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I have noticed a few comments by other users, so thought I would ask about the recent transfer of 3000 rep from d'alar'cop to rand al'thor. According to this discussion on meta.se, using bounties to transfer rep is not allowed.

Certainly these 6 bounties could be considered to reward an existing answer. A choice on the bounty reasons is "one or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty".

However, d'alar'cop has offered only these 6 bounties on puzzling.se, all within the last few days. They have all been awarded to rand al'thor for answers that were previously accepted by other users in November and December. After three months, it seems odd to claim that these specific answers are suddenly exemplary.

This comment by d'alar'cop describes an intent that is concerning:
"I will give all my rep to avigrail and rand al'thor over a set of bounties and then the riddlers will forever reign supreme!!!"

As requested, here are links to the six answers:
- Name that sandwich
- Name that entity (5)
- Solve the equation
- What, the answer isn't the No of the Yes is?
- What am I? 'Tis the season of mutual puzzling
- Left coin, right coin, last coin?

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    $\begingroup$ The reputation is just to make a sense of achievement that you have spend time on this site and learned something, or shared your knowledge. Unnecessary reputation won't do any good to anyone. Or it maybe that he really liked his answers and thought he may deserve some bounty. We don't know. I guess there is no definitive answer, so I'll let the community decide. $\endgroup$ – Rohinb97 Mar 8 '15 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ While this does look like an issue worth looking into, let's make sure we don't go on a witch-hunt to burn d'alar'cop at the stake. First, d'alar'cop has, for the most part, been an active, helpful member of our community, so while I don't think he's above the rules, we don't want to drive him away. Second of all, if there really is some foul play going on (and we don't know for sure), this looks to me like something that would be much better handled by a moderator. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Mar 9 '15 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Kevin that this should be decided be the moderators. And to do so, it would be best to post this on the main meta. $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 9 '15 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Kevin - This is just information, not a witch-hunt. The other group to consider is those who may be discouraged by a perception of unfair behavior. My singular intent is to elicit a ruling from the moderators and I think that community input could help them. $\endgroup$ – Len Mar 9 '15 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Len I don't agree but I can't tell you that because my comments get deleted thoroughly :D I hope you can see it in time! $\endgroup$ – Avigrail Mar 10 '15 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Avigrail - If it helps you, it is quite clear that you and a few friends do not agree. But an extended discussion would not be appropriate in the comments. $\endgroup$ – Len Mar 10 '15 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ To the 6 downvoters: Our site needed this discussion to be done at some point. Your vote on the question has nothing to do with your opinion on the actual issue. A down-vote on such question means you find it not worth discussing as the question is of poor quality. (Is that what you really mean?) $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 19 '15 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ It's funny, d'alar'cop said he'd give me tons of rep and I'd reign "supreme" in 1 comment. Never thought he'd go through with something like that before. He seemed pretty upset after is penalty box visit, so maybe he's "rage quitting" and trying to stir up drama first. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Apr 2 '15 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Len, I've added a new answer since the situation has been updated ;) Maybe you could accept that answer, so that people who come to look at this question know what the final outcome was without having to scroll to the bottom of the page? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jun 28 '15 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor - Ok, great. $\endgroup$ – Len Jun 28 '15 at 23:35
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This has now been undone.

The 3000 rep transferred from d'alar'cop to rand al'thor has now all been transferred back from rand al'thor to d'alar'cop in a similar set of bounties. The net effect is precisely nothing; all rep scores are now exactly what they would have been if not for these bounties.

I believe this should finally lay the issue to rest.

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In this case, it isn't worth interfering with. I'm not happy about it, and nobody we talked with is, either. (Clearly at least 16 of us aren't, solely by the score of this question.) It's unfortunate, but someone's going to walk away from this uncomfortable, and it's probably going to be the broader community either way.

Here's the issue: interfering has a good chance of stirring up further conflict, or at least other drama. It's hard to prove that someone is intentionally bountying reputation away to a specific user, and if someone's leaving, they don't have all that much to lose from creating trouble. On the other hand, not interfering makes a lot of people uncomfortable - though granted for a brief time.

On the other side of the token, we need to check to see what in the system breaks. And, when it comes down to it, the answer is, well... nothing of importance, really. The user gaining reputation has already hit the "trusted user" level, so it's not as though they're gaining more privileges. If users with only a little reputation were suddenly gaining 500 rep en masse, then it would be a more severe issue.

So this is what we're facing: This action is almost certainly a misuse of the bounty system, but it's not breaking anything on the site. For the rest of us, reputation still has the same meaning as it did before. On the other hand, interfering with the bounties has a good chance to waste everyone's time in a protracted argument.


Is this a seal of approval to transfer rep via bounty? Hardly, and if acting on principle alone, I'd want to reverse the exchange. However, in this case, it's unfortunately not worth it to interfere. It's a conflict between sticking to principles and keeping things running as smoothly as possible, and in this case, it may be better for us to just move on.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for taking the time to provide a well reasoned response. Other opinions are welcome but for me, this is sufficient. $\endgroup$ – Len Mar 9 '15 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor Are you trying to prove a point that high rep = power to get away with things? If so, mission accomplished. I guess they might take action when the site has many more users with high rep, so I'm not sure if you'll get away with this for ever. $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 19 '15 at 6:48
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This should be treated as serial voting

If I upvoted a user's answers six times in rapid succession, it would be called serial voting and subject to reversal. Why should multiple bounties be treated differently?

I find it hard to believe that someone just happened to come across six posts that deserved bounty awards, and that that all happened to be by the same user. More likely, they decided that a user deserved a big award, and found good posts by that user. That's basically the definition of serial voting.


Now, I'm not saying that rand al'thor hasn't written some good answers. He has, and some of them probably are worth some extra rep. However, I find it hard to believe we're okay with a mass transfer of rep like this.

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    $\begingroup$ I would agree with this 100% if the act of providing the bounty generated new reputation (as is the case with serial upvoting). As this is not the case, however, this is not as clear cut as this answer implies. $\endgroup$ – kaine Mar 9 '15 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @kaine It's a common refrain on SE that you should vote on content, not people. I don't think we'd be having this discussion except that they were all awarded to the same person. Whether the reputation involved is generated or transferred doesn't change that, and that's what makes this "serial bountying", if you will. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Mar 9 '15 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Geobits I don't know if this should be ok or not. I would obviously agree that this could be considered "serial bountying". I was just answering your (obviously intended to be retorical) question "Why should multiple bounties be treated differently?". The answer is because two individuals upvoting each other results in a net benifit to them while two individuals bountying each other does not. I don't know if this situation is ok or if you other arguments hold but I disagree with the bolded part of your answer. (I do think it is voting to transfer rep though which has been discussed.) $\endgroup$ – kaine Mar 9 '15 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @kaine Fair enough. To be honest, I don't even know what the moderators would/could do in this situation. Reversing it doesn't seem likely to have much effect, as it can always be done again (more spaced out) if that's the intent. Even if it's decided that this is legit, though, I still feel that it gives the perception of foul play if nothing else. That can be as damaging as actual foul play to a community. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Mar 9 '15 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ It is worth noting that moderators can't actually reverse bounties once they've been given, so this discussion currently impacts the future theoretical (and is historical on why we didn't do anything). $\endgroup$ – Aza Mar 9 '15 at 19:30
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Let's see this answer, which has 270 upvotes at this moment and was posted by a SO moderator (animuson). It is about voting fraud (since that is what the question's OP asked), but it mentions something about bounties:

Most often when you get unexpectedly serial upvoted, believe it or not, it's just a user trying to give you extra reputation. They saw a post of yours that was extraordinarily helpful to them and they feel that going through your posts systematically and upvoting them is the appropriate way of granting you additional reputation (apparently they've forgotten about the bounty system).

Now this other answer from Tim Post, who is a Community Manager. The question is very close to what you are asking on this one. I will quote the relevant part (everything but the first paragraph, since this has nothing to do with sharing IPs):

It's your rep - spend it like you want. While conceivable that the bounty system, in conjunction with association bonuses could be used over time to help build up a sock puppet, that's an extremely corner case. If you want to add a bounty to your friend's question in order for it to receive an answer, there's absolutely no problem with that.

Likewise, there'd be no problem placing a bounty to reward an excellent answer that a friend wrote. Again, it's your rep. When the bounty system is used, someone's rep inflates as someone's rep deflates. It's not like they're earning reputation that wasn't 'there' to begin with, as they would with votes. Plus, it's completely open and over the table - everyone sees it.

If you place a bounty on a .. shall we say .. less than good question, you'd probably get some strange looks, but hey - it's your rep :)

So, animuson is basically saying on the quoted part that using bounties to give additional reputation to a user is something valid. Further, Tim Post emphasizes that it is your reputation, so you do whatever you want with it.

Further, I would add a few things:

  • Since this does not creates new reputation out of thin air, like serial upvoting, it just juggles it around different users in a site, I guess it should be ok.

  • This is not being used to circumvent privilege restrictions (which ghosts_in_the_code already telled about), which is what is focused on your linked question. Once you earn the "Trusted User" privilege, which both d'alar'cop and rand al'thor already had earned before, the extra reputation means very little. This could be arguable if the site would be somewhere near to its graduation, but I really doubt it is.

  • If the user A awards bounties costing A's reputation to an already existing answers from user B that A feels that are exemplary, this is ok so far. If user C disagrees that the answer was exemplary, well... That is probably not really something of C's business, since being exemplary or not is something very subjective, and this is really not simply "being exemplary", it is "being exemplary in the view of the person who is awarding the bounty". So, why did d'alar'cop consider rand al'thor's answers exemplary? I don't know, and it is not something that I would care either.

  • Further, this is something hard to be judged by the community if you do not disclose which are the 6 bounty-awarded answers, and I am not going to dig out their profiles, questions and answers to find out. If you think that the answers are not exemplary for some reason, then you could ask d'alar'cop why he thought that they are. You said you didn't want to do a witch-hunt here, but this is exactly what you are doing.

EDITED:

Ok, you showed the questions. And in my opinion the answers are brilliant. If d'alar'cop awarded shitty answers with a bounty (and we have plenty of shitty answers here), it would be something concerning. But all of the six awarded answers are truly outstanding (at least in my personal opinion).

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    $\begingroup$ It is easy enough to go to either profile to see the 6 answers but I will add links to the question. This is a request for a ruling, not a witch-hunt. $\endgroup$ – Len Mar 9 '15 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Len Edited the answer. Take a look at it now. $\endgroup$ – Victor Stafusa Mar 9 '15 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thanks. I have no problem with a differing perspective. $\endgroup$ – Len Mar 9 '15 at 20:43
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If you are transferring to a friend with very low rep (say, below 500), it becomes obvious and action will be taken against them.

If that person already has a sufficiently large amount of rep, then it will be up to the community to determine if the bounty is justified. A bounty is given to an exemplary answer, not an exemplary user, so there should be sufficiently good answer that deserves the bounty.

Reputation is earned, not given. So, if you award 3000 rep to a user, you are signalling to the community that that user has earned it:

  • From whom? From you
  • For what? For a really good answer
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