This problem: "Second part of the factorial sum divisibility question" had a 500-point bounty on it, posted by a user 'caveman'. Just now I noticed that 'caveman' is gone, and the bounty has been awarded to Gottfried Helms. What happened here? Did Gottfried kill caveman for the bounty? That's what I'd think if I woke up and one of my colleagues was gone, and another colleague had all his money!

Edit: The revision history suggests that the bounty was awarded automatically by Community, only two days after the bounty period started. That sounds all sorts of wrong... so, what happened?

  • $\begingroup$ Strange: the revision history math.stackexchange.com/posts/337053/revisions suggests that the bounty was awarded by Community. This usually happens when the bounty period expires and the person who set the bounty does not select an answer to which to award the bounty. In which case the Community gives the bounty usually to the highest voted answer posted after the bounty period started, if there are no accepted answers. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16065/… $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ But community usually only awards bounties after the period expires. In this case the bounty was only opened two days ago, so community should not have acted under normal circumstances. A satisfactory answer would likely require involving someone with access to the database (Stack employees). I'll tag this question with (bug) to see if we can get their attention. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong: It appears that bounties awarded by a deleted user are transferred to the community user, for instance this one: math.stackexchange.com/posts/304377/revisions // What is the timeline? Was user58512 really deleted before the bounty was awarded? $\endgroup$
    – Martin
    Mar 27, 2013 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ upps??!! What did happen here? I did like it very much to get such a fat bounty after a really recreating problem. So that bounty might be illegitime in some way? Phhhew...:( $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Thus The killer returns to the scene of the crime... $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Gottfried What happened here indeed!... :) $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. My doctor said, I'm no more infectious after my lung-disease. But perhaps there were some surviving bacteria electronically transmitted... Well, possibly the caveman realized the possible solution after the second last update of mine, which seemingly contains a key for the general approach, awarded the bounty and retreated faithfully into his cave to complete his unfinished cryptography-article $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think caveman was killed; the timing suggests that he left in a huff over the dispute visible to 10k+ users here (caveman was the author of the two deleted answers now shown as user58512). $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm Oh -- that's sad. In that case I shouldn't have named names. I can't see deleted answers though. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2013 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I think I pissed caveman off by commenting on his answer. I got a flurry of downvotes immediately afterwards, and then he deleted his answer and posted the exact same answer, all as a way to "delete" my comment on his answer. He was obviously not having a good day. (Just to be clear, I do not have any evidence that he was responsible for the downvotes, I only guessed it was likely.) $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2013 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, how do people review the edit history of the linked question - the normal place for the "view edit history" link - the date - is not a link in my view, presumably disabled by the same code that skips adding a link to the defunct username. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2013 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas: find another post where you can view edit history. Replace the post number with the number of the one you want to see. At least that's how I do it. (The post number is the first string of numbers in the URL on the relevant page.) $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2013 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


Users have the ability to leave, should they so choose. Some, after some kind of "event", choose to take their name with them, wanting to be deleted (rather than simply walking away).

To protect other site users, when this happens (which is pretty rare), we transfer a number of actions involving other users (such as voting, reputation, etc) to the community user. This means that even though the user is now totally gone, their removal doesn't negatively impact dozens of users they have voted for, given bounties to, etc.

Indeed, the community user has effectively "voted" 26737 times at the current time. Many of those votes will previously have belonged to other users.

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    $\begingroup$ Does that mean no more reputation loss on deletion? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Mar 28, 2013 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila that depends a bit on the nature of the deletion... $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2013 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure what you mean by that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Mar 28, 2013 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila me neither :) however - bounties are protected; regluar votes... I would have to check; transferring them is trickier due to duplicates etc; I know it is something we can do - not sure it happens automatically, though $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2013 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ What Asaf means is: Is this a new feature? There have been several times in the last few months (after the instant rep recalcs were introduced) where significant amounts of rep were deducted with the explanation "user was removed". We were told (or assumed among ourselves) that this happens when a user asks a moderator to delete his account. Now you're saying that there is a gentler way to leave which preserves one's votes? How does one trigger that? I cannot find any obvious UI for it on my profile, not that I personally want to leave, but it would be nice if moderators could advise ... $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2013 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ ... disgruntled to that rather than hard-delete them and their votes. $\endgroup$ Mar 28, 2013 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ Votes are still deleted when a user is removed, but there is some SE-only experimental method of retaining the votes that is used in some high-profile cases. But the reason we know of that feature is that it blew up a while ago when it was used for a very high-profile user and exposed more voting history than it should have. So this method seems to be rather rough and not well-tested at the moment. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Mar 28, 2013 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcGravell I guess what was bizarre to me is that in other parts of the post history, the deleted user name is just blanked out, whereas for the bounty award it is given by the community. I assume there's a technical reason why it is necessary to display the action as being done by community instead of by [blank]. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2013 at 15:03

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