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Shouldn't there be a way to prevent automatic awarding of a bounty? For example, if someone provides an answer that sounds good but is totally wrong, it may happen that it gets a score of +2, but doesn't deserve the bounty. If noone else answers, half the bounty will automatically go to this person. Automatic awarding is good if an inactive user offers a bounty, but I think there should be a button that basically means "I know the bounty should now be awarded, but I have read the answers and none of them deserve the bounty".

The button should obviously not refund the bounty, just let it go to /dev/null instead of awarding it to someone who doesn't deserve it.

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"Dear Meta SO. I answered this bountied question which got several upvotes, was provably correct, yet the OP decided not to award the bounty. That seems rather unfair, doesn't it?" –  Bart Feb 4 '13 at 15:16
I have had this situation here stackoverflow.com/questions/13607970/… where an incorrect answer was posted, but the bounty was automatically awarded. –  colincameron Feb 4 '13 at 15:27
That is something like innocence presumption. As well, we have presumption that upvotes answers are correct. This is how democracy works. People are not right all the time. –  Tomáš Zato Feb 4 '13 at 15:39
@TomášZatoWikiality FTW –  Sam I am Feb 4 '13 at 15:50

5 Answers 5

up vote 75 down vote accepted

I completely agree with Pekka's answer here, but thought I'd throw out a simple tweak to the current system that doesn't require the addition of a "do not award" button.

The system, when determining whether or not to automatically award a bounty, should take into account whether or not the bounty starter downvoted the answer. If they have a downvote on the answer, it should no longer be eligible for auto-award, period. They've clearly told the system that the answer was not useful to them, so it doesn't make sense to award a bounty for the answer.

If the bounty starter fails to downvote, or otherwise doesn't feel that answers are worthy enough of downvotes, then they should all be fair game, in accordance with Bart's answer. It is the bounty starter's reputation and if they find an answer explicitly not useful, they should be able to indicate that and not award the bounty to that specific answer. In all other cases, the answer should remain eligible.

I feel this is a fair compromise between the two viewpoints, and a simple modification of the system that doesn't require extra dialogs, etc.

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This is the solution I wanted to suggest after reading the question. It avoids additional UI elements, but still achieves the goal using the existing mechanics. –  Mad Scientist Feb 4 '13 at 20:22
Conversely, would it makes sense that if there are upvoted answers they should either have more chance of being chosen for bounty, or that if any upvoted answers exist, only they should be chosen from, and only in the absence of upvotes should answers not voted on be selected? –  Inbar Rose Mar 4 '13 at 9:48
The OP can be too moody, so the upvotes from the community should decide. –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 11:17
@ŁukaszLech It's rep from bounty starter, not the community. If community member decides that one of the answers deserves bounty (when bounty starter does not think it does), he can start a bounty of his own when current one will end, and award what he thinks is deserved. –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 11:21
@Mołot but the bounty starter can decide, whom he awards the bounty. If he can't make his mind, and there are good answers according to community standards, and the bounty has bought attention, why should noone become the prize? –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 11:27
@ŁukaszLech But we are talking about situation when he in fact can make his mind and decided nobody provided bounty-worthy answer. If he can't make his mind and do not downvote any answer, all right. But if he decides answer is useless, and shows it by downvoting, his rep should not go to this answer. We are not talking about undecided bounty starter here. –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 11:30
Is this just an idea or is it already implemented? If I downvote the user will not get the bounty? –  BrunoLM Dec 18 '13 at 0:03
@BrunoLM It's just an idea, unfortunately. –  animuson Dec 18 '13 at 0:04
Note the hidden feature of this suggestion that not awarding a bounty requires you to have 125 reputation – after you have spent the bounty reputation. –  Wrzlprmft Oct 31 '14 at 15:28

I find this a fair suggestion.

I've personally experienced people posting appaling garbage answers with zero value to bountied questions, with the sole intent of whoring for the bounty.

As we know, even garbage can easily get three upvotes these days, and hence become subject to the auto-award mechanism. Under these circumstances, it seems fair to allow the OP not to award the bounty to anyone.

For future reference, as long as this isn't implemented, the community should keep an eye on this. When you see a crap answer to a bountied question, downvote it to make sure it doesn't get the bounty by accident!

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Tough luck. You pay for the attention. Get a better voting community, raise the automatic awarding thresholds if you must. But don't let users take away the bounty whenever they feel like it. –  Bart Feb 4 '13 at 15:29
@Bart I don't see how your argument makes sense in this context. It's not about the OP wanting their bounty back, it's about making sure it doesn't end up in the wrong hands. If a bountied question is so hard nobody can provide a serious answer, why should the bozo who posts a piece of random crap and hoping it sticks get it by default? It doesn't make sense. –  Pëkka Feb 4 '13 at 15:32
Then he's one lucky bozo. How about the user who gives a correct/good answer, only to have the OP decide "yeah, let's not award the bounty"? How are we going to deal with that situation? –  Bart Feb 4 '13 at 15:34
@Bart why should an OP do that? He's not getting the bounty back. I put it to you that's a rare edge case - and if the OP feels nobody should get the bounty, why deny them that? –  Pëkka Feb 4 '13 at 15:35
Why would a user mass unaccept answers? Users do strange things. Yours is as much an edge-case. Raise the threshold if you must. Problem solved. –  Bart Feb 4 '13 at 15:37
@Bart because he's a dick. Tough luck. I don't see this happening on a major scale if you allow people not to award a bounty at all. In those cases where the OP is unhappy with the correct answer because it's not what they want to hear, there will usually be one or more wrong answers that they like better, and they'll award it to one of them. The bounty already is a carrot that the OP can dangle around, except in the case where there is only one answer. That seems unfair. –  Pëkka Feb 4 '13 at 15:39
@Bart I disagree with your view that the situation of "I don't want to award a bounty at all" is an edge case. I've seen it happen too often. –  Pëkka Feb 4 '13 at 15:40
Oscillation. –  Won't Feb 4 '13 at 15:40
I would just like to point out that the odds of a bountied post ending up in the first posts/late answers queue is pretty low (since someone other then the OP would need to post the bounty), in addition there is now a "No action needed" button so they aren't as likely to just get undeserved up-votes. –  Jack Feb 4 '13 at 15:46
@Jack What? A new user could very well post their first post on a bountied question. That's not hard to believe. Bounties are also often placed on old questions, thus new answers to that question could end up in Late Answers. –  Servy Feb 4 '13 at 15:52
@Servy I stand corrected, at any rate my second point about the "not needed button stands". –  Jack Feb 4 '13 at 16:02
I wholeheartedly agree this answer. Every single word. –  BalusC Feb 4 '13 at 16:07
@Jack I would just like to point out that the odds of a bountied post ending up in the first posts/late answers queue is pretty low Historically First Posts on bounties have occur 6,318 times out of 44,550 bounties, or 14% of bounties. I'm not sure if this has occurred more or less often since the introduction of the review queues and if 14% is a large enough percentage to warrant some change (e.g. disqualification from the review queue) –  Some Helpful Commenter Feb 4 '13 at 16:55
if i downvote an answer with highest votes, will the bounty be awarded to that answer? –  Omar Jun 22 '13 at 9:03

As the user putting a bounty on a question you pay for the attention the question will get. It's a sort of advertisement. It is not a carrot for you to dangle in front of the users' faces, which you can take away again when you want.

You are already allowed to take a decision on who most deserves the bounty. And if you don't want to award it in full (or if you forget to do so) only half of it will be awarded to that user who received enough upvotes from the community.

That in my opinion is more than sufficient. So you stumble upon a situation where nobody really deserves it? That's just bad luck. Get over it. The rep was gone anyway.

If you find that the community voted poorly, let's find a way to have a better voting community. Or raise the automatic awarding threshold if you must.

Implementing your request would open up the system to all sorts of nasty behaviour. Let's not go there.

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Where is the "replace voting community" button? There is a bunch of questions desperately in need of it. –  CodesInChaos Aug 2 '13 at 11:23
It's a 600K privilege @CodesInChaos. –  Bart Aug 2 '13 at 11:27
I agree fully. I would go futher. I've seen the situations when the carrot (question without accepted answer) was replaced with dirty rag to slap users in face (downvotes) just because OP wasn't able to accept that something he want to achieve isn't possible and the only solution is some alternative. –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 12:01

It is possible that question got very much attention, but every asker is wrong, and every other user that upvoted any of the answers is wrong, and the only person who knows the truth is the brave bounty starter that downvotes all answers. But it's very unlikely.

I've seen questions with strange unviable requirements, and all answers stating it's not possible and providing alternative way downvoted, probably by OP who just can't accept the world as it is. If the bounty starter is about to behave that way, I say no.

Question with bounty receives a lot of attention. People are trying to help (of course, helping for bounty). If the answer is wrong, downvote it. But if someone other upvotes it, it's an opinion against opionion. Why should your opinion decide against the opinion of 10 other people?

But, if you think, that someone written the answer only for bounty sake, and is upvoted by sockpupet or his collegue to cheat the system, flag for moderator attention or on meta. But this is an exception case. Don't make a rule that could be easily misused, only because of vote frauds, that could happen everywhere.

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You say here that if all answers says "it's impossible", someone should be rewarded a bounty set explicitly to encourage finding a way to make it possible. That's wrong. If you don't know an answer, don't post it. If you know alternatives, ask in comments if alternative approach will be acceptable. Rewarding answers that does not address bounty starter's intention is plainly wrong and encourages "bounty extortion". If another person thinks some of the answer is worth a bounty, he can place a bounty with requirements that answer will actually meet, and then award it all right. –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 11:51
@Mołot I know the theory that if OP asks for something that is impossible, you shold just downvote and ignore him. Answering such questions is risky because some people are unlikely to accept that the world can not be as they see it. I find such approach very unconstructive and I don't think we should make life any bit lighter for them. –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 11:56
And at the same time you say that in case of "questions with strange unviable requirements, and all answers stating it's not possible" answers should be rewarded. I disagree. In cases like that bounty should not be rewarded. Especially when there are (for examples) 4 answers like that, each with 3 upvotes (from people saying the same thing). –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 12:01
@Mołot of course it should! If other people found alternative solutions provided useful, one of the answer deserves bounty, even if the OP/investor is unable to accept the reality. –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 12:04
Nope, in your own example people provided not what OP was looking for and upvoted each another. All my heart for them giving bounty to each other too. If they wasted their time instead of simply asking "are you open to alternative approaches?" it's their problem and they certainly did not earn that bounty, just tricked the system to get it. –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 12:10
@Mołot it seems your approach to SO is completely other as mine. In your opinion, questions should be of use exclusively for OP, in my opinion they should be of use to the community. –  Danubian Sailor Aug 2 '13 at 12:31
In my opinion bounties should be of use for who paid for them, and community can pay with upvotes all right. I'm yet to see bounty started by Community. –  Mołot Aug 2 '13 at 12:35

I think that this feature has many valid applications, but has a high potential for abuse.

To keep the advantage of denying reputation from poor, off-topic and just plain wrong answers, I am entirely for this. However, many trolls will award bounties, just to snatch them from people at the last moment. In order to combat this, we should make it a vote. And no small vote either.

  1. If this were to be implemented as a vote, I would recommend a new "cancel bounty" feature, available at 75 rep. Features:

    • Can be started by either the OP or any user > 1500 rep
    • Has it's own review queue
    • Queue has a high vote limit (50 or more, compared to current limit of 3)
    • must have 500 rep to vote in the review queue
  2. Or, if the queue is not feasible, creating a flag on bounties, only available to the OP or those with over 1,500 rep, that notifies a mod of your request to deny the bounty. If the mod agrees with you, then the rep disappears (moved to null). If not, then it is rewarded as normal.

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Markdown formatting wouldn't allow me to make a new line between the numbered sections –  Grammar Feb 4 '13 at 16:56
how do you figure that this feature can be abused? How feasable do you think it is for trolls to just pitch away 50 rep and a week of waiting. just to make people feel dissapointed? –  Sam I am Feb 4 '13 at 17:30
@SamIam Assuming you really do want to set a bounty because you really do want the answer then once you've got your answer the rep is gone. If you're a certain type of person the cherry on the cake might be to snatch the bounty away –  Richard Tingle Jul 17 '13 at 8:35
You do realize that the bounty starter don't get refunded right? If he feels that an answer doesn't deserve the reward (for whatever reason), he should be free to do so, it is his rep after all. I don't see what abuse there is. –  Old Checkmark Aug 2 '13 at 10:20

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