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This question is in response to marmot's leaving of the site as discussed in the comments of this post. Comments are disabled there, so I ask this as a separate question.

In the comments Stefan Kottwitz writes:

To the fact, that you are moving your points to others, thousands already: I saw the answers with the bounties and they are great and deserve appreciation. Why didn't you set the bounties earlier? Just to clarify then: you are now misusing the bounty system to move points massively. That can be considered as gaming the system and reputation manipulation.

I'm actually quite surprised to read this. Bounties to me serve two purposes: Either to raise attention to a question that doesn't have fully satisfying answers yet, or to show appreciation to a certain answer that you consider worth more that just a 10-points-upvote.

Users with a lower reputation score will certainly have to consider more carefully how much points they award as bounty and how often they do to not lose certain site privileges. But users with a 100k and above reputation clearly are able to award extra credits more generously.

While I still hope marmot changes his mind about leaving this site, if he finally decides to do so, I really appreciate that he wants to give back some of his points to others before doing so. I know answering questions shouldn't be about collecting points, but it's sometimes still a bit frustrating when you put a lot of effort or time into solving a problem and writing an answer (usually an old one) that pops up in the recent activity list for a few minutes and then forever vanishes in the depths of the site. It leaves you with that uneasy feeling no one cares about what you have written and the time you have spent on this. Receiving a bounty for such answers will certainly give you extra motivation.

So I really don't follow the insinuation that giving credits to others, especially in this case, could be considered a "reputation manipulation". I can't tell what criteria were considered to award the bounties, all of the answers seem TikZ-related, but it's not that bounties were given to random, low-quality answers or with the intent to push the reputation of certain users. To me the motivation just seemed to be "my credits will disappear after leaving the site, why not giving some of them back to the community before that happens?" That doesn't seem a bad intent to me at all.

@Stefan: Why do you consider the awarding a misuse of the bounty system in this case?
@All moderators: What awarding behavior in general is considered manipulative or a misuse of the system?

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    I was also surprised by that comment. Nevertheless, atleast I did not see any case of misuse of the system there. The bounties were awarded to some nice/possibly great Q&A. – Raaja Aug 7 at 5:02
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The main intention behind the bounties is to reward answers that have done something original. They include, but are not limited to, posts that have lead to new packages or libraries. It is true that most of the bounties were awarded to TikZ posts, and the reason is as simple as the fact that I am a bit more comfortable judging for those whether or not they are a major step forward than for other tags. Also I "earned" most of my points with TikZ related posts, so I just pass these points to other TikZ posts, and IMHO this does not "take away" anything from other tags. Altogether I do not understand at all why one should not be allowed to do that.

P.S. As for the "why now" question: true, the main motivation is that the points will decay once my account is deleted, which was scheduled for August 3. Why would it be "better" to let the points decay than to pass them to others? Let me mention that it is not the case that these are the first bounties I awarded. One bounty of 500 points I remember was to a user who wrote a stellar answer, but after she was done the OP changed the question. Unfortunately, the user seems to have become inactive, yet the discussion why this happened is off-topic here. Nevertheless I'd like to reiterate that the purpose of all these bounties is to acknowledge original codes. And I feel that if there was a general agreement that originality (as opposed to just copying) is something valuable, many problems that surface here and there on meta could be avoided (and the current discussion would never have emerged). But this is just an opinion.

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Bounties are great! Showing appreciation to posts by bounties is great!

There are possible ways of bounty fraud, such as

  • shifting reputation to another account by bounties a lot
  • circular bounties (moving rep point to another account, and that account moves it back, costs zero but a benefit may be visibilty and so gained rep/badges)

What that user now does, I just said it "can be considered as gaming the system and reputation manipulation". I didn't make a charge or an action, I gave a possible view point. So thanks for discussing it!

The only related situation I found is described in a comment by whuber (same link above):

The only similar thing I remember anyone getting away with was a high-rep user who, instead of quitting SE altogether, first shed all his rep with a string of +500 bounties: but there was no quid pro quo there (and I suspect the SE team nullified the effects anyway).

Sounds the same to me, so that user is not the first one having that idea.

The bounty system is very transparent, and reputation changes can also be seen. So, as you refer to that case, until now it's already about 18,000 reputation points the user transferred within days, growing, of about 145.000. Moving points massively, that are already "given up" by initiating the account deletion, doesn't look like normal use of the bounty system to me. In case that effect would be nullified, some users may be sad.

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    Could you please clarify why this Until now it's already about 18,000 reputation points he transferred within days, growing. Moving points massively, that are already "given up" by initiating the account deletion, doesn't look like normal use of the bounty system to me. doesn't look normal to you? Because to my understanding, bounties can be awarded to any answer that deserves it (upto the OP's discretion, unless they are explicitly committing any frauds). I do not agree with your view poitn (so a -1). – Raaja Aug 7 at 11:29
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    Moreover, you are contradicting your opinion here: To the fact, that you are moving your points to others, thousands already: I saw the answers with the bounties and they are great and deserve appreciation. And for this: Why didn't you set the bounties earlier?, I think its upto the OP to decide when (atleast the model of SE allows that I suppose. – Raaja Aug 7 at 11:37
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    @AndréC I'm sorry but the reputation doesn't really mean anything :) (atleast to me). And to answer your point, if ones has wealth, its upto them to spend how they want it (legally ofcourse). – Raaja Aug 7 at 12:03
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    @StefanKottwitz in all that case, why don't we remove the bounty option altogether? As an user of this site if I decide to award all my rep as bounty for well-deserved QAs, would you say its abnormal? Because that is what I understand from our discussion. – Raaja Aug 7 at 14:57
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    Nevertheless, the account deletion is initiated but not deleted yet. So as an user can play in the site without causing any disruptions dont they? And awarding bounties to a deserved question is neither a disruption nor gaming the system, I think. Feel free to refute it. I even see a badge in SE for rewarding bounties for other's questions. – Raaja Aug 7 at 15:11
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    And the badge reads: First bounty you manually award on another person's question. And please see: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16065/… Therefore, I think it is a SE model and so far it's going good :) – Raaja Aug 7 at 15:21
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    @AndréC as for your analogy: as much as SE worries about the rep, it also gives way to spend it as far as it in performed in accordance to their rules. So I am hightly doubting that they dont want us to spend our rep. If they did, there would not be any option for providing bounties. – Raaja Aug 7 at 15:27
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    @AndréC When writing the question, I also thought about that money analogy. If you are a billionaire and about to die, why not spending all your money before it happens? If you think of reputation as money, then it shouldn't matter what you do with your points before you leave the site. The value of the reputation/money is still the same, even if not to you because you won't need it anymore. But it's not that the reputation loses value for the community. I still see some responsibility for the one to award the points to use it wisely and in a way that doesn't cause harm to the community. – siracusa Aug 7 at 20:30
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    @AndréC The bounty system serves two purposes: boost an question that has not received enough attention and reward answer that are especially good. The cost is an irrelevant part of it, (and especially for high rep users the cost is essentially zero). Long before you arrived we had a user who regularly reduced their reputation dramatically by awarding bounties in this way. The bounties were always well deserved (as are the bounties we're discussing here). They simply didn't care for reputation and so decided to "spend" it. This is no different from that. – Alan Munn Aug 8 at 15:31
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    @AndréC Atop what Alan already explained, I would like to add a point. First of all, I would not agree with your inference here: Here, these bonuses have no cost since the goal is to destroy these points. This approach is therefore not in line with the very spirit in which these bonuses were designed.. The points/rep/capital -- irrespective of whether they have value or not -- an OP can burn it as they like (as far as it is inline with the SE guidelines I.e., no fraud is being made, atleast that is what I understand). – Raaja Aug 8 at 18:03
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    Moreover, neither you nor me, have any rights to tell another OP on how they can spend their reps. This part is solely upto their discretion. Also, in this specific scenario, the OP who is spending their "own rep/capital" is giving it as bounty to well deserved QAs (which imo is one of the main motivations behind the bounty). Moreover, I really do not understand when you say it's not inline with the spirit of bounty. It's their bounty/rep and let them do whatever they want, as far they do it legally. – Raaja Aug 8 at 18:05
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    @AndréC I have no idea why that is relevant. You were complaining that the bounties under discussion aren't inline with the "spirit" of the bounty. That has nothing to do with the bank accounts model, but seems to be a moral judgment about how they are being used in this case. – Alan Munn Aug 8 at 19:57
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    @AndréC I dont understand what you want me to see there, sorry for that. But the answers clearly reads that: The bounty will just be moved to (owned) by the Community user and will be awarded automatically at the end of the period as they normally would.. Therefore, to summarise, deleting an account will not reverse the effect of bounty. – Raaja Aug 8 at 22:02
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    @AndréC I think you are confusing several variables by creating analogy with real-world funds. First, the rep is still earned by someone, who offers it to some nice QA because it's great. So once awarded the rep belongs to the one who got awarded. Then, if the one who awarded the rep decides to leave the site, that doesn't mean it's no longer a payment. It is still a payment from the past. After all, we are living in a causal system ;) just because the source of the past action is no longer present, the present reaction will not become void. It still happened. I hope it's clear:) – Raaja Aug 8 at 22:09
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    @AndréC I think the mod was expressing their personal opinion. Moreover, kindly refer to recent answers/updates. Because, imo it's better to look at recent rather than old updates (please see: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16065/…). Let's not go back-and-forth and let us avoid redundancy, because I have already added a much recent link for a discussion regarding this subject. Nevertheless, I'm again referring the same discussion for your convenience. – Raaja Aug 9 at 5:30

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