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I read the rules of implicit bounty award in the help:

If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with at least 2 upvotes will be awarded half the bounty amount. If there's no answer meeting that criteria, the bounty is not awarded to anyone.

If the bounty was started by the question owner, and the question owner accepts an answer during the bounty period, and the bounty expires without an explicit award – we assume the bounty owner liked the answer they accepted and award it the full bounty amount at the time of bounty expiration.

However they leave questions open:

  1. What if the owner of highest voted answer is the person who offered the bounty, and there are no other answers with >= 2 votes?

  2. What if the accepted answer has less votes than some other answer?

  3. What if the accepted answer belongs to the person who offered the bounty?

I think the help should be updated to cover the answers, i.e. to explicitly state the priorities and relationships between the rules.

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@hims056 - nope - I comment on particular ambiguities in current version of help and ask for fix –  Tomas Jun 24 '13 at 11:21
    
Thank for your answers, but I was also adding a feature request to update the help, so I cannot accept answer yet. I wonder why they ignore the feature request and just close as duplicate. Will try to reopen it. –  Tomas Jun 27 '13 at 12:35
    
Then edit your question to be just the feature request. Multiple questions in one question post make this more of a dupe than a request. –  Martijn Pieters Jun 27 '13 at 15:02
    
Thank you @MartijnPieters, done! –  Tomas Jun 27 '13 at 15:08

2 Answers 2

  1. Then the bounty will not be arwarded to anyone. There is no way you get part of the bounty back.
  2. Then the full bounty goes to the accepted answer. It was the most helpful answer marked by the OP.
  3. Half the bounty goes to the highest answer. There is no way you get part of the bounty back.
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Bounties make more sense if you think of them as paying for advertising your question. That the bounty may end up being given to someone is just so as to encourage answers. Once you know that, the rules are:

  • absolutely nothing will ever cause your bounty to be awarded to you, ever
  • the bounty-giver can award it to whoever they want for whatever reason they want [1]
  • if the bounty-giver doesn't award it, the system might, using rules that are trying to be at least partly fair but don't need to be perfect.

The attempts are auto-awarding are

  • to an answer accepted during the bounty period if the bounty-giver is the accepter (except not to self answers) - if you don't like that, manually award the bounty
  • to the answer provided during the bounty period that got the most votes (except not an answer by the bounty awarder, and not if "the most votes" is 1 or less) - if you don't like that, manually award the bounty

That bounties might go unawarded or that the auto bounty might not go to the most deserving answer are both considered 'shrug' no big deal. Stuff happens. Answering bounty questions can be pretty random, so you can't deserve a bounty, and the awarder can do what they like. The auto thing is there to help if someone is flat out forgetful, but if the bounty doesn't happen to land on a good answer, or if it evaporates, so be it.

[1] For example on meta it has been known for a bounty to be given to someone on a random question as a way of rewarding them for a great CW answer or a great edit on a whole other question. I don't think this is as socially accepted elsewhere, but it is not considered fraud or bad behaviour within the stackexchange community.

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