Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 153 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I've read the FAQ, the blog post announcing the decoupling of bounty from answer accepting, and many of the questions here relating to bounty, but I still haven't figured out why this bounty system works so non-intuitively.

Here's what happened recently:

  1. I asked a question on StackOverflow
  2. Having received no answers, I added a bounty.
  3. Someone provided an answer.
  4. I accepted an answer

Why would I not expect that in my accepting of that answer that my bounty would automatically be awarded? Luckily, the answerer notified me that the bounty would expire and only give him half (!?).

I understand that:

  • Others can now offer bounty on a question they didn't ask – it makes sense that bounty would have to be manually in those cases.
  • Bounty can be auto-awarded when it expires.

However, I don't understand why with what seems like the most common scenario, we wouldn't auto-award the bounty to the answerer of the actual accepted answer. What is the purpose of making it more difficult to do what is obviously intended?

Note: I didn't notice this popup reminder or maybe just didn't realize that the bounty system had changed since I had last used it. This popup should make it clear that "you haven't awarded your bounty to this answer" which is not intuitively obvious, which should lead us to question why awarding the bounty is a separate step.

share|improve this question
IIRC this was once upon a time the case. (was removed because you can accept your own answer, but not award the bounty to yourself) – Johannes Kuhn Aug 8 '13 at 15:52
I can see the temptation to "just separate accepting and awarding" because of edge cases like that, but it doesn't seem correct to accidentally enable us to not give the expected bounty in the most common scenario. – Jacob Aug 8 '13 at 15:54
Some people might not want to award it immediately? Doesn't seem fair to a user who clicks the accept button and all of a sudden their bounty has been awarded. Maybe I wanted extra attention just in case. – animuson Aug 8 '13 at 15:55
Why wouldn't you wait for additional answers until the expiration/grace period is nigh? – Jacob Aug 8 '13 at 15:56
@animuson what about auto-awarding bounties when they expire? – Jan Dvorak Aug 8 '13 at 15:56
One reason they should stay decoupled are the cases where you don't want to award the bounty to anyone. – Jan Dvorak Aug 8 '13 at 15:57
@JanDvorak They do get auto-awarded when they expire and the grace period ends. If an answer was accepted during the bounty period, it will automatically receive the full bounty amount. If nothing was accepted, the highest scoring answer of at least 2 is awarded half. – animuson Aug 8 '13 at 15:58
I still haven't understood the why of it, @JanDvorak. Why would you ever accept an answer without wanting to award your own bounty? – Jacob Aug 8 '13 at 15:58
@Jacob you could state specific bounty conditions in the bounty (semi-stupid example: "Thanks for Jacob's great plugin, but is it possible without Javascript?") – Jan Dvorak Aug 8 '13 at 16:01
Ive had my answer accepted but annother answer awarded the bounty (grumble grumble) I believe because mine answered the question the best but the bounty awarded answer helped the asker more (by suggesting something completely different) – Richard Tingle Aug 8 '13 at 16:18
up vote 9 down vote accepted

From the Help Center:

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.

Unless something has changed and the help center hasn't been updated, the full bounty amount, not half, should be awarded.

share|improve this answer
I hope this is still true because this does look like the best behavior. – Jacob Aug 8 '13 at 16:22
@Jacob I'm fairly sure that it is. – apaul34208 Aug 8 '13 at 16:28
This only works for answers posted after the bounty was started. See Bounty not awarded automatically — bug?; this doesn't work for answers posted before the bounty started but accepted after. – Martijn Pieters Feb 18 '14 at 14:46

Because bounties serve more purposes than just awarding the accepted answer.

Authoritative reference needed

Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources.

Canonical answer required

The question is widely applicable to a large audience. A detailed canonical answer is required to address all the concerns.

Current answers are outdated

The current answer(s) are out-of-date and require revision given recent changes.

Draw attention

This question has not received enough attention.

Improve details

The current answers do not contain enough detail.

Reward existing answer

One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

I suppose one could come up with some sort of logic matrix to automatically award bounties based on the reason chosen, accepted answer, upvotes, etc. but I think this would cause more confusion than benefit.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .