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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?

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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 26 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.

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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 22 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.

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+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.

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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

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 ?

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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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