This is really starting to annoy me.

I really needed a question answered. I offered all of my reputation and got a lot of answers. The thing is though no body could answer it. Everybody was wrong.

The cause of the problem was some sort of freak server issue which was entirely remedied when I switched hosts.

I would like to give a % of my bounty to a few people. While they were utterly wrong, their wrong answers helped me narrow down the possible causes and help me, myself, solve the problem.

I would also like to get some of my bounty back. I put the bounty out to get a correct answer. I didn't get it, it should be returned.


OK, so sad-no-hopers gaming a system would prevent this. Fine whatever. Can someone at least implement a warning then. Something like (as an example):

Warning: By adding this bounty you will lose the following site functionality.

  • Edit community wiki
  • Vote down
  • Leave comments

The thing that has annoyed me the most is not the loss of reputation. I really couldn't care less. I come to SO for answers and try to give help back where I can. The issue is that site functionality I had previously has vanished.

I don't know what I was expecting. I just thought that as I was in good standing with the website and hadn't been negative repped I wouldn't lose the abilities I had previously.

It really wouldn't be so annoying, but the fact that I gave it all away and didn't even get an answer to my answer... seem's a bit silly really.


4 Answers 4


Everybody was wrong

that suggests that a few people tried, genuinely tried to help.

I put the bounty out to get a correct answer. I didn't get it, it should be returned.

That is surely missing the point? Obviously they can't know about the "freak issue", so (assuming that wasn't part of the question) it is reasonable that nobody stumbled into exactly the answer.

their wrong answers helped me narrow down the possible causes and help me, myself, solve the problem.

It sounds to me like it worked, then. You got to the answer, using a combination of people's suggestions (even if inly to think laterally), and your local context.

As a final few points:

  • if you haven't already - please make sure to add your own answer (i.e. what actually worked), to help the next person.
  • you have provided 4 answers (great!), and asked 50 questions of which most have an accepted answer; it sounds to me like you're benefitting hugely from the SO community (which is fine) - perhaps losing the bounty points (while perhaps unfortunate) isn't such a major issue in the big picture...
  • I posted a question. The only answer was in the first minutes - "it's impossible", that just means "I don't know how to solve your problem". And then other people, who also just have no idea, but also don't have proof, that it's really not possible, plus that answer and leave comments to it like "yeah, i agree". I even put a bounty, but now afraid, that noone will find a solution in first weeks (but I have a feeling, that it exists). So, I posted a question, gave a bounty, but all I have is nothing and someone, who was the first to post "I don't know" now is getting pluses. It's so wrong...
    – Nakilon
    Sep 28, 2010 at 6:25
  • 1
    @Nakilon - firstly, the answer that was posted before the bounty won't automatically get the bounty (if you see what I mean) - but frankly, I expect the answer is correct. It might not be what you were hoping for, but that sounds entirely consistent with virtually all languages. The comments discussion is quite a good one going into spec vs reference implementation, etc. Sep 28, 2010 at 7:17
  • @Nakilon - plus, that bounty is only a few hours old, and during the site's less busy times... perhaps give it a bit more time before concluding that it hasn't worked ;p Sep 28, 2010 at 7:22
  • 1
    @Nakilon - and they didn't say "I don't know", they said "Nope, not possible" - there is a big difference. I don't accept that the two are the same; sometimes a "no" is said in ignorance, but in this case I think it is a simple statement of fact: no, that can't be done. For example "scan (TWAIN) a document in a browser using only javascript and no HTML5/ActiveX/plugins etc: no, that can't be done" Sep 28, 2010 at 7:24
  • thanks for these comments. I suppose, that answer have a meaning "no, I don't know" because question is not easy and need a discussion (as I think), but answer was given too quckly, in the very first minutes, and still have no good proofs of impossibility. The question was about a relatively powerfull language, which can often surprise by it's semantic flexible possibilities. I still hope for solution. P.S.: I started talking about that not because I think, that system is totally wrong, but I just wanted to mention about once it looks strange. Will see. I'm only 2nd month on SO.
    – Nakilon
    Sep 28, 2010 at 8:56

Considering the FAQ states:

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 award your bounty to the best answer!

(Bold mine)

I am not sure where the confusion is? Offering a bounty is taking a risk that you might get an answer. It does not guarantee that you will nor does it mean that your question is good enough to receive an answer.

Furthermore, if you offer a bounty, and after offering it your reputation drops below the level required in the reputation tables with regards to site functionality, this is part of the risk.

More on this from the blog post here.

  • 4
    +1 If you place an ad in the paper for an employee and you don't find anyone suitable, the paper isn't going to give you a refund. That's the risk you take. Sep 10, 2010 at 11:31

If you could get the bounty back, it would open the system to gaming. People could start offering bounties and not (or only partially) appointing them even for correct answers, just to "get their points back".

The other suggestion, sharing the bounty over some answers, would unnecessarily complicate the bounty system.

  • Perhaps I made a mistake giving away all of my rep. However I was expecting a correct answer to get me out of a whole. Surely a percentage return on no correct answer would be better than everything disappearing. The main issue I have is that site functionality which I had previously when I contributed to the website is now inaccessible. I didn't think I could go backwards... Sep 10, 2010 at 9:11
  • 3
    @user: Its sad you couldn't get an answer, but thats life. Even partial return would open the system to gaming. Also you can comment, vote, ask and answer with your 57 rep so i don't see the big loss. Sep 10, 2010 at 9:46
  • 4
    However, I do agree with the OP that if the reputation loss when awarding the bounty will downgrade his/her account functionality, a warning should be given. Sep 10, 2010 at 11:19

At the very least, the person offering the bounty should REMAIN able to manually give out the bounty to the people in the post after the bounty has expired. (even if only to posts made before the bounty expires). I understand not wanting people to game the system, but no point sucking points into the ether.

  • 2
    I don't think effectively perpetual bounties are a good idea. Encouraging people to award their bounties is important.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 17, 2011 at 2:06
  • hence my bit about letting people award bounties to answers posted before the bounty expired? Therefore not perpetual, but allowing people who are not on SO every day to go back and give out their bounty.
    – Tyler Zale
    Mar 17, 2011 at 17:35
  • 1
    @Tyler You get an email notification when the bounty is about to expire. And even without that, if you really need an answer, wouldn't you be checking back instead of just letting the question go right after setting up the bounty?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 17, 2011 at 17:48
  • What about if you are hoping for a better answer than the half baked ones you get and it expires? It makes sense to be able to go back and give out credit to those who tried. Even if at the time you wanted better.
    – Tyler Zale
    Mar 17, 2011 at 17:56
  • @Tyler If you're talking about restricting the bounty only to the answers made before the expiration date, then the solution is really for the bounty owner to award it before it expires. The expiration date provides incentive for the readers to provide a better answer in a given time frame AND for the bounty owner to actually award it to a deserving answer in that same time frame. If you're not talking about removing the time limit altogether, your solution isn't functionally different than the current system.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 17, 2011 at 18:02
  • @Anna it is different, it removes an unnecessary and artificial time constraint on the bounty giver. If there are no upvoted answers because they are not that good, why not allow the bounty giver to doll out the points he spent instead of having them disappear?
    – Tyler Zale
    Mar 17, 2011 at 19:48
  • @Tyler If you agree to restricting the bounty to the answers that were made within a week of setting up the bounty, you're not really changing the existing behaviour at all. Otherwise, you're removing the time limit altogether, which I don't agree with. I think it's reasonable (and important) to force the bounty creator to award it within a certain timeframe.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:06
  • @Anna I completely disagree.
    – Tyler Zale
    Mar 18, 2011 at 19:25

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