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I'd like to know whether I'm allowed to start games involving a bounty prize in chat rooms (specifically in The Sphinx's Lair). For example things like

The first person who solves my chat user description gets +200

(where the user description would be a puzzle)

But it may also include more stupid "games" (lotteries) like

Everyone can participate by posting "42" here. A random number generator decides which one of the participants will get a +100 bounty.

(This could obviously be used with malicious intent, since no one can be sure that the offerer really used a (secure) number generator)


I'm fully aware that this brings moral/philisophical issues with it, for example it could completely ruin the philosophy behind reputation and privileges:

  • Posts that aren't exemplary or worthy of a bounty would attract attention. The bounty would also be awarded for a completely unrelated reason.
  • It could boost low-rep users and gain them privileges they're maybe not supposed to have yet (a +500 bounty would have a significant impact on an e.g. user with 100 rep).
  • Reputation would become less an indicator of experience/participation on this site if many people do it.
  • Sneaky sockpuppetry would become easier (boost a sockpuppet from 1 to 151 to make it able to downvote without raising any immediate suspicion)
  • and probably many more...

But I haven't found any official statement/policy/rule that states you're not allowed to award bounties to whoever (and whyever) you want (assuming it isn't a sockpuppet). Of course there are sections that state how they're supposed to use, but that doesn't answer my question.


What are the official rules on this particular issue?

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  • $\begingroup$ I might miss something here, but how do you plan to award a new user with a bounty, who have not answered any questions yet? Also, it would look quite silly if a moderately good answer to some random question will suddenly receive a +500bounty for completely unrelated reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Matsmath
    Nov 26 '16 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Matsmath I'd just wait until they have answered a question (assuming you're not talking about sockpuppets here). And yeah, it certainly looks strange if you don't know the reason behind the bounty (here's an example) $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Nov 26 '16 at 14:54
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While I like the idea of fostering community and having fun, I'm afraid I don't like this particular idea. You sum up most of my objections fairly clearly yourself, but in the interests of finding a more "official" reason, I'd argue the very first paragraph of the reputation help page makes a fairly clear cut case:

"Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about."

Allowing arbitrary transfer of rep for chat games (or worse, for lotteries) runs contrary to this philosophy and corrupt the only measure we have.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think badges may even be a better measure than reputation by default. While I agree that this is another philosphy that would be ruined, it's still not an explicit ban of transferring rep. I guess it'll boil down to "either you're legally ruining the system or your legally not ruining the system" :P (although I think the rep system in itself is somewhat broken already) $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Nov 26 '16 at 11:34
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I like the idea, and in principle I'm not against awards for puzzles in chat, but please don't use bounties for this purpose.

There are a lot of problems with the bounty system already, some of which you actually brush up against in your post. Using the system for a purpose for which it wasn't intended is liable to create more problems.

The second reason is that reputation is supposed to represent main-site involvement. While the amounts of reputation aren't wholly significant, it would certainly be confusing to people on the main site to see bounty indicators on posts that didn't have "real" bounties, or see posts bumped because of "that thing on chat."

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