If I hit the reputation cap, and given out a bounty, any extra votes do not fill the gap created by the bounty, and are effectively limited by the difference between the bounty value and the regular daily 200 reputation limit.

I hit the reputation cap and accordingly got half a dozen upvotes that were gaining me no reputation.

So I thought – "Well, that's points going to waste, let me give a bounty to a good answer – I'll still get my 200 points, and a good answer will be rewarded." I found a very good answer - actually, I found five I really thought deserved recognition - and gave one a bonus, expecting that the drop in points would simply be made up from those 'wasted' votes.

But my expectation of what seems to me to be reasonable behavior was misplaced:

enter image description here

(You'll want to examine the image in a new window; sorry it's a bit small.)

I'm on 150 points for the day, but still not getting any points on those upvotes.

Is that really the intended behavior? It seems ... well, mean, to be honest. It's discouraging me from giving as many bonuses as I otherwise would.

Who is really missing out? Ultimately it's the site that's being hurt.

Edit for context:

The biggest problem I see facing stats.SE right now is unanswered questions. Our rate of answered questions is quite low); partly I think this is due to the particular nature of the discipline, but in any case I have a two-pronged strategy to try to help in solving that problem:

  1. I answer lots of questions.

  2. I give away bounties on other people's questions and answers, to make good questions that don't have good answers more visible and to reward people for taking the trouble to make really great answers. The more people who feel positive about answering, the better off the site will be.

The problem is, the rep cap regularly discourages me from doing 1. (but at least there's that Legendary badge to aim for, right? right?). Okay, fine, so when that happens, I can turn that around and do more of 2. -- help get other people excited about answering? Well, no, it seems I am stymied in both aims. I can be blocked from either receiving it or giving it away. I'd like to up the rate I do it to more than a bounty a week (I average less than that).

So much for trying to get more of those questions answered. I guess they just go begging and bad luck for the >30% of questions that go unanswered.

Stacked against this well-recognized problem I am trying like hell to reduce any way I can, we have ... a "problem" that I've never seen any evidence of at all, some kind of theoretical abuse that is pretty clearly a non-problem for stats.SE.

So why not let me give some of those otherwise-lost points away and encourage more and better answers?

(There seems to be some tendency to regard any use of excess over 200 as both 'unearned' and somehow undeserved, no matter who might benefit. That strikes me as a rather odd, even misanthropic way to view things. People voted my answers up, but right now nobody gets a benefit from it - I just want to let their votes for my answers be used for something that will help the site be better, instead of effectively going down the drain like now. Heck, I'd be more than happy if those points were made available for the mods to spend on bounties. At least someone would get some joy from the combined efforts of my answers and the people that took the trouble to use their votes to say they were good answers. I don't see how there's anything undeserved anywhere along the line.)

Ultimately it doesn't deprive me of gains (except for this once, since I won't be trying that again) – but instead deprives the people who would otherwise get well-deserved recognition for their questions and answers any time I hit the cap and then got a few more upvotes. [I see easily half a dozen highly deserving answers or questions every week. In a good week I might actually offer a bonus on one of them . Where's the abuse if once in a couple of months, a second one of the half dozen really deserving posts got a bonus in the same week - on the back of upvotes people already took the trouble to award?]

If that is the presently intended behavior, why can we not change it?

If there is even a potential abuse, how much of a danger is it really, compared to the benefit to the site, which clearly needs more encouragement of good answers?

Could the present behavior of the site be altered if some conditions are met that make whatever abuses there might be (however distant they are in reality) seem less of a threat?

I'd love to give people more bounties* and share the wealth around.

*(I already give more bounties on other people's questions than anyone else on stats.stackexchange - the top "investor", if you will. It seems to be counterproductive to discourage me and presumably others from doing more of that. There are people giving good answers out there and they deserve lots of encouragement to do it more. There are people asking good questions that are begging for decent answers. I want to help them more. Changing this would sure help me do my bit to improve the answer rate.)

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    Bounties you offer do not intersect with the reputation cap. I believe that's by design, and it probably should stay that way. Commented May 14, 2014 at 23:59
  • 3
    Thanks for your comment, but could you explain the reasoning by which it should stay that way in this instance? If it was clear to me, I wouldn't have asked.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:01
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    Bounties are one-shot amounts of reputation you sacrifice to give more visibility to a given question. If reputation spent that way did not count toward the cap, some of us would keep answering after the cap in order to replenish, then spend that reserve. That would lead to burn-out and potential abuse. Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:05
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    @FrédéricHamidi (In this case I rewarded an excellent existing answer rather than highlighting a question.) Can you explain the abuse you refer to? Again, if it was obvious, I wouldn't have needed to ask.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:08
  • Well, assuming safest parameters (free bounties only when above the rep cap, etc.), I can create a sockpuppet and have it answer, say, four times on various tags. Then I wait for 48 hours, and I believe I can accumulate 400 rep in a day if I'm dedicated enough (and Jon Skeet would accumulate much more) if I give +50 rep in bounties to my sock every time I reach the cap. End result: 36 hours, 200+ rep for me, 200 rep for my sock. Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:16
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    I agree that this isn't a bug, but I also question the reasoning behind the design. I'm not sure it's fair to call it abuse to pass along reputation gains. It could lead to a sort of rep score cronyism I guess, but how much extra rep are we really talking about here that's lost to the daily cap? Do we really mistrust the people gaining it so much that we don't even want to give them the chance to use it for more fairly distributed promotion of good activity on the site in general? Arguably this is the best remaining use of rep past 20K anyway...why not embrace it and police it some other way? Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:18
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    @Nick, I guess my previous comment was not clear enough. Allowing that would basically create reputation out of nothing. That's never good, and trust me, I live in Europe. Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:21
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    @FrédéricHamidi There are much simpler ways to abuse sockpuppets that don't require you to give such dedicated service (lots of good answers that get upvotes), but I agree that it's at least possible to do that. It seems to me that the people who seek to really abuse things are going to take the more direct routes that don't help the site as much.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:21
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    @FrédéricHamidi: Actually, I think this more recent comment is less clear. How is the reputation "out of nothing"? Sounds like you're looking to do some serious contributing with that sock puppet of yours! All due respect to Europe :) Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:23
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    @Nick, well, "out of nothing" is what actually happens if we consider rep as a limited resource, such as currency (I understand we may not agree here). We have a cap of 200 rep per day (modulo accepts and bounty awards), so there is a limited amount of rep in circulation at any given point in time. Now, allowing "extra" rep earned after the cap to be spent as bounties injects more rep into the system, whereas that rep should not exist in the first place because it was "above" the cap. That creates rep out of nothing. Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:29
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    @Nick Indeed, it seems a partial solution to my concerns is to make some sockpuppets. I can see a couple of ways to largely or partly solve my problems if I have some handy sockpuppets. I'm not sure that's what the site should be pushing me toward. At least let me give some of that excess in bonuses, eh? Perhaps halve the value of bonuses given this way - (I pay 50, they get 25, and so on) -- I'd still give them away, people would get some recognition for good answers, or worthwhile questions would get highlighted.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:30
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    @FrédéricHamidi: I see your point – it is more than is "supposed" to be out there...But is anyone serious about limiting the total amount of rep we're minting around here? As Glen_b's implying in response to your argument, this user-based limitation practically encourages sock-puppeteering. Granted that might be dangerous for the main account since it's an obvious loophole exploitation (if only obvious in the sense of what can be inferred about the user's intent if caught)...but if we can take away an incentive for that bad behavior, I think we need a stronger case for harm of doing so. Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:37
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    @FrédéricHamidi If 4 users are quick to accept answers I gave, I can do what I seek (give the bonus, still hit the cap), and the system thinks it's fine (and I've done that before). But if they're a couple of hours slower about accepting, I can't ... what difference does it actually make to the reputation pool if accepts are a little faster or slower? It seems to be drawing some fine distinctions that really don't seem to be helping the site.
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:43
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    Well, here's the dupe from 4.7 years ago: Reputation cap ignores reputation paid for bounty offerings. Flag away if you don't think the present circumstances on Cross Validated add anything unique to the problem, but at least revisit that feature request. Commented May 15, 2014 at 4:36

2 Answers 2


The point of bounties is for a person to incur a cost in order to highlight a specific question and get it more attention. If there were no costs to doing so, then more questions would needlessly get this extra attention.

This seems by design. If you're discouraged from highlighting a question in exchange for reputation, that's probably a good thing. Most of the people who do exchange reputation in order to get a question more attention are doing so because the cost of losing the reputation justifies the benefit of getting the question the extra attention.

For me, when I post a bounty, it's because there's something that truly deserves the recognition or a problem that I really need a solution to, so much so that reputation becomes meaningless to me. If it were to somehow become less painful to post bounties, then the people with legitimate needs will have their bounties diluted. This means more noise in the featured section, and decreases the possibility of those bountied questions getting answers that may help solve the problem.

  • 1
    "No cost" misrepresents the proposal – it still has to be earned. How many people max out regularly? "Needless" is unfair and dismissive, unless you're talking about purely hypothetical abuse cases and ignoring the rest, in which case it's just dismissive. I don't altogether disagree with the rest, but who says there shouldn't be more featured questions? If the ones that are featured get less attention, they can pay more to try to get it back. Most bounties are 50 rep; they don't need to be. The amount of excess rep that could go toward new bounties could be limited at 50 to limit competition. Commented May 15, 2014 at 2:40
  • @NickStauner - I'm okay with more featured questions, but they should be featured because they're critically important to someone, important enough to give up something else that's important to them and not just on a whim.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 2:59
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    That's debatable. First, why does a bounty have to be critically important just to achieve a net good? Second, who ever said reputation is important? (This point cuts both ways, of course.) Third, this feature request is not about whims – that is still unfair and dismissive. It doesn't take much perusal of Glen_b's contributions on Cross Validated to see how much thought he puts into them, or to see what kinds of answers he's talking about rewarding. If others are much worse-behaved with their bounties, why not edit in some examples and claim that it's about the bad apples, not everyone? Commented May 15, 2014 at 3:17
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    "then more questions would needlessly get this extra attention" -- I think there's a great lack - of deserving answers & questions getting anything like the attention they should. I'd hardly describe my choices as a whim; what's a good reason to regard it that way? [On the other hand, I vote on many questions and answers every day at no cost - but nobody seems worried that I might be doing that on a whim.] Can you give some justification why a few more answers and questions getting some more attention would actually be needless when the critical shortage on stats.SE seems to be answers?
    – Glen_b
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 3:42
  • @NickStauner and Glen - It's just about the numbers. If there are 5 bountied questions, they're going to stand out more than if there's 10, 15, or 20 bountied questions. As for my statement about whims, don't take that the wrong way. You're certainly welcome to bounty as many questions as you want, but there has to be a cost to that. Cost is what makes the bounties rare/valuable; dilute them, and they don't stand out as much. In short, don't think of this as about you; it's about the people putting bounties on questions who are willing to pay for the privilege of getting more attention.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 5:04
  • I think we both get your point, but I don't think you've thought it through. SO has 460 featured questions ATM; CV has 10; Workplace has 0. Dilution doesn't seem to stop SO people from bountying it up. CV has a long way to go before dilution really starts to cost featured questions their attention, and so do most other sites. Many sites have little or nothing to dilute. Again, how many people actually max out that often? Set aside SO if it helps. What if my bounty brings more attention than it takes away from all others? It's never been about Glen personally; it's about motivating others. Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:10
  • @NickStauner - Okay, good point. I can see the potential value on smaller sites where bounties are infrequent. I was thinking just in terms of Stack Overflow (even though you mentioned Cross Validated a few times).
    – jmort253
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 6:37

There's a lot of symmetry in the current design, which would be broken with your idea: Bounties are seperate from rep cap, both for the offering and the receiving user. If you made offering bounties increase the rep cap accordingly, then receiving them should decrease it in the same manner. Then no bounties over 200 make any sense.

Therefore I believe it's .

(Yeah, and I agree with jmort253, I just add yet another reason.)

  • Why should receiving bounties decrease the rep cap? No one else is suggesting that, and symmetry isn't much of a reason. "No bounties over 200 make any sense" doesn't make any sense. Bounties over 200 are only made cheaper by the same amount as bounties under 200 with this proposal. Again, limit the amount of excess daily rep that can go toward bounties to 50 if necessary, but give it some thought...it's not a bug report. Commented May 15, 2014 at 16:33
  • @NickStauner Then you basically increase the amount of rep point there. You can throw the points back and forth among a small group of users and thus increase the points. That's the asymmetry I mean.
    – yo'
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 16:47
  • Ah, okay...but that still assumes a lot of people with little respect for the integrity of the bounty system will also be maxing out their rep gains frequently and not using the proposed feature to mark legitimately good content in a sufficiently constructive manner. This line of reasoning strikes me as baselessly pessimistic. Again, maybe this proposal will make more sense if we set aside SO and focus on the rest of SE. Commented May 15, 2014 at 17:12

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