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I have access to the Pets private beta. Someone has recently added a bounty to their question.

Since this is a private beta with at least a week and a half till it hits public beta, the visibility of the question to potential experts outside the beta is quite limited, in my opinion reducing the effectiveness or even need of the bounty during this phase of the site life-cycle.

Is it necessary to have the bounty system enabled during a site's private beta phase?

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Is it necessary to actively disable it? –  Richard Tingle Oct 12 '13 at 18:51
    
Is it necessary to have it enabled? –  JoshDM Oct 12 '13 at 18:52
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It's like why allow accepting answers during the beta period when you can wait until the public period for better answers to come along. –  random Oct 12 '13 at 18:54
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Did you ask the user who placed the bounty why in dog's name they did it given the limited audience? –  random Oct 12 '13 at 18:57
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I don't think the bounty system should be disabled just because of limited audience. There are people that could answer the question well and get rewarded. Example is Skippy the highest rep user and John Cavan in 3rd place –  Tijesunimi Oct 12 '13 at 19:00
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It's their rep: why can't they have the choice to use it in a bounty? –  David Robinson Oct 12 '13 at 19:10
    
They have the choice, but I feel that it's not necessarily an effective choice. –  JoshDM Oct 12 '13 at 19:21
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Excerpt from my original comment on your Meta.Pets post: ...why bother to disable it? It doesn't hurt anything by being enabled and it is an extra check to add to the system. You aren't "enabling" bounties on non private beta sites. You have to actively disable it on private betas since it is part of the system. So why bother with the extra overhead (although probably minimal) to now check to see the status of site before permitting bounties. –  psubsee2003 Oct 12 '13 at 19:22
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How does it hurt? People who are part of a private beta are aware of it having a limited audience, by definition. If they choose to part with some of their reputation there, where's the harm? Perhaps they get a kick from being the first to post a bounty on a site? –  Oded Oct 12 '13 at 21:40
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I'm disappointed that people are downvoting this question. It's a fair question. The original author clearly is curious about the explanation. It's tagged as "discussion" (not as "feature-request"). Yes, I know downvotes mean something different on Meta, but I'm still disappointed to see a reasonable question downvoted like this. Even if you feel there is no reason to disable bounties and every reason to keep them enabled, it'd be friendlier if people would take the question as asked in good faith and just answer it rather than downvoting. –  D.W. Oct 13 '13 at 1:33
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This is a perfectly legitimate question, and the answer to it speaks directly to the process of creating a new site. He's not asking for them to be disabled, he's just wondering why we have them available from day one. You insensitive clods! –  Tim Post Oct 13 '13 at 4:32
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BAD BOUNTY! BAD! INTO YOUR BASKET! –  Lix Oct 13 '13 at 11:53
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@D.W. Thats how downvotes work on meta. People downvote when they disagree. I also had similar experiences with this post –  Tijesunimi Oct 13 '13 at 15:12

3 Answers 3

If people want to spend their rep in that way, knowing the limited audience, why stop them? Every per-site or per-type-of-site customization has a cost in implementation and maintenance (and possible interactions with other features), so this should only be done when there's a strong argument. I don't think "that wouldn't be an effective choice" is a strong-enough argument.

Further, I can think of a reason to offer a bounty during a private beta: to reward an exemplary answer (one of the standard bounty reasons). While most bounties are there to attract new answers, don't forget that there's another use case. And, particularly on a new and growing site, someone with a lot of rep might choose to give some of it away to worthy answers in order to help other users gain privileges.

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+1, as the additional use-case makes sense. In the case of the bounty which prompted this meta question, it has not been assigned to any of the existing answers at this time. –  JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 4:39

I'll answer generally, as this isn't specific to pets, but more to how private betas work.

The Area 51 process is supposed to guarantee that a small, but sufficient core of users will be on the site and actively building it during the private beta. We'd be a little worried if a bounty went unnoticed during this time, because it might suggest that not many real experts made it to the site during the most critical time in its history. That of course depends on the question, some questions require experts with extremely rare knowledge to answer correctly, or the question might just be difficult to comprehend.

While not yet open to the public, there should be (at least in theory) approximately 200 people active on the beta during the first week, so there should not be a lack of visibility. While the question is initially only visible to those that committed or were invited to the proposal, it should not be a trivial audience.

Also remember that bounties can start in the private beta but not end until the public beta, depending on when they were placed. It's not often used so early, but the bounty system should work as designed during the private beta phase - especially on a site like pets that saw a very healthy turnout.

There's also, as Monica noted the utility of giving an additional reward to an exemplary answer. It's important that votes and rep are flowing healthily during this phase, as folks need privileges in the next one :)

tl;dr; - There's no reason why it should be disabled, and having it enabled is actively helpful.

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Well, it certainly did get noticed. :) –  JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 4:24
    
Not to say the information in paragraph 4 isn't applicable to other bounties, but the bounty which prompted this meta question will expire before the site reaches public beta. –  JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 4:54
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@JoshDM Well, the bounty started 13 hours ago, and the question subsequently received (what looks to be) at least one stellar answer, so I'd say it worked :) –  Tim Post Oct 13 '13 at 5:14
    
Aaaaand that would be the item I missed; TIMING! –  JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 5:21

One of the purposes of beta releases is to exercise as many features of the final release as possible under realistic conditions. That's a good enough reason to enable the bounty system feature. If the bounty system on this site had a bug or a usability issue, why not give yourself a chance to discover and address it now while the audience is smaller and more forgiving?

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The code is the same for all sites when it comes to most things. Some sites load additional Javascript libraries, or code to display certain things inline in a post (e.g. YouTube, Soundcloud) - but the base code remains the same. If a feature breaks, it's much more likely to be noticed on a production site first. Still, this is basically correct - aside from privileges unlocking at a much lower reputation, private betas are feature-identical to what a graduated site has. –  Tim Post Oct 13 '13 at 7:51
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It is my understanding that each site which graduates from Area 51 is a skin on top of the same code that runs all of the other sites. Considering the age of the bounty system, the amount of existing use it gets, and the quantity of other sites, it's not the bounty system that is being "beta" tested, it's the concept of the new site. Tim snipe! :-P –  JoshDM Oct 13 '13 at 7:51

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