Addressing a formal letter to multiple people with unknown names

I set a bounty on that question. User @JOSH wrote an answer, which I was going to award the bounty to. There were two parts to his answer. The second part of his answer, I felt, addressed my question satisfactorily.

I received an automatic reminder today, went to the question, planning to award the bounty to the answer, since the deadline is coming up tomorrow, but the answer had disappeared.

If @JOSH doesn't want his answer associated with his user ID for some reason, okay, I'd like to repost the basic idea. But I need to read his answer again to do that.

The other answers are not worthy of the bounty, in my opinion.

What can I do?

Can the moderators help?


Now it turns out I won't be able to award the bounty to the answer I wrote, even though I'm not the OP. Sigh. Hopefully JOSH will reinstate his answer.

  • @DanBron - Oh, thanks for clearing that up. I knew I had seen deleted posts somewhere. I guess I only saw them at Academia SE. My rep there > 10K. Can you see the deleted answer and repost at least the second part? Or suggest some other solution? Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 1:03
  • @aparente001 - the asnwer has received a fair amount of criticism about its content, its style, its...everything, that I asked myself if it was really useful and if it could possibly be "misleading" so I decided to remove it. I see that you have posted the part that you consider clear and helpful so I'd leave it as it is. Thanks
    – user66974
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 8:17
  • @Mari-LouA - I didn't understand your suggestion very well, or the reason behind it. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 4:38
  • @Mari-LouA - I saw it and found it helpful. But I don't understand why you think it should be taken out. Please feel free to edit it out yourself, by the way. Note I don't know how to edit the bounty message. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 14:13
  • @Mari-LouA - I have no idea what to do about that bounty. I discovered that I cannot award the bounty to JOSH's material which I re-posted.... Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - Oh, I finally get it now. In my own defense, I was not the person who introduced the bounty message to the question in the first place. But what I have finally understood is that a good practice, which you follow and recommend, is to copy the bounty message to the bottom of the question, to make it more noticeable, and then to take it out again when it's no longer relevant, i.e. when the bounty period has expired. // I agree, the bounty served its purpose. Although I wasn't able to award the bounty points to JOSH, I am glad he figured out the answer to the question. Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 18:46
  • Nice edit on both posts.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 19:35
  • @Mari-LouA - Thank you. I am sometimes a slow learner, but I am trying. Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 19:44

2 Answers 2


You need 10K or more rep to see deleted content. You currently have ~9K on EL&U.

The answer you liked read as follows:

I often see the following expression in letters that have no specific recipient:

To whom it may concern:

To the appropriate recipient for this message, as in I didn't know who was responsible for these complaints so I just addressed it “to whom it may concern.” This phrase is a formula used in letters, testimonials, and the like when one does not know the name of the proper person to address. [Second half of 1800s ]


But if you want to be more specific and address the members of a Board

  • Dear Board Members

is an appropriate form you can use.


Please note that Josh's MO is to delete content which isn't enthusiastically received, improve it, and then undelete the new and improved post, hopefully addressing all the concerns which have been raised.

I'd suggest giving him a day or two to follow that procedure here, before posting an overlapping answer (plus, I don't think you can award a bounty on your own answer).

  • I feel unsure. My deadline is 24 hours away, and I'm concerned about missing it. Your explanation about JOSH's pattern is helpful. But we're getting down to the wire. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 1:51
  • @aparente001 So do it 30 min (or whatever) before the deadline. You can post an answer, delete it, and then I undelete it at the last minute. As OP, you will be able to accept it (pinning it to the top of the default view), but not award it the bounty or upvote it.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 2:03
  • I'm not actually the OP in this case. I will try a trick someone recently suggested, ping him on a different thread where I'm sure it will work. Tomorrow I may get distracted. Thank you. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 2:51

Adding to @DanBron's great answer, you need to note that the system gives you approximately 24 hours (grace period) additionally to award an answer. That means it is actually not seven days, but eight days to award an answer if there is an answer.

The other answers are not worthy of the bounty, in my opinion.

What can I do?

If you don't find any answer helpful, you don't need to do anything. The system will automatically award the bounty as indicated in the linked Meta SE question, How does the bounty system work?

If the bounty starter accepted an answer during the bounty period, that answer is awarded the bounty (provided that the answer was also posted during the bounty period). Answers created or accepted before the bounty period are not eligible to be awarded the bounty automatically.

Otherwise, the bounty is awarded to the highest-scored answer out of those which...

  • ...were posted after the bounty was started
  • ...have a score of at least +2
  • ...were not written by the bounty starter

If two or more eligible answers have the same score (if their scores are tied), the oldest answer is awarded the bounty.

If none of these conditions apply, the bounty is not awarded to any answer, and is not refunded to the bounty starter.

Automatically-awarded bounties are half of the amount originally offered, unless the answer is accepted - accepted answers always receive the full bounty.

  • I didn't realize I would get another 24 hours. That's good to know. Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 4:26

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