What reason does a Stack Exchange user have for manually awarding a bounty? It seems to me that, since only half of the bounty will be awarded if no bounty is manually awarded, users are, in fact, incentivized to not manually award bounties, allowing them to keep some of their reputation instead. While it certainly isn't a morally correct thing to do, people seem to be able to do it; so, my question is this: Why should a self-interested stack exchange user award their reputation bounties?

  • 16
    The half that isn't awarded doesn't get refunded - it just goes into the void. Commented Jul 8 at 20:14

1 Answer 1


From the help article What is a bounty? How can I start one?:

A bounty is a special reputation award given to answers. It is funded by the personal reputation of the user who offers it, and is non-refundable. If you see a question that has not gotten a satisfactory answer, a bounty may help attract more attention and more answers. Slice off anywhere from +50 to +500 of your own hard-earned reputation, and attach it to any question as a bounty. You do not need to be the asker of the question to offer a bounty on it.

  • All bounties are paid for up front and non-refundable under any circumstances.

(No emphasis added, text formatting as-is)

Users have no reputation incentive to award a bounty nor to leave it to automatic selection. They neither gain, nor lose any reputation from either way the bounty is awarded.

There is a small incentive in terms of are two badges that are awarded once each for awarding a bounty manually:

  • Altruist - First bounty you manually award on another person's question.
  • Benefactor - First bounty you manually award on your own question.

Once acquired, there is no other incentive to award a bounty manually.

For more information on bounties, see also the FAQ: How does the bounty system work?

  • 5
    Technically, if one's never manually awarded a bounty before, there is an incentive to do so: there are badges that are each awarded once for manually awarding a bounty one one's own question and on another user's question. However, once those badges have been earned, then, yes, there is no incentive. Commented Jul 8 at 20:26

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