I get that points should be irreversible and the person who has set bounty should not be able to claim bounty award but I don't get it that if no answer is provided or if answer is so horrible that it has nothing to do with asked question ..

Why should the points be returned as already he has not been able to receive a good answer on top of that he has to bear the fact of points getting wasted

While it might not seem a big problem for those with thousands of points it certainly shakes the confidence of new user like me

I think moderators should be given privilege to decide if the answer given is satisfactory or not and if not points should be returned (provided asker has not chosen any answer as correct)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Here's our canonical question about what happens to bounties that are not awarded, and that the points are not refunded is by design - you're paying the reputation points for the increased exposure your question gets, not just for a potential answer. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Apr 9, 2017 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind if I answer it myself and then can I award I to myself? Because that sounds like a good trick! $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2017 at 15:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Already discussed here, of course that's not possible. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Apr 9, 2017 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Previously asked on Meta Stack Exchange at Should bounty be returned if there is NO answer at all?, and its several Linked questions. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2017 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


it might not seem a big problem for those with thousands of points it certainly shakes the confidence of new user like me

Think of it this way: by setting a bounty, you're not 'buying' an answer; instead, you are buying exposure for the question. You've gotten the exposure, and it is important to capitalize on it to do everything you can to optimize the chances that the exposure will translate into an answer.

However, it's simply the case that some questions just won't get answered because they are too hard or the site does not have users with the expertise to address them; getting a bounty optimizes the chances of reaching those users, and typically leaves the question in a much better position to be answered when they do show up - but you do need to do your best in all fronts to ensure the question is as answerable as possible.

Having a bounty go to waste can indeed be demoralizing if you look at it from a transactional perspective; to avoid that, you should focus on what the bounty does (provide exposure) and capitalize on it.

If it makes you feel better, as mentioned in the previous thread on the topic, there's been something like 740 non-awarded bounties on the site so far, so this is part and parcel of the mechanism.

Regarding the proposal to change the mechanics of the bounty award process: this site shares its core Q&A engine with over 160 sites, and it is very uncommon for site-specific changes to that engine to be implemented. The bounty system is a core part of the Q&A engine and it has been finely tuned over 8+ years to respond to many different pressures - including in particular the temptation for users to game the system, which increases dramatically if bounties can be refunded, and the drive to put as much of the day-to-day moderation as possible on the community and not on the elected moderators.

If you do want to propose changes of this magnitude, the place to propose them is the network-wide meta, Meta Stack Exchange, where there are a lot more people with a deeper understanding of the ramifications of any such changes. This particular issue has come up many times before there, particularly here, and you should search that site extensively before posting as most variations on that theme have already been asked.


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