On MSO, bounties are used extensively to raise awareness about specific issues.

Child Meta sites don't have bounty support.

The reason is stated in this related MSO topic: Child Metas don't have bounties, because they don't have reputation.

But we do have reputation: The parent site reputation, in this case, Super User. Posts on the Meta site simply don't affect it.

It should still be possible to raise awareness to Meta topics (or reward users in a Meta way for main site posts) on child Metas.

Why not pay for bounties on child Meta sites in parent site reputation and award parent site reputation?

  • Heh. I got involved in a deeply philosophical and logical answer and then realized you were talking about awarding MSO rep for Child Meta answers. Sounds like a question that ought to be asked on MSO. Feb 2, 2012 at 21:43
  • @music I'm not. I want to award SU rep on msu, and sf rep on msf, and apple rep on meta.apple.se.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Feb 2, 2012 at 22:08
  • Ok, then I'll undelete. Comprehension at the end of a day figuring out optimal process-server arrangements is apparently really, really bad. Feb 2, 2012 at 22:10
  • I use parent site synonymous to main site, because the main site user OS the "parent user" as linked from a meta user profile.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Feb 2, 2012 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


Bounties are a pretty dumb idea even on MSO.

Don't get me wrong - I understand why folks use them, and you do a good job of outlining those reasons when trying to justify them for child metas...

But it comes to "raising awareness", editing or answering to better justify or flesh out an idea is nearly always a better option.

And when it comes to rewarding folks... Shucks, the site is your reward! I've never gotten a bounty on MSO and thought, "Yeah, that made it all worthwhile.* But seeing a bug fixed... Or a lousy feature-request not implemented... Those are satisfying, gratifying, rewarding indeed.

Bounties on Metas send entirely the wrong message, that what an idea really needs to succeed is PURE VOLUME. Let's continue to discourage that...

  • Note that this is not MSO. As I wrote, MSU doesn't have the visitors to begin with, so a good front page position alone isn't that useful. The sidebar of features topics isn't either.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:00
  • Good points Shog9. Feb 3, 2012 at 14:45

I am against this on the basis that I disagree with your assessment of Child Metas having reputation.

We only have reputation in Meta SU inasmuch as we have reputation in SU. Because posts and answers in Meta SU in no way affect our reputation numbers, reputation here is a static and unliving thing, merely a reference to our performance elsewhere and, hopefully, a reference to our ability. But that is a reference to our technical and explicatory ability, not our management or suggestive ability, which is what Meta is all about.

To look at is another way: Meta SU is not about the same thing that SU is about, and therefore, while our SU reputation numbers are visible here, here in Meta SU they mean something other than what they mean on SU itself.

If the Meta bounties were merely to bring attention to particularly worthwhile posts, and yet reputation changes were not enabled on Meta SU, the bounties would merely be duplicating the function of the up- and down-votes, giving those with reputation to spare a second (or third) vote, essentially. So in order to be worthwhile, enabling bounties would require enabling Meta SU reputation to affect SU reputation, and for the reasons noted above, I don't think that's a wise idea.

  • Response posted as answer.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Feb 2, 2012 at 23:21

What is reputation on the main site?

You could say it's a representation of your technical skills and knowledge and how well you put it into answers. In that case, the read-only reputation on the corresponding Meta site really is something else, because Meta doesn't care about your technical knowledge. For Meta, it's simply how much you contribute to the main site community that is being discussed on Meta. If you've never been to Meta, but been a contributor on the main site, you have Meta reputation.

But that isn't the whole story. You gain main site reputation from answers, questions, bounties and (a bit) by editing others' posts. It always has been a measure of the amount and quality of your participation, and all of it (except self-inflicted downvote costs) is provided by other users, either by them up and down voting, assigning bounties, or approving your edits.

Obviously, we care not only about users providing raw content, but also about contributing in other ways to the community. This has always existed through badges, but since edits, like fixing ancient posts or contributing tag wiki descriptions are awarded reputation, even indirect contributions have reputation value.

Meta participation is one such indirect contribution. By contributing good content to Meta, be it bug reports, feature requests that are realized, discussing what the community values and respects, and building a knowledge base of articles on the use of the site (support questions), contributions to Meta have value to the community as a whole. And don't think Meta isn't part of the site. Meta is part of the site as a whole -- every user automatically has a corresponding Meta account and can contribute to it.

Now, ignoring the special case of MSO, there is no reputation rewards for contributions to Meta. This can have several reasons. One, of course, is the purity of the reputation value. It should only, or at least, primarily represent the contributions to the main site. Another might be that votes on Meta are easier to get, since the topics are easier, and less strict about what is correct. I am sure there are others.

In this Meta topic, I request we rip this nice separation apart and allow bounties for Meta topics. Here's why it's not a bad idea:

1. They cost reputation

Different from main site votes, they cost. We have decidedly fewer answer downvotes than the free question downvotes on the main site, very likely because users don't like to pay the -1 cost for posts that'll get deleted anyway. On Meta, users are free to express any opinion by up voting and down voting whatever they want, since it's free. Users likewise aren't pushed towards posting Meta topics for their expected popularity to farm reputation.

Bounties cost reputation, even if there's no eligible recipient, or any recipient you like. It's not like we generate reputation from nothing, like with votes and edits. I have to pay X reputation so that another user receives at most X reputation. It will be pretty unlikely for a user to gain enough reputation from Meta bounties to significantly outweigh his regular contributions. This is almost mandated by the cost of bounties and the fact that you need to know how the site works to be able to contribute value on Meta. You just don't know the site if you haven't provided value yourself, and then cannot really contribute to Meta in turn.

2. Reputation comes from main site contributions

You cannot pay for Meta bounties using Meta reputation, because it doesn't exist as an independent entity. Your reputation comes directly from the main site. You need to pay for getting additional exposure by having contributed an equal amount to the main site.

This is a good thing. It makes Meta bounties more valuable, because you only have one reputation budget to spend on bounties instead of two.

3. It doesn't introduce new problems

While we introduce some crossover between good Meta participation and good main site participation, it's not a problem that can somehow lead to exploits. If someone want to transfer some reputation to another user, it only requires a single answer on the main site to do so. We encourage users to provide bounties after answers are posted if they want to express their gratitude.

4. It helps

Let's face it: Meta participation on this site is lacking. You can probably count on two hands the regular users on this site, and could still cut off a few fingers if you were to exclude diamond moderators from this count. This feature would hopefully increase interest in some Meta discussions and therefore the Meta site as a whole.

We already have for topics that are advertised on the main site. It just doesn't help a lot (featured for over a month, less than 10 views per day and no real contributions*).

Bounties are a way for admittedly the higher reputation users like me to try to get more views for topics we consider important. And most Meta topics posted by higher rep users (excluding me perhaps this past month) are relevant! Since the entire site profits from Meta contributions, be they community policy decisions, reference support topics, or to get others to consider the merits of a feature request or a bug report, everybody wins. It doesn't "buy upvotes". It simply gets much needed attention.

It also enables out of band reputation transfers for any reason not discouraged by moderators (topics must survive for two days before they're eligible), something that can power special events such as the community wiki sponsorship suggested a while ago and which are pretty much impossible to do without team support otherwise.

While from a certain purist point of view you might be right, not having Meta bounties is counterproductive. Child Meta bounties enable us to do good by hopefully increasing Meta participation and have no downsides that aren't already present through main site bounties.

* In a way, this topic is an effort to add a tool to the box of making Meta more relevant and therefore a partial solution to the Actually changing things topic.

  • If not everything in this post makes sense, or is way too rambling without stating anything new, please leave a comment and I'll try to fix it tomorrow. It's way past midnight now.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Feb 2, 2012 at 23:21

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