In which cases can OP get his bounty back?

The only case I found is when the question gets deleted (How does the bounty system work?).

However, for example if noone answers the question, would this return the bounty to the OP?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ No. You are not paying to get an answer. You are paying for your question to get additional exposure - think tv commercial / newspaper ad. Nobody is guaranteed to buy your product even if you advertise heavily. Caveat emptor. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3144/… $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 12:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I actually very much think that I would pay bounty to get an answer. The bounty is non-commercial so I dont see why it shouldnt be refunded. The fact that there exist commercial ads does not mean it is the same. $\endgroup$
    – emcor
    Nov 12, 2014 at 13:40
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ In that case ... I hate to break it to you, but that's how it works. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 13:58
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @emcor the point why it is not refunded is that somebody could for example put a bounty on an essentially unanswerable question all the time if it were different. The main point is added visibility. For this to stay effective they must be limited. So they "cost" something no matter what. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 12, 2014 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I didn't understand what you mean with "if it were different" ? $\endgroup$
    – user486983
    Nov 8, 2019 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Isabella I mean to say: Bounties are not refunded. It they would be refunded then somebody could bounty an unanswerable question etc. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 8, 2019 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @quid what is the problem with an 'unanswerable' question? what if someone does answer after seeing a, say +500 points ? $\endgroup$
    – user486983
    Nov 9, 2019 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Isabella the problem is that likely this will not happen and if it happens the answer is likely poor. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 9, 2019 at 1:17

1 Answer 1


No, you do not get the bounty back if no answer is given. In fact this is mentioned in the post you link to (my emphasis).

What happens if there's no answer after the bounty period?

If after the end of the bounty period a question has no answers, no bounty will be awarded and the question will no longer be featured.

Bounties are best understood as exchanging reputation for higher question visibility and increased answerer motivation. A bounty does not guarantee a response and is not refunded if none are received.

It is in theory possible for a moderator to cancel a bounty while it is active, which would give back the points. This is, however, not something commonly done, and just that you did not get an answer, or not as good an answer you hoped for, is not nearly enough reason to ask moderators to do a cancel.

After the bounty is awarded not even the site's moderators can undo the process. As remarked by Arthur Fischer, in even more theory this could be done by an SE employee, but this decidely not something that is done under any normal cicumstances.

These possibilities, deletion and intervention of a moderator or SE employee, are the only ways to get back the points.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The main reason moderators even have that ability is so that they can close bad questions that are bountied (the community can't close them at this point). It is not really meant for any other case. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Nov 12, 2014 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply, however the question was regarding the overall cases where bounty is refunded. I wonder if question deletion/moderator is the only option? $\endgroup$
    – emcor
    Nov 12, 2014 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ @encor yes the list is exhaustive for all I know. I will make this explict via an edit now. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 12, 2014 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ @emcor: An SE employee could manually reverse a bounty even after it has been awarded (but this would be exceedingly rare; I can't really think of a good reason for ever doing this). $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Nov 12, 2014 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist I know, and had somebody asked when one can ask for a cancel I would have replied this. However, some moderators are more open to such requests than others. (I do not know how exactly it is handled on this site but elsewhere there was at least one case where somebody got their bounty back essentially just so after complaining on meta the system is broken. I would not do this. But I can imagine some rare circumstances were I would cancel a bounty, say, if a credible claim is made it was started in error an is a significant share of that users points.) $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 12, 2014 at 12:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I lately asked the moderators to refund a bounty I had mistakenly put on the wrong question. They complied. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Nov 12, 2014 at 13:07

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