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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 no one 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
status-declined? I'm literally going to start crying... – Zizouz212 Sep 4 at 21:44

5 Answers 5

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

Even though I was originally in support of this feature, we have to decline this for a few reasons.

Downvoting isn't a good tool to combine with bounties.

I had originally suggested coupling the two, as a way of the bounty creator showing to the system that they really think the answer is not useful rather than just being able to simply click a button and have it disappear. However, these two systems wouldn't work well together.

Mostly because it would introduce a few unexpected user experience issues to the whole system that would make thing uncomfortable. The current bounty award system is fairly straight-forward, and anyone can figure out exactly why a bounty was or wasn't awarded by looking at some information. Downvoting is anonymous, though. Users can see there is a downvote on the post, but not who cast it. By linking downvoting to an explicit "no award" feature for the bounty system, we effectively remove the anonymity of downvoting for whoever creates the bounty on the question because users would be able to deduce "well I was eligible, I didn't get it, so they must have downvoted me."

As pointed out in the comments, requiring users to downvote in order to avoid awarding a bounty would also introduce the implicit requirement of needing at least 125 reputation after you created the bounty and lost however much of it.

We've had something like this before.

Long ago, users were able to award the bounty to their own answer. It was effectively a "do not award it to anyone" feature because they didn't get the reputation back, but it also didn't give it to anyone else. It was not well-liked and we don't want to return to the endless drama that it can cause.

Remember, a bounty is really a payment for advertising.

Whether you award it, the system awards half of it, or it just goes to waste - you paid for the attention that your question received, not the explicit ability to decide its ultimate fate. When half the bounty gets awarded, it doesn't get attributed to you. It gets attributed to Community, because the community's voting on the answers is what decided it would be awarded. So we're not putting any words in your mouth here or indicating that you endorse the answer in any way, and there's little other reason not to allow the system to just take control if you've failed to award it yourself.

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Hmm maybe there needs to be an extra region of the system. if (upvotes < 2) user must award or no bounty given. if (upvotes < 5) user must REJECT to prevent auto-award. if (upvotes > 5) user cannot prevent auto award, but can award to another answer. – Sam Sep 24 at 15:03

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
I disagree. Paying for advertisement (loss of rep) is one thing. And awarding rep is another. If no answer is appropriate, no answer should receive the points. We just need a mechanic to do this more fairly – Sam Sep 24 at 15:07

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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