This question has attracted 4 close votes. As I agree it should be closed (and even deleted), I casted a close vote as well.

I was surprised to see:

This question has an open bounty and cannot be closed

Is this a potential abuse of the bounty system to avoid closing? If so, how do we close this loop-hole, or otherwise deal with this?

(Note that there is/was a separate meta topic about the question linked, so let's keep this one clean of discussing that specific question)

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    So the question is deleted (again) now. Does that mean a bounty will stop close votes, but not delete votes? – SurpriseDog Feb 27 at 15:01
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    @SurpriseDog No. User moderation cannot vote to close or delete while bountied. Mod power can do whatever. (Though I don't know whether the abuse of 'abuse' flags to destroy a post are also blocked by bounties) – LаngLаngС Feb 27 at 15:55
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    The question has been deleted by mod Philipp, although I think for the reason he stated in politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4297/… rather than anything having to do with the bounty, as he has not commented on this page insofar. – Fizz Feb 28 at 7:04
  • I'm more active than two out of the three moderators here. Unless that's going to change : probably. – Mazura Mar 1 at 23:45

Is this specific instance an instance of bounty abuse? Probably speculative. Should the application of a bounty prevent a question garnering close votes? I see no reason whatever that that should be the case.

Whether or not this is a case of abuse, it's a silly protection that ought to be removed.

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    Good point - I've added "potential" to avoid the discussion whether the question linked is an abuse or not. – Sjoerd Feb 26 at 19:00

It's hard to say. The user has enough rep to know that's how bounties work (or they could have been informed by a like-minded person). The problem is there's no way to prove what their motives are.

A better argument here would be that the bounty was improperly added to a contentious question the community was actively trying to close. Moderators can retract bounties (if they will is another matter), so the only recourse here is to mod flag if you want it removed.

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  • I would like to concentrate the Q&A on "how do we deal with this?" I think that's the most constructive approach. As you say: there is no way to prove what the OP's motives are. – Sjoerd Feb 26 at 19:26
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    Then again, this is exactly how the system is designed and complaints about this have been voiced before. I did so. No action taken. Bounties do prevent closing. Fact. Simple. Since I'm a stickler for well written rules and positive law: This discussion might be worth having, to formulate a strict policy on this. But if it it's now removed, we've sunk to MetaSE levels of knee-jerk arbitrariness. Mods can do that, but as we haven't an agreed upon policy on it yet, I'd regard that as an abuse of power. This "case by case basis" is just evil. Set up rules, endure the 'lawyering', it's needed. – LаngLаngС Feb 26 at 19:30
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    @LаngLаngС If we don't trust moderators to exercise their powers as they see fit with a certain degree of autonomy and on a case by case basis, what is the point of having moderators? – CDJB Feb 26 at 19:40
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    For what it's worth, I have enough reputation to put bounties on a number of SE sites, including this one (I think), and I had no idea they'd do this. – zibadawa timmy Feb 26 at 20:17
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    @CDJB Right. Let's burn all the law books, our fine Supreme Judges can handle all that behind closed doors and with autonomy, no need for any rules. I don't say I assume malice in our mods. I say a rule for all to see, read and act accordingly is better than a mob delegating its power into a black box we have to trust and see the results for on CBCB. CBCB is a synonym for arbitrariness; one we might benefit if the dictators are benevolent, but sth we will suffer deerly under if they're not. SO has seen cases of mods or staff flipping, abusing etc (Ask about Monica?). A systematic flaw. – LаngLаngС Feb 26 at 21:52
  • What is a "closable question"? Aren't all open questions closable? – yannis Feb 28 at 13:21
  • @yannis That's a good point. I reworded it to make it clear what I mean. If your question has 4 close votes, and has been closed twice already, adding a bounty short circuits that process, since the bounty prevents closure. – Machavity Feb 28 at 13:55
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    I suppose this is something that could be baked into the system. But is it worth it? I feel all it will offer is new points of contention. I see very little chance we all agree on a set of criteria that renders an open question unbountiable. – yannis Feb 28 at 16:44
  • I tend to agree. Most users do not know a bounty locks a question open (which is why I tend to think this wasn't necessarily deliberate). However, if a question is under active contention in both closure and Meta, it should at least be considered a factor in bounty retraction. At the end of the day, it's up to mods to make that call anyways. – Machavity Feb 28 at 16:51

The way this is handled on other sites is a mod flag. I'm not a moderator, so I can't speak for them that that is what they want us to do, but it seems reasonable to mod flag it.

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"Abuse" is a pretty heavy word for what we see here.

A high-rep user prevents a potential closing of their question by adding a bounty to it. That is status-by-design. An active bounty prevents any more closure votes.

That is problematic in a couple of ways, one is against equal opportunity: Only high-rep users can use this loophole.

But this is only possible after a while. Two full days must have passed. No one can add a bounty immediately. Thus the community has an protected timeframe to close a question.

Then again, this is exactly how the system is designed and complaints about this have been voiced before.

I did so. No action taken. Bounties do prevent closing. Fact. Simple.

Since I'm a stickler for well-written rules and positive law: This discussion might be worth having, to formulate a strict policy on this. But if any bountied question is now removed, we've sunk to MetaSE levels of knee-jerk arbitrariness.

Mods can do that, but as we haven't an agreed-upon policy on it yet, I'd regard that as an abuse of power. This "case by case basis" is just evil. Set up rules, endure the 'lawyering', it's needed.

This can now only be fixed in two possible and acceptable ways :

  • A feature request to remove the design implementation: "make bountied questions closeable", on MetaSE. Good luck with that. I'm probably not supporting that.
  • We actually come up with a policy for this on this site: after some arguments are exchanged we either agree or disagree on something like:

    "It is our policy to remove bounties and close bountied questions as we see fit – under the following conditions …

If the rules set in bold and italics are well written, understandable and widely accepted here, I'll follow suit. Such rules need to be transparent and evenly applied to all questions. Essentially the same acts need to be treated essentially the same and essentially different acts need to be treated essentially differently. If that is again handled on an intransparent "case by case basis" this invites abuse, errors, complaints, arbitrariness and so forth. If these agreed-upon rules are written as badly as CoC-standards, then they will make the general situation worse than it is now.

We might agree in this thread that on the linked question the bounty ought to be removed. (I was surprised to see it used there). But since no policy for such situations seems to exist, I am strictly against removing it now.

Because that is the undesirable third option:

  • flag a bountied question now, ask for mod action to remove it, have a mod cater to your wishes, finish closing and whatever you plan for it and might be able to do. Such options exist within the code, but not in the set-out policy for the site (or give me a quote disproving it, should that be the wrong impression)

This creates an exception, within our understanding of the rule of law and how the community should work, and for that I'd like to cite a few passages from Hobbes, Macchiavelli, Arendt and up to Carl Schmitt… None of them will be of the 'good feeling' kind.

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    Six silent down votes without a single comment on a clear articulate and reasoned answer, can someone comment and explain why this hasn't been embraced as the correct answer? I mean, it is what it is. I understand this is meta so down voting is different, but in addition to that, can someone say something? Thanks! – uhoh Feb 27 at 0:24
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    Not a downvoter, but I know that meta downvotes typically = not agree with the answer. The number of downvotes might be explained by the fact that this defends a very poor (and that's an euphemism) question. I am really surprised it got undeleted in the first place. – Alexei Feb 27 at 21:10
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    @Alexei This does not defend any particular post. This meta Q explicitly says it is not about that at all. My answer tries to defend proper procedure and having a policy on that. It's like Gandhi said: Democracy or any agreed upon policy – on PolSE, that would be a nice idea. – LаngLаngС Feb 27 at 21:15
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    You seem to think that there are only two ways: either rules for everything, or pure anarchy (see e.g. your comment on another answer about burning law books, or the last paragraph in your answer). This is a false dichotomy. On top of that, the best way to handle the government of a country might differ from the best way to handle a Q&A site - while you think there is only one way to handle everything. Together, this might explain why so many people disagree with you. – Sjoerd Feb 27 at 23:45
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    @Sjoerd Yet you ask a Q here about the general case, explicitly, not the mainQ triggering this situation, two answers ignore your wishes and you like them? The general case might benefit from having a general set of rules. But 2 As here are so allergic to 'Fascist Trump?' and setting up a reasonable rule for cases of unwanted use of a system designed as it is? Conclusion is that many want arbitrariness, a strong leader doing what's right etc. That's appealing deus lo vult at best. Reading comprehension: offered 3 options, stated preference. Cementing absolutist rule-handling it's not. – LаngLаngС Feb 28 at 0:02
  • @LаngLаngС I clarified my question after receiving those answers - I won't blame them for answering what they thought was the question. And again you go for the false dichotomy (or in this case, a non-sequitur): "Conclusion is that many want arbitrariness" doesn't follow at all from the fact that people are allergic to "Fascist Trump" and similar questions. There are lots of positions in-between, which you seem to totally ignore. – Sjoerd Feb 28 at 0:11
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    However much you like the word false, the dichotomy is in the question title: "do we" is a yes or no question. Which I try to differentiate into conditionals: fix the root problem at design/code level, set up a specific policy for this site: good. Or insist on mob rule of some minorities to pressure mods into acting on any 5 votes as opposed to in this case 22 UVs. Without discussion, without consensus, without policy. I suggest we benefit from having a policy set out in advance, get DVs here. Isn't it quite sequitur if comment comes in that misreads that now still as me "defending" that Q? – LаngLаngС Feb 28 at 0:22
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    The question doesn't ask "Do we". It asks "Should we". The two things are not the same, especially in the context of politics! – alephzero Mar 2 at 2:14
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    @alephzero Which is still an invitation for a binary response. – uhoh Mar 3 at 0:41

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