There is a recent question Which universities teach true infinitesimal calculus? , suitability of which has been questioned by several users [I personally do not see in this question anything related to "research level mathematics within the scope defined in the help center"; it explicitly asks for names of "schools, colleges, or universities [which] teach true infinitesimal calculus", and the current answers to this question consist of nothing but lists of course numbers]. The OP placed a bounty on this question and has accepted an answer; however, after an expiration of the first bounty he has now placed a second one. It seems to me that the only purpose of this is to prevent other users from voting to close this question, and I am wondering whether such (ab)use of bounties is really fair.

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    $\begingroup$ One user had flagged for this question to be migrated to Math Educators, a suggestion which the OP resisted. It seemed to me this was a somewhat borderline case for migration (I half-saw the OP's position, but fell short of agreeing with him), and so I thought it better to let the community decide whether to close. But if a user applies tactics designed to circumvent community moderation, then it becomes a different situation and the elected mods need to step in (and one of us has now done so). $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ I would question whether the 'only purpose of this is to prevent other users from voting to close this question.' The question also exists on MESE where nobody questioned its suitability, and OP had also placed a bounty there. I do not want to say the situation is not problematic, yet I think the 'only' is possibly not justified. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ As I had an interesting discussion with the OP there, I tend to view the question as a legitimate one. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


It is an abuse of the bounty system to place bounties in order to prevent a question from being closed. There is no mechanism to fix this automatically since any mechanism to remove bounties (with or without refund) would be a source of even worse abuses. Therefore, the task to fix such abuses is left to site moderators who have the ability to remove bounties and, when necessary, take other actions to restore the usual user moderation system. See this meta.SE question for a discussion of this issue.

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    $\begingroup$ The situation is worse, since placing a bounty means that standing closing votes expire by the time the bounty ends. So if the question previously had four standing votes, and a bounty was placed it means that it essentially nullified these four votes. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: There were no such votes. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ I meant at the beginning of the first bounty. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ It might be worth adding that there is an initial safe-guard against such use of bounties, namely, one cannot place a bounty on a question within the first 48h. This is normally enough time to close clearly off-topic questions. (Indeed, the one in question was reopened, showing it is not a clear-cut case.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Why do bounties prevent close votes at all, i.e. what is the rationale behind this? $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: That would effectively remove the bounty without refund. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps losing the bounty without refund is a good incentive to refrain from offering bounties on bad questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ I've just flagged mathoverflow.net/questions/417067 on these grounds. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 11:35

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