I have no particular objection to the withdrawal of a bounty, specially if offered by a mod and even more specially by one who has lost about 30k rep in good causes, but I do rather object to incorrect guidance. Given bounty emboldens both of:



All bounties are paid for up front and non-refundable under any circumstances

can we at least have a footnote on that page that mentions there may be very exceptional circumstances in which bounties are refunded?


Bounty substracted

and then...

Bounty 'refund'

yet bounty award does not show for any Answer to that Q. At present it does not even show any answer though I think there was an attempt at one (that I did not accept as it added nothing of value, IMO). But even if there was an A at one time I am convinced it was not from the bounty awarder (from whose profile I took the image above) and You cannot award a bounty to your own answer anyway.

I have a feint recollection (though it might just be imagination) of a case on SO of something like a bounty being put on a duplicate question that was then merged or deleted and a mod mentioned that they had refunded the bounty accordingly. As mentioned, I have no objection to mods being able so to do. (Or it might have been a bounty, not from OP, put on a Q that the OP had requested be deleted for breach of confidentiality/risking sanctions from employer or such like.)

The current choice of Title is not mine. Although quite well hidden, one of the bullet points here from March 4, 2012 is:

They can (at their discretion) refund and cancel a bounty.

  • 4
    HUH? How are bounties refunded? Do you have an example? Worrying!
    – Gayot Fow
    Oct 3, 2016 at 7:08
  • I don't get it either. It looks like this occurred during the great Bounty Bonanza period (which I do hope we have another by the way). For this one, we'll have to wait for an explanation.
    – Gayot Fow
    Oct 3, 2016 at 13:26
  • 2
    Post updated to make it a bit more clear
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Oct 3, 2016 at 17:00
  • 4
    Did you know posts have a timeline? @pnuts You can actually see the 500 bounty in there but it only shows up as notice added and notice removed.
    – Jan
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:18
  • 2
    @pnuts You can only access them by typing a link into the URL bar, unfortunately. The syntax is site.stackexchange.com/posts/post-id/timeline. To find the post-id, either click on the edit history or rightclick+save link address on the edit link.
    – Jan
    Oct 3, 2016 at 18:38
  • This question got the bounty incremented over the days: from 100 on Sep 11th to 150 on Sept 14th, 200 on Sep 15th... up to finally 250 on Sep 18th. This being said, mods can cancel bounties under some circumstances.
    – fedorqui
    Oct 5, 2016 at 11:42
  • @pnuts from How can we close questions with bounties?, The moderators have a menu to remove / refund the bounty (...). However, this is intended for rare cases.
    – fedorqui
    Oct 5, 2016 at 11:51
  • Circumstances are normally what is being said in that answer: higher priorities like a question that needs to be closed or migrated. For the rest of circumstances, we will have to see what mods explain us :) In any case, the circumstance I described above seems to be useful: upgrading a bounty. No harm to the community, but the contrary.
    – fedorqui
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    As other have sad, I can verify that there is a way to remove a bounty from a post, but there are only a very few and good reasons when this should be done. Concerning the description: Yes that could be added, maybe it's time for a feature request post. Oct 5, 2016 at 15:35
  • 2
    @pnuts you're right, the current guidance is technically wrong, but it's that way intentionally. We want people to think of bounties as being absolute and unrefundable. For a little background, the only reason we started "bounty refunding" at all was to combat the truly exceptional cases where people tried to shield blatant hate speech and spam from closure/deletion through bounties. In this case, the fact that our description isn't 100% accurate kinda makes me go all xkcd 386 too, but it's slightly better than getting tons of "PLZ UNDO" requests.
    – Pops
    Oct 20, 2016 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


According to How does the bounty system work? (Meta.SE), diamond moderators have the power:

What happens if a bounty question is closed, or deleted?

Why can't I vote to close or migrate a bounty question?

Bounty questions cannot be closed directly.

However, diamond moderators can refund bounties, which would then allow it to be closed, migrated, or deleted like any other question. (source)

It is correct that the help centre does not note this, but that may be due to the fact that bounty refunding should only happen under very specific circumstances.

By the way, there is a second way to get one’s bounty award back, as noted further down in the Meta.SE post:

Do I get the reputation back when question I placed bounty that was already awarded is being deleted or migrated?

Yes. The change is not immediate like other reputation changes but the reputation is given back (Source – marked is official enough). If the question is undeleted or migration is rejected, the reputation is reduced again.

The case you noted has an additional flavour to it, since the user offering the bounty (and having gotten it back) is a diamond moderator themself. In the interest of transparency, I feel it would be a good idea for whichever diamond moderator was responsible for the refund to drop a comment on why the bounty was refunded.

In my opinion such a note should always be added unless it is clear why, e.g. if an out-of-scope question is closed shortly after the bounty refund.

  • I have no objection to bounty being non-refundable, but I was extremely irritated when bounty was auto-awarded to an answer that was WRONG. If rep is intended to help measure reliability, that is doing the opposite.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 6, 2016 at 6:30
  • 3
    @WGroleau That is another subject, unrelated to this Q&A.
    – Fiksdal
    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:05
  • Which is why it's in comments instead of an "answer"
    – WGroleau
    Oct 6, 2016 at 13:02
  • 4
    @WGroleau at least two users must have thought the answer be correct and upvoted it … answers need a score of 2 (or accepted by the OP) to be eligible for auto-awarding.
    – Jan
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:37
  • +1 since I fully agree and once again I am learning from one of your posts about how this site works in the details. Keep it up!
    – mts
    Oct 6, 2016 at 17:08

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