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Suppose I offer 100 bounty for a question, and get two good answers. The current system appears to limit my ability to award anything other below 200 on such a question.

Are lower bounties than the previous one really such a big problem on SO as to be completely forbidden? Can this restriction be removed?

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Idea for a feature-request: Add the option to add a second bounty of half the first bounty's value when awarding, which must be awarded within 30 minutes, say. You gain the ability to award two great answers you got on your first bounty without increasing the bounty value, but with the short time span you have to award it, the possibility for abuse is negligible. If the additional bounty isn't even published, it can't be abused at all, as far as I can see. – Daniel Fischer Aug 3 '12 at 12:47
I thought about posting the feature request, but searching around Meta a little led me to conclude that it's extremely unlikely for fear of abuse, which quite often tends to be too unspecific to refute. Pity, that. – romkyns Aug 5 '12 at 15:14
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The reason successive bounties on the same question must be higher is that some users kept offering bounties to a question counting on the reputation they gained from up-votes to their answer. At the end, those users gained reputation because the reputation got from votes was higher than the reputation they offered for the bounty.

The same can be said for who ask the question, although the number of up-votes needs to be twice the number of the up-votes given for an answer; if I offered a bounty of 50 point for my question, I need 10 up-votes to get back my 50 points.

See "Abusing" bounties for unlimited profit for understanding exactly why the limit was implemented. Notice also the following text in the accepted answer:

Posting a bounty is a perfectly reasonably thing, a good thing (with badges too!). However, when applied repeatedly to a question it does start to represent abuse.

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Are lower bounties than the previous one really such a big problem on SO as to be completely forbidden?

Yes. See kiamlaluno's excellent answer or "Abusing" bounties for unlimited profit for a description as to why this restriction is in place.

I wanted to add, in your scenario you should probably do one of:

  • Award the bounty to the answer which was closest to the solution you used
  • Award the bounty to the answer which was most helpful or had more information/detail.
  • Award the bounty to the earlier posted answer
  • Or possibly, if the answers were nearly identical, award the bounty to the user with less reputation.
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