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I find it interesting (not in an encouraging way) that answers start to show up only after the 7 day period expires. The bounty system works by awarding the bounty points to the oldest answer or the answer that has the most upvotes. Plus at least one answer will get some points. This means an answer will get a big chunk of points no matter what.

I would like to believe that people genuinely want to help and are not just posting weak non genuine answers just because there's a high chance to get some easy points.

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Are they really after the 7 day period, or just shortly before it finishes? –  Mysticial Dec 14 '12 at 20:44
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an answer will get a big chunk of points no matter what - That's not strictly true. Only answers with a score of at least 2 are eligible to receive an auto-awarded bounty (half value). If there are no such answers when it expires (and after the "grace period") then the offered rep is simply lost. –  eldarerathis Dec 14 '12 at 20:45
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@eldarerathis as a user, do you know if there is a way to just discard the bounty if it will be auto-awarded, but you feel as though none of the answers helped you(aside from making an "answer" and awarding the bounty to yourself)? –  Sam I am Dec 14 '12 at 20:55
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Is it even still possible to award a bounty to your own answer? I thought that was disabled a while back to prevent this exact situation. –  Pops Dec 14 '12 at 21:20
    
@PopularDemand: You're right, they changed it, so now there's basically no way to choose to end a bounty without awarding it. I missed that one: I just awarded myself a bounty –  eldarerathis Dec 14 '12 at 21:26
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The main reason for bounties coming up at the last minute is the fact that they move up on the "feature" tab. The closer bountied questions are to expiring, the further up on the page will they be. –  Pëkka Dec 14 '12 at 21:47

2 Answers 2

You got it all wrong.

The bounty system works by awarding the bounty points to the oldest answer
at least one answer will get some points

Wrong.

The bounty is either given manually by the user who offered it (in which case he can, in theory, give it to answer with low score that is crappy) or automatically to the highest scored answer but only if it has at least net score of 2 as already mentioned in other answer here.

Anyway, the reason why answers are posted late is due to the sorting of the questions in the featured tab: they are sorted by the expiry time of the bounty meaning the less time the bounty has until it expires, the higher the question will be on that tab. No sniping here.

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In fact, only answers with a score of at least 2 are eligible for bounty rewards.

If no such answers exist, the bounty would be lost. In any case, writing a crap answer would get you nothing.

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Unless you have two friends, or Dear Leader likes you. –  Evan Carroll Dec 14 '12 at 21:38
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@EvanCarroll: That's cheating, and would lead to nasty suspensions if and when your little trick is exposed. –  Second Rikudo Dec 14 '12 at 21:40

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