39

According to this post and its tag, if a question where someone offered and awarded a bounty is deleted, the bounty is refunded back to the bounty owner. In most cases, this isn't much of a problem - either there was no awarded answer, or the bounty awardee loses their award.

Today, on Stack Overflow, we encountered a case where a user somehow earned 1,000 reputation from a deleted post. While we initially dismissed this as just another occurrence of the above (the user had awarded two bounties worth 500 rep on that question), after some further investigation, we discovered something odd: the two answerers that had been awarded the bounty still got to keep their bounty rep. I then realized that this was because of the "statute of limitations" on rep changes from answers: if it has a score of at least 3, and has been visible for at least 60 days, any rep change from the answer is kept, because those deletions are usually unrelated to the quality of the answer itself.

A lot of users there complained that this was a bug, that the bounty rep shouldn't be refunded upon post deletion in general. But according to the above post, this is intentional and by design. However, I request this behavior be changed in one case: don't refund the rep from bounties where the answerers would get to keep their rep due to the statute of limitations. Without this, you can have two copies of the same rep that the bounty owner spent initially and awarded, with one copy refunded due to the question being deleted, and the other kept by the awardee due to the statute of limitations.

There are many reasons why this should be done. First, this has a very high potential for abuse. The bounty rep is now doubled in the system, and the rest is obvious.

Second, it doesn't make sense to me why rep changes from bounties are included in the statute of limitations for answers, yet excluded in the same for questions. It would make sense to have them both included, or both excluded.

Finally, while this issue can be resolved by also excluding bounty rep changes from the statute of limitations for answers, I think it's fair to keep them included because, as I said, such deletions are usually unrelated to the quality of the answers themselves.

  • 1
    I don't normally see awarded bounty reputation being refunded to the account that placed the bounty. I suspect that the fact that the question here was older than 60 days and had a score of 3 or higher was instrumental in the bounty being refunded. – Martijn Pieters Feb 6 '18 at 13:47
  • 3
    @MartijnPieters Not the case. This question of mine was deleted and undeleted twice, and I got the rep back each time. – Sonic the Wizard Werehog Feb 6 '18 at 13:53
  • 1
    gah, indeed, I can see the rep recalculations in your account history to correspond with the delete / undelete seesawing events on that post. That’s.. weird and even more unexpected. – Martijn Pieters Feb 6 '18 at 14:10
  • How exactly could it be abused? I understand that you could award a bounty to your sock puppet, but for the sock puppet to keep its reputation, the answer needs 3 upvotes, and a question that has an answer with that many upvotes can only be deleted by a moderator. – Donald Duck Feb 6 '18 at 14:59
  • 1
    @DonaldDuck It's definitely possible. I'm not detailing how so the abusers don't pick up on it, but it basically involves more socks and some social engineering tricks. – Sonic the Wizard Werehog Feb 6 '18 at 15:17
  • 2
    @Ano I'm not opposed to the idea, but for the specific case of abuse that's the kind of thing that's going to be rare enough that you can probably just rely on moderators to handle it, rather than needing automated systems to handle it, as it's just so difficult to set up, and happens so infrequently that it's not that hard to have a mod look at the few suspicious cases. There are reasons to do this, but the abuse seems fairly low down on that list. – Servy Feb 6 '18 at 15:47
  • This concept has already been used to game the system. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/234279/…. But it was marked as status-complete so presumably can't be exploited. But the user in question had a long history of finding & exploiting flaws in the system, then reporting them – psubsee2003 Feb 7 '18 at 23:43
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters this is not a new discussion. I'm shocked you haven't seen it yet. For example, one of my own questions: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/240502/…. – psubsee2003 Feb 7 '18 at 23:47
  • 1
    @psubsee2003 This is not the same bug. That bug exploits the fact that rep losses are waived if they cause the user to drop below 1 rep. This is a wholly different thing, exploiting the fact that the system always refunds bounties upon question deletion, yet sometimes the answer author gets to keep it due to the "statute of limitations" intended to prevent rep loss for answers that were well-received for a time. – Sonic the Wizard Werehog Feb 8 '18 at 0:32
  • 1
    @Ano never said it was the same bug. If it was, I would have voted to close it. This is an example if exploiting the bounty refunding – psubsee2003 Feb 8 '18 at 0:34
15

This will be corrected in the next build to go out, with a check to ensure that only one person at most keeps the reputation from a bounty when a question is deleted. Details here: Changes to bounty rules: removal of double rep-retention, blocking of owner deletion

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .