If a user puts a bounty on a question, that has several effects. The one best advertised is "to draw attention".
Less well known: Relevant here is that 'community moderation' is restricted for the duration of the bounty period: ordinary users can no longer 'vote to close' or 'vote to delete' such a question for as long as the bounty is active.
This can, has been and is used on some questions where certain subgroups of the community still want the question 'gone' as quickly as possible. But this is then only an issue if such a subgroup hasn't achieved closure or deletion before: in the timeframe before a bounty can be offered.
A bounty can be started on any question 48 hours after the question was asked, provided the question isn't closed, locked, or deleted.
What happens if a bounty question is closed or deleted? / Why can't I vote to close or migrate a bounty question?
Bounty questions cannot be closed directly.
However, diamond moderators can clear bounties, which would effectively remove the bounty and clear its history. The bounty owner's reputation would be recalculated as if they had never placed that bounty. This would then allow it to be closed, migrated, or deleted like any other question. (source)
– How does the bounty system work?
At least for certain subgroups bounties on some questions seem 'controversial' enough for them to then declare such a 'protection by bounty' as 'gaming the system' and 'finding loopholes within the rules' and even 'abuse of bounties'.
However, diamond moderators do have the ability to remove bounties manually.
The question arising from this:
SE sites are supposed to be community moderated, diamond moderators should preferentially try to avoid using their privileges as much as possible. Community moderation has a window of opportunity to close bad questions in the first 48 hours when no-one can put a protective bounty on it. But once it exists, 'removing bounty' (protection) is not within the scope of community moderation – and diamonds are the only ones that can remove it then. The 'protection' is built deep into the design of the SE system for a very long time.
Thus, unless we have a policy in place before such a decision is made, it is quite foreseeable the debates arising:
- users protecting a question with a bounty can get accused of 'gaming the rules' (even if they do not know of that effect)
- users flagging mods for subsequent 'bounty removal' can get accused of 'circumventing the bounty-protects design' and circumventing the 'not closed within 48 hours design'
- diamond mods can get accused of unilateral action that might look arbitrary — and even in conflict with community action (that left the question open when the bounty started)
It seems better to have an agreed upon policy for such cases.
If the community moderation
- doesn't achieve closure and/or deletion of a question with 48 hours
- and a bounty is offered on a question
- that a subgroup of 'community users still really wants closed'
when, under which conditions and circumstances, why and how should diamond moderators remove a bounty?