So a couple of weeks ago I ran into something that I couldn't figure out, and I considered it a hard question. So I posted a question on stackoverflow like I sometimes do. I had planned on offering a bounty if there were no answers, because I wanted something urgently. However to my surprise, it was answered within 30 minutes with a suggestion that solved my problem. I decided to come back to the question and award a bounty to it because I was grateful.

When assigning the bounty, I chose the option "Award existing answer". In the message, I wrote something to the effect of "Hey thanks for this answer it really helped me out. Here, have 50 of my reputation."

Yesterday I was working hard, like I sometimes do. I had a lot of browser tabs open, opened another one to do a little google search for something. Wouldn't you know it, stackoverflow.com was near the top of the results, so I clicked on something that looked like it might be what I was after. When the window opened, it had a little red "1" indicating that I had something in my inbox. I assumed it was the person who answered my question commenting on the bounty I was about to award them. Since I was busy but I hate seeing that little red 1 inbox icon, I clicked it. Because I didn't want to lose my train of thought, I clicked the +50, confirmed it, and hit the back button to go back to what I was doing.

So it turns out that I made a mistake and accidentally awarded the bounty to a new answer to the same question. Then I asked this question on meta where someone suggested I ask the person to delete their question so that the bounty could be refunded. I did this, and the answerer obliged, but the deletion was undone by moderators to preserve the mistakenly awarded bounty.

I was also told it was a duplicate of this answered question. However what I do not understand is if "the whole point of raising a bounty on your question is to attract attention", then why is one of the reason options when starting a bounty to "Reward existing answer - One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty"? I had not created this bounty to attract answers, I had simply done it to award an existing answer.

Now it was only 50 points, and I also awarded 100 to correct my mistake as suggested, but I have given up trying to get anything back -- it's really no big deal. What I am still curious about though is why my attempt to reverse the bounty was thwarted by moderators. According to this, "When an answer that received a bounty is deleted, all reputation including the bounty are revoked. (This may take 5 minutes to be visible.) The bounty is not given back to the user who awarded it." This is what I was able to accomplish by requesting it from the user it was awarded to, but that action was undone by others. Why?

We all know that everyone makes mistakes. SO does a decent job of warning us with the alert('CANNOT BE UNDONE'), but that's not really true because it can be. So, was my undo attempt undone because it would cause additional work for a developer to manually reverse the data? Was my attempt an exploitation of a loophole in the bounty system that needs to be closed? Is it because I am not really a SO customer, and that's who they are focusing on (ad placers and employers)? Or some other reason?

  • 2
    You say it can be undone. It cannot. First off, you can't do anything, as you didn't delete the answer. The answerer can delete it, or a mod, but you can't. Finally, as per the quote, it doesn't refund the bounty, it just makes it disappear into nothingness. None of that is you undoing it.
    – Servy
    Oct 10, 2013 at 17:51
  • The answerer did delete it after I asked him to, you are right I did not delete it. I see what you mean about "disappears into nothingness" though now that I re-read the system rule. Thx.
    – danludwig
    Oct 10, 2013 at 17:55
  • 5
    The post was not undeleted by a moderator, it was undeleted by three 10k+ users. Very big difference.
    – Servy
    Oct 10, 2013 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


Deleting a good answer for a secondary purpose is generally not a good idea, it makes the content on the site less useful. The deletion would also not have given you back the bounty, so I'm not really sure what your goal was.

The net result of this is the deletion of a useful answer, and that is something a moderator or the community might undo. I can't speak for users that did this, but my best guess is that they wanted to avoid good content being deleted.

There is no way to undo an awarded bounty as far as I know except direct intervention from a developer, and that is something that should be reserved for cases of fraud and should not be used to undo mistakes.

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