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I was impressed by the effort that Ankur put into his answer to my question "Bringing items into China for a friend - what to expect at customs?", so I created a bounty so that I could award extra reputation as a way of thanking him for his help.

As the reason for my bounty, I specified, "One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty":

Screenshot of "Why are you starting this bounty?" dialog, with "Reward existing answer" selected

When I went to award the bounty, however, I noticed that I still have to wait 24 hours:

Screenshot of error message:  "You may award your bounty in 23 hours."

Is this really necessary, seeing as how I started the bounty specifically to award it to an existing answer?

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This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for road warriors and seasoned travelers.

1  
I think it's not a big deal. The bounty will give the question more visibility, and possibly more answers and upvotes to the existing answers. –  NullUserException อ_อ Dec 17 '11 at 15:52
4  
(That close-"X" looks odd to me!) –  Arjan Dec 18 '11 at 1:08
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@DannyBeckett An exemplary-answer bounty on a question about exemplary-answer bounties... Nice one. –  michaelb958 Oct 29 '13 at 3:19
    
@michaelb958 I see you saw the irony too :p ...I actually just wanted to reward Asad's answer. –  Danny Beckett Oct 29 '13 at 3:25
    
As a sidenote: Due to the additional attention, having a bounty on the question also increases the chance of upvotes and thus additional reward for the answer in question. Therefore, the answerer benefits most from your bounty if you wait the full week to award it. –  Wrzlprmft Nov 6 at 15:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The bounty system is specifically made to draw attention to a question and rub people the right way into answering it. The reason there is a period in which the bounty cannot be awarded is to allow people to spend some time into providing a great answer -- which sometimes requires some thought and research. If a bounty is awarded quickly, it discourages other potentially better answers -- people would be significantly less inclined to provide a great answer to a question for which the bounty has already been awarded.

Another reason for some seemingly unnecessary restrictions on the bounty system (i.e. bounty amounts, maximum number of outstanding bounties at any particular time, bounty times etc.) are there to prevent abuse, for example continuously transferring some of your rep to a buddy of yours.

Adding a bounty after a great answer has been posted is perfectly okay, but there's no way for the system to "know" that you intend to slap your bounty on an already existing post -- besides, this would completely circumvent the 24-hour restriction, which is there for a reason.

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14  
Good points about the bounty system in general. However, in this case, SE did know that my intent was to apply the bounty to an existing answer. I've updated my OP with more info. –  user164291 Dec 13 '11 at 13:45
3  
The 'to "know" that you intend to...' should probably read 'to "know" that you honestly intend to...'? –  Arjan Dec 17 '11 at 15:56
4  
Why not just award the bounty right away and show everyone that this post has received such bounty for the next 24 hours (or up to 7 days)? Restrict awarding more than 1 such bounty per 24 hours to keep "buddies problem" away. Besides, if a better answer is posted afterwards, it doesn't mean that a new bounty wouldn't be awarded for it too. –  user1306322 Aug 7 '12 at 13:39
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'but there's no way for the system to "know" that you intend to slap your bounty on an already existing post' Uh, yes there is. That's the whole point of this question: bounties for which we have clicked "One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty." –  endolith Apr 9 '13 at 14:04

Here's a suggestion; for a "Reward Existing Answers" bounty, you should be able to select an answer immediately, which will result in your bounty automatically being awarded to that answer after the expiration of the timeout (or perhaps at the end of the bounty period).

This has the following benefits:

  • the question stays in the featured list for a while, as intended
  • not vulnerable to abuse (the timeout for awarding the bounty has not changed)
  • makes your life simpler: not having to keep track of your bounties network wide, you can spend more time doing other things, like riding bicycles or training your dog to do cartwheels
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6  
would be nice if this would also auto-fill the bounty message with text explicitly referring selected answer, like "this answer is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty." –  gnat Feb 15 '13 at 12:45
    
I agree with #2 & #3, but if the bounty is pre-awarded, what is the point of posting it on the featured list since I can't get the bounty for another great answer. –  psubsee2003 Feb 15 '13 at 13:37
    
@psubsee2003 It draws attention to the great answer you're rewarding, but you have point; there isn't really incentive to answer the question once you know the bounty is going to a specific answer. However, if an answer posted later does get awarded the bounty, it was never a REA bounty to begin with. –  Asad Feb 15 '13 at 19:44
3  
You could register that you want the bounty to go to a specific answer after the timeout, but it could still be changed by you before then, encouraging other answers? –  endolith Apr 9 '13 at 14:08
    
As someone who awards bounties regularly, I would love this. I have to admit, though, that on more than one occasion someone's added an extra excellent answer after I've posted the bounty, resulting in me awarding another, and having a dilemma over which answer deserves the larger bounty. It's all internet learning goodness, though. –  some other guy Feb 9 at 19:06

While I can generally understand that this type of bounty allows for attracting even more attention to the question, I really don't agree with the argument of preventing abuse. That is quite funky in terms of user-friendliness (user = person awarding a bounty). Abuse can be prevented in other ways. The number of concurrent open bounties could still be decremented by one for the next 24h while allowing for immediately awarding the bounty. When I award a bounty to an existing answer, it's because it's already an outstanding answer (otherwise, I'd select another type of bounty). Having to remember to come back in 24h for the actual award is a bit weird.

Also, the question could still be listed in the "featured questions". I don't see any technical reason why this wouldn't be possible...

It's a bit like trying to prevent spam on the internet by having people re-confirm their intent of sending an e-mail after 24h ;-)

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1  
It seems most of the poorly-implemented features on Stack Exchange are justified by using "the abuse excuse". –  endolith Apr 9 '13 at 14:06
    
For what it's worth, I've seen waaaay too many people abuse bounties to write it off as nonsense. Since becoming an employee, I've had the dubious privilege of seeing even more dodgy tricks played with bounties - and frankly, I tend to think they're too easy to award already. And sure - there are other ways to prevent abuse... But they all involve either more tedious effort by mods and employees or more restrictions on when and how bounties can be awarded. Heh... Realistically, they involve both. –  Shogging through the snow Aug 11 '13 at 1:43
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@Shog9: Thanks for this insight. I can imagine that the Stack Exchange employees are in favour of every measure that helps them reduce tedious efforts. This kind of community automation is one of the things that made your platform so popular (and so relevant). But again, user-friendliness shouldn't be affected by any measures taken. In this particular case, just don't display the bounty button, or grey it out with a tooltip, instead of letting the user click through a couple of screens before displaying the "haha, you actually cannot do this" message to them only then. –  Lukas Eder Aug 11 '13 at 8:01
    
ah... that waiting period actually isn't the one being discussed here. –  Shogging through the snow Aug 11 '13 at 12:51

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