I suppose the title says it, but to give a more detailed explanation: Suppose that some user does not have certain privilege and for some reason I want that user to have this privilege. If the user has at least one answer, I can give him part of my reputation using a bounty. Would such thing be considered a misuse of bounty system? Is such behavior frowned upon?

At least one not entirely hypothetical situation where I can imagine something like this, is the privilege to use the chat. Since this was discussed before, I am probably not the only one who sees that in some situation there is a problem with the threshold for participating in chat:

I can imagine two extreme situations: There is a new user, you are trying to help them with their first question. That's the reason why you exchange plenty of comments. And maybe the discussion in a chatroom would be more efficient way to do this. Another situation (this one is entirely hypothetical): Suppose an expert from an area you are interested in has posted an answer here. But they do not seem to be much interested in participation on MSE. (They did made any other post here.) As the answer has been upvoted only by you, the expert does not have sufficient reputation to enter the chat. And you want discuss something which is better suited for chat than for main. (If not for other reason, then for the reason that long exchanges in comments are not recommended on SE.)

Of course, it is possible that situation when you want to grant in some way a privilege to another user can arise in connection with other privileges, not only with talking in chat. (Although I cannot think of something like that at the moment.)

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    $\begingroup$ I think it is misuse of the reputation system, but on the other side, you pay with it from your own reputation, but it looks like you have enough reputation that that doesn't matter to you, it is unfair to beginners with a low reputation that have difficulty gaining reputation. $\endgroup$
    – Willemien
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ This is totally a misuse of the reputation system. Getting 20 points is not extremely difficult, and posting one answer, or two questions can easily get you there. Moreover in order to help a new user get 20 points, you need to wait 24 hours before awarding the bounty anyway, a time span in which one easily procure the needed points if one is so inclined. Other than that, I don't see anyway which is not a misuse of the system. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: I think that the idea of giving someone 20 points is, indeed, possibly a little silly or premature. But I have often thought about this scenario: suppose someone I know from conferences, a genuine expert, starts contributing here. I could easily give them some rep (e.g. 500) to get them started, or to move them over one of the useful cutoffs in the privileges system (e.g. from 1600 to 2100). I have thought about this as a way to encourage expert answerers to contribute, by bringing them up to speed faster. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Carl: I have seen several set theory experts (some of which I have met in conferences). None had any trouble quickly to collect a vast fortune of reputation. While I agree that there's no real harm in giving out your reputation to people whose identity is confirmed, and they would put it to good use (so not to arbitrary users that you just want to talk to in the chat); I think that it's ultimately shouldn't be an issue. An expert could amass the reputation quickly if they wanted to; and nowadays with edit suggestions, review queues, and reopen request threads, they can get around until then. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Getting 20 points is not extremely difficult, and posting one answer, or two questions can easily get you there. I am not sure this is true. I think average number of upvotes on answers/question has decreased. (And it is more difficult for newbie to post something what would be considered on this site a question/answer worth upvoting.) However, I do not have hard data to show this, it is just my feeling based on voting I have seen on my own answers. OTOH I would agree that in the hypothetical situation with an expert it should not be difficult. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin: There's no need to waste comment space on quoting me. I feel that we, collectively, should stop doing that altogether. Let's examine the case, you already upvoted the user's answer so that's 10 points. They post another answer, you can vote that as well (being how that user is an expert, the answer probably deserves at least one vote) making it 20 points. If it's a user asking a question, they can also post a second (possibly related) question, voting both they have 10 points; if a third person votes up, add that to 4 points from accepting answers, you get to exactly 20 points. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ No its not, now can you give me half of your rep as bounty please? $\endgroup$ Commented May 8, 2014 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ This post on meta.SE seems to be relevant to this, too: Transferring reputation to another user by rewarding bounties. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


Bounties are meant to either draw attention to a question and reward a user that puts a lot of effort into answering the question, or to reward a great answer that was already posted. Like votes they should be focused on posts, not on users. Reputation and the privileges associated with it should be earned by participating on the site, not just gifted by another user. The privilege progression is also meant to ensure that users have enough time to learn about the site before they get to use the more powerful privileges and tools.

A large-scale reputation transfer is certainly a misuse of the bounty system and might even be reversed by SE employees.

There's another aspect to this, and that is that users committing vote fraud sometimes use bounties to transfer reputation between their sock puppets. If you create a suspicious-looking bounty that draws the attention of the moderators, they'll look closely at all involved accounts to detect if they are indeed controlled by one person.

That said, moderators cannot read your mind and can only indirectly determine the intent behind a bounty. If you award a bounty to a very good answer, the intent behind your bounty doesn't really matter all that much. If you award a bounty to a mediocre or bad answer, that is rather problematic and likely to draw negative attention.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see anything wrong with giving another user some rep if you think they would benefit from it. I have thought about that several times as possible way to help encourage experts to participate. The main drawback seems to be the risk of seeming patronizing. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ At the same time, I am not sure that a user with a rep of 133 on math.SE is in a position to describe the best practice on that site. Please remember that math.SE is its own community. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Carl: Regarding your second comment, I think that this particular user is an exception to the rule. He's been active on meta for a long time, and has been observing the community all that time. Surely he knows more about its behavior and standards than the majority of the users on the main site. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert On the other hand, Mad Scientist is moderator at least on one other site in SE network and has lots of experience with SE system. If you have a look at his profile page on meta, you will see that he had made many valuable and useful posts on meta.MSE. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ I looked at his profile page, and I saw that Mad Scientist is very active on other sites. That is certainly commendable, and I don't mean to disparage it. However, my general opinion is that best practices on this site are only loosely tied to best practices on other sites, and (accordingly) users who are more familiar with practices on other sites should be explicit in saying that what is being described are best practices on another site. Otherwise, the answer may give a false impression that the matter has been discussed here already. This has been a problem in the past (with other users) $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2014 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert Let me also say that what is considered majority opinion of the MSE community is determined more by the number of upvotes/downvotes on an answer than by the reputation of the user who posted the answer. But I understand your point that (at least in connection with some issues) MSE might behave slightly differently from most sites on SE network. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2014 at 6:43

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