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Adam Lear has been digging into the circumstances behind this feature request, and determined that the behavior described there is likely an oversight: it should not be possible for a bounty to remain both awarded and refunded when a question is deleted.

Reputation removed from those who've awarded bounties on deleted questions where the award is retained by the answer's author

So we've patched that up: starting today, when a question is deleted and has had bounties awarded to answers, the bounty amount will be refunded to the person who offered the bounty only if it was not also retained by the author of the answer to which it was awarded (reminder that bounties don't migrate - they're always refunded to the offerer). This also applies retroactively to older deletions that were subject to the previous rules.

Once recalculated, this will affect the current reputation of around 4,000 users network-wide. If it affects you, I apologize for the disruption; please let me know if you observe a change not reflected in the bounties you've offered in the past.

New restriction on authors' ability to delete their own questions

While digging into this, we stumbled upon a more insidious problem: folks offering bounties on their own questions, awarding them immediately upon getting an answer, and then immediately deleting their question. This was allowed in cases where the answer had not yet received any upvotes and no other answers had been posted, and fortunately has been extremely rare... However, it is such an overtly hostile behavior that we've taken steps to block it as well: starting today, authors may no longer delete their own questions if a bounty has been awarded to an answer by anyone (unless that answer was already deleted).

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    "such an overtly hostile behavior that we've taken steps to block it as well" - agreed, did you also take steps against those who did it, at least undeleting the questions so that the points are redacted again? – Shadow Feb 13 '18 at 21:54
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    No, I'm waiting for this change to settle in so that they don't get immediately re-deleted @Shadow [2/14: this is done now] – Shog9 Feb 13 '18 at 21:55
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    Good to hear! Never been a victim in either of those exploits, but when I saw that bug report I was like "oh, oh goodness..." +1 on the patch! – Draco18s Feb 13 '18 at 23:21
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    folks offering bounties on their own questions, awarding them immediately upon getting an answer, and then immediately deleting their question. Why would they do this? Were the bounty points refunded? – Shmuel Brin Feb 14 '18 at 0:21
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    See unix.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4626 and what it hyperlinks to for an aspect of questioners deleting questions once answered. – JdeBP Feb 14 '18 at 0:29
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    Since you're already fiddling with the machinery, how about some close votes on bounty questions, eh? ;) – Andras Deak Feb 14 '18 at 1:46
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    That's a lot more machinery – Shog9 Feb 14 '18 at 1:48
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    So, will post owners also not be able to delete if half the bounty was awarded automatically? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Feb 14 '18 at 6:10
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    Mind you, the precondition for half the bounty being automatically awarded (the answer must have a 2+ score) has prevented deletion by the asker even before this change. (cc @Ano) – Adam Lear Feb 14 '18 at 6:26
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    @ShmuelBrin: It is my understanding that the bounty would be refunded (and not awarded to the answer's response) in this case. In short, it's a scam: place a shiny bounty to attract answers and delete to get a refund and rip-off the answerer as soon as you get the information you need. – Matthieu M. Feb 14 '18 at 7:41
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    Can we fix questions not being able to be closed when there's a current bounty? How is that even relevant? It just keeps bad questions open for longer. – curiousdannii Feb 14 '18 at 7:51
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    I'm confused, can you answer who the reputation from an awarded bounty will stay with after deletion. The author of the answer or the person whom offered the bounty? – Ashley Medway Feb 14 '18 at 8:24
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    @curiousdannii no, this helps to close such questions faster if you know how to write a compelling mod flag message. :) "Please close this blatantly off-topic <explain what makes it close worthy>. Using custom flag because bounty on this question doesn't let me cast a close vote." I did it a few times - works like a charm... and mod close spares me from having to wait for 4 more regular close votes – gnat Feb 14 '18 at 8:56
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    I trust (actually hope) that it never happened so far, but about that "New restriction on authors' ability to delete their own questions", and just to double-check the way such things are QA-tested: what if the author is a moderator? – Pierre.Vriens Feb 14 '18 at 9:23
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    @gnat afaik, there has been cases where by the time the moderator got to the flag, the bounty already ended and they decline the flag because, well, there's nothing to do. – Braiam Feb 14 '18 at 15:35
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Personly I think a question should not be able to be deleted by the author if the author has put a bounty on the question (regardless of the awarded state).

If I do the work to provide an answer, I should know that the bounty will still be on the question when I post the answer a short time later.

  • What if the question became obsolete in the meantime (because the author solved it by themselves)? Wouldn't you rather waste only half the time? – Raphael Feb 14 '18 at 11:49
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    Questions with an active bounty cannot be deleted by the author, or even by trusted users. If a blatantly off-topic question gets a bounty, a moderator can clear it (resulting in a refund) and delete it. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Feb 14 '18 at 12:03
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    @Raphael If the question was valid to begin with, the author solving it doesn't make it obsolete. The question should still have value to anyone else having a similar problem. The author deleting it, rather than sharing what they did to solve it, would be harmful behavior. – Beofett Feb 14 '18 at 12:45
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    This thread is announcing changes to the handling of expired bounties. If you do the work to provide an answer but you miss the deadline and the bounty does not get awarded, and the author then deletes the question before you can post the answer, how is the situation different to any other question which gets deleted before you can post your answer? – E.P. Feb 14 '18 at 13:49
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    Active bounties already prevent author deletion; expired bounties with no answers and no awards are kinda meaningless - in theory, you could keep re-asking the same question and applying the same bounty, but in practice I could only find one or two examples of this and the questions ended up improving. My guess is there's generally too much visibility (and too many restrictions on bounty timing) to make this a productive strategy. – Shog9 Feb 14 '18 at 15:19
  • @Raphael If someone decided to award a bounty on something, I would argue it's not obsolete. Solving problems never goes out of style. – corsiKa Feb 14 '18 at 18:18

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