What is the real use of the reputation points that we earn for our questions and answers? I've noticed that we can use those points to assign bounties, but I don't know if they serve some other purpose as well. I just wanted to know what we can do with the reputation points that we earn.
You can use them to award bounties to questions that are two days old, but reputation also unlocks a variety of privileges, including the ability to edit other's posts and migrate them from one site to another (as has happened to this question.)
You may want to check these out for more information:
The more reputation you have, it means, the system trusts you more since you're doing things right, like writing good answers or useful questions.
This in turn gives you privileges on the website. See https://stackoverflow.com/privileges
Also from the same page:
Reputation is a rough measure of:
- How much the community trusts you
- Your communication skills
- The quality and relevancy of your questions and answers
Reputation also has an interesting way of displaying your area of expertise. Which is why http://careers.stackoverflow.com is pretty cool because you can link up your reputation and best answers to show off how much/what you know.
The primary purpose is to indicate your knowledge level about the subject matter and your relative level of experience using the site.
In line with those two facts, gaining reputation unlocks certain privileges on the site. You can read all about the various privileges that you can obtain here. It includes things like voting, commenting, chatting, editing, voting to close, and even access to moderation tools.
And finally, as you pointed out, you can choose to slice off some of your hard-earned reputation and use it to set it a bounty on a question (either yours or someone else's) that you are really looking for a good answer to. Bounties are designed to provide special motivation to potential answerers.
Otherwise, reputation is basically worthless. 500 points and $1 will buy you a soda at any corner store.