The association bonus FAQ says:

This bonus gives users who have shown some basic understanding of how the Stack Exchange system works a boost past the initial site restrictions on sites where they have low reputation.

And it lists privileges (up-vote, comment, flag, etc.) about which it says:

You can lose the bonus reputation on a single site through the normal means: giving it away in bounties, downvoting answers, getting downvoted, having a post deleted as spam or abusive, etc.

However, once you earn the association bonus rights, you can't lose them.

(Bold added, but italics as shown)

Now consider this user ‡ (not me).
He's a good citizen on 120 sites, well versed in responsible up-voting, commenting, flagging, etc. Yet, because he offered a bounty on one site, he can no longer upvote helpful posts, nor even flag spam, on that site.

Now some might say that he should just knuckle down and answer questions, or something, until he gets back to 100 rep, but not everyone has the time or the inclination to post something useful on all of the 100's of sites where they otherwise help out.
(Personally, I've flagged spam and upvoted on about 150 sites, but only posted on about 27.)

That defeats the purpose of the association bonus, and why should the exceptional, literally Altruist be penalized so?

Further, even if a user lost the reputation by less honorable means, that almost never means that they can't upvote or flag correctly. (And we have other ways of dealing with the relatively rare cases of abuse.)

As the FAQ states, The base, know-how-to-work the site privileges, provided by the association bonus, should stick -- even if the user's reputation drops due to giving bounties.

The user is not me, but rather asked a question that lead me to this bug. But I tested it myself and verified that the association bonus privileges do not stick.

  • 7
    “Association bonus rights” are not privileges in this context. The quoted post refers to the status of being able to gain the association bonus on a site you join – this status cannot be lost. The privileges can be. Your title also says “The association bonus does persist” — it’s unclear how this fits with the rest of your post. Jan 13, 2019 at 8:11
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    You cannot lose "association bonus rights" means: even after you delete and recreate an account on the same site (assume, for a legit purpose), you will always get awarded with the association bonus rep again. The privileges are always linked to the current reputation regardless of the association bonus though. Jan 13, 2019 at 8:39
  • @AdamLear, by that design logic, the user should not be able to access that site's Meta. Yet, not only can he, but he has full A-bonus privileges on that Meta. So, the system is acting inconsistently and the A-bonus is NOT just linking reputation to privileges or else this wouldn't be a perennial issue. So, why not fix it to be consistent and "just" (at least to saints who give bounties). Jan 14, 2019 at 2:25
  • @AwesomePoodles Nah, meta profiles (eventually) sync with main site profiles and the reputation is adjusted to match. Doesn't look like it happened in this case, which is odd, but that's a different issue. I ran the sync manually the the meta profile lists 1 rep now as well as expected. (The API should catch up in a bit too.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 14, 2019 at 19:29
  • @AdamLear, I note that other accounts, in similar doghouses, also did not sync to the site metas. It might be systemic. (And a desirable feature) Jan 14, 2019 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


There is no such thing "association bonus privileges" or privileges provided by association bonus. The privileges are indirect result, since the association bonus gives reputation.

It's explained in the rest of the quote from the faq, which you didn't include:

If you've ever accumulated 200 reputation on one site, you can keep the bonus everywhere and continue to earn it on newly created site profiles even if you drop below 200 reputation on the site you earned it, or you delete accounts

So, no bug here.

  • No, the part I didn't quote right before that listed a whole bunch of privileges. So, at best, it was unclear what was meant by "association bonus rights" and strongly implied that they meant that previous list rather than just a one-time rep bump on each new site joined. And it's "rights", plural; not some singular flag in the system that says you get a rep boost. Also that rep is already divorced from the other "rights" anyway. So, clearly the privileges are already not just an "indirect result". They are inconsistent and arguably worse. Jan 14, 2019 at 2:44
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    @AwesomePoodles I'm afraid we disagree on this. For me it's clear. Jan 14, 2019 at 7:45

There is no bug that I can see, and the wording is consistent.

Once you have an account with >200 reputation on one site, you gain irrevocable association bonus rights, meaning any new community you join, you'd have an extra 100 bucks™ in the account. If you ended up losing that reputation, then it's gone.

Consider a less altruistic case — which is typically how someone loses their 100 free rep. They post something that gets flagged as rude or spam, and there's the associated 100 rep penalty, so their reputation becomes 1, just like any brand new user. If they were to create a new account, or delete the flagged account and start over again on the new site, they would still get the association bonus, according to the wording.

Now whether that's a behavior with significant potential for abuse or whether the system should change to account for privileges instead of numbers is outside the scope of this post, but in my humble opinion, it's a system that works perfectly for the vast majority of cases and if someone decides to lose the basic privileges to award an exemplary answer or draw attention to a post on a site (where there's the possibility that they won't have the time or the expertise to contribute and regain the points), it's their choice.

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