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The following question - Rails 3.2 - assets precompile, but not display in production mode with Apache - was posted by one of my coworkers but the question ended up not being relevant to the actual problem we were having (i.e. thought it was A, was actually unrelated problem C). I put a bounty on it since it was up for awhile without any attention but given that the question is effectively unanswerable what should be done about the bounty and the question. Flagging it for a moderator was ineffective ("declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention") with regards to getting resolution so I'm taking the question here.

How should this question be handled as the question itself cannot be answered and the bounty is going to be unaward-able because it is for a question that can't be answered.

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Like a Bat out of Hell, it'll be gone when the morning comes. The bounty is lost, you won't get it back, if I understand the bounty system correctly. – Daniel Fischer Nov 20 '12 at 20:01
@DanielFischer - Yes, that is my understanding as well. This is a bit of an edge case though at it is a bounty on someone else's question who ended up not even asking the right question. – rjzii Nov 20 '12 at 20:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can't cancel a bounty - that's why we try to be as clear as possible when we tell you how to award a bounty:

If you do not award the bounty within 24 hours of the bounty period ending, half the bounty value will be automatically awarded to the top voted answer posted after the bounty start, provided it has a score of at least 2. If no new answer matches this requirement, no reputation will be awarded at all, and the reputation used on the bounty will be lost forever.

Please note that once a bounty is started, the reputation is non-refundable under any circumstances.

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Well, at least it looks like none of the answers will get the bounty, which is something. – rjzii Nov 20 '12 at 20:07
@RobZ Yup, looks that way. I know it's probably not the answer you wanted to hear (that you can't cancel the bounty/get your rep back), but we have to keep those rules in place to prevent the bounty system from being gamed or turned into a hot mess of manual moderation. – Laura Nov 20 '12 at 20:09

You can't request a bounty be cancelled simply because you now realize that you asked the wrong question. Your question was still exposed as a bountied question and there's no undoing it. Bounties are only ever refunded if they are involved in fraudulent activities or if the question is so bad that it needs to be closed and/or deleted, and only moderators can do that.

Anyways, if you list an item on eBay and pay the listing fees, you can't expect them to refund your money because you realized shortly after that you listed the wrong item.

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Correct, the main reason for the moderator ability to refund bounties is to be able to close questions with a bounty on it, which the community can not do. – Mad Scientist Nov 20 '12 at 20:04
However, it's not my question. :) – rjzii Nov 20 '12 at 20:05

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