I put a bounty on a question (here) which has gotten no answers. The bounty has since expired. I sort of expected to get my reputation back since nobody 'won' it. Is this really how the system works?

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    I believe, Jeffery gets it and gets to redistribute it however he sees fit. I doubt it just "goes" away, though I did ask to purchase exp and he wouldn't sell it to me. Probably gets split up amongst the diamond mods. – Evan Carroll May 26 '10 at 17:41
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    Please ignore the troll. – beska May 26 '10 at 21:17

From the FAQ:

Once initiated, the bounty period lasts 7 days. If you mark an accepted answer, your bounty is awarded to the answerer (do note that accepted bounty answers are permanent and cannot be changed). If you do not accept an answer in 7 days, here is what happens at the end of the bounty period:

  • The highest voted answer created after the bounty started with at least 2 upvotes will be automatically accepted. Half the bounty will be awarded to the owner of that answer.
  • If there is no answer meeting the above criteria, and you as the question owner have not opted to accept an answer, you forfeit your right to ever accept an answer to your question.

In any case, you will always give up the amount of reputation specified in the bounty, so if you start a bounty, be sure to follow up and accept the best answer!

Placing a bounty puts your question on a kind of pedestal for a week. It is more visible, and has a bigger reward, to attract people. This is what you actually "pay" for. It's normal to not recover it after the time.

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    I think the counter-intuitive part is what happens when there's no answers. "so if you start a bounty, be sure to follow up and accept the best answer" is kind of meaningless when no one answered it. – paleozogt May 26 '10 at 17:44
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    @paleo - true, in this case it's a bit silly. – Gnoupi May 26 '10 at 19:21
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    Silly, and unnecessarily punitive. Having the question “on a pedestal” means nothing if it doesn’t get answered. Even lawyers often will refuse/refund payment if they cannot win your tort. – Synetech Mar 5 '11 at 23:21
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    > you forfeit your right to ever accept an answer to your question. So either you have to accept whatever answer there is during the bounty even if it doesn’t help, or else be unable to accept an answer that happens to come along later on‽ These arbitrary rules are ridiculous; it reminds me of the condo-board douche-bags with their arbitrary rules like the limitations on the thickness (¾"-1½") or color (charcoal gray or slate gray) of paving stones (which not one person in the neighborhood had anyway). Power corrupts… – Synetech Mar 5 '11 at 23:30
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    To echo the sentiment - You shouldn't forfeit the bounty if there are no answers. – Luke Chadwick Jul 6 '11 at 12:06

Yes. Bounties are a gamble, and in those rare cases you simply lose, sadly.

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    I've lost more bounties than I've won. – Earlz May 26 '10 at 17:49
  • Yes I too Agree. Recently I have lost my points as i didn't got even a single answer to my bounty question – TARUN May 15 '18 at 12:39

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