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Amongst the reasons for starting a bounty, one can select:

Reward existing answer

One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

Why not enable one to reward excellent questions in a similar manner?

share|improve this question
I thought upvoting is the way we reward excellent questions. – JimmyPena Jun 11 '12 at 13:03
@JP.: That's also true of answers, yet we have a system for going further when an answer is "exemplary". Why not the same with exemplary questions? – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 13:04
SO offers a bounty on answers to get people to answer questions, and give good answers. – JimmyPena Jun 11 '12 at 13:09
Also I believe there are some badges awarded when questions get a lot of views or are upvoted a lot. – JimmyPena Jun 11 '12 at 13:10
If you bounty a good question, it's going to get upvotes (since it's displayed prominently on the "featured" tab during the bounty period). So, it seems that adding the bounty will inadvertently "reward" a good question - even though there is no bounty reason specifically for that. – jadarnel27 Jun 11 '12 at 13:11
@JP.: But a bounty created for the purpose of "rewarding an existing answer" does not get people to answer the question, and only encourages good answers very indirectly by way of encouraging users to compose answers that may later be retrospectively awarded such a bounty. I do agree with the point about badges, but that's again also true in the case of answers. – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 13:14
@jadarnel27: That's true to some extent, but it also ends up rewarding answers that may not deserve it. Far better to enable me to sacrifice some of my rep to directly reward a great question if I think it deserving, no? – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 13:15
Whats the purpose? To encourage questions in general? To encourage good form and grammar? – Won't Jun 11 '12 at 16:10
@Won't: What's the purpose in the "Reward existing answer" bounty? – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 16:13
@eggyal: Uh, when you have a tough question, and someone provides you a good answer, you might be well inclined to throw a tip in the jar. You normally don't do that for the shlub with the same problem as you. Now, what about my question? What is the purpose behind this? What do you expect to accomplish by rewarding the person who asked a question? Honestly am not sure why you would want to do this. – Won't Jun 11 '12 at 16:17
@Won't: Rep is earned from question upvotes because the community feels that good questions deserve to be rewarded; if a reader thinks a question deserving of additional reward beyond that level, why should they not be able to grant it just as they can to an answer that they feel is so deserving? Indeed, I don't see how "throwing a tip into the jar" after the fact achieves any particular behavioural outcome; it's merely rewarding someone you feel is deserving of that reward--it may not even be your question! To the extent that it does influence behaviour, the same would be true of questions. – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 17:28
@Won't: I'm not sure whether that comment answered your question. To be more explicit, the purpose is to reward someone that I feel deserves it - just as I would be so able had they posted an answer I felt deserved it. I don't expect to accomplish anything in particular, but I suppose it could provide some further incentive for people to pose better questions in the future. Did the idea of "Reward existing answer" need to demonstrate that it would accomplish something before it was put in place? – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 17:31
Simple: why award people for their problem? Question on Stack Overflow means a programmer who faced a problem - plain and simple. If he know his stuff and went to lots of research then yes he will get upvotes for asking properly, but still - the origin is a problem he faced, all the research was effort to help himself and not others. See my point here? – Shadow Wizard Jun 26 '12 at 6:28
@eggyal like I said, well asked and well written questions do deserve a reward of some kind but not like answers. Answer originates from the will to help someone else, question originates from the need to solve your own problem. – Shadow Wizard Jun 26 '12 at 7:04
@ghosts_in_the_code Thank you :) – pacoverflow Dec 2 '15 at 18:40
up vote 36 down vote

This feature request should be revisited now that there are a couple of SE sites (Code Golf and Puzzling) where being able to give a bounty to an excellent question would be a nice feature.

It was recently asked if certain sites could be changed to award 10 rep points per question upvote instead of 5. The response was that it wouldn't really be possible to implement that change due to how the SE platform is designed.

But Jaydles acknowledged that on certain sites the questions actually provide more value than the answers:

I do agree with the underlying premise here: On many of our smaller sites, good questions are the single most important bottleneck to growing stronger communities. And on a few more specialized sites, like Code Golf, questions actually take more work, and the askers are generating more value for the answerers than vice versa, which is the opposite of the norm.

So I think that since questions seem to generally get fewer upvotes than answers (as well as those upvotes being worth half as much as answer upvotes), there should be ways to award exemplary questions. Being able to award bounties for those questions is one way of doing that. It would help to keep people motivated to ask great questions that generate much of the value on certain sites.

share|improve this answer
This wouldn't have to be a bounty, per se, since there would be no reason to wait the 7 days to award it. It could basically just be an extra "uber-vote" that costs the voter reputation. So I can upvote a question, which gives the asker 5 rep and costs me nothing, or I can "uber-vote" a question, which allows me to transfer x amount of rep from me to the asker, to reward an exemplary question. – GentlePurpleRain Apr 29 at 15:42
up vote 26 down vote

The problem with offering bounties on questions is it doesn't encourage any behavior from other users. When users see a bounty available on a question, it encourages them to provide a detailed answer in an effort to be rewarded the bounty. Even if you are "rewarding an existing answer" it is still possible that someone else may find something even more useful than the answer you originally wanted to give the bounty to, which is one of the reasons why the time limit still exists.

The point here is always to get the best answers that you can, not to artificially discourage people from answering. - The Establishment

If you start a bounty, part of your contract with the community is to allow everyone to have a shot at potentially earning it with a great answer. - Jeff Atwood

If you're awarding the bounty to a question, there is no competition. It's not possible for someone to "ask another question" that competes with that one in order to gain the bounty (nor would that be helpful to the community). There's a single question that will receive the bounty, no matter what. So now you have this bounty that has to be awarded to the question's creator and people look at it like "who cares, we can't be rewarded with it so why continue reading?"

What is a bounty?

A bounty is a special reputation award given to answers. This feature was designed to motivate answerers, and help questions get the answers they deserve.

Ultimately, questions just aren't worthy of bounties. They're questions. They don't provide any factual information that would help others in the future. They're merely details to help others answer the question and a path for other users to find those provided answers, which are actually what helps them. This not-as-importance is already expressed by the half-gain of reputation on questions.

share|improve this answer
+1 Most convincing answer yet. I will hang on to the bounty for a bit longer to see if any other arguments are unearthed, but otherwise it's yours! :) – eggyal Jun 26 '12 at 8:02
It doesn't encourage behavior directly, but it allows a reward for examplary behavior. It provides acknowledgement and attention to exemplary questions, which is currently possible only via question upvotes - a system which is far from thorough. We always want to encourage writing great questions, but "great" is a quality which is impossible to formalize. Votes give us popular opinion; bounties could give us an additional avenue less dependant on preexisting popularity. – Ziv Jun 26 '12 at 9:56
"They don't provide any factual information that would help others in the future" - I find this to be inaccurate, as many times in excellent questions the information in the question is 95% correct and the answer has the other 5%. The correct 95% of the content for the situation provided by the person posing the question in my opinion is of great value and will help others in the future. – Travis J Aug 11 '12 at 21:15
-1 Totally agree with both @Ziv and @ TravisJ – ghosts_in_the_code Nov 26 '15 at 15:48

I think this suggestion might be particularly valuable for recognizing great questions in less-popular niche topics. If I'm a FooBar expert, and there aren't too many FooBar questions, and then somebody asks a really good one, then I might be able to answer it - but me answering it won't get the question much attention. Even placing a bounty might not net much rep for OP.

I definitely like the idea of being able to reward exceptional questions out of my own rep. Rewarding great questions is something Stack Exchange explicitly encourages - by voting. But voting doesn't give a complete picture, since it relies on attaining some critical mass of popularity (hence many "hot", popular, and highly-voted questions are de facto not too great). Personal rewards for exemplary questions, just like for exemplary answers, sound like a nice way for a passionate individual to take responsibility for some of that encouragement.

However, I confess I don't know how widespread practical use might be, and there are certainly concerns such as gaming the rep system, or (maybe?) jump-starting a promising new user too quickly.

share|improve this answer
1. Jump-starting a new user often happens because of a single question/answer even if they don't get a bounty. For example, atleast 25% of the highest up-voted questions on any site are usually by new users. So I don't see how this will encourage it any further. Maybe there could be a restriction that you must have a certain amount of rep before being eligible to receive a question bounty. – ghosts_in_the_code Nov 26 '15 at 15:51
2. Gaming the rep system can easily be done using plain answer bounties (and many have done so in the past). The only way they get caught are either by system filters or by users who happen to notice them. – ghosts_in_the_code Nov 26 '15 at 15:53

I have found that allready get a high number of upvotes on the best questions I ask. Anyway good answers are what make a site work.

share|improve this answer
But the rep received from such upvotes is capped by the daily limit... and similarly, such upvotes apply to great answers - why do we enable retrospective awarding of bounties to exemplary answers if upvoting is deemed sufficient? Your point about good answers being what make a site work is a little moot, as I think great questions are just as important. – eggyal Jun 11 '12 at 13:17
@eggyal That's a very valid point, especially the reputation-cap argument. – jadarnel27 Jun 11 '12 at 13:22

The traditional reward for asking a good question is getting a good answer.

Rep and such are icing on the proverbial cake, but pale in comparison to that primary reward of a solution to a practical question based on a real problem.

But of course, there are now sites where questions aren't really questions, and answers don't necessarily solve anything. And in addition to these meta sites, there are also Puzzling and Code Golf.

Well... I applaud the cleverness of the folks who realized they could use this software in strange and delightful ways that the creators never envisioned much less designed for. I wish 'em all the best. But this is still a worthless feature for the vast, vast majority of people using these sites, a large increase in complexity for precious little real value.

Appendix: Rollup of issues raised in comments:

  • Only benefits sites that aren't primarily used for Q&A (there's Ziv's suggestion that this might be used to encourage askers in niche tags, but I'm skeptical - when rep is scarce in a particular area, giving it away to others is a zero-sum game unless you can draw in outsiders, which answer bounties do but this probably wouldn't).
  • Couldn't be used on child-meta sites at all (no separate rep system).
  • Ripe for fraud - would need additional rules in place to reduce / prevent this.
  • Featuring becomes meaningless without the desire to encourage answers, so would need some sort of auxiliary system for oversight.
  • Without separate offer and reward events, would need some other means of rate limiting (the 3 active bounty restriction becomes meaningless when a bounty is never "active" for longer than it takes to reward it).

See also: Should we have a small number of Supervotes per day?

share|improve this answer
Thanks for responding, however: 1) You acknowledge that Puzzling and Code Golf go somewhat against the initial design philosophy of the platform, and yet you still just say that a question's "primary reward [is] a solution", which is patently untrue for those sites. 2) The request has been made and appears to have community support for other sites too, regardless of design intent. 3) Is it really such a "large increase in complexity"? Bounties are already awarded to "posts" and questions are just another form of "post" from a technical standpoint, are they not? – Alconja May 17 at 5:18
4) If not bounties for questions, what of the suggestion of 10 rep points per upvote on questions for sites where it makes sense? Especially since this would have close to zero "increase in complexity" (given it's already implemented for other sites, namely stackapps). – Alconja May 17 at 5:20
There are two sites where no one asks questions, @Alconja. So this feature would benefit them only because they're not doing the thing that drives the entire rest of the network. As for community support for other sites... Give me a non-hypothetical example of a case where this would be useful (again, excluding sites that don't actually do Q&A). Otherwise, y'all are asking for a change that stands a really good chance of actually breaking things for the vast, vast majority of users purely to support a couple of oddballs - not gonna happen. – Shog9 May 17 at 5:22
On usefulness: This question was posted by someone not affiliated with one of the "oddballs", so there's obviously some desire outside of those sites. Not to mention, ignoring the non-Q&A sites ignores a growing part of the network (including the aforementioned sites, but also all meta sites and StackApps, where bounties for questions would have value). On breaking things: Can you elaborate how this feature would cause any harm to "the vast, vast majority of users"? – Alconja May 17 at 5:32
The majority of sites where this would be useful are meta sites, which additionally suffer from not allowing bounties on answers (and generally just not having reputation as a thing separate from their main sites), @Alconja. How much thread should we pull from this sweater? I discuss rep trading briefly in another thread. – Shog9 May 17 at 5:35
...that seems like a pretty weak argument given that bounties on questions provide no additional loopholes that bounties on answers don't already provide. But, you've stated your position and clearly aren't going to be swayed... Any input on the 10 rep per question upvote alternative? – Alconja May 17 at 5:40
So, unless we changed how these work pretty significantly, they'd have all the loopholes currently present with answer-bounties + the additional wrinkle of not having an answer to delete. No one's even bothered to discuss the time aspect of this, which I'd expect to be a headache - either you're chewing up a Featured slot for no good reason or you have no real oversight of the use of this. Since this is purely rep-transfer, what rules do we need on that - can I give 20K to my co-worker just because? But no, totally weak sauce, we should just do this for shits & giggles. – Shog9 May 17 at 5:48
Wow... thanks for the respectful words @Shog9. Nice community managing... I'm not insulting your mother here, I'm just requesting a feature, which is allowed to be [status-declined] by the actual dev team if they wish. No skin off my nose, it's just a request... Also, am I not using bounties in the way they were originally intended here (ironic, no)? That is to bring attention to a post whose answers are mostly outdated, given that the landscape has changed. – Alconja May 17 at 6:04
You're calling my arguments weak without bothering to address them, @Alconja. You're promoting a feature request (here on meta and in your chatroom) without bothering to flesh it out. You're apparently emotionally invested in it but can't be bothered to give it any serious thought. And you keep bringing up a separate and completely off-topic feature request here, which is just annoying. So where's that example I asked for? Where's your proposed strategy for handling abuse? Nowhere. You gonna keep stomping your foot, or you gonna write something useful to your cause here? – Shog9 May 17 at 6:12
I'm not particularly emotionally invested, just think it would be a good idea, and have seen many comments to the effect of "wish I could give this more than an upvote" on PSE. As I said, it's just a feature request, and I'm not sure why I'm getting such an emotionally charged response from you... And on your "arguments", the only one I've seen is your broad issue with bounties in general, to which bounties on questions will not change in any way... Those issues exist with or without this feature request. – Alconja May 17 at 6:16
Hi @Shog9—thanks for contributing to this (now very old) question and providing something of an "official" response. I see that the question is now status-declined, so I think that pretty much settles the matter. One thing I don't feel your answer has really addressed though, and which was the main thrust of my original question, is the apparent disparity between allowing retrospective bounties for exemplary answers but not allowing them for exemplary questions. Some of the arguments you make above, especially re abuse, apply equally in both cases. – eggyal May 17 at 7:37
Also, when I asked the question I was neither thinking of nor interested in the "weird" sites like Puzzling or Programming Puzzles & Code Golf: I had seen a terrifically well-written question posted by someone on Stack Overflow (long since forgotten what), that had already been answered, and I wanted somehow to reward it to encourage more questions like it. Since it was already answered, I couldn't reward that question with your "traditional reward"—all I could do was upvote (something your answer doesn't really acknowledge btw), but that gave the OP a pretty paltry +5 potentially limited by the daily cap. – eggyal May 17 at 7:46
I feel you're being rather hostile. As mentioned, I posed this question for discussion but a moderator removed that tag: I didn't pose it as a "proposal" like you keep insinuating, though I don't object to it being considered as such. I made clear that I was querying the reason for the disparity between retrospective bounties for answers and the inability to reward exemplary questions—something that you haven't addressed in your answer; I don't think that's "missing" from my question. Animuson's answer was indeed a good one: I both upvoted and awarded a bounty to it some years ago. – eggyal May 17 at 16:27
I don't find that at all constructive. I am asking here how to find out what to concentrate our focus on to resolve our qualms over in our meta and chat and you respond in a discriminatory manner. You may as well have put up a hand and said "whatever" - does our existence actually offend you in some way? – Jonathan Allan May 17 at 17:10
Rep isn't, @Ziv. Voting creates rep from nothing. But bounties are, unless the advertising aspect works to attract votes. So a bounty that doesn't advertise, that doesn't draw in folks who wouldn't otherwise vote, just moves rep around - it doesn't elevate anyone without a corresponding reduction elsewhere. OTOH, if you're after advertising you already have that - you just have to accept that you're rewarding an answer in addition to advertising the question. (See also: This is Jorge). – Shog9 May 17 at 20:59

Gaming the system ?

I think I find it much easier to judge the quality of an answer (Does it work ? Is it understandable and straightforward ? What further information do I gain if I assume that the answer is really correct?) than the quality of a question, particularly if it comes from an area where I do not have enough knowledge. So how can I argument that this question is really a good question ? Especially if we have a vote ring which rewards its members ? When they defend themselves with "But I really do find this question excellent!" ? How do you argue against that ?

share|improve this answer
If you can't judge, don't judge. You do not have to vote. The same is true for answers, isn't it? – BmyGuest Dec 13 '15 at 18:55

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