What happens if you put a bounty but there's no answer? Do you lose your rep? To whom?


3 Answers 3


I believe these two threads answer your question:

How does the bounty system work?

Why didn't my Bounty get refunded?

In short yes, the rep you put up for bounty will simply disappear into the ether if there are no eligible answers (meaning you didn't accept an answer and no answers have at least 2 upvotes). Sad but true :(

  • 10
    Indeed they do, thanks. :) Now the question is, why?
    – user541686
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 6:30
  • 5
    @mehrdad I believe their rationale was putting up a bounty implies some level of commitment and investment. If there's no risk in losing something (rep points in this case) then everyone would start putting up bounties for their unanswered questions. Thought personally I don't fully agree with that stance.
    – greatwolf
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 6:33
  • 9
    Hm... I don't really agree with that either. At the very least, I think they should at least "refund" half of it or something. :\
    – user541686
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 6:35
  • 94
    This makes no sense. If really nobody answers, then you should get at least a part back. If anybody answers and you're not satisfied with it, then you should get nothing back, since this could be misused. Or am I missing something?
    – maaartinus
    Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 7:23
  • 1
    Actually from what I've seen and experienced, the reputation is taken in the instant you set and confirmed the bounty and it can't be retrieved back. It stays in "the void" until you either grant it to Answer or until it "expires". Commented Jan 24, 2011 at 9:02
  • 46
    This is unfair. If no one answers, then the bounty should have probably be credited back or at least this info should be in FAQ section stackoverflow.com/faq#bounty
    – hop
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 13:49
  • 3
    @hop it is in there and has always been. Read more closely. Commented May 15, 2012 at 6:13
  • 14
    Just happened to me with stats.stackexchange.com/questions/74320/… and it sucks. At least half my "money" back or a poor-sucker-badge would feel better... Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 9:27
  • 2
    @DaveBallakauser750378 That sounds like a great idea for a new badge! maybe propose it as a new question on meta. :D
    – greatwolf
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 9:35
  • 1
    oh, you can propose badges - neat ;) Done: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/207362/… Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 13:58
  • 2
    Same situation for me, drupal.stackexchange.com/questions/107291. The rationale could be that you did get the attention for the question, even if there is no answer. Although I would still say that half the bounty could be paid back. @JeffAtwood: The help page might implicitly say this, but it could be more explicit. Also, the emails and messages presented to a user should explicitly mention the fact that "well sorry there are no answers you could reward, you so your bounty is lost."
    – donquixote
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 17:38
  • 4
    i would say 100% refund..whats the point of not getting the reputation back if the question was not answered!
    – Jeryl Cook
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 16:17
  • 3
    if nobody posts any answer then bounties must be refunded. There is no fault for the person who puts his bounties. Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 10:14
  • 2
    Just happened to me AGAIN with stackoverflow.com/questions/62672862/…. And still neither "money" back nor poor-sucker-badge. I guess I will have to be more stingy with bounties in the future... Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 9:00
  • 2
    What happens if you answer and accept your answer?
    – Ivan Yoed
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 22:09

This answer provides links that explain how it works. To address the feeling that I think underlies your question: a bounty isn't a payment for an answer; it's a payment for advertising. If you pay to run an ad and get no sales that doesn't mean the place you ran the ad owes you a refund; similarly, a bounty that produces no answers is a sunk cost.

It's frustrating, I know; I've had bounties die on the vine like that too. I used to resent it, and then somebody explained the advertising model to me and I felt better. I hope it helps you too.

  • This answer completely changed my perspective. Makes me feel better about losing my rep. Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 9:27

This is a very tough decision that I am sure was care fully thought through. The most obvious answer is this will prevent abuse of the bounty system. if I offer a bounty then people will pay more attention to my question and if all I have to do is not accept an answer to get my Rep back I am less likely to place bounties on my less important questions. Secondly, this will also help prevent users with large numbers of reputation from putting bounties on all their questions regardless of the relavence or importance. This will not stop abuse completely but it will limit users ability to open bounty after bounty knowing that they will just get it all back. Pretty much pay reputation too boost your really vital questions interest.

  • 36
    "if I offer a bounty then people will pay more attention to my question and if all I have to do is not accept an answer to get my Rep back" ... big difference between not accepting an answer for the bounty and not getting any answers at all.
    – berry120
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 13:38
  • 5
    Not accepting any answer and not getting any answers posted are 2 different things. If there are no answers posted then that is a true and fair case where bounties must be refunded back. Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 10:14
  • Wow that is a -7 on an answer right there xD Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 11:39

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