This question is about the maximum number of active bounties one user can have at any given point of time. Why do we have such a limitation? Why only 3 bounties?

I have asked some questions on this site that did not receive an answer. I understand that nobody owes me an answer but I want to maximize my chances, so to speak. Being able to post only 3 bounties seriously limits the rate at which these questions are going to get processed (each bounty lasts a week).

I guess one possible answer is that you do not want too many bounties (which would dilute the distinction between a bountied and an unbountied question). But then, I am paying hard MO points, honestly earned by posting content the community appreciates.

If you think that the current minimum amount of rep investment required to start a bounty is too little, fine, I get you. Let us increase the number of rep points per each consecutive bounty (e.g. +25/bounty). I mean, this is a free country, if a person wants a service and is willing to pay, why not offer this service? If you do not provide it, I might just take my MO points elsewhere.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It seems that it used to be one bounty. It was changed to three bounties in September 2011: Can the limit on simultaneous bounties be relaxed? and Recent feature changes to Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ "this is a free country...." I didn't know that Mathoverflow was even a country, free or otherwise. Have we applied for membership in the UN? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 22:48
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Bounties compete against each other for attention. The more bounties there are, the less each one is worth in attention attracted. If you post more bounties, you are competing against yourself for attention. Much more effective (from your point of view) should be successive bounties, each posted after the previous one expires. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ @GeraldEdgar it is true that to a certain extent I would be competing with myself for attention. But right now, my account is not the primary source of bounties on this site (maybe at most 17% come from me at a given point of time). So while your point makes sense, it would become really relevant if I talked about say increasing the upper bound from 10 to 15 or something like that. $\endgroup$
    – user137767
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ I start to get the feeling that the is no actually a strong reason for this upper bound but some developer decided to introduce it at some point. Now there is not a lot of people pushing for removing this (only me, it appears) so nobody has a strong incentive to remove the upper bound, but there was not a strong reason to put it there in the first place. Well, I guess it happens sometimes. $\endgroup$
    – user137767
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson well, I am not a mod, but them mods should probably think about it! $\endgroup$
    – user137767
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


I personally see the limit to three bounties as a very minor issue. Very little would change if users were able to have an unlimited number of bounties at once. I personally do not have any strong feelings for or against increasing the bounty limit, but since it is not a good idea to change the way aspects of this site work very often for minor issues, I would want to keep the 3 bounty limit the way it is. Here are reasons why I think that having unlimited bounties will not improve MO very much.

  1. If one were to have 3 bounties simultaneously at all times, then these bounties would cost the user 150*52=7800 points a year. Very few users can afford to spend 7800 points on bounties a year. For example, only 8 or so MO users have obtained points at at least this rate from January 1,2019 to April 16, 2019. For this reason, I would consider the three bounty limit to be quite high. This 7800 points a year cost is the cost if one spends the bare minimum of 50 points per bounty. If one were to spend the maximum of 500 points instead per bounty, then one would need to spend at 78000 a year which exceeds the 200 daily reputation increase limit.

  2. The MO users like to hodl (hodl is a term used in the cryptocurrency sector which means to “hold on to dear life” to Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies) onto their MO reputation coins rather than spend them on bounties. In practice, MO users typically do not have or want multiple bounty questions up at once.

  3. It seems like it would be a better strategy to promoting questions using bounties would be to space the bounties over a period of time rather than give several bounties at once. For example, instead of having 4 bounties at once for a week, it would probably be better to give each of these four questions a bounty for one week out of the month so that at no time the user has no more than one bounty up.

  4. The three bounty limit is a slight protection against a user quickly getting rid of all of the reputation at one instance perhaps when deciding to leave MO.

  5. Most MO users do not ask questions at a rate where they would be able to give three bounties a week for each of their questions. Furthermore, most of the high reputation MO users seem to be more interested in answering MO questions than they are in asking them. Therefore, the people who can actually afford to spend their reputation on 3 bounties a week seem like the ones who would be less interested in giving bounties. It seems like the users who actually do spend their points on bounties are the low reputation users who cannot afford to spend their reputation on more than 3 bounties a week. In any case, there does not seem to be any demographic of users who would be willing to spend more than 3 bounties a week.


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