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So, I've noticed that in some instances, a heavily desired feature or description of an implementation will, here in meta.stackoverflow, be awarded bounties. Presumably, the desire is to communicate to the Stack Overflow development team (and/or the community managers who lobby on our behalf) the importance of said feature to the users' well-being and happiness.

My question is simple: Does it work?

And by "work" I mean, does it actually change the prioritization of a feature request.

I am not interested in the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the practice. I am curious about its effectiveness. From a process perspective, is there any feedback mechanism that alerts devs to bounties awarded on feature requests.

Obviously, there is overlap between the readers of this site and the devs. But:

  1. Are the developers actually influenced by the bounties?

  2. Is there any correlation between a bounty and the attention which those features are given?

  3. Are developers even notified when a bounty is awarded on a feature request, or are the devs just responsible for checking it when they get around to it?

NOTE: This differs from Does the SE development team regularly check the bounty board? in that I am asking (a) if it is effective an (b) if there is a formal process in place for it.

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sort of..., if one counts status-declined as an attention – gnat Dec 11 '13 at 21:26
I add bounties to feature requests in the hope that someone will suggest a great implementation as an answer. It hasn't got me anywhere, though. – Kate Gregory Dec 11 '13 at 21:47
up vote 10 down vote accepted

It "works" in the sense that it gets more attention from the rest of the community: the question gets bumped to the front page immediately and listed on the "featured" tab for up to a week. But just like bounties on the normal sites, you're "paying" for advertising - not results.

This visibility can contribute supporting up-votes from others who believe the feature would be beneficial; it might also encourage folks to contribute answers that critique or flesh out the feature (it probably helps if you explicitly ask for this in your bounty message - the generic "this has not received enough attention" reason doesn't exactly cry out for this). Of course, every answer posted also bumps the question back to the front page, granting it an additional bit of visibility.

We do monitor highly-ranked posts; there's even a special view for these on MSO. We don't commit to implementing them, but to the extent that a bounty can attract more votes it does help the request stand a better chance of getting seen. Some developers also monitor the "featured" tab directly, but they're not required to and there's definitely nothing built into the system that would give these any extra priority internally.

Beyond that, no, the act of placing and awarding a bounty adds no visibility or consideration, nor does it add any credence to the merits of the idea itself. In fact, you're probably better off putting more effort into fleshing out the request and encouraging others to do so, since that actually saves us time should we decide to consider the request. And, as noted above, also bumps the post...

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the act of placing and awarding a bounty adds no visibility I was under the impression that the devs try to keep track of feature requests in the "featured" tab? I've seen several people say so. That's the main reason why I place bounties on Meta questions. – Pëkka Dec 11 '13 at 21:31
@Pekka It leaves the tab once the bounty is awarded though. – Grace Note Dec 11 '13 at 21:32
@Pëkka Robert just meant "adds no visibility or consideration" in the sense that there's nothing special that happens behind the scenes. In this instance, devs use the featured tab the same way any other user would; there's no special back-end stuff or additional notifications that happen just for devs (or other employees) regarding featured questions. – Laura Dec 11 '13 at 21:50
@Laura yeah, I didn't expect anything like that, just that an occasional eye is kept on the tab – Pëkka Dec 11 '13 at 22:02
Robert - is there any (at least vague) band of what "highly-ranked" means for the SE? Is it on the order of magnitude of 500 upvotes? 100? 20? Thanks. – DVK May 17 '14 at 23:08

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