When a user with at least 200 rep on any Stack Exchange site registers a new account on another SE site, they immediately receive 100 rep on that site as an association bonus. This is a deliberate feature to give users who are already familiar with how the SE platform and community works a bit of an extra boost (e.g. letting them upvote and comment immediately), and it's pretty much working as intended.

What's probably not intended is that, currently, this bonus rep can be given away as bounties.

In fact, because awarding bounties currently requires only 75 rep, any user with 200+ rep on at least one site can join another site, receive the 100 rep bonus, and immediately award it all as a bounty to another user, without having to earn any actual rep on the site at all. Not only does this seem contrary to the design intent of bounties (and of the association bonus), but it also seems ripe for potential abuse.

(In fact, the only thing stopping a sockpuppet ring from gaining unlimited rep this way is the fact that the bounties would likely be sooner or later noticed by mods.)

It's also possible for experienced users to (more or less) accidentally bounty their reputation so low that that they lose access to basic site features that they'd normally have due to the bonus. Arguably, of course, this is entirely the user's own fault, but it can still be annoying. Also, this behavior interacts poorly with protected questions, which currently require 110 rep to answer for users with the association bonus.

The fix I'd like to suggest is simple:

If a user has been awarded the association bonus, don't let them award a bounty that would take their rep below 100.

Of course, it would still be possible for users with the bonus to drop below 100 rep via other means, e.g. by having their posts downvoted. But they wouldn't be able to just give away this baseline rep to other users any more.

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    Are you attempting to solve a theorectical problem or is there a sock puppet network out there doing this?
    – Andy
    Dec 5, 2015 at 16:51
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    This is not very different from this other declined request. Dec 5, 2015 at 16:54
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    @Andy: No, I haven't heard of anyone actually exploiting this with socks. Most of the actual problems I've observed involve users carelessly bountying their rep below 100 and then complaining about it. Dec 5, 2015 at 16:58
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    @ShadowWizard: I don't see the similarity. The request you linked to is about voting privileges; I'm just proposing that the rep from the association bonus should not be transferable. Dec 5, 2015 at 17:00
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    Not similar or dupe, but both ask to limit the bonus, that's what I meant. Dec 5, 2015 at 17:08
  • To be honest, I would hate to have been unable to put up this bounty that I used to get better results faster for a project in an area outside my specialization, for all that I hated to put myself 50 rep further from downvoting there. That's only one example of a legitimate use, but it seems like we'd need some concrete counter-examples of illegitimate uses to have any reason to give that up. Dec 5, 2015 at 23:04
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    Another thing that you didn't consider is that a user can make a bounty, delete their account, and create a new account on the same site.
    – mathlander
    Sep 21, 2023 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


I don't want to lose this bonus. True, I might know nothing about cooking, but if I see there something I really like to know too, without satisfying answer (or with an excellent answer I want to award), being able to give a bounty is a very nice to have bonus, which I'm not going to abuse by giving to my sock.

I am well aware that after starting such a bounty, I will have to work hard to earn the privileges back on that site, even upvote or comment anywhere: this is a huge consideration that make people to think twice and thrice before giving a +100 bounty with only 101 reputation.

As for sock rings, this mechanism is way too slow to be of use, not to mention easily detected. If anything, this can be used as honeypot to lure such rings and catch them. Smart puppeteers would probably refrain from such an obvious way to boost their socks' reputation.

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    That's a valid argument, I guess. It still seems somehow wrong to me, though, that someone can earn 200 rep on SO and then award 14.9k rep as bounties across the network. Dec 5, 2015 at 17:13
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    @IlmariKaronen you make it sound a lot, but since reputation can't be shared between sites, it's not 14.9k just 100 in 149 different sites. One can't possibly gain 10k in a single site this way. Dec 5, 2015 at 17:17
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    Technically, all you need to gain 10k rep on a single site this way is 100 sockpuppet accounts (and either 400 organic rep on a single site or 200 on one site and 100 on another). Of course, if you actually tried that, you'd be far more likely to get banned instead. But smaller-scale "I'll bounty you if you bounty me" abuse might easily fly under the radar. May 15, 2020 at 15:09

Let me spend my Reputation the way I want

Sometimes, I join a specific network site just to ask a specific question. I can't really engage with the site as I would with my "main" site, simply because I lack the knowledge to really be useful there.

However, if the question feels important enough and I have not gained enough attention, I want to put a 50 Rep bounty on it. I can do that because I spent quite enough time answering question after question on my "main" site.

Bonus Opinion: Your logic is flawed.

You claim someone can earn 200 Reputation on Stack Overflow and then gets to spend 14.9k reputation across the network. While "technically" true, there are tons of network sites I am completely uninterested in. You could offer me any arbitrary amount of reputation, solely to be spent on Ukrainian Language, it would mean absolutely nothing to me.

  • Regarding your Bonus Opinion: You're right, but maybe you care about rep on SO and maybe (hypothetically) I care about rep on Ukrainian Language, so why don't you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours? My original point was that, while neither you nor I actually have any real interest in Ukrainian (the language or the site), some people do — and it makes no sense that I, with zero knowledge of Ukrainian and zero contributions to the site, should be able to give some random person a 100 rep bounty there just because I like their username or whatever. (Also, FWIW, it's 17.5k now.) May 15, 2020 at 14:51
  • (I'm also now strangely tempted to post a 100 rep bounty to "reward an existing answer" for this question on Law.SE, where I currently have 103 rep. If asked about it, I could always claim that I became suddenly curious about the legalities of shipping firearm magazines to Austria.) May 15, 2020 at 15:00
  • @IlmariKaronen note the author of the Law.SE question. Was this intentional? :)
    – LemmyX
    May 21, 2020 at 6:09
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    @LemmyX I assume so.
    – MechMK1
    May 21, 2020 at 9:15

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