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I figured out a method to abuse the Association Bonus, however I'm unsure whether or not this is a serious issue. Are there anti systems in place that prevent this?

Prerequisites:
1 account with the Association bonus, and
1 account with 100 reputation on a different site.

Step 1:
Create a bounty on the first account using the association bonus on the site on which the second account has 100 reputation, and award it to the second account.

The second account now has 200 reputation and will receive the Association Bonus.

Step 2: Abuse the bounty system to give the association bonus from the second account back to the first.

Step 3:
Create a third account, and again abuse the bounty system to gift 200 reputation to it from the second account.

Step 4:
Repeat steps 2 and 3 in order to gain infinite reputation.

Step 5:
Give the 200 reputation back to the first account.

Please don't actually do this.

  • 11
    You should try this with your main account as a proof-of-concept – random Mar 17 '16 at 23:41
  • This won't work if you're under 13 years of age – random Mar 17 '16 at 23:44
  • 3
    @random No. If I did, my account would very likely be deleted. I also believe that this is the wrong thing to do. It is, however known that some users do intentionally attempt to abuse the system. Those users may do so at their own peril. – Issa Chanzi Mar 17 '16 at 23:45
  • I am also not under 13. That is just a very old profile picture. – Issa Chanzi Mar 17 '16 at 23:48
  • 1
    Clever idea. In practice, this would probably be noticed before it could do too much harm, due to the two day delay on awarding bounties, but it's worth thinking about. – Jeremy Banks Mar 18 '16 at 0:41
  • 6
  • Creating the 200 is hard. What could work: creating the 200 on a site where it is easy, then register also on all sites where you have an account, and give this 100 to your user on all the sites by bounty. It would work, but it would be very visible, even for ordinary users, not only for mods. You should have fear in the rest of life, when will anybody develop some script which catches this. And such a bounty-based voting misuse would have probably stronger consequences as a lesser sophisticated one. – peterh Sep 5 '17 at 12:54
  • Actually, the best what you can do if you do any reasonable to make yourself very, very clean in any cases if they suspect something from you. The best against it is, if you don't use any of the SE sites with multiple SE registrations, thus you couldn't support your alterego even if you would have the intention to do that, and it is clear for anybody knowing your alteregos (i.e. SE internal) on the spot. – peterh Sep 5 '17 at 12:59
24

This might be possible, but consider:

  • You have to get to 200 reputation points on one site, and 100 points on another. To do that you need to ask a few decent questions and/or write some decent answers so they get positive votes.

  • To award the first bounty, you have to write a decent question/answer pair that will pass muster on the site. If the question isn't good enough to stay open or the answer is drek that will be downvoted into oblivion, you're going to lose reputation points. And a bounty on a less-than-great answer is going to raise suspicion.

  • You then have to do it again, with the authors reversed, in order to give the bounty back.

  • It's also pretty transparent. All it takes is for someone to notice that one person gave a bounty and the other gave it right back, and this pattern repeated on another site. It wouldn't take long for a moderator to get a flag and to investigate. Once they can see IP addresses it should be pretty obvious what's going on.

But what if you don't get caught? So what? What has happened? You've gained a few hundred reputation points on disconnected accounts. What can you do with that? Downvote? Reduce Ads? Create Tags? Certainly nothing really dangerous. To do that, you'll need to have done this quite a few times, which means you'll need to have created quite a bit of decent content. Because if the content doesn't pass muster so that it gets some upvotes, your whole scheme will fall apart. You'd have to do this a lot to get into "dangerous" territory, like accessing the review queues, and even then there's little that you can do all by yourself. And if you're pulling this scheme that much, it'll definitely be spotted.

But say you do this for a couple of accounts and don't get caught. Sure, you might have an account with more privileges than you would have got naturally, but not much. In the meantime, Stack Exchange has gotten some pretty decent content out of you. Imagine how much more it could have gotten if you'd just played fair and asked/answered questions to earn your reputation points, and how many more points you would have gotten.

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