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A user had put a bounty on this question. The bounty was later cleared by a moderator, who sent the user a private message citing the reason for revoking the bounty (supplied by the user in chat):

We have cancelled your bounty on [the question]. Now that the issue you were discussing in chat (presumably why you started this bounty) has been cleared up, we see no need to keep highlighting this question. The original question was resolved a year ago.

As far as I understand, bounties can be freely applied to any eligible question by anyone with the required rep for any reason, and there is no explicit policy basis that says that bounties can be revoked simply because the moderators feel that there is no need to "highlight" a given question. (If there is such a policy, it would mean that bounties intended to be awarded to rather old existing answers wouldn't be permitted, but I see those happening and they don't get cancelled.)

Was there some different reason why the bounty was cancelled? Did the fact that they selected the "draw attention" reason play a part in the bounty cancellation? Does the user have a history of abusing bounties that I'm not aware of (hence the mod message warning)? Or was it just a helpful move so that the user doesn't waste the rep?

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    On the other hand I dont see any reason or need to draw attention to a case-specific question like this. Mod actions were essentially questioned. The issue was resolved by a mod offering appologies if I read correctly. As there is no broadly applicable use for this Q I dont see any reason to feature it on the site. – Luuklag Aug 30 at 7:59
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    Basically what Luuklag said. This first chat message explains why we felt the need to cancel the bounty, and this second chat message shows I'm glad we removed a bounty from this old, resolved question. There's no need to put up a bounty on it to 'draw attention to problems with the company', certainly not in the full context of knowing what the perceived problem was (which had nothing to do with that incident from a year ago). – Tinkeringbell Aug 30 at 12:59
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    @Tinkeringbell then why was the question left open? Why are so many questions left open when bugs, issues and disputes have long been settled? Sometimes as long as ten years ago. Using that same logic, a huge number of resolved posts should be closed. Every post with an accepted answer should be closed...? No? 1/2 – Mari-Lou A Aug 30 at 15:55
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    Where does the team draw the line? When it personally affects one user? When it affects a mod? When it is a community manager? Hey! I don't think raking up the past helps generate warm fuzzy feelings of community and friendship but before making these bold statements and authoritative decisions, think of the consequences they have on users, old and new. 2/2 – Mari-Lou A Aug 30 at 15:55
  • At the very least, this question is a better target if you have spare rep to give away as bounties. – iBug says Reinstate Monica Aug 30 at 16:16
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    @Mari-LouA As for not closing it... I wasn't the one that removed the bounty, and must admit I'd never encountered a similar situation before so I just didn't think of it. See Monica's answer, the question is now closed :) I'll keep the lesson learned in mind for next time. – Tinkeringbell Aug 30 at 17:12
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I canceled the "draw attention" bounty and sent the mod message.

The year-old question was about a specific incident in chat. Everyone involved participated in the question, the OP accepted an answer, and in all other respects it was a resolved matter. If it had been a bug report or a support request, mods would have added a status-completed tag at the time.

The bounty was posted amidst a new chat incident. Between the time the bounty was posted and the time I responded to it, the new matter was resolved. I charitably assumed that the bounty had been placed to gain help resolving the current incident, which was no longer necessary. And I saw no point in featuring an old resolved issue, which couldn't generate more light but could generate more heat, so I refunded the bounty.

I erred in not closing the question at the same time. (I meant to.) I apologize for that confusing signal.

An old question about a specific incident is a poor way of resolving a current specific incident. In that case it is better to ask a new question. A year later, most people are not going to remember the specifics of the original incident.

The bounty-poster responded to the mod message while I was asleep. Since this question has been asked in the meantime, I'm replying here, publicly, instead of just to the user.

  • Wrong close reason—shouldn’t it be “no longer reproduced”? It’s not off-topic. – Stormblessed Aug 30 at 16:54
  • @Stormblessed "off-topic" is just a fancy name for site-specific reasons. – John Dvorak Aug 30 at 17:02
  • @Stormblessed It's now closed with the right reason. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Aug 30 at 17:37
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    "No repro" is an off-topic reason, because off-topic is the only place where sites can have custom reasons. (Unfortunate -- the question isn't off-topic, just no longer applicable.) I used a custom reason to provide a better explanation. – Monica Cellio Aug 30 at 17:43
  • @John it’s just that it was closed with the generic thing when something else makes more sense. – Stormblessed Aug 30 at 17:49
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    What possible reason can there be to cancel a bounty—especially for it drawing attention? The entire point of a bounty is that it does draw attention to a question. If the question was one that shouldn't have attention drawn to it, then the question itself should have been deleted or otherwise moderated. If the text explanation in the bounty text was inappropriate, then the text itself should have been edited. But as far as I know a bounty can be added to any question, regardless of age or anything else. (Although it seems the question itself is now closed.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 30 at 19:48
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    @JasonBassford what possible reason can there be for intentionally drawing attention to a question about a specific suspension a year ago? Is rehashing it again kind to the person who was suspended? Is it necessary to accomplish some other goal? No and no. (By the way, bounty text cannot be edited.) – Monica Cellio Aug 30 at 21:44
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    @MonicaCellio That makes no sense. That was the subject of the question. And that was the point of the bounty. As I said, if the question doesn't deserve to exist, then it should be deleted. If it exists, then it's fair game. I still fail to see why a bounty should be disallowed on an existing question. I'm talking about the mechanics of the site. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 30 at 23:36
  • @JasonBassford there are tons of 9-year-old questions about features that don't even exist any more, or that were only ever about SO. Should those be bountied too? No, in all cases they should be closed, but lots of questions fly under the radar until something brings it to the attention of people who can act on it. This question had not been bumped since a few days after it was asked, until the bounty. Nobody noticed. – Monica Cellio Sep 1 at 3:12
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    @MonicaCellio Bounties should absolutely be applied if somebody doesn't think a question has been answered appropriately, or if somebody wants to reward somebody in some way. There is no time limit on them. If there were, then you would ban bounties on questions that are older than a certain date. Alternatively, if you really think that questions older than a certain date have no value, then delete them automatically when they reach a certain age. However, I doubt that's what you mean. It actually goes against the principles of Stack Exchange as a whole. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 1 at 4:45
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    @MonicaCellio It's entirely up to the person spending their reputation if they want to use it on a bounty or not. Like upvotes and downvotes, other people really shouldn't have a right to dictate what they should be doing with their reputation. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 1 at 4:47
  • @JasonBassford you skipped right past the obsolete part of what I said. Mere age doesn't mean a question should be automatically closed, deleted, protected, locked, etc, and I never said otherwise. – Monica Cellio Sep 1 at 4:50
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    @MonicaCellio No, I didn't. If you really think that a question is obsolete, and that means it shouldn't exist anymore, then delete it. But you're the one who brought up the fact that it was 9-years-old, seeming to equate age with obsolescence. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 1 at 5:19
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    @MonicaCellio You can't have it both ways. Either delete the question (for whatever reason) or, if it exists, allow a bounty to be placed on it (for whatever reason the person spending the reputation wants). Either that or put additional qualifications on when a question is allowed to have a bounty placed on it. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 1 at 5:22
  • @JasonBassford if you don't understand the difference between "resolved, no further input needed, but the information already there might help someone" and "should be eradicated from the site", then I don't know how to help you. Closure was the right outcome here, and closed questions can't get bounties -- no special rules needed! – Monica Cellio Sep 1 at 17:24
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Now that the issue you were discussing in chat (presumably why you started this bounty) has been cleared up, we see no need to keep highlighting this question.

  • Was there some different reason why the bounty was cancelled?

No, I don't see how that moderator message can have multiple interpretations

  • Did the fact that they selected the "draw attention" reason play a part in the bounty cancellation?

No, the issue has been cleared up, as stated by the moderator.

  • Does the user have a history of abusing bounties that I'm not aware of (hence the mod message warning)?

That is none of your or our business. If users choose to disclose their (private) history and exchanges with moderators in public that is up to them. We're not going to make the historic events part of a public debate because someone posts on Meta.

  • Or was it just a helpful move so that the user doesn't waste the rep?

Possible, but it is not contractual. Don't expect the same treatment in every case.

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    No, the issue has been cleared up, as stated by the moderator. I think the point is that it was not cleared up. If users choose to disclose their (private) history and exchanges with moderators in public that is up to them. there was no history of previous abuse of bounty reasons. – The forest of Reinstate Monica Aug 30 at 6:44
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    What this answer is missing: Nearly a year elapsed between the last activity on the question and the bounty, so "now that the issue has been cleared up" reads as disingenuous at best, which is presumably why Sonic is asking if there's some other meaning. Presumably, the author was just trying to be brief, and had some more specific meaning in mind? – Kevin Aug 30 at 7:33

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