provided, rep pts should be recovered, even if you didn't provide your own answer. Restarting a bounty again and again wouldn't defeat its purpose, as in the end rep pts would be awarded to sb else, plus people wouldn't be as reluctant to start a bounty!
    – ecv
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 9:16
  • 1
    It is harsh but in all honesty it encourages people to fully exhaust their own knowledge and power before asking a question in the first place, having a bounty on your question attracts audiences to the question people could use this to their advantage and use it is bait to get answers and thus people upvoting their questions (Gaining more Rep) and then not accepting an answer, gaining their rep back and still not really putting much effort into their research. imagine it like fishing for Reputation. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 14:36

It's a non-refundable plane ticket. You paid for one (50 of your own rep), the system will throw in a free seat (the other 50 rep points).

If nobody turns up with a valid passport (in this case, an answer with at least 2 upvotes), the plane will still take off. Just that nobody will be in those seats.

You can take the seat yourself (answer and accept your own question), but you're still not getting the refund.

  • 2
    "With great power comes great responsibility." The bounty status ups the stakes and thus on the whole get better focus/attention (that's the design goal). The individual may not like the risk-reward regarding questions that may end up self-answered, but the stack-o-sphere benefits as group because without sufficient risk dubious usage would go up as trust/utility go down. Commented Nov 30, 2009 at 9:29
  • What would happen if you answer your own bounty question and get the most voted question with at least +2 votes never accepting your own question? I fail to see how that would be gaming the system at all.
    – visudo
    Commented Mar 15, 2010 at 8:05
  • If you answer your own question, you can still collect the rep on the answer. You just won't be winning the bounty. If you could, you could just get your question viewed by a lot more people with no cost. That's a gaming aspect. @vis
    – random
    Commented Mar 15, 2010 at 8:21
  • -Sounds like you ride as a non-rev all the time on the airlines or your a gate agent.
    – samfu_1
    Commented May 26, 2012 at 20:02
  • @random, I got an impression bounty is like an encouragement fee to do a job! But if nobody is able to do that, why should I give the fee? :O
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:54
  • 3
    what if the flight cancelled, then I should get refund, right? that is when no one answered my question. Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 11:06
  • I believe that the better analogies (which others may have posted elsewhere; I’m not sure) are (1) It’s buying advertising. You don’t get a refund just because you don’t get more patrons.  (2) It’s like buying insurance. You don’t get a refund just because you didn’t get sick, etc. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 18:10

My main issue is that I recently asked a question where after SEVEN DAYS! I was the only person who answered (and I was the person asking). It seems that I put up a bounty - and because no one else was able to answer it (other than me) I was penalised 50 points of rep!

To me this seems wrong. I understand the need to stop people gaming the system, but surely if the only person to answer was the person who asked, the bounty should be refunded! The logic cant possibly be hard.

  • 24
    I think if there are no answers with +2 votes at the end of the bounty, then the bounty should be refunded. E.g if the auto reward fails, then do a refund. Commented Nov 30, 2009 at 9:46
  • 7
    I wholeheartedly agree with this one. Please make it so.
    – Vnuk
    Commented Jan 5, 2010 at 6:35
  • 1
    This has happened to me multiple times... I typically ask questions on SO when they're hard ones with no fast-and-easy answers from Google. If I'm lucky, I get a couple dozens views and one half-hearted reply that shows the person didn't even read the question. So, sometimes weeks later, I answer my own question, and am bummed to have lost the points.
    – ewall
    Commented Apr 26, 2010 at 20:01
  • 1
    @ewall, I completely agree with you. If it's an easy question, I'll just figure it out on my own. And if it's a hard question, no one on SO will likely figure it out either, so as the rule stands, if I post a bounty I will likely lose rep without gaining an answer. Therefore, there's no reason to ever post a bounty. That sounds like a broken system.
    – Cerin
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 14:08
  • 1
    I can't complain about losing the points—I made the offer and the rationale for no "refund" is sound. But I can and do complain when someone's rep is increased for a WRONG answer just because we were not fast enough to vote against it.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 6:38
  • If No answer for ur question with bounty except yours, BOUNTY must be refunded..or else its wrong n unfair. I found my own answer, when there is NO other answer, only mine, yet I m deprived of my points... ridiculous.
    – Tanvir
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 7:26

Stupid rule. Need to be changed. Why cant you get your rep if you haven't got an answer.

  • I agree, no reason I shouldn't get my bounty back if I found the answer before someone else did.
    – Shawn
    Commented Aug 10, 2010 at 19:00
  • 5
    Not a stupid rule. Sure it's not perfect, but how could you improve the system without opening big holes for cheating? If everybody were honest, we wouldn't have this problem, but the reality is, we've got to have a system that works acceptably even when people try to cheat.
    – LarsH
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 20:42
  • What is a possible cheating schema in that case? Just wondering? Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 13:46
  • 1
    @Artic , I can use the bounty as an advertisement for my posts to get more votes. As nothing to loose on my own side, I unaccept my own answer then put bounty for 6days then accept my own answer again.
    – user.dz
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 8:52

I posted an answer to someone else's question I put a bounty on today. I'm going to try the answer out. If it works well then it works and I've gained something. If it doesn't work hopefully the correct answer will be found then I've gained something.

What I'm trying to say is this is fair. Reputation isn't all that important anyway only annoying thing is I've lost some privileges but well who cares.

  • If you post a bounty you care more about the answer than the reputation points.

  • I just need to accept that no matter what happens when a bounty is placed there's points lost.

  • If the answer gains any up-votes well then their still mine. If the original question author accepts the answer then points for that are still mine.

  • No matter what happens if my answer works I win.

Gotta say its pretty fair.

  • If everyone shared your point of view there'd be no Jon Skeet and no one would (try to) measure up with him :)
    – Vnuk
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 9:31
  • 2
    Reputation isn't important? Then why are they given?
    – user191943
    Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 13:29
  • @F'OlaYinka In pratical terms its not that important. Its a way to keep the site intresting to keep people gaming. It a behaviour score but really it doesn't matter under most circumstances. 1 circumstance its important is priviledges. The second is for finding job. Think like score of tetris. Not important in itself. I didn't say it had no use. I said its not that important not that it has no value.
    – Wes
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 13:02

IIRC, you only actually invest 50 of the minimum 100. The other 50 is thrown in by the system for "free"... So if you were able to collect on your own bounty question, it'd be an exploit for earning 50 rep for free.

  • 12
    So just don't give them the extra 50 points.
    – beska
    Commented Oct 15, 2009 at 17:36

I found my way here after experiencing the same thing. I had posted a question in July (6 months ago) and had no answers. It became really critical to us so I opened a bounty. Of course I continued trying to crack the problem myself - which I did - and answered my own question. It is (at time of writing) still the only response (bar a couple of comments) - but the bounty remained open so I came here looking to find out what I should do.

Having read through this thread (and a couple of others) my feeling is that it is a little disappointing that it is not clear when you start a bounty that you will lose the rep even if it remains unanswered or you answer it yourself. However I can understand and sympathise with why that is.

The way I see it: if you have enough rep to be throwing bounties around then you must either have a lot of rep or really desperate. Generally the higher your own rep the harder the problem is likely to be that you can't solve yourself - and therefore the more likely it will remain unanswered. IOW don't start a bounty if losing the rep is more of an issue to you than getting your problem solved. I've lost some rep (it was only 100 - I can see it being more frustrating if you pledged 500 or more) but I have my problem solved. That is far more important to me than the fact that I answered it on my own.

Will I open a bounty again in a similar situation? Absolutely!

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