I offered a bounty for clarifying the confusion in the answers & comments to the question "Simple, closed geodesics in 𝕊^3 manifold." I've just been notified that my bounty will be "auto-awarded":

It seems it will be awarded to Igor Rivin's answer, which was extremely useful and appropriately upvoted, but (as he would readily admit, I think) does not satisfy the bounty, and in fact, was the trigger for my offering a bounty.

So will the software automatically award a bounty in this case where it has clearly not be met? Are matters out of my control?

'Tis not a big deal in the end—Igor and I are professional friends—but it seems strange that I lose control of determining if the bounty has been met.

Addendum. In the end, the bounty was not auto-awarded as Stefan correctly predicted, because, in this case, Igor's upvoted answer was posted before I established the bounty (or because of François's kind intervention—not sure which). Still, I think that "auto-awarding" a bounty is a flaw in the bounty procedures, and I will never use a bounty again until the rules are changed. It seems inappropriate that software should decide whether or not a bounty is satisfied.

I am therefore tagging this as a "bug," recognizing this is perhaps a controversial use of that term.

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    $\begingroup$ in this connection, +10k users (who can view deleted answers) might find this recent incident of some interest (I found it an unpleasant incident, but indeed, no big deal). --- mathoverflow.net/questions/179701 $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ Ridiculous that you had to remove your thoughtful answer because of a "bug" in the system! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ I removed the bounty in order to give you more options. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ It is definitely because @FrançoisG.Dorais removed it. It was simply gone at the point when it would have been awarded and that was the point of his intervention. How in the world should it still have been awarded? Whether or not it would have been autoawarded, we cannot infer anything now. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Furtermore, yes, the usage of bug here is controversial. The general behavior that the system can decided on a bounty (taking 50% away) is clearly by design (there might be some bugs in the details but you question the general behavior). To tag something that is "by design" as bug is a clear misue (in this context). A feature you do not like is not a bug. If you want something that is "by design" changed, file a feature request. Tagging it bug is inapproriate. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 8:35

2 Answers 2


As I understand the rules, the message means that in 24 hours the system will check for answers which satisfy the conditions described in https://mathoverflow.net/help/bounty, and if it finds one which does, it will auto-award half the bounty amount to that answer. In your case this means that unless someone adds another answer within the grace period which gets at least two upvotes before the grace period ends, nobody will get the bounty -- the referred help page says "If there's no answer meeting those criteria, the bounty is not awarded to anyone.".


I think this might answer your question: https://mathoverflow.net/help/bounty (the last part)

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    $\begingroup$ That's what I thought, but the help page says "The highest voted answer created after the bounty started ...". So I don't see why this applies to this question. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Lucia You are right. Actually I remember something about at least 3 upvotes and the whole bounty amount. Maybe i don't remember correctly. But it may be possible that the bounty process has been changed, but the warning message is just not adjusted accordingly. Or just that the "will be auto-awarded" refers to the process that will start (described in the link) if you don't award it yourself. Which in this case will not award the bounty to anyone. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucia at least on MO 1.0 the actual behavior did not match the description; I got an autoawarded bounty on a pre-existing answer. Possibly this was fixed in the interim though. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 12:45

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