So I really don't need all this rep, and figured a fun (and fast) way to get rid of excess rep would be to put 500 point bounties on questions that I haven't accepted an answer for and then immediately accept the answer - thus turning the 15 point accept rep increase into a 565 rep increase for whichever (lucky?) meta user I choose for the answer.

The only drawback I can think of is that some people might not consider the answer 'worth' the extra rep.

  • Beyond that, though, is there really a problem with this behavior?
  • What unintended consequences could this behavior have?
    • Assuming only one person did this on a regular basis
    • Assuming several high-rep people did this on a regular basis

If I did this on a regular basis (about one-two 500 point bounties per week to keep me just above 10k) would this make you more likely to participate in my questions?

Note that I am NOT doing this on SO - I occasionally use SO to answer some difficult questions, and I'm keeping my rep around for when I need to spend it on those.

This really only concerns Meta, where, as far as I can tell, rep really doesn't matter (if It did, I certainly wouldn't be getting it so easily...)

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    Ah, thanks for the explanation... Was wondering what was going on there! As for participation... No. Rep really doesn't factor into much that I do on Meta. – Shog9 Mar 17 '10 at 4:27
  • That explains why I woke up over 10.5K without realizing it. Thanks! – John Rudy Mar 17 '10 at 14:40
  • Ok, ignore my previous comment. Now I'm wishing I'd answered more of your questions (so I guess it might affect things in the future, but on Meta that's not a big deal). – mmyers Mar 17 '10 at 15:20
  • Why stay above 10k? I don't have any 10k anywhere, but I think I don't fancy seeing deleted stuff. Running into my own deleted things every now and then is annoying enough... – Arjan Mar 17 '10 at 19:05
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    This really only concerns Meta, where, as far as I can tell, rep really doesn't matter (if It did, I certainly wouldn't be getting it so easily...): huh.. what? This is really a fallacious argument, the easiness with which you obtain something has nothing to do with how much it matters. See for example water: it does matter, and it is easy to get. Now consider moon dust: it's extremely difficult and expensive to get and it doesn't matter. – Thomas Bonini Mar 17 '10 at 21:34
  • I was wondering when you were going to explain what you were doing. :) I spent months chasing user0x36E0 for the 20th 10k spot, and just as soon as I get there, bam! he's overtaken me again! – Ether Mar 19 '10 at 3:17
  • The biggest problem I can see is the confusion it causes when someone like me gets all that rep and can't work out why. Thanks Pollyanna. – John Gardeniers Mar 19 '10 at 3:45
  • @ether - lol! Definitely an unintended consequence! @John - Definitely an intended consequence! – Pollyanna Mar 19 '10 at 3:55
  • How would a bounty be recalculated during all this? Assuming that it doesnt get recalculated when jeff changes he point structure, I guess someone could make a bounty, create a second user... then award the points to them. – Locutus Mar 19 '10 at 20:20
  • @Qui: the only effect of the recent point restructuring on bounties is that bounty points are now totally ignored for calculating the daily rep cap. – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 18:17
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    @Pollyanna: Would you care to part with 400 rep on Server Fault? I want to do retagging on there. I'd trade back on either SO or Meta. – Jon Seigel Jul 16 '10 at 23:37
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    Is a Pollyanna lottery "a thing"? Like... i dunno... hillbilly bingo, or a whorehouse surprise, or something? – alex gray Feb 19 '12 at 5:41

15 Answers 15


Bounties weren't really designed as a "way to get rid of excess rep." True, rep doesn't play quite as important a role on meta as the other systems. We've been given quite a bit of latitude to have fun to keep the mood light here but I feel like meta plays an important role in the trilogy.

I feel like we should maintain at least a guise of playing by the rules. Especially so when so many, how shall we say, non-meta regulars come here with support questions.

So, while you're free to do whatever you want with your rep, I would say it is gaming and shouldn't generally be encouraged. Rep and community moderation still guides people's behavior. Maybe not yours personally, but the rules and system behaviors are there for a reason. Social networks can fall apart fast. I'd hate to see this become a race to the bottom.

I know that I'm overstating the significance of what you are suggesting, but I'm just making the point as part of a larger guiding principle. No fuddy duddy-ness intended.


I object to this not because of the rep, but because you are permanently marking someone's answer as the "correct" answer to your meta question.

Unless you honestly believe that to be the case, it's kind of abusive.

EDIT: related to this, we are adding a 1-day delay between the time a bounty starts and when it can be awarded.

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    True, but when replacing "correct" with "best", this is true for any bounty? – Arjan Mar 17 '10 at 21:51
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    Very salient point. I couldn't do this with several questions because there is no good answer. In other cases it didn't matter which one I chose (was status-completed, declined, or patently silly). All the others, though, I felt were the best answer at the time I chose an answer (or it was a decision between two or three really good candidates and I had a little more leeway to choose one I liked that was also as correct as I could determine). – Pollyanna Mar 17 '10 at 22:10
  • A more interesting objection to which you only hint at is that I'm not giving anyone else the opportunity to contribute knowing that there's a bounty attached - I'm placing the bounty and immediately accepting (which I wasn't sure the system would allow at first). Would your objection be mitigated by leaving such large bounty questions open for the full week, or are you primarily concerned that I'm placing bounties on questions which really are unanswerable, or should be left unanswered to allow for long-term discussion? – Pollyanna Mar 17 '10 at 22:12
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    The bounty system does this automatically and by design (force an accepted answer w/o regard for correctness, validity, etc). Not sure why you would object to a human doing the same thing. – Cory Charlton Mar 18 '10 at 15:30
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    Also you clearly state that the "Accepted Answer" is not the "word of God" and are fine that, in reality, the accepted answer might not even address the question let alone answer it so why the objection now? Personally I think the "killing" aspect (selecting wrong answers/blocking future accepts) of the bounty system is flawed. It negates the purpose of a question/answer site to create questions that, because of the system not the content, cannot be answered. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1413/… – Cory Charlton Mar 18 '10 at 15:57
  • this is my main objection too. but i think it's at least partially mitigated by the everpresent possibility of editing the accepted answer to update it. i sorta feel like it's on the question asker to maintain an accepted bounty answer -- if a better answer comes along later, someone should update that permanently-accepted-answer to reflect the new information. (this creates other issues with, eg, non-wiki posts, but it is a reasonable solution to the permanently-accepted-answer problem and uses tools already provided by the system.) – quack quixote Mar 20 '10 at 14:44
  • @cory but only for new answers started after the bounty that garner at least +2, and only in the absence of a sane OP that actually awards the bounty. – Jeff Atwood Mar 22 '10 at 8:09
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    This answer makes no sense in light of the "new" bounty system (introduced June 2010) that separates accepted answer marks from bounties. – Pops Mar 9 '11 at 20:43

550 points?? That would increase my rep total 26 fold! There's never a convenience store around when you need to buy a lottery ticket. :)

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    Gee, thanks to whoever voted me up.... now I need to recalculate my math :P – Walter Mar 22 '10 at 14:29
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    Don't like math, eh? Have another upvote! What do you say to that, hmmm? – Pops Mar 23 '10 at 15:03
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    Uncle! Uncle! No MORE!! I can't take all the recalculations!! My only hope at the bounty was pity and now that's evaproating with every up vote!!! :-) – Walter Mar 23 '10 at 16:13
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    This made me smile. +1. Now please edit your answer again :-) – The Unhandled Exception Apr 22 '10 at 13:35
Oh whats rep got to do, got to do with it
What's rep but a second hand emotion
What's rep got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart
When a heart can be broken

Personally I see no problem with it on Meta itself. Since rep is more used as a form of voting on feature requests and what not. I "could" see an issue with it on the trilogy itself, but then again the rep is yours to give away and as long you aren't 'targeting' a friend just to give them rep I would see no issue either.

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    Now, was that REALLY necessary? I'm quite attached to my rep .. I even sing to it .... never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down .. never gonna run around and desert you ... – Tim Post Mar 17 '10 at 8:32
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    @Tim - Oh great, I've fallen for another rep-roll. – Pollyanna Mar 17 '10 at 13:19

My opinion is rep on meta does count towards something: towards knowledge on the engine itself.
Although it's easier to get rep on funny posts, I like to think high rep users know what they're talking about when they answer questions about using the other sites.

I feel it would ruin that meaning for me.


This will now be my new favorite search (I've already memorized the number):


  • Note, this gets his newest posts, including all questions and answers. You can also use this search to get all of his questions, but in relevance order: meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=user%3A2915+and+questions%3A1. I tried a lot of manual search strings, but couldn't find a way to get all his questions in newest order. – Lance Roberts Mar 17 '10 at 16:27
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    @lance, add Views:1, answers don't have "views" – juan Mar 17 '10 at 17:50
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    @lance @downvoter - All my questions which have no accepted answer: meta.stackoverflow.com/… – Pollyanna Mar 17 '10 at 17:57
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    @downvoter, @Polly, those worked great, I took Pollys for no accepted answer, and added the newest tab parameter on it, and edited into my answer. – Lance Roberts Mar 17 '10 at 20:09
  • I don't think you need views:1, it seems to produce the same results with this query meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=user%3A2915+hasaccepted%3A0 – Rich Seller Mar 17 '10 at 21:18
  • @Rich, good point, hasaccepted also only happens to questions, edited in. – Lance Roberts Mar 17 '10 at 21:25
  • sure, views:1 is only useful if you don't use hasaccepted – juan Mar 17 '10 at 23:41

After reading Jeff's and Robert's weigh-in on the matter, my funny jokes seemed less funny. And so while I've got an acceptance speech all written and in my vest pocket, perhaps it's best if I just wing-it and thank The Academy Tavern, and my lovely dog Spot, and the FSM.

Thank you for the 500 rep bonus :p

  • 2
    Woohoo asking on a lark ftw ~ Thanks @Adam – jcolebrand Mar 25 '11 at 16:03

I'm not so bothered about meta rep, the only benefit for me would be if I reached 2000 on meta I have another inbound non-nofollowed link to my SE site, which is always welcome. So if you feel the reputation weighs heavily on your meta-shoulders and you want to lend a hand to an SE site owner then feel free.

Update: botheration, I tiptoe past 2k on meta and the powers that be decide to remove around 500 rep from me. I'm sure it's not personal. Is it? Is it?

  • Yeah, that was my feeling too. Now I'd sort of like to reach 10k, but there's nothing in particular that I would do if I did reach 10k (and I'd rather not advertise high meta rep outside the site). – mmyers Mar 17 '10 at 15:34
  • It's interesting seeing some of the bizarre stuff that gets deleted though. Pretty much it's like being an archaeologist and being given a better digging tool. – Ether Mar 19 '10 at 16:56
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    @Ether that's true, I do feel a bit under-equipped on sites where I've not got 10k or admin privileges. Particularly annoying when I can't edit typos – Rich Seller Mar 19 '10 at 17:14
  • Beyond that, though, is there really a problem with this behavior?

Well, as Robert C. Cartaino said, I don't think it's really "playing by the rules". However, I don't feel strongly enough about it that I won't answer in the hopes of winning the lottery.

On SO, I think it would be different because people (rightly or wrongly) equate reputation with knowledge. Here, reputation measures either insanity or boredom, near as I can tell.

  • What unintended consequences could this behavior have?

People might answer in the hopes of winning the lottery.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that you're my bestest friend in all the world? I still haven't, but let's pretend I just did.

  • 1
    +1 for the use of double superposition tags to double the font size reduction. :) – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 18:12

Meta is essentially useless as far as rep goes - it doesn't get you much of anywhere.

However, for the sake of bragging rights for that lucky individual, I strongly recommend continuing this practice!


If I did this on a regular basis (about one-two 500 point bounties per week to keep me just above 10k) would this make you more likely to participate in my questions?



I can see one (probably) unintended side effect to this:

Once people realize what's going on, they won't respond at all to the question until the bounty is started. So although you'll no doubt get more participation in the bounty questions, you'll end up with almost none where there is no bounty.

If every high-rep user did this, I think we'd all turn into bounty hunters, starving questions from the lower-rep users.

I probably wouldn't call it gaming the system... unless you're taking bribes. Are you taking bribes? Let me know.

  • 1
    nah, pre-bounty answers can still be accepted manually (and thus awarded the bounty) -- it's only the automatic bounty awarded on bounty expiration that neglects pre-bounty answers. – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 18:14
  • @~quack: Notwithstanding, I think the behaviour would be the same; if people know that there's a good chance (but not a 100% chance) of a bounty appearing, they'll wait for it. – Aarobot Mar 22 '10 at 18:25
  • @Aaronaught - Interesting theory. I don't know, though, because I've found that bounties are hard to win. I can usually put in an hour on a good bounty answer and expect a 30-50% chance of getting it, or I can put in an hour on 6-20 questions and get the same amount of rep through upvotes as on the bounty. – Pollyanna Mar 22 '10 at 18:48
  • @Pollyanna: That's true for typical bounties on the order of 100-150 points, but bounties of >200 points would likely skew the statistic because they beat the rep cap. (Also, don't take it the wrong way, but I haven't found it quite that hard to win bounties [although we're talking SO here, not MSO obviously {and a surfeit of bounties would inevitably change the economics}]). – Aarobot Mar 22 '10 at 19:29
  • @Aaronaught: bounties are now completely irrelevant for rep-cap calculation. tho it will take the userbase some time to get used to that change. – quack quixote Mar 22 '10 at 20:33
  • @~quack: That's not the point. If I have a choice between spending 1 hour on 10 questions and earning a maximum of 200 rep, vs. spending that time on 1 bounty question and earning a maximum of 550 rep, the bounty question is a more attractive option. Whether or not bounties count toward the rep cap is incidental to the issue; if anything, it works in favour of the bounty option because I can still earn upvotes for the answer after it's accepted. – Aarobot Mar 22 '10 at 20:50
  • @Aaron: ok, gotcha. yeah, i misread that. – quack quixote Mar 23 '10 at 6:09

You really ought to accept Robert's answer, purely for the cognitive dissonance it would cause.

Or this one, because I'm being, y'know, meta about it.


Some people give out laptops on meta, some give rep! Shouldn't be an issue.


Gimme da bounty!

  • I stand to lose more on meta with this change than on SO, but I hit the daily cap here more frequently, so I'm guessing the hit won't be quite as big as losing fully 1/2 my question generated rep. – Pollyanna Mar 19 '10 at 20:21
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    @pol, what happens if you award the bounty to a CW post? – juan Mar 22 '10 at 18:03
  • @Dow - I assume that the bounty is still awarded, but the 15 point accept and any upvotes are not. – Pollyanna Mar 22 '10 at 18:57
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    @Downvoter, @Pollyanna, I actually won a bounty on a CW question once (bizarre!) and can confirm that the bounty does indeed "count." It seems to work outside the normal rep system. – Aarobot Mar 22 '10 at 20:53
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    Perhaps we could ignore that @aar gave us the answer, and you could try it on this post @pol (that way I will finally reach 10K!) – juan Mar 23 '10 at 20:25
  • Or... maybe that was just strategic misdirection, and it really has no effect, and I was just trying to goad Pollyanna into squandering that precious bounty. – Aarobot Mar 23 '10 at 22:57
  • Only one way to know for sure @aar – juan Mar 23 '10 at 23:11
  • But why take the risk? It should go somewhere safe instead, to somebody in genuine need, somebody who's really put some thought into this but perhaps came in late and didn't score as many upvotes... somebody like me, I mean. – Aarobot Mar 23 '10 at 23:23

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