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Background

As a result of another meta question highlighting suspicions of sockpuppety one user was recently suspended and another 2 were deleted. However, 3 hours before this happened (possibly knowing that the jig was up) the puppet master converted almost all their rep into a bounty. As a result of the 2 puppet's destruction the masters rep was set to 1 (and would have gone very negative if my calculations are correct. I believe to -218).

But the bounty remains. All that the master now needs to do is create a new sock, pick up the bounty of 350 clean rep and repeat the process, gaining 218 rep that we know to be fraudulent.

Question

Is this acceptable? I know that bounties are rarely invalidated once started (at least on on topic questions) but in this case it is enabling fraud. Worse still, if invalidated would this return the 350 rep to the sock master.

Discussions of the bounty were in my original flag which is why I’m bringing this up on meta for discussion (is there even a way for mods to refund the bounty without simply returning the rep to the master)

Update

After the one week suspention the bounty-cached sockpuppet rep was returned to the OP, assuming my reading of the rep change is correct

enter image description here

The times seem a little wrong, when I remember it from the time I remember "Rep Change" and "User was Removed" happening at the same time

  • I've favourited the question; lets see if any more posts follow. Unless the bounty is nuked, of course. – Martijn Pieters Jan 21 '14 at 16:18
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    I removed the bounty. The user who posted it doesn't have the required reputation since both his socks were knocked off earlier, so that reputation shouldn't go to anyone. Thanks for pointing this out. (A developer might still answer the question of what would have happened if that bounty had been allowed to run its course.) – Bill the Lizard Jan 21 '14 at 16:22
  • @BilltheLizard Thanks – Richard Tingle Jan 21 '14 at 16:23
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    @BilltheLizard Looking at the Repuation tab I can see a +350 bounty refund 5 minutes ago. And now only -64 for today. Does that mean that when the user returns from suspention they will still have that 350 (most of which would have been invalidated had they not had it stored as a bounty at the time) – Richard Tingle Jan 21 '14 at 16:29
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    Always a pleasure to see dirty socks burning, @Bill. Thanks! ;-) – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Jan 21 '14 at 16:31
  • Yes, they should only get back any reputation that they hadn't given to themselves with the sock puppets. I don't think it's adding up correctly now, so it looks like caching the reputation in a bounty worked in their favor. I'll ask a CM to take a look at this and see if we can get it corrected. – Bill the Lizard Jan 21 '14 at 16:35
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    @BilltheLizard - Personally, I was leaning towards letting the bounty stay and having them lose that reputation now that they had no puppet to transfer it to. I was going to play a very small violin when it expired. – Brad Larson Jan 21 '14 at 16:36
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    @BradLarson Would we have been able to detect a new sock created for the sole purpose of collecting it however? – Richard Tingle Jan 21 '14 at 16:37
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    @RichardTingle - We commonly watch for new accounts by people we've recently warned about sock puppetry, and with the outstanding bounty here we would have observed this for a little longer. Our recidivism rate is fairly low, but sometimes people don't take our warnings to heart. – Brad Larson Jan 21 '14 at 16:45
  • @BradLarson Are the answers from the socks going to go? Doesn't seem to be much point in having them. Even the questions they are on may just be for that purpose, though others have worked on some. – Bill Woodger Jan 21 '14 at 17:05
  • @BillWoodger Some of them may have some value – Richard Tingle Jan 21 '14 at 17:11
  • @BillWoodger We typically just delete sock puppets and leave content they posted. This gets rid of all the votes cast by the fake account, but leaves behind any content that might be useful. – Bill the Lizard Jan 21 '14 at 17:16
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    Shog9 told me in chat that this user's reputation should self-correct when the suspension period is up. I'll try to remember to come back in a week to make sure they don't get get to keep the reputation from the bounty. – Bill the Lizard Jan 21 '14 at 20:45
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    @BilltheLizard, as the OP of the linked question, I had a reminder to revisit this in one week. Apparently, the troubled guy has been restored with reputation he managed to source from his now-defunct sucks. – noseratio Jan 29 '14 at 3:01
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    @RichardTingle Thanks. I had looked at it a few days ago, but got distracted by work before I had a chance to look at the detailed breakdown of what happened that day. I've escalated this up to a Community manager again. – Bill the Lizard Feb 3 '14 at 13:53
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This is one of those weird edge-cases that make bounties so... Interesting.

We've cleaned up the mess here; the effects were fairly benign. However, any accounts caught using this to intentionally inflate their reputation will be subject to removal.

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