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I have observed at least one user who takes a very "ascetic" approach to rep: He awards bounties to questions he finds interesting, meritorious of more attention, and to reward/highlight exceptional answers. Often to the point that his rep falls back to just double digits. He does this on multiple sites where he is an outstanding contributor. Just auditing his bounty activity on two sites: he has given away over 6,000 rep points, and I can find no indication of any nefarious or unintended consequences of the bounties. I.e., he is using the bounty system as designed.

He is also revealing what I would consider to be a flaw: He is an Established User, but, due to his generous awarding of bounties, he is frequently toiling under the restrictions applied to inexperienced users. E.g., it's silly to have his edits held up for review.

Though the implementation to change this might not be considered a priority, do people at least agree in principle that users should not lose privileges for spending their rep on bounties?

(The underlying question appears to have been discussed some six years ago. Arguments for the status quo of losing privileges point out that there should be a cost to awarding bounties. I would point out that loss of rep is a cost, and it is the right cost: You can't award more bounties than you earn in rep.)

marked as duplicate by random feature-request Oct 9 '15 at 17:35

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  • @RobertLongson - I can see his ongoing contributions to these sites (one of which I moderate). Also, is there evidence that making this change would open "floods of bounties?" Trusted Users don't routinely pour their excess rep into bounties even though they have nothing to lose by doing so. – feetwet Oct 9 '15 at 17:13
  • @RobertLongson - I provided evidence in my first comment for the likely consequence of such a change: Not a flood of bounties. Confusion? I guess it's possible, to the degree that very new users might inspect such things. That sounds like a worthwhile answer. But note that not everything on SE is unconfusing. E.g., to what is my first comment above replying? ;) – feetwet Oct 9 '15 at 17:32
  • I'll convert my comment to an answer then. Comments are amorphous transient things. I think you should edit your question with your opinion that it would not cause floods of bounties because trusted users don't do that. – Robert Longson Oct 9 '15 at 17:38

You would make the site hard to reason about.

  • Why is this 1 rep user able to close and delete my questions?
  • How come this user with 10 rep can comment everywhere and I can't?

People who gave away bounties would never know when they were due to get new privileges unless you had a bounty rep and a real rep and that sounds complicated to explain and implement.

The long and the short of it is that this user is free not to create bounties if he or she feels that it causes them to "toil" in their use of the site.

There are however plenty of users with low rep (they much outnumber those of us who have rep) and they seem to be able to ask and answer away just fine. In fact those particular features (asking and answering) are the main function of all Stack Overflow sites and require no additional rep at all beyond the 1 rep we all start with.

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